loading/unloading weight question

I’m looking to get a canoe for fishing and recreation - mostly ponds or small lakes… anyhow, i’m leaning towards the Wenonah Fisherman or Wenonah Kingfisher. I’d like to use it tandem or solo. I have a VW camper vanagon that i’ll be using with a rack for transport. One reason I liked the Wenonah is that they’re light vs. cheaper brands. I was going to order a Fisherman Tuf-Weave Flexcore (49#) or the Flex-core with Kevlar (46#); or the Kingfisher Tuf-weave Flexcore (55#) or Flexcore w/Kevlar (51#). My local dealer has a blemished Fisherman Royalex (it’s 56# or about that i think- Wenonah has stopped making the Royalex i’ve been told) and it seems like a very good deal. I know my wife and I could load and unload any of the Tuf-weave/Flexcore or Flexcore with Kev models but when i’m alone, I’m wondering what most of you think of as pretty heavy to load/unload myself if i go with the Royalex? I lift weights regularly but don’t do heavy squats or military press anymore b/c i had a lower back injury when i was a lot younger- so, these days, i’m careful. Would 56# be pretty light still? I was looking at OT canoes before and the rec/fisher model was almost 80# which I think will be too heavy. I plan to get a cart too. I’m 44yo too btw… I don’t want an ultralight as i’ve heard they get blown around too easily and they’re more fragile (and more expensive). any rec/tips/comments would be greatly appreciated

Is for bouncing off rocks. I have 2 and a kevlar Solstice Titan. On a Ford E250.

A fisherman in R surprised. For what purpose ? R has its own niche with weight n durability.

R is similar to Jeep. If you don’t Jeep then why own one ?

On the water uneccessary weight is a drag. Current quality composite hulls are stronger than normal clumsy handling damages. And back injuries are common.

Composite hull design is more effective than R. R’s shaping is less flexible in molding processes. C hulls paddle easier.

canoe weights
First, every canoe maker no longer makes Royalex canoes because the only manufacturer of Royalex stopped production of it a couple of years ago.

Second, as long as you are in the canoe, an ultralight does not get blown around more than a heavier canoe. If you weigh 150lbs or more, a 10 lb difference in canoe weight will not affect the total load very much.

For paddling around on flat water, any canoe material or weight will probably be fine. A composite canoe will be lighter, have sharper stems, be stiffer, and will paddle a bit better than a Royalex version of the same model, but unless you are really interested in performance (distance and/or speed) you probably won’t notice that much difference on the water. If you can get a good deal on the Royalex boat, it will probably suit your needs fine.

As for how heavy is too heavy, that is hard for anyone to say. I am 64 and have a bad shoulder. I can still lift canoes up to 60 lbs or so up to the top of my truck without too much difficulty. When the weight gets up to 70 lbs or more, I have to think about it.

Lifting a canoe is not like a military press with a barbell. For one thing, the alignment of your wrists on the gunwales as you press the boat upward may not be as comfortable as pressing a barbell overhead. Second, unless you have your wrists perfectly placed so as to balance the weight, there will be a torquing effect from any unbalance which can be most unpleasant. Third, if your luck is like mine, the wind will come up as soon as you lift the boat overhead. A canoe acts like an enormous weathervane and will weathercock or leecock unless it is perfectly aligned with the wind, and that can make it very difficult to manage.

Lastly, to get the canoe up to the top of a van or camper, you may have to climb up on a step stool with the boat overhead, which can be somewhat challenging.

total energy expenditure
are greater for a hull weighing 60 pounds than a hull weighing 40 pounds.

Bicycling techs have this down to the last calorie…there’s a site Weight Weenies and ergonometers as rear hubs feeding info into computers.

What the hull is ? I can figure but time doesnlt allow that. The weight difference is 50%.

So when you get back to the landing n load the boat you have expended a significant amount of energy with the 60 than the 40…and a 35…30…

You are tired. There are heavy energy use days when loading is a real SOB.

Loading is done with an outrigger bar off the transverse rack bars. With a short step ladder walk the bow up onto the outrigger then take ladder to rear n carry hull to roof. Go back to bow n shove bow over onto rack.

Windy ? there are times when help is asked for. Reparking the truck into the wind usually solves the problem. Painters are looped onto the rack immediately. Doahn run off to the rear with the bow unroped.

Use a canoe cart/wheeleze for dragging the hull around on ground. No reason for carrying hull to water. The cart, if necessary and desired is mounted as the hull floats.

Picking up a canoe from the ground
may be the most challenging as when you pick it up there is a torque on the back as you get the yoke in back of your neck.

Only you or your doc can give advice on what weight is appropriate… The lifting on the vehicle is less of a problem than you imagine if you load from the back…get the bow on the rear bar and slide forward. When the bow is on the bar a lot of the weight is relieved. I shove forward as best I can before engaging in a stepladder so I am bearing the least weight possible


– Last Updated: Jul-21-16 12:49 PM EST –

What pblanc and kayamedic say is true. I would add to that, that with minor modifications to your rack, getting any of those boats onto the roof will be extremely easy, MUCH easier than getting the boat up onto your shoulders in the first place.

I've posted about this countless times, but here's some of the standard stuff again.

For your vehicle, the easiest rack modification would be a load-assist bar. Thule and Yakima both offer them, and I bet some other companies do too. It's a bar that sticks out away from your vehicle, off the end of one of the cross bars. With the canoe on your shoulders and the forward end angled upward, you just walk up alongside the vehicle and set the canoe down, so it's leaning onto that assist bar. Then just pick up the back end and slide the boat forward, and then shuffle the back end sideways onto the rear cross bar. Then shuffle the front end sideways from the load-assist bar to the rack. When it comes to overhead lifting, you'll be lifting no more than one-third of the overall boat weight at that point because the front of the canoe will be overlapping the load-assist bar by several feet already when you get to that stage where overhead lifting is needed.

You might be able to make a load-assist bar by finding the right size pipe that you just insert into the hollow end of one of your cross bars. Putting a stopper on the free end to keep the boat from sliding off in that direction, and a locking mechanism at the point where it connects to the main cross bar would be nice additions, but not absolutely necessary.

Another modification that's not too hard if you are handy, is to add a lengthwise bar on each side of the rack, connecting the outer ends of the front and rear cross bars. With that setup, you simply walk up to the car from the side and set the boat down leaning against one of those lengthwise bars. Push the boat up onto the roof oriented sideways to how you want it on the rack, then pivot it into proper position once it's all the way up. Once again, the most weight you'll need to lift overhead will be one-third of the weight of the boat or even less, on account of the teeter-totter effect once it's mostly onto the bars.

when you’re having …

eeyeyhahaha too much……find bearings n supports…join 4-5 ……

hard to miss !


the difference is the side rollers are atop a no damage solid wall where the outrigger is a walk under free movement device.

I had a Fisherman

– Last Updated: Jul-21-16 1:37 PM EST –

So let's talk about personal experience...

The royalex Fisherman is actually what was known as royalite. It's thinner and not as robust as, say, my royalex OT Penobscot or especially my rx NC Prospector. It *is* light for it's size in rx. It was easier to lift than any of my other royalex tandems. Having said that - if I were to seek out another one, I would go with the flexcore version. All that hype about royalex being more durable and more suitable for scraping and banging on rocks is not to be trusted. For the kind of use the Fisherman and Kingfisher are designed for, flexcore is way better and will likely last longer. And you get the bonus of a stiffer and more efficient layup. But if the price difference is great, the rx version is a decent canoe - just don't drag it on rocks or pavement.

Royalex is the most likely layup to recover from being wrapped around a rock in current, without major repairs to the hull. But fiberglass and kevlar composites actually hold up much better to the usual scraping on shoals and bouncing off rocks in mild current. I have some of both, and for anything less than upper class 2 rivers, I prefer the lightweight composites.

The Fisherman had pretty good performance for a fairly wide and short tandem with my wife and me (~ 125lbs and 160lbs) in it. Heavier paddlers might feel that it was too small to feel very secure. Although I have moved on to other canoes, I still feel that the Fisherman is a good canoe for light use (ponds, small lakes, slow flat meandering rivers). It can be pressed into some mild whitewater use (class 2) if you know what you're doing.

The Kingfisher will be a better tandem for most - but a major handful for solo use, especially when the wind comes up. Personally - if I thought the Fisherman might be a bit small for my needs, I would go to the Aurora before I'd consider the Kingfisher....unless, perhaps, I was a very large person. The Fisherman is going to be easier to paddle solo - especially when the wind blows.

At 59, I can still load a 75lb tandem by myself - but I don't enjoy it. Keeping the weight under 60lbs is a good place to start, and getting it below 50 is a noticeable advantage. Weight differences on the water aren't that noticeable. Wind will blow any deep canoe across the water, regardless of weight. You can add ballast to a canoe anyway (and it will help some in the wind), but you always have to lift it to use it.

60 should be okay
Louis Matacia was an amazing guy and must have been a beast as a younger man. I paddled with him when he was in his 70s or early 80s. When I paddled with him, he always paddled an Old Town Tripper, solo most of the time. That’s an 80 lb boat. He always picked it up and loaded it solo, too.

I think you should be able to find a royalex boat weighing no more than 60 pounds that will meet your needs. As noted by others, they don’t make royalex boats anymore, so yours will be used, which is okay, because royalex is very tough and long lasting. Royalex slides over rocks very well, and if you should wear it through it is pretty easy to repair. Royalex is very low maintenance as well. One royalex boat that might meet your needs is the Old Town Camper, which weighs right around 60 lbs. I’m older than you and don’t have any trouble swinging 60 lbs onto my shoulders. But there is a technique to it (here’s one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ku5Apd8G84Y).

As for loading it, GBG and kayamedic have provided excellent advice. The key is to be able to get one end of the boat on the vehicle. With vans, this can often best be done from the back of the vehicle, but it all depends on the shape of the canoe, and how far back the bars, in particular, the rear bar, are mounted on the vehicle. When the bars are not at the back, I’ve seen people mount roller type rigs right at the back edge. I’ve seen others who use some sort of pad, blanket or carpet and just lay that on the back edge to protect the vehicle while they slide the boat up. Both Yakima and Thule make products, as do others to assist–either rollers or pads.

I’m not familiar enough with the Vanagon camper set up to make specific recommendations. But be aware the shape of the boat may influence where you can position it on your Vanagon. The stems of the canoe are usually higher than the side of the canoe in the center. If the boat is longer than the Vanagon, the stems can hang down, but if shorter, your racks need to be high enough, or mounted far enough apart, so the stems can clear.


rack modifications
There are quite a few rack products or modifications that can facilitate loading of a heavier boat.

But be aware that when conducting a group shuttle for a river trip, you may well be looking at loading your canoe onto a vehicle that does not have any fancy adaptations.

The good news is that in that situation, there will usually be others who can assist you with loading.

Where are you located?
I know of a kevlar wenonah Kingfisher in CT that is for sale.


thanks for all the responses

i ordered an assist extender bar (that comes out from the side) to help load and unload so maybe weight won’t matter as much after all…

so, seems like i should concentrate more on what would be good in the water for fishing etc… maybe something less expensive than the wenonah since they seem to be more into light boats… although decent i’m sure…

i’m CA so I can’t go for the one in CT. thanks anyway…