Looking for Canoe Recommendation

Hi, folks. I’m looking for recommendations of canoe models that will fit my needs. I’m an old timer paddler who doesn’t want to spend much money on my next canoe.

I need a tandem that will cost under $1000 (and probably under $800 if possible). We are two heavy people (figure 500 lbs of people) who will be using this canoe as a tripper in the Adirondacks (Saranac Lakes, St. Regis area, the lake chain, Cranberry Lake, etc.) and as a day paddler on the Susquehanna River. I want low maintenance, weight no higher than 70-ish pounds, and probably royalex so I can deal with low stream flows and not worry when I lend it out to others. When we camp, we tend to pack a bit heavy.

Used is good. In fact, used is great.

So anyone have recommendations for models to look for?

Thanks for any wisdom!

Diane Maluso

Ithaca, NY

Love your list of requirements! ;^)

– Last Updated: Apr-20-07 2:10 PM EST –

When you find this ideal canoe you have specified I'll take one for myself and another dozen to resell. That way I'll have a great boat and make a a profit to boot. :^)



Oops! Missed the Royalex part. That makes it doable. Sorry.

I have…

– Last Updated: Apr-22-07 7:09 PM EST –

an Old Town Penobscot that I just bought In Feburary from Gander Mountain. A 2005 model that was on a display shelf inside. Wife whittled them down to $799,from $1100 they were asking. Nice boat,and we are people your size. We have ours outfitted with seat backs,and footbraces,and it's a comfortable cruiser. Haven't had it on any WW yet. Weighs 58 lbs,in Roylex,and I can handle it myself.


BTW when are you going to the Adirondacks ,Saranac lake ? I will be there the week of June 10th. I read your profile,to far from me,or you could try mine out.

Happy Paddling billinpa

Wenonah makes a number of canoes
that may work for you, even one called the Adirondack. You might want to look for one of these or something similar used:


wenonah spirit II
that should do it. you can find them for sale used easy. good design, too.

OT Penobscot 17
Should be able to find a demo/blem/used one in your price range.

You guys are great. Yeah, I think a 17’ makes a lot of sense and used really is a good thing for this purchase. I’ve got a sweet Hemlock Peregrine that I bought from Dave Curtis as a blem and if he’d had one used I would have picked that up instead. I appreciate this advice and am hoping to put it to good use this spring.

Sundowner 17 ?
So what do you think of a Sundowner 17 for this kind of use and capacity? I keep hearing “twitchy.” I can handle some initial twitchy if it’s got good secondary stability with just 2 people in it… two big people.

Seat height
I’ve never paddled a Sundowner, so can’t help there. In general, dropping the seats an inch or two can make a big difference in how stable a canoe feels. Like everything else, it’s a tradeoff – a lower seat may be a slightly less efficient paddling position, and it may make it harder to kneel.

all good choices…

– Last Updated: Apr-22-07 11:59 AM EST –

...another one,
Wenonah's Spirit II(17',Tough-Weave(63lb) New=$1480+, used price should be ~$1k).

Penobscot 17
This is the only one on your list that will do all of what you want and still might be available for less than $1000 new. A Penobscot 16 might be ok as well, but I’d try to pack it lighter than 600 pounds.

I never see really nice used penobscots around for sale used. In fact good used canoes are very rare around here. But if you can find one you’ll save some money.

The more I mess with boats the more I find that canoes, kayaks, and small rowboats are a bargain. I have a 14 year old canoe that cost me over $800. My cost for the boat is well under $3 per trip.

I don’t want to compare that to a powerboat’s gas usage of a sailboat’s maintenance costs.

My Penobscot…

– Last Updated: Apr-22-07 1:56 PM EST –

16 has a 1100 lb total capacity. If there are 2, 250 lb paddlers that's 500lbs with 600 pounds left for gear. My God what are you taking your whole house? With my tent & camping gear 50 lb,76Qt cooler loaded 60 lbs, 5 gallon of water 40 lb,Food 30 lb,paddle wear 20 lb, paddles 10 lb = 210 lbs of gear.That leaves 390 lb for beer alone! LOL I know about over loading that the boat won't paddle right or handle well, but 300 lbs shy of the limit should be not a problem. My Penobscot 16 should be more then I will ever need. The 17' Penobscot holds only 70 more lbs.

Happy Paddling billinpa


– Last Updated: Apr-22-07 2:19 PM EST –

Hey Bill. I don't know how much the total capacity really matters. What matters more to me is how much freeboard I've got when loaded with what I want to put in it. And how it handles loaded, how it handles with just the people. I think those maximum capacity numbers are a bit less helpful than the amount of freeboard when loaded optimally. I wish we had some standardized info to work with!

So Bill.... ever take that Penobscot out on windy lakes? If I'm going to be 90% on flat water either tripping or fishing and maybe 10% on slowish moving water either day-tripping or weekending, would you recommend that one?

Thanks for the comments. It's all helping.

handles fine
Old Town often names its boats according to history and local use.

The Penobscot River in Maine has several branches. One of the more popular ones is West Branch above Ripogenus Dam (usually starting at Sebomook Roll Dam). Its a moving water river with no real rapids in this section save for the start and the river feeds in Chesuncook Lake. If there was ever a wind tunnel this is one evil one. Seas are often way over 3 feet; the lake has a 30 mile fetch.

I dont have a Penobscot but aside from the OT Tripper (which outperforms the Penobscot in heavier WW) its the most seen boat on Chesuncook.

And Mainers carry alot of stuff. York boxes chairs, coolers etc.

17’ Sundowner
This is the fastest 17’ hull in Royalex, and the Royalex version has fuller ends than the composite hull and a bit more stability and room for the bow paddler. For 2 big people wanting stability I would reccommend the 17’Spirit over the Sundowner. The bottom tends to oil can slightly with heavy paddlers and a light load, but a tripping load tends to eliminate this.

The Sundowner will handle your load just fine and paddle nicely, it will just have a bit less initial stability and a bit more speed. It is much easier to solo than the Spirit not being as wide or deep. And i believe its about 5# lighter in Royalex.


how would you think the Penobscot 17 would handle in the Everglades? Been looking for a tandem under $1,000 as well and this thread has been informative. Sorry to hijack it for a question Maluso.

Penobscot 16

– Last Updated: Apr-22-07 7:10 PM EST –

Ok, I will try to answer those questions. Today we got it out for only the third time since buying it. A flatwater lake 10-15mph winds. Paddling with two people {me 245 lbs stern,wife 180 lbs in bow,about 25 lbs of picnic cooler.and 3 sets of paddles 15 lbs},and we never were bothered by the wind. It tracks very nicely,light winds,and windless,and no extra effort with the crosswinds. We also paddled in a marsh area with water depth of only 4",and were still floating. Not sure of freeboard ,but total depth is 13.75,so roughly 10" of freeboard. Unfortunately I probably never will totally load it because we are day paddlers only,to give you any loaded info.

The boat is fast,and with kayak paddles makes it faster{haven't GPSed yet}. Haven't had it in any rough water to find out how it handles,and how dry the ride. With singles blades it is easy to maintain a good touring speed. Glide is fantastic. Manuevering at speed,is a tad slow to react,but not really that bad.{we bought it for touring open water}

One thing you WILL want to do is lower the stock seat heights. I lowered both seats 2" ,and now the initial stability is solid. The stock seat placement had my butt above gunnel level,and 52" bent singles would hardy reach the water. The seats even 2" lower will still allow kneeling.Also the web seats aren't real comfortable,and if you lower the seats, drop the front edge lower,because we both complained of the seat edge digging into the back of our thighs. We changed that ,and was the purpose of todays paddle,and worked well.

We are taking it on a trip to a P-net get together at Lake Jocassee SC. There the center of the lake can get quite rough when the wind whips up,so I can better tell you rough water handling after next weekend.

We have outfitted ours with kayak style foot braces in the bow{wife didn't like bar type},and Wenonah adjustable bar type in the rear. Dropped the seats 2",and also have CVCA back bands on the stock webbed seats. We now have ours dialed in now for some serious lake touring.

BTW we were visiting a Gander Mountain in Febuary,and seen our Penobscot on top of a display rack for clothing. The wife haggled the heck out of the manager{since she knew it was there for 2 years},and got the price down to $799 from the $1100 price tag on the boat. Check your Gander Mountain ,and if the last digit on the serial # is the year of manufacture,if 2 years old,ask to see the manager. Ours GM now has a black 05 special edition Penobscot on the rack outside ,but we have ours. At 58 lbs it is easy enough for me to handle by my self. We love ours.


Happy Paddling billinpa