Looking for the right canoe.

I am now shopping for the right canoe. I have been on several organized canoe trips with guides but I would still consider myself a beginner. However, I am very familiar with other boats and spend much of my summers off on the water. I have also done a good bit of rafting. What would be a great canoe for me. I want a canoe that I can run solo or tandem. Probably 50/50 both ways. It will be used mostly for calm river with occasional moderate rapids. I am however an adrenaline junkie. This canoe will be used mostly on the Locust Fork and Black Warrior River. I want to take some two and three day trips. I have really been considering the MR Explorer 14tt. I have paddled the boat and really like it and being an educator, I also like the price range. Give me your thoughts.

That’s My Choice for a River Boat
I have one myself and owned the St. Croix (same boat) the 1st year they were made. Works well solo and tandem on rivers as long as the tandem paddlers aren’t both 200+ pound paddlers with a lot of gear. Instead of repeating myself, here’s a link to my evaluation. BTW, I don’t consider myself an expert, but I’ve paddled for almost 25 years and paddled this hull extensively. WW


I would recommend the Explorer 15.
Still easy to manage, but faster, a bit narrower, certainly better tandem.

Actually, for the Locust Fork, I would recommend looking for a used Mad River Synergy or Dagger Caption. Or, if you want something new, consider the Probe 14 from Mohawk. And there are several Esquif boats to consider. Now, the Synergy, Caption, and Probe are not lake boats, but they are serious whitewater boats.

I paddled my Synergy with about 100 pounds of gear down the upper and lower canyons of the San Juan, 84 miles with nasty winds at times, and a few class 2 and 2+ rapids. I had no difficulty keeping up with other paddlers in Dagger Reflection 15s and 16s, and of course I had more fun in the rapids, and an easier time spinning around for camera shots.

Choose the boat for your ‘majority’ use
and start saving for your next boat. :slight_smile: If you paddle tandem rarely, you can rent a tandem when you want one and fit it to the trip. Or buy a cheap tandem if all you do is putz when you’re with another person. Two used boats can be had without breaking your bank.

I received this advice when we were getting back into paddling and had money for one boat. We thought we would be paddling tandem into our old age. Our tandem now hangs in storage most of the time and we have a pair of solos. If you have entire summers off, my guess is that you’ll be soloing a lot. We’ve found that our skills and desires change and so we figure we’ll add or change boats in the future.

IF you decide that you really like this boat I have last years model for sale for $450. I’m a teacher as well and I like the $549 price tag. This year it’s $599. I already paid the tax. As WW could tell you I initially had some issues with this boat. I broke the rear seat on my maiden voyage. I attribute that more to inexperience that defect but the good news is that MR replaced it gratis. The boat has the standard scratches and one ding in the left gunwales from, well let’s just call it my learning curve. If you like the boat, and I think you will, it may make more since to buy it locally? I have seen folks on this board shuttle boats across the country? Here’s why I’m getting rid of it. 1) I can’t afford to keep it and buy another, that would be my preference 2) It works great on class I & II solo but, put another 200 lbs. guy in it and you’ll be bailing a lot! I’m buying a Wenonah Prospector so I can run bigger water and occassionally take a couple of my kids with me. It sounds like a very good boat for what you’re considering. God Bless. Dwayne

I too have a 14TT

– Last Updated: Jan-18-05 12:39 PM EST –

And I use it on the same rivers as you. I haven't been on the locust yet, as I haven't got that brave yet. But for the sipsey, lower cahaba, blackwater, mulberry fork, North R, and any other class 2 and less rivers the 14tt works great.

I use the boat about 80% solo, and would rather be solo, as the boat is *almost* too small for 2 large guys. It will do OK tandem, but I wouldn't want to be tandem in a solid class 2+, its too wet.

I'm looking for a solo boat for these rivers, a mr freedom or Mohawk od 14, but I'll hang on to my 14tt for when the wife wants to go, or for carrying lots of gear on camping trips.

Thanks for all the replies. I still am considering the MR14tt but I would like to paddle it again solo and tandem before I purchase it. Most of my passengers will be my 120lb fiance and most of my friends are less then or right at 200. I only weigh about 170. Any locals willing to let me try thier boat tandem, let me know. Also, any tips on getting into the sport, let me know. Hunting season will soon be over and I need a new hobby to go with my many others. Thanks again and GOd Bless.

One boat just not enough, but starting
out with that first boat is a challenge of compromises. You have received good advice above. I can give you a few more points to consider.

You like to paddle solo, but also paddle tandem.

If you are the individualist type you will most likely paddle more and more solo.

You say you are “an adrenaline junkie”. Unless you are a speed demon or an over packer when you camp you will most likely find that the small boats are where the real fun is. Much more action and responsive. I am around 200 pounds. My 13’ FlashFire is a lot whole more fun than my 14’ WildFire, but the Flash will not carry enough for two weeks on the river for me. I use me 14’ or larger for that. There are those however that weigh 220 to 240 pounds and take their 13’ solos on two weeks or more into the wilderness. They are real light packers!

I have paddled tandem in boats as short as 14’, but they are slow responding and therefor as bad for me as one way too long. A 15’ is better, but I do like my tandems longer. My solo/tandem canoes are 15’8" and 16’. The expert paddlers and guides I have talked to say a 16’ is the maximum open canoe anyone should paddle as above that you can easily get into a whole lot of trouble in high winds, big waves, and/or rapids. Problem is most prefer 16.5’ or 17’ tandems when they start taking longer or camping trips.

Soooooo … as you see one canoe is really not enough. BUT I think you will be starting out in a good place with the 14’ if the majority of your paddles are done solo. If you really are going to keep to a 50/50 paddling split you probably should consider at least a 15’ canoe.

So, make your decision, go buy it, don’t look back, enjoy yourself … !!!

Happy Paddl’n!



I’d be glad to let you try mine…
If we can get together. I’m in west AL, in Winfield. I’ve been traveling for business pretty frequently lately. I’ll be in out of state from mid feb thru the end of march. But after that I’ll be hitting the rivers. You’d be welcome to come along.

Alabama Small boats in Helena will also let you paddle before you buy. I paddled mine there before I bought it from them. They also have some used boats (and wide selection) Good folks too.

Thanks again
I purchased the MR 14tt last saturday. I have had it on the water twice. I find it easy to keep on track solo even in high winds. It also seems to handle nice as a tandem. It also took some class 2+ rapids very well, even with a beginner steering it.I am very pleased with the boat and have really enjoyed it. I cant wait for slightly warmer weather. Everday that it gets above 55 I head towards the river. Thanks for all of your imput.

Good For You!
I think it’s an excellent canoe for the price. Hope you continue to enjoy it. WW