Mad River/Dagger Reflection vs Wenonah

Does anyone have any thoughts on the Dagger/Mad River Refection 15 Royalex vs the Wenonah Saranack 15 Royalex vs. Old Town Discover 158 (maybe royalex).

We are looking for a good canoe for day paddling tandem for the lakes and river - up to class 1. My wife and I are probably less than 400lb together with beer or 450lb with beer and the dog. We are just novice out for relaxation paddlers. Just want a nice little canoe that I can solo if I want to too. May want to try a solo overnight camping trip with it. Guess I am kind of looking for a “volvo” of canoes.

OT Disco/Appalachian
I just purchased a used OT Appalachian, 16’, Royalex. I love it so far. I’ve only taken it on flat water so far (where it is not supposed to be all that great, has a high rocker for OT) and it did great for me and my girlfriend, with cooler and gear…its made for a heavy load. I usually paddle overnight trips with friends who mostly have OT discoverys, 3 layer poly. We mostly go down I&II rivers with substantial flat water in between. They are heavy, but once you get them in the water, rides like a buick. I think it’s a great all around canoe. Do they make them in Royalex,the disco that is?

Dagger/Mad River Reflection
Everyone I’ve known who has had a Reflection has enjoyed the little boat. I used it exclusively as a solo, but have a friend who used his tandem with his daughter. It is steady while still being easy to paddle. Many boats that feel comfortably stable are a “Dog” to try to paddle, the little Reflection isn’t.

The depth is just deep enough to handle some light whitewater, while being low enough to be easy to handle in the wind. The rocker is only about 1", but it turns easily enough while not wandering off course every time you set your paddle down. No, it’s not the boat to make eddy turns on a dime, but it’s a “Volvo,” not a sportscar! Excellent boat for photography IMHO.

I know a couple people whom have sold their Reflection and regretted it. Another friend and I actually have a “Gentleman’s agreement” where we co-own the boat. He loves to use it to paddle in the wintertime when he absolutely does not want to go for a swim. My only complaint is it’s a little heavy, but the Old Town Disco will be markedly heavier. It just may be the “Volvo” you’re looking for(LOL)? Here’s a few pictures. I threw in a picture of my friend’s old 3-seat Reflection and mine set up as a big-guy’s solo.

Iceout must of happened

– Last Updated: Mar-26-14 10:44 AM EST –

and nobody is home to reply. For your canoe choice go with a 17ft instead of the 15ft canoe for a tandem boat. It will give you more room for the dog and gear. Then buy a dedicated solo boat that fits your style. If choosing from your list the Reflection is the way to go as WW said.


Yes on Relection but
The 16ft Reflection would be an awesome boat for your purpose. I have owned and paddled all 3 of those boats and I also would choose the Reflection hands down. I know they haven’t made the Reflection 16 in along time and I really regret selling mine. The 15 will be very good.

Never paddled the Saranac
I doubt if I have ever even seen one.

The Discovery canoe would definitely be at the bottom of my list. No they are not Royalex, but three-layer poly, and they are heavy. It is a serviceable canoe with a lot of capacity once you get it on the water, but it is a bear to portage and car top and would probably be the least pleasant to paddle solo.

I agree that Reflection is a very nice canoe and would almost certainly be the best to paddle solo. My only reservation would be whether it has the capacity and stability to accommodate 400 lbs of paddlers and a dog. I think that probably depends on the nature and size of your dog.

Just judging from the specs, the Saranac is a somewhat shorter and wider canoe. I can’t say for sure having never paddled one, but I wonder if it would have a touch more capacity and stability relative to the Reflection.

Another Possibility
As everyone else has said a Reflection would be a great choice. You didn’t ask (not that that matters around here LOL), but an alternative that may be easier to find and would work very well for you I think would be a sixteen foot Explorer. Room for the tandem crew plus dog but can also be soloed fairly well and can hold way more gear than one has any business taking on a multi-day. Should also be easier to find used.

The Reflection 15 is a very sweet small tandem that can be soloed pretty well. It is much lighter and will be more nimble that the 3 layer poly boats that are wider and flatter. I think the reflection 15 would work for you, but as others have suggested, you might be pushing its comfortable capacity limit. Especially as novices, and with a dog, and with beer, you guys may prefer a 16’ tandem.

i have a reflection 15
And have had it for 15 years. Started life as a lake tandem for my 5 year old son and I. We moved on to running cl. 2 ww in it at about 300-350 pounds combined. Started getting wet in 2+ so I bought a dumoine. One day doing flat water my son wanted to solo the reflection…it became his solo canoe for a year until we got dedicated solos. Later on with 13 boats in the yard it became his poling boat. Now he’s out and after all my squirt, slalom, c, oc boats this is my go to boat for long days on the river up to cl. 2 , paddle/pole combos…as well as my occasional flat water days. Bit of a pig, lousy secondary stability, hates holes but lives to surf. Got that center seat and she’s comfortable. Mellow water tandem at 400 pounds should be okay, but you’re at the limit IMO. Leave the dog and beer home.

Terry is right about the Reflection.he usually gets the Reflection when we do get to paddle together. If it tandoms like it does solo you would be very happy.

It has the stability and tracking characteristics of a Mohawk Solo14 and still responds like a mad river freedom solo.(good Stability and tracking in its own right)

Too short. Look for a 16.

Mad River
I think I heard Terry say something about Mad river buying the refection mold. can’t remember what name they called there version. I figure it would be like the difference between the guide and freedom solo.both good canoes. But one is a bit better than the other.

They called it the Reflection
Apparently they still have one or two left as it has not yet been removed from their on-line catalog like the Royalex Outrage, Outrage X, and Freedom Solo have.

Yes, Reflection
My buddy bought a brand spanking new one a year and a half ago. Sweet boat. His primary reason for buying it was solo float camping on class I-IIish rivers.

“hates holes but lives to surf"
I concur with that. Only time I swam out of that boat was at the Ozark Rendezvous last Spring. Instead of taking the “Safe” route, I wanted to take one with a better “Sitting” eddy for picture taking. In the high water, there was a hole in the line I took. The bow just stopped, wallowed, and I was swimming before I could have uttered the word “Hole.”

One variable is the dog. How large a dog are we talking about? I was thinking in terms of our dogs, rat terriers, a beagle, and a basset/dachsund mix. Yes, 8” more boat for a 16’ boat may be a little better, however, IMHO the Reflection would still work unless you’re talking about putting a case of beer and a Labrador retriever in it.

I have dibs on next Relection 16
The next Reflection 16 I find for sale IS MINE. I still think its a wonderful canoe and sure regret selling it. Just dont paddle it backwards. The hull is very ASYMETRICAL.

Not “very” asymmetrical. My MR Synergy
and my Millbrook Edsel are VERY asymmetrical. I have paddled them backwards, and while they paddle differently, they aren’t any special trouble at all.

On a San Juan Canyon trip, one guy in a Reflection 15 was having trouble with headwind, even after moving his gear to improve trim.

So, going through shoals, he would turn and paddle backwards. For some reason, the boat behaved better, and it amused the rest of us.

We all need to learn more about how asymmetrical boats behave, paddled forward or backward. It’s educational. The main problem I see is when someone wants to solo an asymmetrical pocket tandem, by sitting backwards on the front seat. That never works well, though many swear by it.

G2D: San Juan River
In October of 2010 we did the San Juan from Bluff to Clay Hills Crossing. Our outfitter was Red River Canoe Company (now renamed Moab Rafting and Canoe Company) owned by Theresa Butler. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in a guided trip on the Green or San Juan Rivers.

On that week long San Juan trip our lead guide paddled a Dagger Legend 15. (The Legend has more rocker than the Reflection.) He had it set up for solo paddling with a center seat. It was his favorite canoe for downriver trips with rapids up to Class II+. He had no trouble and ran dry on all of the San Juan’s rapids except for Government Rapids - a class III that all walked except for the rafts.

What cfs did you have? We had
1800 which was not a very “wet” level. I ran Government dry with no trouble in a ww boat, and everyone else got through upright, though one boat relaxed to soon when they hit the leftside eddy line below the rapid.

The one rapid that got me, and I don’t recall the name offhand, was the first significant one after Mexican Hat. Everyone else ran the sneak, but I decided to try the waves. They were so high and deep that I took quite a bit of water before I was able to edge out of the wave train.

Our outfitter was Sunrise Expeditions. I have a link to a picture-rich blog I posted on a UK website, if you didn’t grab enough pictures on your own.

On our October 2010 trip
On our October 10,2010 trip it was about 900 cfs at put in and went down to about 750 cfs by the time we took out on October 16,2010. The guides said the rapids would have been easier at a higher cfs because the low water forced us into the larger wave trains. The other routes through the rapids were too shallow for us to run.

The first rapid below Mexican Hat is Gypsum Creek Rapid (class II).

My toughest rapid was Ledge Rapid, also a class II. It’s the first rapid upstream from Mexican Hat. It has rocky shoals on the left, and with the low water we had to hug the cliff on the right. The ledge comes out from the cliff. You should run it on the left edge of the ledge, but we got too far to the right part of the ledge. We went over the ledge and down into the hole below the ledge. I was kneeling in the bow and knew we were in trouble when the bow went under water and the river poured in up to my upper thighs. Next thing I knew we were swimming.