I'm in the market for a lightweight solo canoe under 14'. I looked into the pack canoes quite a bit (Hornbeck, etc.) and the weight was a great selling point, but I want to sit and use a single-blade paddle. I am a girl, 5'5" and 120 lb. You may remember that I bought a Hobie sport a few months back. Well... it's too heavy for me. It also made me realize how much I prefer traditional canoeing, so I'm trading in that boat for this new one.
I wish I'd originally gotten a canoe instead of a Hobie, but what's done is done and I'll have to sell it for several hundred dollars less than the purchasing price. That $$ will go toward the canoe. Of course I'd love a Kevlar boat, but I can't afford the hefty pricetag. Time and again I've been led back to the same two boats:
- Old Town Pack
- Mohawk Solo 13
In general, it seems like people view the Mohawk more favorably, but it weighs 8 lb more than the Pack (41 vs 33 lb.). I'd want to get the Mohawk in Royalex because it comes in teal, and I fell in love with the pictures of the teal ones because it's my favorite color.
I live in northcental FL and will be using the boat to paddle the streams and springs here. No whitewater for me! Trips will be less than a day and purely recreational.
Any suggestions for either the Pack or Mohawk? Or are there other canoes I should think about? Thanks...
The solo 13 in my opinion
will allow you to grow your skills better than the pack. The pack is a wide, relatively flat bottomed boat. It’s probably a fine fishing platform but if you want to hone your single blade skills, you won’t find it very responsive. Being as wide as it is, you’ll not be able to sit or kneel centered in the boat and reach over the gunnels planting a vertical paddle shaft.
I have found the solo 13 to be a good boat for teaching paddling skills. For a Royalex boat, it handles well and is responsive. It’s narrow enough to allow for efficient paddle placement. The hull is shaped so that it heels predictably, all the way to the gunnels, if that is your wish. It has enough rocker to turn easily, but not so much as to make tracking difficult.
I don’t know the specs on either one, but these are my general observations having seen and occasionally paddled both.
Dogpaddle Canoe Works
Custom Canoe Paddles and Woodstrip Canoes
I’ve found some amazing deals on the classifieds on Pnet, and on e-bay. Craigslist works too. Paddle club websites often offer used boats.
Kevlar boats can be found for less than $1000, you just have to put in some time watching, and be prepared to jump fast. I’ve three boats in my shed that would cost north of $3k each new, paid $1400 (carbon -kevlar), 900 (kevlar), and 700(ultra light kevlar) for these fine craft. Three for less than one.
This doesn’t answer your question, but I hope it helps.
One other thought
The Florida Freestyle Symposium will be in you neck of the woods in March. There will be many solo boats there to try out. Often there are opportunities to “make a deal”.
If you post your interests on the Florida Freestyle Symposium thread here on P Net you might find someone(s) responding with boats for sale.
The Mohawk Solo 13
Its going to allow you to advance your paddling techniques if you want to.
I am shocked that it weights 41 lbs. I had one for many years and never had trouble lugging it around though I am a senior citizen. Its a good river runner whether or not you want to do whitewater.
Reviewing the website. Mine was Royalite and it never got cut even on the Buffalo full length) and indeed was 36 lbs.
If you look at the specs the Pack length to waterline beam ratio is near as good as the Solo 13’s.
And that is a good indication of potential speed.
Maybe we will see you at Florida FreeStyle in March. Its not about you dancing…its about making you the pack leader over your canoe.
Can I demo at the symposium?
Thank you all for your responses! I really like the Mohawk because the reviews have been so positive. I wish it were a little lighter. My Hobie is 48 lb and is so awkward to carry. Maybe if I have the gunwales to work with (rather than the one 4" handle on the Hobie), I can do a better job maneuvering the boat out of the water. If I really had to, I could order the Mohawk in Royalite (36 lb) but it only comes in red and green and I haven’t heard great things about Royalite compared to Royalex.
I heard about the Freestyle Symposium. It’s 2 hours away from me! I wasn’t quite sure what it is… will there be boats for sale, and demos and such? It sounds like such a neat event.
FFS is an instructional event
Its not commercial at all.
But you learn how to control your canoe with precision with a single blade.
Often canoes are offered for sale but its private parties.
One of the neat things that is possible is to swop boats and paddle a pile of different solo boats. That may make your job easier or harder as you may want a hard to find or hard to afford boat. However you will come out of the event much more knowledgeable.
There will be an exhibition, but for the most part, its about you… your learning and your having fun.
About the negatives on the Royalite…maybe I better read further. I did not have any with mine. I sold it cause I couldn’t cram in gear for a week solo.
I dont happen to think the Mohawk in white was so purty (kinda looked like a clawfooted bathtub) and mine in aqua was kind of a shrieky color. They arent pretty boats. But they ARE functional affordable boats that perform very well.
The definition of a FreeStyle event?
“Obedience lessons for your canoe”. You will learn skills that allow you to place that boat EXACTLY where you want.
Mohawk Solo 13
I have a Solo 13 in R84 that I have had for 16 years. I bought it new. It has been on lots of rivers and is mostly used as my rambo boat now. I have a Bell Wildfire that I don’t care to run rapids with or drag over log jams. Both canoes weigh around 35 lbs. and I throw them over my head and carry them.
I'd definitely go with the Mohawk for all the reasons stated by others. I'm from PA and would definitely want Royalex over Royalite for how and where I use my boat. I'm betting Florida is a whole lot more forgiving, though. I'm also betting that as long as you're careful about where you paddle, Royalite will be just fine.
I bought my canoe used using paddleswap.com. While I was looking, I would find lots and lots of used canoes in Florida, almost all of them in excellent condition. I suspect Florida rivers are pretty easy on a boat.
Will check out paddleswap
Great, thank you guys for your help. I will start looking at paddleswap now.
The main criticism I found of Royalite was on Mohawk’s own website! They said that because the outer layer on Royalite is thinner than Royalex, it tends to scratch and show wear more easily.
I’m a little nervous about lifting a 41 lb boat, not necessarily onto my car but more so from the car to the water. Would a cart be a good investment, or do you think I could carry it on my shoulder?
I had the Solo 14 in royalite and it was 39lbs, and the “Strap” carry yoke worked very well. The Solo 13 will weigh even less, is it 36lbs? The royalite did get a bit abused on the rocky Ozark rivers I paddle, but I’d have no qualms about buying a royalite boat again. And in Florida, you’ll most certainly be less abusive to the boat. I say go with the royalite and save a few lbs. Miriam’s “Testimony” is very telling. As for the price, I just looked at the website. Mohawk Solo 13 in royalite is $710 minus 6% “Off season” discount. New Solo 13 for $667 and change is a pretty good deal IMHO. I think the Mohawk Solo series are good boats, and will serve you well! WW
I’m a guy and weigh about 145 lbs. My boat weighs 46 lbs. I can handle it, but am glad it’s no heavier. Perhaps a female your size will chime in. I don’t own a cart, but I will as I get older.
If your concern about Royalite is the lifespan of the canoe, that’s a legitimate concern. If it’s just cosmetic scratches, well— you just have to get over that. All boats get “character marks.” Be proud of them! If you start looking at used canoes, you’ll find it common that many are advertised “in great condition with the usual scratches.”
You portage a canoe like
Carrying a 40 lb boat on your shoulder is uncomfortable. Even a 23 lb boat like Placids are too without padding.
Try to locate a Wenonah Sandpiper. They stopped producing them not that long ago.
The Pack is probably too wide for you to paddle it properly.
The solo 13 is a good all around canoe, but I would choose the Sandpiper.
I have a Mohawk Solo 14 in royalite that I have heavily abused for 11 years in north florida and it has held up very well. The sharp rocks, oysters and blunt trauma of ramming over thousands of logs have not required any repair. I did add skid plates, but when it gets deep scratches I just spray it with plastic paint to protect it from the UV rays.
royalite solo 13
The Solo 13 is a fun little boat. I recommend you get one.
A friend had a Royalite Solo 13 for a few years, and also a Royalex whitewater tandem canoe. It is true that the outer layer of Royalite scratches more easily than the outer layer of Royalex, but I doubt it will be a big issue in Florida, if you don’t abuse the boat at the land-water transitions (no dragging across concrete, no dragging across logs). Even when the outer layer gets removed, the next-inner layer is pretty tough. He never wore through to the center layer (of the five layers).
I have also read about the UV vulnerability of the inner layers. If you don’t store the boat outdoors and don’t cartop it for long distances, I doubt UV will be a problem.
Finally, there’s no reason you couldn’t get a white one and decorate it to your taste with bumper stickers or mylar streamers or whatever. It could be totally fabulous. And if you get tired of teal (it’s so early-90s!), you can change the color. If you never get tired of teal, then here’s a last bit of good news: If I recall correctly, the next inner layer of Royalite is … wait for it … teal! So every scratch will make your boat prettier.
just cover it for storage
UV should not be an issue. You can make a canoe cover if you are concerned with cartopping UV exposure.
The Boy’s Life article above shows the proper way to get the canoe from the ground and onto your shoulders. If this is too difficult for you, slide back just a bit and do the same move from the rear of the boat, leaving the bow on the ground. This way you are only lifting part of the weight. Once the back of the boat is above you, walk your hands forward a bit and the front of the boat will lift up on it’s own. Doing this will scratch up the bow deck plate a bit, but it makes it easier to manage a canoe that would otherwise be to heavy.
Good advice, and here’s more
It’s amazing what a big difference it makes if you leave one end of the boat on the ground. Now, if hand-walking your way forward along the gunwales until the boat tips up and onto your shoulders is too difficult, you might be able to rest your hands a bit by bearing a portion of the load on your head! A hat with a padded top helps. I thought of this for a reason, even though I don’t ever use my head when positioning a boat in this manner. For carries that are too long to be comfortable for me using the front edge of the seat as a carry-yoke but not long enough to install a clamp-on yoke, I sometimes put the top of my head against the floor of the boat and that does wonders for relieving the pressure on my shoulders, as well as relieving my arms of the whole job of keeping a front-heavy boat from tipping down as I walk. I figure a little lifting help using your head would work the same way when working your way under it to carry it on your shoulders too. Just don’t accidently put the whole weight on your head in case you are crooked underneath the thing. Practice makes perfect, and learning to get under the boat smoothly and with minimal effort is better than trying for brief moments to be stronger than you really are.
Thanks for the tips. I think I’ll be able to lift by working with one end, like you said. Maybe after some hours of paddling I’ll build up enough upper body strength to do the real thing!