Need advice on a solo canoe

Hello! I am 30 years old and have been canoeing since I was about 6. I canoed Old Towns till I was around 19 then Switched to a dagger cypress, and a dagger blackwater. I am now older and doing alot more overnight trips and i would like a little more storage space. I won’t lie it’s getting harder and harder to get in and out of my kayak! The rivers I canoe are mostly shallow and slow moving, but there are sections that can be class2 maybe even 3 if its flooded. It is rocky and you have to pick your paths wisely if you don’t want to get stuck on the bottom. So maneuverability is very important. Lightweight is also a plus because I have to portage around log jams. I was thinking about a mohawk maybe? A friend really likes them. Thanks for reading this, I would love to hear back. P.S. I would like to keep the price around 1,000 give or take a couple hundred.

Mohawk is fine

– Last Updated: Sep-25-09 3:17 PM EST –

While ABS does not make for a lightweight hull, the Mohawk 13 or 14 would be adequate within your price constraints, but consider Bell's Yellowstone Solo and Wenonah's Argosy in ABS as well.

I test paddled

– Last Updated: Sep-26-09 11:21 PM EST –

the Yellowstone Solo, the Argosy, and the Vagabond all in Royalex for use on rivers that sound very similar to yours. I choose the Argosy, but the Yellowstone was a close 2nd. If you want to double-blade (since you are coming from a kayaking) I think you would like the Argosy with a footbrace. It has a adjustable seat with a lowered tilted postion that (in conjunction with the footbrace) is perfect for double blading. If you are planning on kneeling and single blading the Yellowstone might get the nod since it is a little more manuverable. Its higher, flat seat is really nice for kneeling and when kneeling the stability of the Yellowstone and Argosy seems about the same. When sitting the Yellowstone seemed a lot more tippy than the Argosy. My Argosy weighs about 43 lbs and it shoulder carries just like my kayak.

Both of these canoes are best limited to class 2, but with air bags and a skilled paddler I am told they can do light class 3. Others in this category are the Mad River Freedom Solo and the Mohawk Odysey 14.

When I was buying I could not get any good info on Mohawk qualitly since they were sold and moved to the new factory in Arkansas. Everything I heard about the old Mohawks was great, but I just did not hear from any owners of the newer Mohawks.

Edited to remove reference to Mohawk XL. I misread Mr. Wilsons post.


mohawk xl
I looked at the mohawk xl 13 and it looks like what im looking for. Is there anyone out there who can give me first hand testimonials? How is the tracking? To answer one of the questions i will be single bladeing. thank you

I haven’t paddled the XL 13, but at 13 feet long with three inches of rocker, I think you need to think about some things.

Most of the paddling you described doesn’t call for a whitewater design. It looks like the XL 13 is a lot less “extreme” of a whitewater design than some, so it MAY be good for what you want.

Here are some things I do know. First, a boat with that much symetrical rocker will have you pointed every which way if you don’t have good ‘J’ and ‘C’ strokes. If you paddle using the ‘Goon’ stroke (if you apply course correction with a mild stern pry dragged as a rudder) you will be fighting this boat more than benefiting from it. Second, if you are a big guy, a 13-foot boat will be a real pig on slower water where you need to rely on your own paddling speed. I have a Mohawk Odyssey 14, which is my favorite for the types of water you describe (except the Class III) cruises nicely and easily does ANY kind of tight maneuvering I need, but it becomes a bit of a slug when loaded with 40 or 50 pounds of camping gear (I weigh about 165, so do the math and think about it. Of course, if I weighed 40 pounds more, I’d probably be a lot stronger too, so factor that in as you see fit). A 13-foot boat is very small for non-whitewater stuff, unless you are a very small person. Also, a boat that’s that short and with that much rocker will sit a lot deeper in the water than, say, a less-rockered 14-foot boat, so those slow-water, shallow spots you describe will have you getting out and walking a lot more often.

Finally, most people who haven’t done much whitewater greatly overestimate the whitewater they might face, which is understandable since most written river guides do the same thing (I still haven’t done a whole lot of whitewater, but I’m starting to figure this out). Real Class-III will usually swamp an open canoe very quickly unless it’s well-filled with air bags. If that’s the kind of whitewater you are planning, fine, but to do this AND the water you say you’ll be in the vast majority of the time, it might make a lot more sense to get one boat for your most-urgent needs, and a whitewater boat later. If you want one boat for both, you will either give up the ability to “play” in Class III (though you can still negotiate it, as well as have a blast in Class II), OR you will have a boat that is a complete dog in slow water. I’d opt for the boat that “can” do Class-III when outfitted with bags and a pedestal seat, but which is still comfortable cruising on quiet water. I wouldn’t buy a mild whitewater boat for mostly doing slow water.

My two and one-half cents.

How’s the tracking on a 3" rocker boat?
It won’t track worth a darn. The paddler has to do that.

One thing to consider if you’re paddling a lot of shallow water is that a lot of rocker can make for a relatively scrapy ride. The volume lost in the rocker means the boat has to sit deeper somewhere else, like the center.

Never paddled an XL13 so I can’t comment on that boat specifically.

Have Wenonah Argosy
Needed solo for fishing and general paddling. Did my homework and went to dealer sure that I wanted a Wenonah Vagabond, 14-6. After telling the salesperson what I wanted it for he told me that that was not the canoe I wanted, I wanted the Argosy, like the Voyager but with rocker. Reminded him that Wenonah calls it a river boat and I would be doing mostly flatwater, he replied “you want an Argosy”. Well, paddled both and he was correct. Performance similar, but Argosy very maneuverable. Have had three years now, great boat, plenty quick, plenty stable enough to fly fish, able to wiggle into small coves and feeder creeks, all I could ask for. Usually double paddle it to get to destination as has good tumblehome. Will easily keep up with recreational kayaks.

It is in your price range too.

One lesson I learned is that an experienced salesperson is invaluable. Oak Orchard in Rochester NY by the way, ask for Mike.

Another 2 cent worth…

– Last Updated: Sep-26-09 5:52 PM EST –

I have owned & paddled an Odyssey 14, and XL13.
I have owned & paddled an Argosy & Wildfire.

I generally feel comfortable paddling class 3, and have done class 3 in both of those canoes.

The XL 13 will handle class 3 with ease.
However, if you fully outfit it for whitewater; it's going to be at or very near 70 lbs total weight.
The boat itself weighs about 56 lbs.
A 70 pound boat, on class 3, being paddled solo by someone who does not typically paddle class 3 is going to require physical effort & skill.
A "really good" paddler could do class 3 in an XL 13 with only airbags installed(lessening the weight factor) & sitting on a wood cane seat. But they had better be a "really good" paddler.The XL 13 is generally going to be a pain in the ass to paddle on slow moving, shallow, flatwater rivers.
I would never own another XL 13 unless I was going to paddle high class 2/low class 3 rivers on a "regular" basis.

The flip side.........
The Odyssey 14 can handle class 3; if it's fully outfitted & has a skilled paddler aboard. But you will be pushing the limits of it's ability. The bow will submarine on large drops while the stern finishes getting over the drop. The Odyssey's 14 foot length, and lack of rocker at 1 3/4 inches, will limit your manueverability on class 3. However, the Odyssey will be a lot more pleasant to paddle on flatwater. It's a fun boat on class 2 + rivers, but if you get into "real" class 3; you had better be more skilled than a rookie, or you will spend a lot of your time swimming, swamped, or bailing.

If I were choosing between the two; I'd get the Odyssey 14, and rig it so I could use airbags when I "occasionally" paddled anything over class 2.
Sounds to me like you typically paddle less than class 3.
If you really want to do class 3 on a regular basis; keep your eye out for a cheap, outfitted, whitewater canoe.
They are not that difficult to find.
BUT keep the Odyssey 14.

Have photos of Wildfire, Argosy, Odyssey 14 & an XL 13 outfitted for whitewater. Email me if you would like to see them for comparison, or for whatever reason.

It is my personal opinion that the Argosy, and Yellowstone solo are virtually worthless on "real" class 3 whitewater. They won't do it; except in the hands of "highly skilled" paddlers.

P.S. You do it? Show us some photos!


The XL13 can not only handle Class III with ease, if you aren’t paying close enough attention, you might miss some Class III rapids while paddling an XL13. It is a very stable, friendly, and dry “big” whitewater boat. It is a pig on flatwater.

I rather expect that Charlie was referring to the Mohawk Solo 13 and Solo 14 which are very different boats from the XL series.

I’ve never owned an Odyssey but from what I have heard, I agree it would be the best Mohawk design for what the OP is planning.

Another consideration would be the Wenonah Rendezvous which would be a bit more whitewater capable than the Argosy, or the Wildfire or Yellowstone solo.

Lots of good advice above…
One thing strikes me…you said class 2 and maybe class 3 if it’s flooded. Unless you’re VERY experienced at true class 3 paddling, you should not ever be on a flooded river with class 3 rapids. My suggestion would be to forget the class 3 requirement completely. Assume you are looking for a boat that will easily handle shallow, obstruction-filled rivers up to low class 2. In that case, plenty of canoes will fill the bill but none of them should have much rocker. And in my experience on small Ozark creeks with lots of twisty winding courses, brush, log jams, rock gardens, and very shallow water, you probably don’t even need a solo that will sacrifice tracking ability for maneuverability. I paddle a Vagabond and can take it just about anywhere…and it tracks decently enough to make paddling through the flat water of bigger Ozark streams no real chore. To have a really maneuverable canoe, it needs to either have a lot of rocker or be very short. Both characteristics make it somewhat unpleasant to paddle on flatwater. I’d rather have one whose compromises lean a little more toward tracking ability. 14 feet is not too long.

Picking on the poor Yellowstone Solo
It does just fine in moving water

Personally, I wouldn’t take the Yellowstone Solo, Argosy, Wildfire or Odyssey in “real” class 3 unless the rapid was short and the swimming was easy. Other than that, I think the original poster could be happy with any of them.

Nothing wrong…
Nothing wrong with Wildfire/Yellowstone Solo; if used for purposes for which it was intended. I own a Wildfire;love using it on day floats, or for an overnighter with a reasonable amount of gear. Fun boat to play around with on class 2 rivers.

Go over a good sized drop with big standing waves at the bottom, and it will dive like the Nautilus. Up until the time that the OP mentioned class 3, the Wildfire/Yellowstone Solo would have been high on my “consider this one” list.


Hey Redrocket. If you live near Charlotte NC, or don’t mind a little trip. I have an Odyssey that’s never been on the river. No gouges just miner scratches. Wide Voyager skid plates. Nice solo! Nice price too. Ph. 704 533 4199