Need canoe advice - large man

I am looking to purchase a conoe for myself and my family to enjoy. I am new to Canoes, only going out a couple times as a kid. My main concern is I am 6’5" 350 lbs. My wife is 180 lbs and my son is around 50 lbs. I have concerns with stability given my weight at the back of the boat. I see canoes with 1000 lb ratings, but I wonder if my weight in the back will make the canoe unstable. Can anyone provide any suggestions?



hey mike
You actually want to be quite a bit under the maximum capacity of the canoe or else it will be very tippy, unstable and just plain harder to paddle and maneuver.

You’ve got alot of choices, but if you have a price range you’re sticking to that will help to narrow it down. I would suggest, however, to go with at least a 16’and maybe consider a 17’if you’re planning to have the whole family in it most of the time. Length alone doesn’t determine the capacity of a canoe, but it’s definitely a factor. Here are just a couple of suggestions, but obviously your options are greater the higher the price range.

Old Town Penobscot

Mad River Explorer 16 TT


Good morning
I would look at a Wenonah Champlain, I have a Spirit II, bought it as a family canoe and a wilderness tripper, it’s served above my expectations on both.

The Champlain is a larger capacity version here’s a link.

Trim Considerations

You didn’t say what kind of water you are going to be paddling, but I am curious as to why you are going to sit in the stern. For paddling flatwater in the wind, I always feel it is better to have the heavy end of the boat point into the wind, since that is what the boat wants to do anyway. So you probably should think about being able to paddle either bow or stern, depending on conditions.

I think you should look for a boat with flexible seating, specifically, some sort of sliding or repositioning system. Moving your seat toward the center of the boat will help neutralize the trim of the boat. Otherwise, you may end up carrying ballast, which means paddling harder. The boat is also wider in the center, and that helps the stability.

If you can keep your weight low (how are your knees?) you should be very stable. Kneeling, with your butt supported on the seat or a paddling thwart, helps lower the center of gravity.

I’d suggest you look for a large boat (17’ or more). You have a recommendation for a Penobscott, but why not a Tripper, from the same maker (Old Town)? It is a few inches wider, increasing stability and capacity. But I don’t know if OT has adjustable seating. Esquif also has a nice tripping boat (maybe a prospector?) and the boat weighs less than the Tripper, which they call 80 lbs.

Thanks for all of the advice. I was figuring around $1,000 price range, but would go as high as $2,000 if it meant a comfortable, stable ride.

I also noticed that Cabelas sells stablizing floats that attach to the canoe to help prevent tipping - not sure if anyone has any feedback on these items.

I live in Lancaster County,PA and plan to mainly use the canoe on Blue Marsh lake - very calm and flat recreational, but with power boats around as well, there can be some wake.

might be a good choice
I just looked at this canoe. From reading the description, it looks like this canoe might be what I am looking for.

Do you know if there are roof racks that can be purchased for transporting this canoe to and from the water?

Mostly Flat Water
For the most part it will be used for flat water that might be disrupted by the occasional boat wake.

We do however vacation in NJ on a river and I like the idea of doing some river trips down the road when the kids get a little older.

Canoes with a 1000 pound capacity should be fine. The Ch mentioned above is good. Lots of canoes for you out there. Remember, if it gets rough (waves) to kneel down as opposed to sit during the wakes if needed. You’d be suprised how nice the canoe will move with you in the back and wife in front even if there is quite a difference in weight. It would be best if you kiddo was seated in front of the middle twart. But, I weigh 240 and use a 30 pound dumbbell way up front when soloing on lakes and it works fine. Don’t let your size concern you when canoeing. Buy the one mentioned or something similiar that is 17 or 18 feet long and somewhat wide. Keep it under 70 pounds for ease of car top loading. Best to try it if you can to see how the seats fit (especially hips).

Racks. The’ve been discussed to death here. Foam blocks will do well. Personally, I don’t get caught up in buying expensive racks, I have a cheap pair for the car and a homemade wood thing for my small pickup. Sometimes I use the foam blocks. Just tie it down well in front (2 places), rear, and sides (sides over the canoe and through the door frame works fine if no gutters or expensive side clasps - straps buckled together work best for sides in my opinion - as opposed to rope, but rope will work).

check out
the old town guide , I have one and it’s pretty stable and has a 900lb weight limit

You need the Perfect Rock
Check this article about how to add weight to the front of the canoe to level it out.

Great idea!

Wenonah Champlain
This hull is available with sliding seats front and rear; and that will help your trim issues a lot.

the Champlain was designed for big paddlers and a lot of gear. It has high volume and is not as weight sensitive as lower volume canoes in respect to trim. And it weighs a lot less in any of its available composite layups than the Old Town Tripper which is not available with a sliding stern seat. The Tripper is a good canoe, just a very heavy one.


Advice for big paddlers
If you haven’t yet found this website, it’s an excellent resource for larger paddlers, especially in choosing boats and other gear:

The site is apparently no longer offered by it’s original author, but the content is now graciously hosted by Derrick at KayakQuixotica.

Hope this helps!

Blue Mountain Outfitters?

– Last Updated: Sep-05-07 10:05 AM EST –


Have you visited Blue Mountain Outfitters in Marysville, PA? They are close to you I believe. They have a lot of canoes on hand and are very knowlegable boaters. They can offer you a lot of advice and insights you are looking for. Be sure try before you buy.



Yea, I know I need a rock. In the BW I use em (always a good one at portages - no, I don’t carry em overthe portages, at least not on purpose), but here in my corner of NE MO the only thing available is mud at lake and river shores. That doesn’t work too well. One time, I used a big old piece of tree trunk I found by a picnic area when, like a dumbbell, I forgot my dumbbell.

Agree with mcwood…
BMO is a great paddleshop. Great people and great service. Worth the drive…

Thank you everyone!
Thank you everyone. The advise has been very helpful.

I am probably going to go with the Champlain. I like the idea of taking the family out on weekend camping trips and this seems to be a good choice.

I will go to some stores in the area first to check on fit and the such and to gather more advice before purchasing.

I am glad to know that it is not out of the question and with the weight difference, we can still be able to find something that works!

Thanks for the info, this is a great site!