Need canoe advice -- long-ish trip

Of course I agree.
I did not mean to suggest such a silly thing. No boat is truly bombproof. When you are paddling an arctic river your mindset changes completely. No rational person would ever go there without the skills and also without a healthy dose of humility and caution. You do not want crazy careless young bucks along on the trip who have not lived long enough to have made mistakes and learned from them. You want grown ups. Any doubt? carry. A foolish paddler with an inflated view of his or her own skill level is a disaster in that environment, a danger to himself and his trip mates. At least that is my approach in that environment. I suppose others take a different view.

I did hear of one very accomplished arctic paddler running some heavy layup composite up there once - can’t remember his name right now. But I honestly believe that there really is no doubt that royalex is by far the most prevalent, and with good reason. Composite boats are wonderful in many environments - and no doubt you could paddle a composite boat on an arctic river. It would not be my choice.

But my question remains - do you run composite boats when you are on lengthy trips in the arctic? I’d be interested to hear how it worked out.

I can’t comment

– Last Updated: Nov-30-11 8:55 AM EST –

on the choice of materials for Arctic use having never been on an Arctic trip. I have used composite boats on self-supported trips up to a couple of weeks in length but not on remote rocky rivers.

Royalex may well be the material of choice on a remote venture in which catastrophic failure would have serious consequences. Royalex is more likely to survive a serious pin or very hard impact with an immovable object. But Royalex has an Achille's heel and that is its relatively poor abrasion resistance. The material is quite soft compared to composites.

Take a piece of coarse sandpaper to a Royalex boat and a composite boat (as I have done to do patch repairs and apply abrasion plates) and you can confirm this very quickly. I recently heard a story regarding an open boater who walked out of a river gorge during a whitewater run by dragging his Royalex boat by its bow and stern painters hull down along the steel rails of a train track and wore the boat down into the foam core after a couple of miles.

A couple of years ago, Dave Yost told me a story about a river trip involving a good bit of dragging in which he paddled a composite boat and others used Royalex. At the end he said his boat was "scratched up" but the Royalex boats were "shot".

Not sure how we got from “slow coastal river” in the US to the Canadian North, in this thread…

But I have both composite and royalex canoes. For the OP’s stated use, I’d still recommend one of several composite layups as preferable over rx - the Wenonah Tuff-Weave discussed earlier being one of them.

No one takes a new boat on an Arctic
trip. I have only been there once and the boat was Royalex. Unlike most boats which have one way journeys and are abandoned on the tundra we had a road out and could extract our boat. Flights out with a boat are very expensive and sometimes externally tying on the boat is not allowed.

So as the folks that live up there have little use for a recreational canoe (they use large motorized freight canoes), there are many abandoned Royalex canoes on Arctic shores.

Colemans are also used. For hard shell boats the cheaper the better. Many canoeists are going to PakBoats as they collapse to be transported by air.

What happens in the Arctic has little relevance to North Carolina if the OP is not going to the Arctic.

Too expensive…
I have to agree with a few others that mention the price is too high.

There are other boats that you could buy new for less money, and get more versatility. As an example the Old Town Penobscot 16 in Royalex, it’ll handle the class 1 and 2 of the Piedmont streams, e.g. Uwharrie, and will paddle with relative ease on the slow moving streams, e.g. Cape Fear and the Roanoke. I used the examples of the Uwharrie and Cape Fear because they are rivers I have paddled in my Penobscot.

As an owner of a Minn II…

– Last Updated: Dec-01-11 1:40 PM EST –

I have enjoyed "Big Blue" thoroughly for racing as well as just lilydipping with other rec paddlers. It's a great tripping boat which actually performs better when fully loaded. It handles tight turns well like you'd find on most of the piedmont rivers, and it does great on open water too, handling snotty conditions well (which includes weekend stinkpots, lake lice, and Miami vice muscle boats too!) I can easily load and unload it by myself, and if you need to portage it, it's easily done solo or tandem. Mine has a gelcoat which makes it weigh around 46 lbs. As long as you don't plan to go bushwhacking or rock hopping, it should fulfill most of your paddling needs. I've logged around 5000 miles on mine from Algonquin to the Adirondacks to Key Largo. I highly recommend it!

price is a little high
on that boat. I will bet you it is a Jensen 18 though.

I bought one this spring used for $1400, in Kevlar. They are very very good boats though, quite fast, nice and stable. If you are willing to shell out the money, get it, but its a little high.

They do have stickers on them that say “Wenonah”, “Jensen Designed”, and “Kevlar 49”.

If you want faster, step up to an 18’+. 16’ you are not really going to notice much.

info overload
Please, test paddle before you buy. I have some experience with the boats under discussion and your skills and size will be important. IMHO the 18 jensen is particularly tippy and hard to turn. with gear it should be more stable but harder to turn. Good luck.

Mostly true - forget the arctic thing
My point for the OP is that Royalex boats are a excellent option for many trippers in his area and elsewhere and might be the best option for him/her. There are advantages and disadvantages.