Need Guidance- Solo/tandem...

Hi All,

I’ve been a canoe enthusiast for a long time now and now have the chance to buy my own (as opposed to borrow/rent), but having difficulty deciding on a direction - solo or tandem.

Is there a great tandem canoe that works just as well solo (best of both worlds)? I’ve had my eye on buying a prospector for as long as I can remember but I believe 60% of the time I’ll be by myself enjoying a paddle/fishing and I’d like one that tracks/glides well without a lot of correction. Was leaning towards a solo for those reasons. Most of my excursions however have been with buddies on fishing trips.

Lake river use…not much,if any, whitewater.

Note: Heading to Algonquin in August so I’m looking at Swift & Langford who sell in that area. Price point is max $3k.

Super thanks for any advise/feedback.

for best results and handling you should be near the center of the boat solo.

That means for tandem you will be heeling it over to get a vertical stroke and lose the length advantage of a flat boat. Also boats heeled become much less of trackers and more of spinners.

One boat will not do it all…Pick the use that you will be mostly doing…ie tandem or solo and buy the appropriate boat.

I have never been a fan of Langford. Its a rebranded Quessy and made in Quebec.

Swift however IS local and has very good build quality.

There is no “best for both”.

Get the one for the use you will do the most of in the immediate future and shop for a deal on the other. Or shop for the deal on the one you can find cheapest in the immediate future and get the other at first opportunity. Or get the tandem and struggle with it when solo in the breeze indefinitely. Your choice.

You could always let friends bring their own canoe…

Solo Plus
As others said there is none that does both great but there are many tandems that paddle quite well solo if you flip them around and paddle from the front seat.

The closest thing to doing both well is the Wenonah Solo Plus which is more of a solo canoe with a tandem option. The Nova Craft Bob Special also paddles quite nicely solo or tandem.

Prospectors also handle fairly well solo, especially if you heel them on their side.

here is a prior thread

Using a single boat for both tandem or solo paddling is always going to compromise either solo or tandem performance, or both. It will either be on the large side for solo use or the small side for tandem use.

If you must the best choice is probably a canoe in the 15-16 foot range which is not too wide. Some choices others have made include the Mad River Malecite, Wenonah Solo Plus, Bell Canoe Northstar, Bell/Placid/Colden Starfire, Esquif Avalon, and the Old Town Penobscot 16.

A Prospector canoe in the 15-16 foot range would also work but Prospectors are really not the best design for primarily lake use as their high, recurved stems tend to catch a good bit of wind.

Go by Swift
And paddle their solo boats. Keewaydin 15 could fill your bill.

A lot will depend on how far you travel and in what conditions. I almost always paddle solo and have a few different solo hulls I take depending on what I’m doing. That’s what I’m used to. I have some tandems as well but they don’t get paddled very often.

This weekend I got a used Bell Northstar. I wanted a boat that was mainly a tandem but small enough to solo in a pinch. I took it out for a short solo down the river on Saturday and while it wasn’t terrible it certainly didn’t handle as well as a solo. There was a stiff breeze and the higher sides caused the boat to be blown around much more than I’m used to with my solos. It’s also harder to control in those conditions since you’re too far back to have much control over the bow. Too wide to hit and switch effectively.

If the wind had been calm it would have been a very enjoyable paddle. Even as it was it was still fun, just more work than I’m used to. It would be a fun boat to solo in calm conditions but not something I’d want to be in if I suddenly got caught by the wind. I don’t see myself choosing to paddle this boat solo unless I have no other choice, like an upcoming trip where I can only take one boat but need it to do solo and tandem duties. I’ll just have to be more choosy than normal about the waters I paddle solo.

I took it out on another river Sunday but this time tandem. It did great, couldn’t have been happier with it.

Like the others said I think you’d be best served by two boats. With your budget of $3k you could buy two really nice used boats.


Two boats…
Absolutely. You can paddle a tandem solo, but it won’t be as fun to paddle as a dedicated solo. You can’t paddle most solos tandem. The Solo Plus comes closest to being a do-either boat, and others paddle solo reasonably okay, like the Penobscot 16. But ideally you need a good solo and a used, cheap tandem if you want to do both but plan on spending more time soloing.

One of each
Get yourself a nice solo boat, and pick up a used tandem. My prediction is that you will spend a lot more time paddling solo once you have your own boat.

Thanks for the feedback
Will most-likely look for a nice solo then used tandem.

Having a look at what Swift offers and their differences.

If anyone has experience with any of those would love to hear from you.


Result: picked up a Keewaydin 15
Thanks to your advise I’m having a Keewaydin 15 solo built. Kevlar Fusion in Ruby/Champagne two-tone with carbon gunnels. Brian at Algonquin outfitters will actually be delivering it here in Ottawa in a few weeks. Again, thanks for the advise (and thanks the Brian and Skip at Algonquin for their service!)

keewaydin 15
So how did the keewaydin 15 work out?