need help with a solo

hi everyone. im new here and have some questions about solo’s. last year i got an old town guide 147 for a present and want to switch to a solo for this year. i will be using it on smaller inland lakes, some portaging, and small slower rivers. i can only afford up to 1100 but would likt to keep it well under 1g. i have looked at an old town pack and a cranberry creek paddler. anyone have experience with these two. i would like a boat that is fairly fast and fairly stable. i weight 195 so keep that in mind as well. thanks a lot.

Used Merlin II in Kevlar
Great all-arounder…

The Merlin II that Wildwater recommended is a very nice boat. The Bell Magic is another one. The Wenonah Prism would be another excellent choice, and should be available at a lower cost than the other two.

I think you can do a lot better than the OT Pack for the money. It’s basically a small rec boat. Nice for just puttering around, but not efficient enough for my tastes. If you are looking for speed, it is definitely not the boat you want. If you are looking for a small boat, you could look at a Wenonah Vagabond, although I would not describe it as fast. Another possibility would be a Wenonah Solo Plus, which is pretty stable for a solo paddler, but not as fast as the Magic, Prism, and Merlin II.

Also, if you post where you are located, there might be someone who can direct you to a boat in your area.

Merlin II is a Bit Twitchy
Just re-read your post. The Merlin II by Bell may be a bit twitchy for the poster.

Pack is slooowwww…
but it’s light. Most Royalex and poly boats will be heavier. Composite boats might fit the quick and light bill. For the money you want to spend you are talking used so expect to search around some.

I’ve got a Swift Osprey in Kevlar that’s quick and light. I weigh about the same and that boat doesn’t mind.

Yeah, now that you mention it, I guess it might be. I was just thinking that it is a bit more maneuverable than the Prism and Magic, but still pretty efficient.

My impression is that the Prism has the highest initial stability of the ones I mentioned, and with the pedestal mount portage yoke, should be relatively easy to portage, plus it’s usually not that hard to find used.

I think the Magic is relatively stable if the seat isn’t mounted too high, but it might be hard for him to find one in his price range. The cantilevered portage yoke that Bell sells is relatively simple and relatively inexpensive, but I’ve only used one for a few minutes so I don’t know how comfortable it would be for longer than that. The only problem I see with the Bell boats is that they might be a bit over his budget even if he can find one used in his area.

Does it sound like I’m thinking along the right lines for him, or am I missing something?

I would avoid the old town pack and cranberry creek paddler – stable but not fast. How about a wenonah Solo Plus?! It is a good solo canoe.

A wenonah Vgabound wouldn’t be a bad choice (and is quite a bit cheaper than the Solo Plus).

I have a wenonah sandpiper(royalex) that I used last summer on a 2 week solo trip,and I will be using again this summer on a 4 week wilderness solo trip.For me,it is a darn near perfect canoe for my trips.It is light,easy to paddle,and easy to portage.I am light(140lb),but for someone larger(over 150lb),probably the Vagabond would be more suitable.It is like the Sandpiper,but a little longer and more stable.I used a double blade for windy days,and it was unstoppable


Wide and slow?
It appears (by your two choices) that you are looking at fishing boats. Is this the case or do you want more of a multi-use hull?

Wenonah Sandpiper
I also have a Sandpiper, which I dearly love. I haven’t had it out tripping for trips as long as yours (yet), with my longest trips involving 3 nights, but it does hold a lot of gear for being a small solo. It suits my multipurpose needs quite well…paddling lakes, swamps, small twisty creeks, and rivers. It handles minor whitewater (Class I-II) quite nicely, and I’ve done a couple of baby Class III’s, but I wouldn’t use it for dedicated whitewater play more than what it’s been used for so far. It’s a gem for a downriver boat for multi-purpose situations and handles the wind well, too. I just have so much fun when I’m paddling. Not sure if it’s the boat, paddling companions, or the river itself. Must be a combination of all three! :slight_smile:


The Solo Plus catches alot of wind.
I’m 5’6" and weigh 150lbs and I paddled 16 miles down river against a very strong headwind (if I stopped paddling I’d go backwards upstream fast) and the royalex Solo Plus was a beast to keep moving solo. The tandem canoe paddlers and the kayaks had a much easier time of it and I was using a kayak paddle. I’m relatively inexperienced, but my Mad River Slipper solo canoe or one of my kayaks would have been a much better choice on that windy day, but I had just bought the Solo Plus the day before and wanted to try it out. This was a day trip and I only had about 10lbs of gear, so I was floating pretty high on the water. I would expect it to handle better in the wind with several days worth of gear. With your weight and some gear, you’d probably be much better off in windy conditions in this boat than I was.

I test paddled a Sawyer Oscoda 13 for about 10 minutes yesterday and liked it alot. It might not handle your weight, but I’d stronly consider buying one if one came available. It handled nice on Sugar Creek in Indiana and the seat shape and position felt very comfortable.

Good luch with whatever you buy.