Need the right canoe

Hi there, this is my first post! I’m looking to get my first canoe and float big reservoirs in the Sierras during deer season. I’ve researched online quite a bit and have brochures from Wenonah and Mad River, as well as visited local canoe/kayak stores and read issues of “Canoe & Kayak” magazine. I’d narrowed my choice to a Wenonah Kingfisher, 16-footer, that sounded like it would meet my needs.

Then I started reading about “folding” canoes by Ally and Pakboat. Their own web sites make the point that has really intrigued me: when it comes to storage and transport, it’s tough to beat the portability of their canoes; for one thing, I wouldn’t even need a truck rack as I could just throw the bagged canoe in my F250’s extended cab or bed. On the other hand, I’ve heard that the manufacturer’s advertised “20-30” minutes to assemble is a bit optimistic and wonder about Pakboat’s side inflatable sponsons. I’ve also learned that folders ride the waves differently – sorta like inflatables – and really need a load to handle well.

Any firsthand knowledge would be greatly appreciated from this novice. Brand, size, weight, stability, pros & cons, hard-earned conclusions; just how tippy are these things?

I prefer a tandem boat, but there will be many times (especially since I’m nearing retirement) when I will solo paddle. Also, I’d like to hear how durable the lightweight canoes really are. Finally, I’ll be floating some gear: 2 hunters, camping gear for a week (at least) and, if successful, two loads of fresh venison. Sorry for the long post. But I want to buy once and buy right. Thanks.

getting in early and out late …

– Last Updated: Jul-26-06 4:04 AM EST –

... with a tree stands provides about all the assembly I can handle while hunting. I'd keep it simple as possible. But, I have no experience with folding canoes, so take my take for what it's worth.

Out for two weeks? Cold water? Kingfisher sounds like a good choice to me.

On the Ally Pak canoe
from experience:

You won’t put it together in 30 minutes the first time, (like almost any put together item). It will probably take an hour.

But after once or twice, 20 to 30 minutes is right on. Keep in mind the cold on your hands might make it more difficult.

On it’s loading: No problem for two adults and fourteen days of camping stuff, but I don’t know what two deer will weigh and how much room they will take.



How about a wenonah Prospector?
Can’t help you with the folding canoes.

As far as the Kingfisher, it does sound like it will fit your needs for the tandem use and camping gear. The bug-a-boo is when you add the 2 loads of fresh venison. I don’t know the size of your deer, but ours is like adding another person. Two deer could be 350#s. I don’t know that the Kingfisher can handle all that.

I do, however, know that the wenonah Prospector 16 can. It is a nice, stable canoe that can carry a big load. It is a bit narrower than the Kingfisher, but it is deeper. the Kingfisher has a very flat bottom while the Prospector is rounded, however the Prospector is rock solid especially with a load. In fact the bigger the load, the more stable it gets. Both canoes weigh about the same.

I don’t know how rough your water gets, but the Prospector handles rough water very well. A down side is if it’s windy and you are paddling it empty, there is a lot of freeboard (distance between the water and the gunwales) that can catch the wind. This can be very pronounced paddling it solo in the wind.

I don’t know about the Kingfisher paddled solo. I know it can be but I don’t know how well it performs. The Prospector can be paddled solo and is often publicized as such. I think that is for/from the experts in “Canadian” style solo paddling. For the novice I think it paddles as well as any other tandem. In other words, it’s OK.

Lightweight canoes are very durable. They can not, however, be abused. Kevlars probably shouldn’t be used on rapids and they shouldn’t be rammed onto shore especially if shore is rock or cement. If you’re using it on a lake just take extra care landing and launching. The other good thing about kevlar is they are easily repaired.

If you would have said that the canoe was for fishing, camping, calm water, duck hunting, and just messing around, I would have said the Kingfisher was a fine choice. But the two deer, and to a certain extent the soloing, makes me lean toward the Prospector 16.

Good Luck! Have fun!

Pakboat Canoes
I did a 83 mile trip in a Pakboat 14T (solo) this spring (San Juan in Utah). My brother did the trip with his wife in a 16’ tandem, and another friend with us had the 14’ solo. He’d already used it on a 120 mile trip on the Green a couple of years ago.

The boats are easy to paddle, and pretty tough, although not as tough as a Royalex canoe.

I think a lot depends on how you want to use them. It isn’t that difficult to set them up, maybe 20-30 minutes by the second or third time.

If you are only going to canoe one time a year; if you’re going to fly with your canoe at some point; if you’re short on storage or don’t have an easy way to transport a canoe, then I think they are a good option.

On the other hand, I paddle several times per week, and I haven’t had the Pakboat out since our trip in April. It’s just easier to throw one of my other canoes in the back of the truck (or on the rack is I’m going further), then to deal with putting the Pakboat together. And most of my other canoes are a little more fun to paddle.

In addition, even the Pakboat, which is on the less expensive end of folders, is going to cost substantially more than other canoes.

Like most things, it all depends. IMHO.

Good advice
Great advice, thanks for the help. I think I’ll leave the collapsables until I have more water miles under the deck. I’m checking out more canoes: Bell MorningStar, Old Town Penobscot 16, Nova Craft Prospector 16 (is that much rocker gonna be of use on flatwater?) and Mad River Explorer 16.

Two fresh venison loads are gonna account for approx. 300-350 lbs. Wall-type tent and wood stove, 107 lbs. Two hunters, 350 lbs. Misc. ?? Some of the reservoirs I’m looking at have high wind warnings in the afternoons. Any other recommendations?

OT Tripper XL

– Last Updated: Jul-28-06 9:09 AM EST –

Gad Zooks... wit dat load! Ye be talkin' 800+ lbs. Try loadin' dat much weight into those 16 - 17 footers an' see how far ye gits. De manufacturers usually give max weight carryin' capacity based on a 6 inch freeboard (6" down from de midship gunnnel to de water). Well, if ye load dat much weight ta have only a 6" freeboard left, ah' kin' purdy much reckon' yer be goin' ta have some big time troubles wit paddlin' 'er an' keepin' dem 16 footers ye be contemplatin' in control in anythin' but smooth, still water - even wit a deep hulled Prospector. Realisticly, ah' reckon's about 50 - 60% of de maximum rated capacity is de limit for reasonable control an' safety. These 16 - 17 footers claim a maximum of 800 - 1000 lbs. so 400 - 500 lbs. be de practical limit. De 20' Old Town Tripper XL is rated to 1500 lbs. agin' practically 700 - 800 lbs.

Jus' me 2 half-farthings.

Fat Elmo

It sounds like you’re not going
to paddle anywhere too rocky so I’d suggest a kevlar layup. They’re more expensive but much lighter. My eighteen foot kevlar canoe is lighter than my 14 ft Royalex solo canoe. It’s amazing how much a few pounds difference make when loading and unloading a canoe on the truck. As you get older, you’ll be a lot happier with a lighter canoe.

Split the load?
Whoa, I just did the math meself and that’s way more than what I thought I’d be carrying. Yeah, 2 hunters and 2 loads of fresh venison alone, using my calculations, puts it at 700 lbs. And that’s not counting any gear. Glad to learn the scoop on posted “capacity” ratings. Don’t have any plans about tempting fate, so I’ll give the gear a hard look and see where to cut corners. The tent I was looking at was the 12’X12’ Alaknak by Cabela’s; also, where I planned on buying the tent stove. Maybe I’ll just take my old Eureka Timberline 2-man tent and 2-burner Primus propane stove and build a tidy little base camp out of that. My buddy’s already got a 17’ canoe, but I don’t recall brand or anything else about it. It might be an old Coleman and it’s rated at 800 lbs. capacity. I guess if we split the gear between his canoe and my planned purchase, we’d be good to go.

Wenonah encounter
Big resevior, hauling deer, the encounter is the way to go.

It’s a horse race!

I looked up Wenonah’s Encounter and wondered if it could be ordered rigged for tandem. I thought I read a past post somewhere here where someone did that. Wasn’t clear if the factory or the poster actually did the rigging.

I just measured my inside garage space and 17’ would take up all the garage’s 3rd car parking space, from door to reloading table, where I normally park my GT6 Mk III. But I’m thinking of selling my little '73 Triumph anyhow (don’t drive it enough and I now like trucks).

Right now, the two horses leading the pack down the backstretch are the Encounter and Nova Craft Prospector 16. The Old Town Penobscot 16 might be making a move on the outside though, with the Bell MorningStar giving a strong showing inside.

Place your bets fellas!

tandem wenonah
Yep, I posted an email re a tandem encounter and described what I did to convert to tandem/solo. Check out product reviews here.

That boat will haul a ton even with a 200# plus paddler. Considered an efficient hull and surprised at manueverability although that is quite relative.

more ponderables

– Last Updated: Jul-30-06 10:46 AM EST –

... an Encounter rigged tandem for 2 guys, 2 deer and camping gear? I don't know if that's what your talking about doing with it but I doubt you'd like it if you are.

Also Nova Craft Prospector 16 is a great boat but it is built a lot heavier than your purposes require.

I'd keep looking at other options, there are plenty. Especially since you can get Bells and Wenonahs in your area.

You might bump up to the 17 Penobscot. The Penobscot would in my opinion give you some advantage crossing stillwater because of the slight V which gives it good tracking.

Your Timberline combined with a tarp to build a water retardant kitchen would lighten your load. You could then use it to wrap your kill, after you rid them of unnecessary weight.

No Encounter for your use
The Encounter is a large volume SOLO, not a tandem. It is narrower and has less volume than any 17’Wenonah Tandem, even the 17’Jensen. For your load and weather conditions, you need a high volume seaworthy tandem. At your garage imposed 17’ limit; and you don’t need to sell the sportscar, hang the canoe above it; the best choices would be the Spirit II, the Prospector, or the Old Town Tripper

The Morningstar is too small, the 17 Penobscot would not take the load as well as the three i mentioned, and I would not send my exwife out on a big lake with your load in a Coleman.

Without a length limit, I would recommend the Wenonah Champlain and Itasca, they were built for big loads and big water.

The Encouter can take a load with a solo paddler, or take two paddlers and no load, but its a very tender hull with tandem paddlers in the ends. Where the load goes in a tandem is different from where the load is centered in a solo. And it would bury its bow in a modest wave with a large bow paddler.


You need a pontoon boat!! lol

I think your buddy needs to get a canoe too. That way you two can split the gear and food. I’m sure you’ll already have the deer skinned out, so the weight from the venision shouldn’t be 350 pounds.

Based on your need to solo and sometimes tandem, an encounter will fill the bill. Reason must be considered, however. If you intend to haul tons of gear etc. across big open water a 16’ V bottom motorized craft would be best. Alternatively a nice 18 foot whitewaterX, penobscot or sundowner would work, again within reason. If you get two big deer boned out or whole, I’d consider making two trips. Wouldn’t want to try to paddle a big tandem solo. If you primarily paddle solo this is where an Encounter comes in. At 6’, 220 the E’s hull doesn’t even know I’m in it. Because of this bouyancy I considered trying this as a tandem. I doubted a tandem conversion would work because of the weight distribution toward the bow and stern. Put in two Wenonah sliders customized to 4" high and 9" wide, that made the difference. Take care where the tandem seats are positioned. Try it out before you finally attach them. The pedestals were pinned in for easy conversion to tandem or solo. I fully expected the boat to be dog and uncomfortably tippy. I have a photo of me sitting in the stern position and the boat appears to be almost squarely trimmed. I found the max solo slider adjustment as delivered would accomodate about a 225/230 person and still be able to trim an empty boat. The stock pedestal height and 7" width made the boat feel unstable. It’s like sitting on the edge of a 2x4 vs a 4x6. If your weight is considerably less than 200# you would have that much greater capacity and trim adjustment. Good hunting.