New Canoeing Family

Hi I am looking for a recommendation for a good starter canoe. We would need to buy two. Passengers are 2 adults each weigh about 200lbs. 3 children who weigh 140lbs, 90 lbs, and 40 lbs. I’m interested in beginner lake canoeing, with 1 adult and 1 or 2 children in each canoe. I would like a fairly stable canoe (one that doesn’t tip over easily - speed is not a priority), fairly long (roomy canoe). What material should the canoe be made of? We have a Suburban to transport them if this is a factor. I’ve grown up near the water but always had row boats or motor boats. I would love if you could give a couple actual boat names as opposed to general statements. Thanks for any info Barb

Have to talk generally…
…and I’m glad you’re family is getting into paddling. Given the assumed ages of your kids, I’d suggest you look at getting at least one solo boat, either kayak or canoe, as well as two double boats, and let the kids trade off. My 12-year-old grandson paddles a kayak as well as an adult, and enjoys the freedom. Shop the used market to begin with (look at the classified ads on this site), since you’ll all develop preferences with more experience; take classes; read paddling books from the library; join a club if possible; and NEVER paddle without PFDs. Enjoy!

Look for demo days or some type of paddle fest in your area, then paddle as many boats as you can. Absence this go to a dedicated canoe/kayak shop that is locate on the water, so again you can paddle as many boats as possible. I would avoid making a purchase based solely on someone recommendation or what you have read. Once you have paddle a few canoes and have narrowed your search I would then encourage you to rent for a time or two and, do a half or full day with each boat, most dealer with deducted the rental fee if you purchase a boat.

Check the OT Stillwater series
The 14’ and 16’ models would work well for you.

They are fiberglass, and relatively inexpensive, compared to most other models. Smooth paddling combined with good stability. Best for lake usage, and not rock bashing, as the name implies. Happy paddling! Read the reviews.

There are many boats to choose from
that will meet your needs. Too many to be able to really give a recommendation. Check the Product Reviews on this site. As stated previously, look at the classified ads here for used boats. As for materials, since you are planning flatwater canoeing just about any material will suit. Royalex is relatively inexpensive, very durable, not overly heavy and readily available in both new and used.

If you find canoeing becomes an important part of your recreational life styles, you will no doubt up grade and purchase more than the initial 2 boats you currently seek so starting with used is good advice. Welcome to the world of canoeing and enjoy!

price range?
How much do you want to spend? Nearly all the major canoe makers make several models that would fit your requirements. Basically, you’re looking for a pair of ~15-16ft recreational canoes. How important is the weight of the boat to you? Are you willing to pay more for lighter weight boats? There are many, many choices in either basic plastic or Royalex (ABS). The basic polyethylene boats are cheap and very durable, but heavy. Royalex, (ABS), is more expensive, but lighter.

Old Town canoe, Mad River, Wenonah and many others all make boats for you to consider. The Old Town Camper or Discovery, or Mad River Explorer would all be suitable canoes.

Howdy Barb,

Well good on ya for thinking two canoes to start, an intelligent decision. Not knowing your budget, I will suggest a Wenonah Spirit II in the tuff weave layup, reasoably light and durable with good performance and stability. Wenonahs are generally widely available as well. Wenonah has a nice website as well.

Old Town has several nice models to choose from, visit their website, lots of good info.

These are just two companies that are common with reasonably goo performance. Good luck in your search.

great hobbie
well if you want to hear about how great a hobby paddling is, then this is the site to go to, so yes we will all welcome you aboard on that note. Our differences will be in answers. Especially ones like yours.

I liked whoever mentioned getting a kayak as well. Also go to every canoe manufacturer’s web site. it will tell you alot about chosing a boat…and you plan for their bias.

ALWAYS look at your budget and then add 50%. these things add up, and skimping on the amenities is not how to get your money’s worth (I spent an extra grand on my boat, but I LOVE that it is 39 pounds. no problem to cartop after a long day)

I have been in a few rentals here and there, but only a couple that i remeber brands or models. I went onto the information super-highway and have tried to get you an idea of a plunge that WE here at P.Net would be willing to take (brands and models again are subject to personal discressions)

We-No-Nah Spirt II @ $1400 (tuff weave)

Old Town Otter kayak @ $300

Old Town Penobscot Used +/- $500

average PFD’s @ $60 (less on kids more on you)

4 canoe paddles (@ $40) $160

one decent kayak paddle $100

you are around $2500 for the WHOLE family, for a LIFETIME. you can spend hundreds everyyear “upgrading” equipment, but it isn’t neccisary. I love my $2000 fairly custom WeNoNah, but I REALLY REALLY want a USED Gruman for about $200 (delivered). I have a pretty junky Old Town Rush kayak. no speed, no performance, not even a colour I like, but I carry it everywhere and have a BLAST in it. I flip it over all the time, jump up just cussin’ up a storm, after I stop laughing.

Really what I think is that you should spend money on a decent new canoe for you adults and buy a used fun and functional one for the kids. Throw in a low cost kayak (go out and look at Dick’s Sporting goods or another “big box” store, but don’t tell us you bought it there) for the kids to grow and experiment with.

Good luck and keep us informed. post pictures too. and remeber, don’t just blow money, but definately spend it, don’t get cheap, it isn’t worth it!


A Few Thoughts
First off get a good rack for your suburban if you can. Check out something like a Yakima. They are high cost, but worth every penny for their ease of use and peace of mind. You’ll get out with your boats more if you aren’t fighting a makeshift worrisome tie down set up.

Regarding canoes, any of the general purpose canoes by the major manufacturers ought to work for you. I’d beware of the so called stable wide flat bottomed canoes some people might direct beginners to. General purpose canoes are plenty stable and you’ll get used to them quickly, plus they’ll be much better if you happen to get into a rough water situation. Thunderstorms and cold fronts do blow up unexpectedly. Look for canoes around 16’ long and 36" wide with a shallow arch bottom. The Wenonah Spirit II and Adirondac, Bell Northwind and Morningstar, Mad River Explorer (a little heavy ), Horizon or Express, Oldtown Penobscot 16 would all be good choices I think.

Royalex is tough and relatively light. It is great around kids while they learn to take care of things. The fiberglass and kevlar boats, while plenty tough, are less forgiving of misstreatment on shore such as a kiddo stepping in the boat while it isn’t in the water or dragging the boat ashore while it is loaded.

By all means get a good fiberglass or kevlar boat if you can find a deal on one, but if you are buying new the royalex is cheaper and you can spend the cash you save on the rack, cam buckle straps, pfds, etc. Stay clear of the heavy poly type boats.

Lastly, if you have a local dealer try to work with them and do business there. They may have test paddling opportunities and should have a wealth of info. for you.

Good luck and have fun!!!

One canoe, two kayaks
Good for you on getting into the world of canoeing. Hope it gets in your families blood like it has in my family.

I reccommend getting one canoe and a couple of kayaks. My 2 girls started paddling inflatable yaks when they were 7 and 8 years old. Now the each have their own OT Otters. They are now 9 and 10. Cost was under $250 each. They will love the freedom and you can still switch off with you and your wife taking turns in the yak.

Second I would reccommend that you buy a quality used canoe. Why? Because you may find out that you and your wife don’t get along too well in one boat. My wife is a crappy bow paddler (lol) and I’m an even worse tandom paddler. Something about needed to comunicate with your partner (What’s up with that anyway?) Anyhow, My wife and I now how our own solo boats and I am sure our relationship will be much stronger for it. Smiles…