New to Canoes, need advice

Hello All,

I’m new here. I’m new to canoes. I have fishing Kayaks. My current ones are 12ft Ascend Kayaks. But they’re 80+ pounds each. I’m getting older and I just can’t lift 2 of them up on my F250. I will sometimes pull a travel trailer and the Kayaks go on a rack on the bed and extend over the cab.

My plan is to ditch the Kayaks and get ONE canoe that my wife and I can paddle around in on lazy rivers and small lakes/ponds. No white water or serious big water. I want to rig it out with a 12v battery and trolling motor. SO I’m looking at the 12-15ft range. This gets me into another issue. Old Town canoes are pretty much the only thing I have real access to around there (I’m in WVa). But they’re all average between 80-120lb. I’m willing to spend a little and have looked online at Esquif and Sportpal. But I’m not hip on the aluminum thing. So I’m leaning more towards the Esquif Mallard or Mallard XL. Anyone have any suggestions? Ideas on how to miracle a canoe up on top of an F250?

I’d you are willing to spend a couple grand you can get ttandems as light as 30 lbs. But lightweight and a trolling motor don’t really go together…

I am picking up a Sacandaga from Slipstream in a week or two. 14’ tandem, carbon/Kevlar and it will be right about 30 lbs. I think it was somewhere around 2500

Swift, wenonah, Northstar, and others all make very, very light boats as well

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Other than loading onto a rack on a F250 the Esquifs probably fit your needs pretty well. Longer canoes are a bit easier to load by lifting one end onto the rack first and then lifting the other end than shorter (12’) canoes. You might consider rigging a side mount for the trolling motor on a more standard cone like a 16’ Prospector design (Northstar, Swift, Wenonah, etc.). Back around 1980 a friend rigged one onto a Mad River Explorer & that worked pretty well.

Since you are in West Virginia, you may not be too far from Oakland Maryland and Savage River Canoes. Mostly they build high performance canoes but the 16’ Deep Creek at 30 - 35 pounds is interesting. As always, light weight doesn’t come cheap. Slipstream was mentioned above and another option is Tamarack | 16' Tandem

I will echo the advice above when it comes to loading a canoe onto the F250. You lay the canoe on the ground, upside down, with the front end just outside the rear bumper and the other end centered behind the truck (maybe a 45 degree angle to the truck center line). Pick up the front of the canoe, rest it on the rear rack and then pick up the back end and push/slide the thing forward and over the front rack. Reverse the process to get it down. If the trailer is on the truck, you might get by with almost jack knifing the thing to get it out of the way

A canoe of about 16 feet will suit you best. It will load more easily because the front won’t drop short of the forward rack when pushing it onto the truck. It will also provide adequate buoyancy for two without being really wide and slow.

I am pretty old myself, but I regularly load an 80 lb canoe onto a car with this technique.


great info! I never thought about the 45deg thing. That makes a lot of sense.

I would get a lightweight kevlar or similar composite boat for sure. Keep in mind that you do not need a square stern to mount a motor. You can buy a number of motor mounts that simply clamp onto the gunnels. These work well and I have used a 2.5hp gas engine with one on an old town tripper.

For light weight canoes Wenonah, Nova Craft, and North Star come to mind. Esquif makes great canoes as well though, and there are others out there.

Also for getting a canoe up on a tall truck I either get it on my shoulders and then put on end up there first, and rest the other on the ground. Or have another person help oft one end up onto the truck. Then I just pickup the back and slide it up onto the truck. This is probably the easiest way to do it.

No need to hoist 80 pounds canoes around unless you like wood and canvas. I got a trailer.

Find a nice fiberglass or kevlar canoe around 16 feet. Do not mess with stumpy little boats. Drive over to the DC area if you have to and get a used boat.

Load from the rear, bow first.