New to paddling and need help

I have a question that is similar to one posted earlier. The difference is that I plan to canoe on rivers (possibly up to class III). The river that I will usually be paddling generally has small rapids followed by long stretches of flat water. I have done this a few times in a Dagger Legend 16. Tandem was no problem, but solo was a pain (the water was REALLY high though). The weight of the Legend is also a problem. The question that I have is what canoe would be best for tandem and solo canoeing. I have read the other post and most said there is not a good canoe for both purposes, but I cannot afford to get two separate canoes. I am a smaller person so I looking for something on the lighter side. My wife has never paddled so I am wanting something that we can paddle together that is fairly stable.

Common question

– Last Updated: Mar-30-07 11:30 AM EST –

The problem is that any tandem that's big enough to feel stable for two will feel big for one, as you already noticed with the Legend. Any boat beamy and flat enough to feel stable to a novice will probably be an awkward solo.

For tandem & solo, flatwater to Class 2, the boat I most often see suggested is the OT Penobscot 16. Other choices might include the Bell Morningstar or one of the 16' Prospector designs.
If your wife feels unstable, dropping the seats a bit can make a huge difference. Putting in pads to make kneeling comfortable is a big help in rapids.

If you want to play in rapids, you'll need a solo boat, but running them solo in a tandem shouldn't be a problem as you gain skills and get comfortable leaning the boat while kneeling.

Bell Nexus
I have seen that the Bell Nexus is listed as a Tandem/Solo. At a little over 14’ and only 50lbs. would this be a good choice?


– Last Updated: Mar-30-07 12:23 PM EST –

if most of your time will be on flatwater. Look at the amount of rocker in the hull. It'll be happy to turn, but it won't want to go straight.

Also, notice that it has no seats. It's designed for pedestals. See for what a solo/tandem setup would look like.

If you're new to paddling, I'd suggest a whitewater class before investing in a new whitewater boat.

I paddle a tandem
Mad River Explorer 16 that is also set up with a cantered center seat to paddle solo. With practice, I have become pretty adept at paddling this boat, even in whitewater. I have good control in maneuvering, sideslipping, eddying out etc. But it is not as responsive as I’d like it to be, so I don’t do too much playing in it. Of course, I don’t have it set up with any thigh straps, but I don’t think that would make too much difference…the boat is simply too wide.

And that I suspect will be your biggest problem…any good solo whitewater canoe will likely be too narrow to also be adequately stable for a lot of tandem paddling.

That is why I am in the market for a solo tripping canoe and also, I suspect, why many people here have more than one canoe. The perfect do-it-all beast is elusive. In fact, the Explorer often is mentioned as one of those elusive beasts, but I fear it would not be your favorite boat if you plan on paddling it in Class III very often.


Get an efficient 14-15’ canoe…and
GET comfortable with your swimming! At least you’ll be extremely comfortable when soloing, which with more tandem dunks, will increasingly gain the majority of your paddling time.

Explorer 14
I have just seen an Explorer 14 over the weekend and I was wondering if anyone had an opinion on it. It seemed like it might due and I liked the weight better than the 16.

Explorer 14’
First - I don’t have the experience or the technical knowledge many P.Netters possess - but I do own a MR Explorer 14’ - for the price (@ $600.) and the weight (68-69 lbs) this canoe has been a great entry level canoe. I have soloed in Class I’s only … and have used it on several trips as a tandem (mostly on flat water).

It does bog down in wind and waves… and I am sure the high profile is mostly to blame for that. Proper weight dsistribution (either gear or humans) can mitigate some of how it responds with the wind and waves. For the price - a good all around canoe with plenty a room (yes, even the 14’)… and given the price - you won’t mine knocking it around and assuming the normal wear and tear, as I would be with canoes that are 2-3 times the price.

Thanks alot for the info.