OK...ANOTHER "What canoe should I get?" thread!

I have been paddling for most of my adult life at an intermediate level.
I have a Mad River Explorer Royalex 16’.
Lately my buddy and I are doing more backcountry paddling up in the St Regis Canoe Area in the Adirondacks.
I’m not a young buck anymore and the MRE is getting too heavy for me. certainly too heavy for portages.

So I’m looking for a lightweight canoe.
I will be doing mostly solo paddling but want to reserve the option for carrying a passenger should my son or a buddy want to come along. I want to be able to carry a decent amount of gear. I’m about 200 pounds and on base-camp trips I usually am taking about 150 pounds of gear.

The majority of use will be flatwater on typical lakes of the Adirondacks and Vermont.
I’d like to be able to do some slow rivers (like the Ossiwigatchee) and creeks, and be fairly maneuverable.
It’s going to be important to track fairly well in wind. If this is a tandem and symmetrical, I will be paddling from the bow seat “backwards”.

I paddle a fishing kayak quite a bit, but I’m not all that certain that I want a pack boat with a center seat and kayak paddle. I like traditional paddling for a canoe.

As a side note, I like the curved bow and stern of the WeNohNa 17 and similar boats…that old traditional look. But will it be a significant liability in wind?

Boats that I have been looking at:
Souris River Quetico 16
Wenohna 17
Slipstream Watercraft Sacandaga 14 or Impulse 16
Nova Pal
Swift Prospector 15 in Kevlar Fusion
WeNohNa Wilderness 15’-4"
WeNohNa Prism 16’3"
WeNohNa SoloPlus 16’-6"

If the boat gets too small, I’m afraid I will lose the capacity when I’m just base-camping with a lot of gear and lose glide and efficiency.
But if the boat’s too big, I’m afraid it will be really tough in wind (the Wenohna 17, for instance)

Everyone want’s the “perfect do-it-all” boat, I know.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks guys.

My head exploded but I don’t paddle canoes. That is a huge number of wants.
What are the top 3 or 4?

Good in wind/tracking
Moderate Cargo capacity
Under 45 pounds

Consider Northstar Polaris or B-16 in Blacklite

I have never paddled one but I would paddle a polaris blacklite before I bought anything. The bell northstar, northstar polaris has always intrigued me. I have had a bell magic and a bell bucktail and loved the feel of them.

I’ve got a Polaris and it will do a fine job at everything you want. It’s more efficient than the other tandems on your list that I’ve paddled and that’s nice when you’re solo. Mine has the optional center seat and weighs in the low 40s with wood trim. Hey skyview, you’re welcome to try mine if you’re in the neighborhood, I’m pretty sure you’d like it.

Of the other boats on your list some are pure solos and some are not very maneuverable. If you want a traditional canoe the Pal (or a Bob Special) would work. And FYI in Swifts the Prospector 16 is a way better choice than the 15…but Swifts have become quite expensive and sometimes hard to find.

Thank you all so much…it’s encouraging to hear almost a consensus regarding the Polaris in Blacklite… I will definitely check it out.

Polaris looks like a nice boat, but I’d recommend you go a different way…

I know a lot of paddlers disagree with me on this, but IMO there is no tandem canoe that can be paddled solo as efficiently as a dedicated solo. Since you will be primarily paddling solo, and since you already have a tandem boat for those times that your son or buddy go along, I’d be looking for a dedicated solo. Only two in your list are the Wilderness and Prism, but there are lots of others.

By definition, maneuverable boats are going to track less well - in wind or otherwise. Once again, I would think about what you are going to spend most of your time doing. If its lakes, go with the longer boat like the Prism. if its rivers, go with the shorter boat like the Wilderness. Not sure what is available in your area, but as noted above, there are other manufacturers who make nice composite boats that will meet your weight requirements as well - lake cruisers and river runners.

Yup - load the boat down with a lot of gear and you will lose glide and efficiency. Even so, I think you are better off with a dedicated solo. My go-to boat is a 14’ Bell Wildfire, and I can fill it up with a fair amount of gear (hopefully not 150 lbs, but I don’t tend to pack light).

Crossing Holeb Pond - Erik

Not as fast or maneuverable with a load, but I can keep up with the tandem paddlers and often have to wait for my buddies paddling tandem boats solo.

Its all about compromises, so everyone’s perfect boat is different. Good luck finding yours.


Agreed …,Keep the explorer for tandem use and get a good solo boat, don’t look for one that will do both

I’m a relatively new to canoe paddling with a couple seasons now under my belt. I’m also not a young buck. I also paddle mostly flat water. I also find my 80# boat heavy.

I think the key question is how much over land portages are you really planning to encounter and what distances. With a 45# boat and 150# of gear you are still looking at a pretty good workout.

My boat is a cheap heavy 3 layer 14’7” tandem that I stripped out and made a solo out of and the two places I had a weight issue were getting it on the car alone and from the car to the water alone. A DIY loader solved the first problem and a set of kayak wheels (dolly) solved the second even with 100# in the canoe. My wheels fold up and come with me just in case I need them.

I would love a pack canoe in about the 14-15 foot length that’s light as a feather but cost and durability on our rocky shallow river kept me from it. Once in the water I’m pretty much ok.

IMO with my limited learning curve I agree trying to keep a tandem a tandem and solo it is a big compromise and placing your seat where it should be gives you a boat wider than you want to single blade without kneeling. I went with a 260cm kayak paddle and a center seat and love the combination.

Make your son carry the MRE, and get a solo canoe for when you’re by yourself. I’m saying this even though I like small tandems for solo use because I find it easier to load with a dog.

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Check out Northstar’s Northwind 16. They have one or two others that might be of interest too.