Old Town Next, Wenonah Adirondack, Vagabond, Argosy for First Time Canoe

We are contemplating upgrading to a canoe from our Sea Eagle inflatable FastTrack 385(12 1/2’ solo/tandem). This weekend we will be checking out the OT Next, Wenonah Adirondack (tandem), and solo Vagabond and Argosy in a store. The Wenonahs are close out models with reduced prices so there is no opportunity to test paddle. . I’ve talked the wife into two solo canoes vs a tandem because I would like to have the flexibility to go out by myself and believe trying to solo a tandem will be a challenge. We live in SW Missouri so there isn’t a lot of choice in canoes to purchase. We are traveling 200 miles to see these canoes. We don’t want 80/90lbs boats to try to hoist up onto our Ram pickup with camper shell so that is why we are looking at lighter weight models. We plan to use the canoes on lakes mostly. I don’t want to go longer than 16’.

I understand the Adirondack and Vagabond are more suited to flat water vs the Argosy but the store doesn’t have two Vagabonds so if we want to take advantage of the close out pricing its either Vagabond and Argosy, Vagabond and OT Next or just then Adirondack and learning to paddle it solo. I don’t think I want the hassle of hauling an Adirondack and Vagabond or Next together on the truck. The Wenonahs are Tuff Weave construction.

While I feel confident about purchasing the Vagabond would the Argosy be a mistake for using on local lakes. Should I wait to purchase a 2nd Vagabond. The wife says she’d be happy with a Next. The Next however is 20lbs heavier. (60lbs). I don’t think we will get involved in any multi-day trips, just day tripping

I’ve scoured the internet for info on these models but most reviews are old. Looking for some fresh prospective on these models.



Just a general comment…wife will be happier with a solo she can lift and move by herself (voice of experience) so depending on height and weight, you may want to consider something sized to her. Consider used as you can afford a lighter composite for the same money. Don’t mean to throw you off your program, just something to consider…The lighter the solo hull the more it gets used (whitewater notwithstanding). If she can handle the wenonah, great!

The Argosy is fine on flatwater. We have one… However for a first time never ever soloed person getting one may be a big mistake.

It has a fair amount of rocker for a Wenonah. This makes it yaw quite a bit ( zig zag) . Unless your wife can make the boat track with good paddle strokes it won’t do that by itself
Paddling is not all about the boat. Its about matching boat to paddler skill set.

If she wants to sit with the seat on the high position, she will find the Argosy unstable. It has a hull shape in cross section that lends to instability. Lowering the seat helps but kneeling is best. Does she kneel?

this is one boat I would never ever buy unless you have test paddled it.

You live in SW Missouri? Get one solo but go to the Ozark Rendezvous which this year I believe is on the Buffalo River . Day trips, its not an overnighter. Most people bring solo canoes. There will be quite a selection of different boats and many people are willing to let you try.

The models haven’t changed in hull shape. That is what matters most . Date does not matter. Materials and trim changes but that is less important.

The Next is a totally different boat. Its more a kayak than a solo canoe. Its too wide to single blade and quite wide for a petite person. It is an adaptation of the Adirondack Pack Canoe where you sit near or on the floor and use a double blade

That brings up the question : do you and your wife want to use double blades or learn to single blade?

As far as boat selection. The boats you are looking at are not the be and end all… Its a good idea to buy used for a first canoe… Your dealer does not have that much of a chokehold on you.

The Adirondack being a tandem poses problems used as a day tripping solo. Trim being the biggest. Sitting backwards on the bow seat you will still not have level trim so you will have to bring ballast ( 100 lbs or so) to bring the unweighted stem down. Off trim you will catch every breeze and be off to god knows where.

You can get better trim by kneeling just aft of center or installing a center seat… You will have to slide over to one side Canadian Style which is a little unsettling at first as the boat will tip. You should remain torso parallel to tree trunks on shore… let the boat heel… you do not lean over.

@KJR said:

I understand the Adirondack and Vagabond are more suited to flat water vs the Argosy but the store doesn’t have two Vagabonds so if we want to take advantage of the close out pricing its either Vagabond and Argosy, Vagabond and OT Next or just then Adirondack and learning to paddle it solo. I don’t think I want the hassle of hauling an Adirondack and Vagabond or Next together on the truck. The Wenonahs are Tuff Weave construction.

While I feel confident about purchasing the Vagabond would the Argosy be a mistake for using on local lakes. Should I wait to purchase a 2nd Vagabond. The wife says she’d be happy with a Next. The Next however is 20lbs heavier. (60lbs). I don’t think we will get involved in any multi-day trips, just day tripping



Just to stir the pot a little, I’m thinking that the combination of the Adirondack and Vagabond could turn out well, depending on your wife’s solo paddling skills and aspirations. My girlfriend loves her solo canoe and uses it every chance she can, but her solo paddling skill doesn’t match her tandem skill, so when the two of us want to cover more than just short distances together at “average” paddling speeds, we take a tandem canoe. The same thing goes for windy days. Is your wife highly motivated to paddle solo, or would she be perfectly happy paddling tandem on those days when both of you go together? I’m mentioning this as a possibility, not as something I expect to be the case for the two of you.

Carrying a tandem canoe and a solo canoe together is hardly any different than carrying two solos, though you might need to lengthen your cross bars (on my car, I rigged up a cheap, home-made system for installing longer cross bars which attaches in just a few minutes while the original (shorter) cross bars remain attached at all times). Still, in the scenario I’m imagining, you’d be car-topping one boat or the other more often than both of them together.

This solo-tandem combination wouldn’t need to be your final setup either, but just something to quickly get both of you in better boats than what you have now. The Adirondack should be fairly easy to sell later if you want to upgrade to two solos.

Don’t know where you are?
I too live in southwest Missouri; very close to Lake of the Ozarks.
Have a Wenonah Vagabond available for test paddling.
Might be available for sale? That would be up to it’s owner; my wife.

Would be happy to try to work out a date you could visit & do a test paddle.
Can’t promise it would be available for sale.


If we went with two solo Wenonah canoes the wife would take the Vagabond and I would use the Argosy. She would prefer to use a kayak paddle and I the Vagabond would be her boat. We are up to learning single paddle strokes. We’ve been watching youTube videos on canoe paddling and the J and Canadian strokes don’ t look difficult to learn. In a tandem I’d be in the stern so I need to get proficient. We could use our Sea Eagle kayak paddles at first (260cm) and start to learn the canoe paddle strokes. The reason for solo is me, wife would be happy to just tandem all the time. We camp at the local lakes and I get up early and like to get in a quick paddle before she wakes up. Even in the afternoon I find myself taking out the Sea Eagle solo while she is reading.

The Adirondack and Vagabond would be the most expensive option, with 2 solo purchase Vagabond/Argosy only about $100 less. A Next and Vagabond or Argosy is about $500 less and two Nexts the cheapest. While money is important I want to be satisfied in the long run with our purchase and have to sell a boat down the line for a big loss like we probably will experience with the Sea Eagle inflatable. The only reason to buy it was to safe space in the truck when towing. Since purchasing I added a camper shell.

I’ve looked at Craigslist locally and most used canoes are the heavy poly canoes. There is just not any selection around here. Everyone is into fishing kayaks around here or the $300 10’ kayaks.



I have not paddled an Adirondack. I have not owned either a Vagabond or an Argosy, but have paddled both a number of times…

I think the Vagabond is a fine, general purpose canoe that probably gets less attention than it deserves. It is pretty efficient to paddle and predictable. It is geared more towards flat water, but I have paddled many miles of Class I rivers in Indiana with a friend who owns one. It could certainly be paddled on most of the rivers in southern Missouri.

I found the Argosy less twitchy than some, but I did paddle it kneeling, and I know a number of people who found it rather user-unfriendly. The Argosy, like many Wenonah canoes, has what I will call “bubble sided tumblehome” as this picture shows:

If your load is such that most of that “bubble” on the side is out of the water, the canoe will still feel reasonably stable. If the load in the boat and some degree of heel puts the water line above the widest part of the bubble, any additional heel (lean) will be accompanied by a very abrupt drop off in stability.

Although the Argosy was marketed as a river boat, it lacks sufficient stern rocker to allow the stern to break free easily on eddy turns. That and the less than optimal secondary stability make it less desirable as a river canoe, although it does hold a ferry angle impressively well. It would be fine for a paddler of the right size on flat water, IMO.

Wife more than likely will rather sit vs knelling. It maybe best if we stick with a tandem and forego my solo desires…
We will look at all these boats tomorrow.

Thanks for everyone’s comments


bummer. The Vagabond is a fine entry level solo boat and can teach you much without scaring the bejeesus out of you.

I predict that you will also be buying a solo boat in the future…

(At least if most of the people around here are any indication)

OK, we drove up to Alpine Shop in Kirkwood, MO today. We saw the OT Next, Wenonah Argosy, Vagabond, Adirondack and Spirt II. These boats were up on racks with about a 5ft aisle between the racks so there wasn’t much room to try to lift them.

First the Next. On the rack at eye level my wife and I were able to lift it down to the floor. For 13’ it is heavy. The adjustable seat is nice and the foot rests work well. Not sure about the seat track longevity because any weight on the seat you can’t adjust the seat forward or back. You have to get out of the boat to adjust the seat because the track binds with weight. Looking at photos of people in the Next on the water the water line is just below the decals. There isn’t much distance from the water line to the top of the gunwale at the seating position so I would imagine any motor/jet ski wake waves would enter the boat easily. The conclusion is the boat is a nice summer recreational boat and not good for cooler weather paddling without fear of getting water in the boat. I was able to lift it to shoulder level but could get it over my head. My truck is a0 Ram 2500 with camper shell. The Yakima rack system on the shell must be about 7’ high. I can reach up and just touch the end of the round bar. I’m 5’10, about 195lbs and obviously have weak upper body strength and couldn’t live it over my head. Another customer taller than me was able to lift it above his head. His wife has a Next and they thought this model was heavier than their model. I quoted 59lbs and they though theirs was 10lbs lighter. Maybe they had an earlier model but they did say the Next at the shop seemed heavier than their boat. We checked the Next off our list.

The next boat we pulled off the rack was the Adirondack. 16’ Tuff Weave layup in hunter green. It must have been in the shop for most of the year as there were a bunch of scratches on the sides, probably due to the poorly rack systems used at the shop. The front seat is a little tight for space. The wood vinyl web seats were not that comfortable so I can imagine a cushion or seat back would be needed. This boat was on clearance for $500 off MSRP. It felt lighter than the Next despite being 3 foot longer and about 5/6" wider but seemed a handful trying to lift it over my head which I never succeeded in performing.

The next boat we pulled down from eye level rack was the Vagabond in Tuff Weave hunter green. Again more scratches.
The Vagabond had the wood vinyl adjustable seat and it had the foot brace. It was priced about $525 off MSRP. The seat was not that easy to adjust up and down and into the tilt position. Probably needs a little dry lubricant. Putting the seat to the angled position it was difficult to get my feet under the seat for the knelling position. You could adjust the seat flat for low and high positions so I figured the Vagabond must be paddled from a level seat. The Tuff Weave weight of this boat is supposed to be about 40lbs but even that was hard to get over my head. Maybe there just wasn’t enough space to maneuver or I’m a weak wussy.

The next boat was the Argosy in Tuff Weave and hunter green. I noticed the sides of the boat curve to the floor when sitting in the boat vs the Vagabond come straight down the have a small curved to the floor of the boat. The Argosy had the same adjustable wood vinyl web seat and adjustable foot support bar but when the seat was set to the angled position I was able to get my legs under the seat to try the knelling position. Very uncomfortable around the ankles. I think I could only use the lowest level seat position as I’ve read the stability takes getting used to on the boat compared to the Vagabond. The seat was very hard to adjust as it was binding. Again I had the same issues lifting the boat over my head. The one issue with the Vagabond and Argosy is there isn’t a yoke in the center to grab onto like a tandem boat. This boat was $525 off MSRP.

Just for grins we brought the kevlar UL Spirit II down. What a light boat. Even at 17’ and the plastic bucket seats it was the lightest of all the boats. The bucket seats for me were not a big comfort improvement. I had to take my wallet out of my back pocket of my jeans. The bucket felt it needed to be just a little bit larger but it felt OK without the wallet in my pocket. I thought the spring lock was kinda a stupid way to lock the seat. It still moved forward. Maybe not a big deal. Again I’m just 5’10" and about 195lbs and don’t have a big butt.

I think ordering a couple of Vagabond in Kevlar UL would be a good solution for overcoming the lifting issues. I had back surgery 17 years ago for a herniated disk so the extra money for a lighter boat would be worth it now as we are in our 60s. At this stage in our lives we probably only have 20 good years left and I won’t worry about the extra cost of these boats on my death bed.

Before we purchase boats I’m going to have to get my truck’s rack system sorted out. We tow an Airstream and will need to mount the boats on the camper shell so the stern of boats will not extend past the tail gate vertical plane. I don’t want to risk in tight backing maneuvers to have a canoe hit the Airstream if the truck and trailer are jack knifed a little too much. A single boat on the center line wouldn’t have this issue but two boats side by side could. I will need to install a naked roof Yakima base with probably 66" rods on the crew cab roof. The ARE camper shell came with 58" round bars… Since I will have to purchase two new rods I may switch from the round to the elliptical shaped rods. The bow of a 14’ 6" canoe will extend to be just over the the position where the hood and windscreen meet. I would use two sets of Yakima Keel Over canoes supports systems on the bars for two boats. A short folding step is in the truck bed for getting up to the rack.

While Kevlar UL seems the best way to go I’ve seen photos of the Kevlar browning due to the effects of sun. We will be taking some extensive trips soon and the canoes will be left on the roof of the truck for months at a time exposed to the sun. I prefer the colors and the Wenonah catalog states you can order at no cost the color even on the Kevlar UL but it adds about 5 to 8 lbs. Since the Vagabond UL is supposed to be 30lbs and the Tuff Weave 40lbs I’m not sure if 5lbs difference between a painted Kevlar vs the Tuff Weaver version is worth the cost of the Kevlar.

We have a dedicated paddling shop where I live that is a Wenonah dealer. They don’t have any models in stock except a blue Aurora Tuff Weave. I think they would be a better shop to purchase from vs Alpine Shop in St Louis. Alpine Shop is like REI but smaller and canoes/kayaks are just a small department. Our local paddle shop has a demo Wenonah Aurora, I think, so we may ask for a test paddle to at least determine if a tandem is out of the question. We think two solo boats will be the best solution.

While the hunter green Tuff Weave was a nice finish it shows every scratch. I’m thinking the Ivory color would be best not to show the scratches, which are inevitable and it would reflect the sun. I’m hoping a good wax periodically would help protect the boats while traveling.


Well I completely understand the allure of a light weight canoe. I purchased my first 2 years ago and have no regrets.

If you intend to buy new, and are considering the Vagabond you might want to consider a Wilderness and a Vagabond. They handle alomost identically. The Wilderness is.a foot longer and deeper. Both track well and yet the bow is responsive to turning strokes.

Wilderness is 32 lbs in the UL layup.

When it comes to loading boats, it should be possible to eliminate any need for lifting the boat higher than your head. The first thing to know is that even though a solo canoe has no built-in yoke, you can place the front edge of the seat across the back of your shoulders and provide light stabilization with your hands in front of you holding the gunwales. This is the classic position for one person portaging a canoe that you’ve probably seen lots of times.

As to there being no overhead lifting, ideally, your rear cross bar will be close enough to the rear of the vehicle that you can approach from the rear and put one end of the boat on that bar. Then set the boat down so the other end is on the ground, pick up that end, then slide the boat up onto the rack. Since your rack is on a camper shell, it should be possible to get the rear mounting point far enough back. That mounting point may need to be moved from where it is right now.

You may actually want the rear rack position to be farther ahead than described above so that it provides better boat support when the boats are as far forward as you want them to be when pulling your trailer. In that case, you can lay a rubber-backed bath carpet on the roof of the cab, and perhaps another one on the front edge of the hood. Then you can slide the boat up onto the rack from the front. I know one tandem-canoe-paddling couple that consists of a middle-aged mom and her daughter who is quite small, and they load their heavy Old Town Discovery onto a rack that’s as high as yours like this: They position themselves on opposite sites of of the boat’s center, walk to the front of the vehicle with one end of the canoe pointing upward (that’s simply done by hand manipulation when carrying the boat this particular way). They get one end onto the front cross bar, and then they “hand walk” their holding position along the gunwales to keep pushing the boat farther and farther onto the rack. Finally, the boat plops down level, and it’s easy to slide it back the rest of the way. When doing this, their hands are never higher than waist high until until most of the boat is onto the rack. You can see that when front-loading like this in a case where the front cross bar is “way back there” on the camper shell, non-slip padding (like a bathmat) on the truck’s roof would come in handy.

Of course, if the trailer is not in the way, you could lay that rubber-backed bath mat on the rear edge of your camper shell and slide the boat up from that direction.

For loading just one boat on your roof, another method that works well is to put a lengthwise bar on each side of your rack. These bars would attach near the outer ends of each cross bar. With that setup, you simply approach from one side and lean the boat against the lengthwise bar. Again, you’d approach with the boat on your shoulders, so this part is very easy. Then you’d step out from under the boat so it’s left leaning there with one end on the ground. You pick up that lower end and slide the boat up onto the rack. The lengthwise bar on the opposite side catches the boat as it plops down level. Then you just slip-slide-shuffle the boat around to the proper position on the two main cross bars. As before, the only time your hands handle the boat up at head-high or higher is after the boat is completely on the rack. There’s no overhead lifting involved.

I have a pair of lengthwise bars on my roof rack. There are a couple pictures in this “album” linked below which give some idea how those side bars are attached (for this, you’ll need to mentally block out some of the extra hardware that’s present and focus only on the carpet-covered Yakima cross bars and the rusty steel lengthwise bars). On my roof rack, though I sometimes use the lengthwise bars for loading (especially when parked on an extreme-sideways incline so that loading from the rear is difficult), the main purpose of those bars is to support an optional pair of extra-long cross bars made from 2x4s, which is why there’re a lot of extraneous parts in most of these photos.

Here’s a pic I took just now that shows the pair of lengthwise bars on my rack. If you can weld, you can make something just like this. If you can’t, Yakima makes something like this, or something that can be adapted in this way, but you could also visit a welding shop and have them make a pair, and it would probably cost a lot less than the Yakima version. I saw a Yakima bar like this at a paddle-sport show last weekend (Canoecopia) and it was as flimsy as heck, but it would have been strong enough to use for side-loading of a canoe. I think they make some sturdy bars like this too, because I’ve seen a guy in my town who incorporates such bars into his roof rack to provide a much greater spread distance between his main cross bars, and it would have to be sturdy to do that.

On that note, you could use such a system to mount the front cross bar well out over the truck’s cab, cantilevered from the four existing support points on the camper shell, and that would simplify the process of loading boats from the front of the vehicle, as well as provide much better support locations when your boats are racked so far forward that they are out of the way of your trailer. I have looked on Yakima’s site for this lengthwise-bar system when trying to give roof-rack advice before and have never found it, but as I said above, I’ve seen such a system in use so I know it exists.

As far as the seat position and kneeling goes, I wonder if perhaps you were wearing bulky shoes? I find that with bulky boots, it’s awkward to get my feet under the seat, but even wearing bulky shoes (like you get with the foot portion of hip boots), I do okay, just because I’m so accustomed to getting my feet under the seat and out again. If I were wearing such footwear as a beginner, I’d probably say to myself “this will never work”.

You’ll find that kneeling with your feet under the seat is much easier when wearing non-bulky, flexible footwear. Most paddling boots and “wading shoes” would fit the bill. The trick is to let your feet flatten out, so that the tops of your feet are facing the floor. I myself often let my feet go a little “pigeon-toed” as an alternative to extending them with the tops flat against the floor, but that might not work for everyone.

We tow a couple of 15 foot boats behind a Jayco travel trailer. The three feet of overhang beyond the bumper does not hit the trailer ( and we have made some insanely sharp turns…we do not have friction sway bars)

Measure the length you have between your bumper and the front of the Airstream… You may have more room than you thinkg

Now with our 18 foot canoes and kayaks we have a third bar with feet that fits over the cab of the truck so we can shove the boats forward for less overhang… If we didnt I am sure we would be bending gunwales and poking holes in the trailer.

Those Wenonah adjustable seats have a tendency to self adjust on the fly… Yes they can be canted… you do not have to use them flat. But I found that I like a particular height and cant and hate it when my canoe decides mid lake to change that. We just bolted the Argosy seat… We can take the bolts out when we sell the boat and resume the “adjustable” attribute

I’m going to take a different track on this thread. What are you going to use a canoe for that you can’t accomplish with your Sea Eagle Fast Track? The Fast Tracks are really nice boats that weigh 35 pounds and are easy to pack & transport. In your first post you say you aren’t going to do multi-day trips, just day tripping on lakes/ flat water. Why not just buy a second Fast Track?

We would like to be able to paddle in cooler weather and cold water lakes we might encounter on our travels. The FastTrack gets too wet even if we don’t encounter boat wakes. We’d also like to increase our range and believe a canoe would allow us to go further in the same amount of time with less effort.

We mount a couple of bikes on the A frame of our Airstream using a tongue mount bike rack system (Arvika) The bikes rest on wheel trays with the bikes suspended over the propane tanks. I have to be careful with backing with tight turns due to the camper shell corners contacting the bike wheels. My ARE Series Z shell slants forward from the top of the tailgate but I still have to be careful. Having two solo canoes pushed beyond the vertical line of the tailgate may make my turning radius less. We like to hike, bike and paddle when we go out.

One tandem canoe would be centered on the shell and wouldn’t (shouldn’t) have these issues when turning with the trailer.

When we were in Glacier National Park in 2011 at Bowman lake we encountered a dad and daughter with their Wenonah canoe and have been smitten ever since. I think their canoe was the Spirit II (17’). The hauled it on a Subaru Outback or Legacy.


I have another thought. The first Wenonah we considered was the Heron, 15’ tandem. I found this site showing an Ivory Heron with black trim and what appears an adjustable web seat mounted amidships. The yoke appears to be moved back to allow the middle seat.


This would allow my occasional solos, tandem and the rare times when my daughter is with us. I’m 195lbs, wife is about 145 and daughter 130. Too much weight for this boat with all three of us?

With only the experience of the Sea Eagle FastTrack is the Heron too much of a compromise?



One more to consider? Wenonah Solo Plus?


the Solo plus does nothing well. For a solo its big for a tandem small. No way with three.

I was thinking of the Arvika bike rack and now will rethink getting one re the issue rear clearance… For now we have a folding bike that we put in the bed of the truck and the other goes in the trailer.

We took two canoes and two bikes to Florida for a month and paddled and rode. We were considering a bike rack as its a PITA to take the inside of the trailer bike out … but OTOH it would have gotten covered in sand mud and ice on the way home as we drove through snowstorms.

We will be going out to Alaska with boat in the summer. Don’t think we will take bikes.

Its good you don’t live East… There is more canoe eye candy ( and not Wenonahs) that would tempt you. Swifts and Hemlocks are even more gorgeous.

Fifth wheelers often have a front mounted bumper rack for their boats… Of course with the trailer in the bed they are limited to short SOTs and rec kayaks. We saw a lot of these in Florida. Have no idea how much a front mounted rack costs…plenty I bet