Opinions on Penobscot 16 please

Hey gang,

Have read the reviews and searched but still have a specific question.

Is the Penobscot 16 a good choice for me?

225lbs, intend to solo and camp on slow rivers with occasional lake use, limited paddling experience (a few days in rentals). Probably get a little grief for this but I want to sit on the seat not kneel.

I did purchase then sell a 12’ canoe that just didn’t work out


A lot of the advice was to test paddle a boat before purchase. The only places that I have been able to find canoes is Gander Mountain and a local outdoor store so I don’t believe this is an option.


Thanks in advance.

I think it’s a good choice.
Make sure your sitting position is right for a level trim.

Forgot to ask another question in the original post.

When reading the reviews, “oil canning” was mentioned a few times. What is oil canning?

One meaning is that the bottom of the
canoe pooches upward when the boat is on the water. I don’t think you’ll have a problem with the Penobscot. It has kind of a V bottom which makes for stiffness.

I think it is a good choice

– Last Updated: Apr-22-09 8:21 AM EST –

You can paddle solo from the Bow seat (thanks Steve) seat and few will notice you are paddling the boat stern first.

Don't rule out paddling with you butt on the seat and your knees on a pad. I glue a blue walmart camping pad on the bottom of my boats. Kneeling is ideal for rough water and the more you kneel the easier it gets. Still in calm water you are going to sit in the seat and be really comfortable.

I’m sure Frank meant to say…
…“you can paddle from the bow seat…” as in “backwards”. The Penobscot is symmetrical, so it doesn’t care which way it’s going - so long as it’s trim is good. If you will always be solo, you might consider mounting a seat closer to the middle. Or you could just use some form of ballast at the opposite end to trim it up.

Oh yes - I think the Penobscot will work for your stated intentions. Might feel a little “tender” until you get used to it. Kneeling with your butt against the seat will help with that while you are getting used to it, and after that whenever you get into rough water.

-Steve (a Penobscot paddler)

For a tandem canoe…
the Penobscot does pretty well as a solo. But I wouldn’t say it was anywhere near as pleasant to paddle as a dedicated solo that fits you. Seems to me like you went from a 12 ft. canoe that was too small and too poorly designed to suit your needs, to now considering a canoe that’s bigger than you need if you are really going to be using it solo all the time.

If you are wanting one canoe that can be used both solo and tandem, the Penobscot is a good choice. But if you want a solo canoe, you should be able to find one that works a whole lot better.

if you are planning to solo, get a solo canoe. You will enjoy paddling much more than trying to work a tandem by yourself. A Bell Yellowstone solo or, if you haul a lot of gear a Rockstar would work for you. Others can chime in with some Wenonah’s that would work also.

A solo will be set up for you to paddle empty or loaded. Pack to split the load so some goes in front of you and some in back.

I don’t think it is a good choice for a
solo, unless you are a tall guy.

I have a Penobscot 16, and it is a great boat, but if I were getting a boat strictly for solo paddling, my choice would not be it.

I agree with the post above about paddling from the bow seat, and using the bow as the stern, but why buy a boat and then have to do that ?



I have owned a Penobscot 16
As stated, it is a good all around tandem boat that can be soloed. That said, I also own solo boats and I never choose the Penobscot when I was going solo - always a solo boat. I an 190#s and 5’10" so not as big as you but I would also encourage you to get a dedicated solo if solo is your primary goal. You might consider a We-no-nah Wilderness or a We-no-nah Argosy in the Wenonah line-up.

Well, still some info is lacking …
like your height. Also is this the only boat you will ahve or can you get a solo and a tandem? If you will be limited to one boat, a Penobscot is a good choice. You are about 225 pounds. Most solo boats are fine with this weight, but if you are tripping/camping and add 50 pounds of gear, many solo boats start to get sluggish at this point and lose efficiency. The Penobscot is stable and has ok speed for a 16 foot tandem. It can be soloed easily, especially if you are a tall adn are sitting. However, I do recommend you try kneeling and leaning the boat a bit. You get a lot more oomph with the stroke, it is easier to get trunk rotation, and is easier to control the boat(my opion only). I like the boat because it is tough, it is easy to fish out of, I can go with a buddy or by myself, it is real nimble and is great in both the twisties and open water, and it not too heavy for a 16 foot plastic boat. It will oil can ( the bottom flexes under power) and that does take away form efficiency. I find it does not do this too bad, and I love the boat anyway. It is my favorite all purpose boat. I have tripped in it, I have day played fished camped etc. I am 6’4" at 220 pounds. I can sit but prefer to kneel in either the front seat backwards, or the thwart in from of the back seat and kneel on a pad with my but on that twart. It is a great all purpose boat … jack of all trades, master of none kinda. If you can get a nice boat for a nice price do it and have fun. It is all about having fun anyway!!

Good luck,


Mine is Roylax
I din’t know they made plastic ones !



The 164 and 174 are poly

The 16 and 17 are still royalex.

16 Penobscot
I’ve owned one in royalex since '98 & love it. It is by far the most versatile of the 6 canoes I own (which inc 2 fast efficient carbon fiber solos)

I also agree totally w/ everything typed above. If you’re certain you’ll only ever paddle solo, than buy a dedicated solo canoe. However, if there’s a chance you may take a friend along or wanna venture into some whitewater the Penobscot will easily accommodate.

I chose mine over the solos when many rocks, beaverdams & other dragovers, harmful to the more tender hulls, will be involved. Of course that issue could be dealt w/ by my getting a royalex solo but in meantime my Penobscot serves double duty for me. If I could only retain one canoe, it would be the one

Re: Penobscot decision

I have a Hemlock solo pack canoe in kevlar. When I asked Dave Curtis, (the company owner) what tandem to get if I couldn’t afford kevlar, he said without hesitation the OT Penobscot. Way back when he sold OT he would have them shipped in pieces and assemble himself. He said they’re very stiff for ABS and have a nice rounded hull.

I have to agree with Dave, this is a very nice boat for the money. I have a hard time finding a partner to go, so I’m taking it solo quite a bit. So far my favorite arrangement is to turn it around, sit in the bow seat and put a 5 gal. platic jug in the front. Weight about 40#. I get more speed using a kayak paddle. 260cm seems about right. I like the Foxworx paddles and want to get one in that length.

If my knees can take it, at some point I want to try and learn the Canadien style of paddling, e.g. Becky Mason.

If you ever have to drag it much, you’ll probably scrape some of the vinyl off. The guy at Old Town recommended Plexus for that. Good luck

Curious statement above

– Last Updated: Apr-22-09 4:08 PM EST –

Not to nit-pick, but I wonder why "the guy at OT" would recommend Plexus if you drag your boat? Plexus (according to a goggle search) is just a plastic cleaner... What's up with that? It's hard to imagine any product that would do much to protect a Royalex hull from abrasion when dragging it across the ground.

maybe this?

Thanks again
Appreciate the advice & have a little more research to do…

I have only found Old Town and Mad River brands so far. The Mad River I was considering got trashed in the reviews on this site so I kinda ruled that out.

I did consider a solo canoe but had such a bad experience with the last small canoe I am a little leery. The salesman at the outdoor store pointed me towards a solo that looked pretty slick, but small. Native Watercraft, or something like that. He admitted to not being all that knowledgeable on the canoes and wasn’t sure if that boat would work for my purposes. (I have the actual mfg and model name somewhere).

I imagine this will be 100% solo use. Kids are grown and my wife is NOT interested.

Oh, 5’8" if that changes any opinions (I know, I know)

Thanks in advance.

tandems for solo

– Last Updated: Apr-22-09 10:10 PM EST –

I've got a Bell Morningstar RX and sometimes borrow a Penobscot 16. I find that the tumblehome on the Bell makes it more comfortable to paddle solo than the Penobscot, even though the Penobscot is slightly narrower. Morningstar is more stable and manueverable, Penobscot is faster and tracks better. I like them both. But both are really too wide for me to comfortably solo from the center unless I put them on edge. I'm 5'9".

Photos of both here:

Based on my experience with the Morningstar, and your size & weight, I'd think the Rockstar might be a good fit.

The Wenonah Wilderness also looks interesting.

But if I found a good deal on a used Penobscot I'd go for it -- it'll get you going, and if you later find something you like better you could sell it at minimal loss.

Penobscot<br />I love my Penobscot 16 for solo padding.I sit in the bow seat facing the rear with my butt on the seat kneeling on a 5.00 Walmart pad.If you slide your butt over to one side and paddle with a J stroke it is the best paddling boat for the money.I bought one on clearence at Gander mountain for 500.00.I sold my Kruger Dreamcatcher last year and this boat replaced it.The Kruger was just to much boat for me.