Picking a family canoe for river trippin

Good choice and good luck
I know the rivers you plan to paddle and a Kevlar/fiberglass composite boat will hold up just fine. You might want to avoid a skin coated one though, because without gel coat there is little or nothing protecting the fabric from abrasion.

Some people cannot abide scratches on their pretty gel-coated boats, even though they are largely only cosmetic. The truth is that Royalex not only scratches as badly, it creases and indents as well, but people seem more accepting of that. It is quite possible to markedly improve the appearance of a scratched up gel-coated boat short of re-gel coating the whole thing.

If you can find a light-colored boat (white, sand, or almond are best) the scratches won’t show nearly as badly.

Another option is to prop your boat upright and level on a flat surface and use a stick of the appropriate length to mark the 3 or 4" waterline on the hull. You can then mask off the hull above that line and paint the bottom with either spray paint or a good marine polyurethane. The paint will get scratched, but when your tolerance for scratches is exceeded it is a simple matter to remask and repaint the bottom.

Great Idea!
I wouldn’t have thought about something simple as repainting it. I did see someone on YouTube do pretty much the same thing with polyurethane and one where they re- epoxy coated.

Thanks you for your comments and suggestions everyone was a big help and helped me to start looking in the right direction.

It’s amazing how a little advice can make or break your future paddling experience.

Thanks again,


Large canoe
You should be able to fit your family in a large tripper in the 17-18 foot class. Travel a little lighter. If your son is adventurous you can get him in a safe forgiving boat like an inflatable kayak very soon. Soon your daughter will be on her own too having grown up in a paddling family. I would buy a used boat so you can change your mind without losing much money.

I agree that a Tripper xl at 105 pounds is too heavy for normal humans to portage, and hard to get off the car.