Poling a solo canoe?

…just curious if anyone has poled in the longer loa solo canoes (like Northstar Magic or Northwood Solo). I do, occasionally need to stand up and pole - but I’m in a very stable Kevlar MRC Explorer 16.

(I have zero experience with solo canoes of more than 12 ft.)


I’m sure some can do it. For a second or two at least. Prepare to get wet.

Usually poling in a narrow solo with less than 28 inches wide requires kneeling rather than standing and there are soloists using shorter poles for that.

Thanks for the replies, everyone. I sort of figured poling a solo would be a problem. And maybe ‘self rescue’ more challenging too?

I’ve paddled 3 different Explorer 16s for a few years (2 Rx and now Kevlar). I paddle alone, often, and like these boats a lot - but, I’m getting older (70s) and, while reasonably fit, this 60# canoe is becoming a burden (too big and a bit heavy). I’m thinking about a solo; 30# (+/-). Northstars top my list for now. Will drive up north soon (Georgia dealer), to try them out.
Thanks again.

Hi canoedoc. I was reading your post, thinking back to some of the solos I tried poling. If you rename your pole and call it a cane things go better lol…up to a point. A couple real sweet poling boats are made by Kaz up in New Hampshire, designed by my old buddy Ed Hayden. The Souhegan is like poling two canoes at once, it’s quite stable and predictable, yet very responsive. I’d recommend it highly. The first time I poled Eds, I attained a local rapid 9 times before figuring he may want his boat back, and this is a rapid that would have me spent after two or three attainments in my Swift Dumoine or Dagger Reflection. Coho is the other poling boat, though also a decent paddle. If strictly poling, the Souhegan can’t be beat imo.If you did go with a Millbrook from Kaz, I’d highly recommend ordering an extra layer of glass below the waterline. Still sporty, and that way, they’re tough enough. Couple pix and an homage to Ed I wrote awhile back. That’s my other bud Fred Klingener in the pix, went by ‘Ravens Jester’ online and had a canoe pole design. Fred was always thinking


I have stood up in my Yellowstone Solo and Wildfire, and it is pretty twitchy. Part of the problem for a boat set up as a solo is that the seat is where you need to stand. You are either too far forward or too far back, and you can’t move back and forth in the boat. I can’t imagine poling in a Magic. Buy the solo boat for paddling, but I’d stick to the Explorer for poling.

Yeah, I have up poling when I sold my Penobscot 16 and bought a Yellowstone Solo.

I very much appreciate these thoughtful replies. Thank you.

I gave it two additional months of serious thought. Moving a larger 60# canoe to my pickup, driving to a launch and then back home just isn’t working for me as well as it once did. The little Bell I paddle is ideal. A tripping solo boat (lightweight, good tracking and a wee bit more speed) would complement my little pack canoe very well.

So the MRC has been listed in Paddling.Com’s classifieds.

( Can’t blame folks for wishing to beat ‘Father-Time’, it’s always worth a try, anyways :slight_smile:

If the link doesn’t work you can go to hemlockcanoe.com and click on “more pictures” under the SRT and you’ll see a guy standing in an SRT. My guess is that it’s the designer, Harold Deal. SRT is pretty lively.

In my Yellowstone Solo (also pretty narrow and lively) it can get pretty exciting when just the dog stands up.

I used to own a Northstar Solo and also a Magic. The Northstar Solo is quite stable (for a solo canoe) and versatile so probably a good choice for you…if I was going to try standing in a solo that would be a top choice. I’m not a big fan of Northstar Canoes but some of their hull designs are nice. Depending on your weight a Swift Shearwater might be another good choice since it’s versatile and stable but it likes to have over 200 pounds in it.

If you’re going to a Northstar dealer you might also try a Polaris. It’s a tandem that’s a little narrower than most so quite efficient and it makes a good solo boat that would be more stable than any dedicated solo yet a big step up in efficiency over your Explorer. Mine weighs a little over 40 pounds (black lite with wood trim) but if you get carbon gunwales the weight is under 40 pounds.


I had a Hemlock SRT for a while, and I tried polling in it. My trial lasted about twenty yards. I stayed in the boat, but it was way too twitchy for me.

I met Ed Hayden and watched him compete in his Millbrook, Souhegan, I think. He made it look easy. For a light, poll-friendly boat, I suggest pursuing a Millbrook.