Prism or a Merlin II?

I’m trying to decide if a Prism or a Merlin II would be best for me while paddling lazy rivers on 10 to 14 day camping trips. Since I live in Colorado I primarily paddle the Green River in Utah which is very mellow. My husband paddles a Clipper Solitude which feels too beamy for me and it seems to get whipped around in the desert winds. I’m 5’9" and 145lbs if that’s useful info.

Any thoughts, suggestions or ideas anyone?

If you can get your hands on a Merlin II
Try it. It’s one sweet boat and you are just right for the size of the boat. The Prism is a fine boat too but my crystal ball sees you in the Merlin with a very big smile on your face. It’s a foot and a half shorter and tracks nicely but is very responsive to the paddle.

agree with N.T.
I agree with N.T. that the Merlin II would be the best choice for you. It is a great boat to paddle, and at your weight, the Prism is a lot bigger boat than you need.

For moving water, the Merlin II (not the original Merlin) is the solo boat. Prism is a great lake boat.

Chris - Pensacola

Merlin II
I cast my vote for the Merlin II as well.

Merlin II
I used to own a Prism. It was a fine go straight solo boat and a really nice tripping boat.I sold it after I paddled a Merlin II. The merlin is just so much more fun to paddle. It goes straight it you want it to. It turns if you want it to. Its a great all around boat. I am 5’9 and weigh about 190 lbs. and I now realize the prism was just too much boat to enjoy. By the way, I have taken the Merlin on week long trips and it carries the weight easily. For your size go with the merlin II.

Weight question
At what weight would you start to recommend something other than the Merlin II for gratefulperson’s specified use?

Depending on Experience
Depending on experience and need for “stability.”

I paddle a Merlin II and I’m 5’11" and 215#. However, I prefer my Wildfire if there are any lake waves to speak of. Both are great for downriver trips.

I kneel in canoes. I really don’t understand how anyone can sit with their legs out (even with foot supports) in these solo boats.

Therefore, I would recommend the Merlin II for “sitters” up to 185 pounds. Anyone over that I would feel would have to kneel to get good stability.

Just my opinions…


Green River Use
I’ve paddled the Green, and it is slow moving big water except in spring flood when it cruises along at 6-7 mph. Maneuvering capabiities are not an important consideration even with high water. A big issue one can face on the Green however is the wind, which can be pretty brutal. For that reason, I think the Prism might be the better bet in this particular case. It has a straight keel line and probably less affected by winds. The Merlin II is a great boat, but more rockered and hence would be a bit harder to hold on line when it’s windy. If you are planning to paddle some twisty streams as well however, then I’d opt for the Merlin II as a better do-all boat.

Prism and wind
My experience is that wind negatively impacts the prism to a much greater degree than the merlin. The prism is a big solo, especially if you are 145 lbs.

Have you considered a Clipper Packer
Hello, I noticed your question and just posted a note (review on the thread about "Packer, faster than a Summersong?) about Western Canoeing’s Packer a 14’ solo that my wife and I enjoy paddling. Just another boat to consider. Have fun! Someday when my children are a little older I’d really like to take them on a trip down the Green River.

Lightly loaded yes, but…
…the original post was talking about 10-14 day canoe camping trips on the Green R. in Utah. Due to the silt load and alkalinity of the river water, it is usually necessary to carry your water with you. You also have to take a chemical toilet along, as well as a fire pan if you want to have a fire. That’s a lot of weight. With all that gear, the boat will be fairly heavily loaded. The large volume of the Prism could be an asset in that case.

It’s true that one is wise to carry their own water on the Green River which my husband and I do. We always schedule a water pick up at Mineral Bottom thereby allowing us to carry less water during both halves of the trip. Also we eat mostly dried food. WAG bags are our solution to a chemical toilet which cuts the weight and bulk down quite a bit. All this adds up to less of a load.

All the favorable postings about the Merlin II have me leaning heavily in that direction. Now for those Merlin II officionados out there which layup is suggested?

White Gold w/Wood Trim
I have a White Gold with aluminum trim. It weighs 39 pounds, but I wish it was wood trimmed for the beauty (it would add about 3 pounds).

The Black Gold lay-up is about 3 pounds heavier than the White Gold. It costs more, but I’ve heard it is a fine lay-up.

Weight should be an important consideration for you. White or Black Gold in aluminum or wood trim should work fine. I just love the wood…


White Gold for tripping
Less money and pretty tough stuff, if you get the sand color it won’t show scratches nearly as bad as any other color. While both wood and aluminum trim are very nice on a Bell the wood is more comfortable to carry or sit with a leg resting against the rail and doesn’t have the sharp edge that the aluminum gunwales have. Bell does a very nice job on their brightwork, seats and rails are generally very well done.