Purchasing a Canoe need some advice on model

First time poster but been on the forums before. Little bit of history grew up paddling an old aluminum can and row boat mostly on a 30-40 acre lake as a kid / teen.

Haven’t really been in the water on a canoe in past 15 years but looking to get back into it now with a kid (under a year currently) plus live about 1/2 mile from the Susquehanna river in North East PA.

Plan on mostly using it here or on smaller lakes / ponds. Eventually plan on using it for overnight camping trips or weekend long camping trips. Want something fairly stable, efficient and a tandem that can be paddled solo as well. Looking for lighter weight since it will be getting loaded on top of my ram 2500 that is lifted with a camper shell on it. (will be carrying a step ladder in the bed to load it up top).

A few models I have looked at was the Wenonah Sundowner 17 foot in tuff-weave, Swift Keewaydin 17 foot in the kevlar fusion, Ranger Otter 16 footer kevlar hybrid and the Bluewater tripper 17 foot kevlar.

I plan on taking the baby once she gets a little older with me and possibly my 100lb GSD dog who loves the water so looking for something big enough for us plus my wife which is why I need a tandem but also easy to paddle solo if its just myself and the baby or dog going out for the day. Which model do you think would suit me best?

The Susquehanna where I am at is very wide and slow moving with no real white water and only a few shallow spots with rocks that show only when the river is very low.

Thanks in advance for the feedback.

One other thing forgot to mention that most are about in the same general price range the only difference is the Ranger is brand new at the $1600 where as the others are used boats in the 1k-1500 range.

Do you plan to sit or kneel? What’s the max load you’d want to carry and what’s the minimum? What would you compromise first (stability, efficiency, solo capability)?

You’re basically giving contradictory requirements…stable and efficient don’t usually go together and good solos don’t work well for 2 adults plus a kid and big dog.

I owned a Bluewater Tripper 17. It’s a small hot tandem that’s not terribly stable since its narrow. It does solo very well. If you plan to sit instead of kneel it will scare you when the dog moves around. The Keewaydin would handle your tandem load beautifully and so would the Sundowner but neither is great for solo use (you’d get blown around in wind). I’m not familiar with the Ranger but it’s probably the most versatile.

Thanks for the information. Depending on occupants and conditions would be fine kneeling. I would say stability top efficiency second and solo capability last. I just dont want a pig thats going to wear me out in a hour if Im going solo with my kid in the boat. Most likely the dog will stay at home as he has never rode in a boat but willing to give it a try at least once.

Max load probably around 750-800 pounds with wife kid and camping supplies for a weekend. Min load probably in the range of 300-350.

Add the Mad River Malecite to the list. It can be found in kevlar and with a third seat for solo. When taking the family, leave the dog home. I would not include both dog and small child in a canoe small enough to solo passably well. You will find soloing these tandems unloaded a bit of a challenge, compared to paddling with a partner - even one who isn’t helping much - especially in the wind. It helps to have some ballast. It also helps, IME, to use a paddle with a long blade.

750-800 pounds is a huge load. If you look at the link below you’ll see that a Keewaydin 17 is recommended for 350-600 pound loads…and the Kee17 is already getting big enough that it looks like they don’t even offer an optional kneeling thwart for solo use. If you have any canoe dealers near you it might be wise to just go paddle some boats to get a feel for what works for you. You may end up being better off getting a tandem that works for your needs and adding a (big) solo in the future. I have a Northstar Polaris that works quite well both tandem and solo but my loads are much less than yours.


I bought the canoe I have from Wal-Mart. Its 15 foot made out of poly. I have had in 22 years and love it. I just took a trip in it on the TN river and paddled just as easy as my kayak. They still sell them.

The 17Sundowner will do the job, but for a BIG dog it might be a challenge to solo. I would prefer the 17Spirit for your situation, It is wider to solo, but so much more stable with a moving dog. As a tripping tandem the Sundowner is good, very efficient. Two friends of mine used a 17 Sundowner to win the C2 Recreation, Mens Open division in the 90 Mile Adirondack Canoe Classic against a dozen Wenonah Jensens and other makes. My daughter now has that canoe and she takes out her 6 kids in it, usually three at a time, but has done 4 with her. I have several comparable canoes in the fleet now, a 17 Old Town Canadienne, the 17Spirit, a fiberglass 16 Grumman, and an 18Sundowner.

Old Town Discovery 169 could be a reliable option here that can carry near about 2 persons. Yes, it’s near about 16’.9" but its maximum capacity of carrying weight is 91lbs only. So, I found Old Town Saranac as a reliable option because it has the capacity to carry near about 750lbs and you can also call it best for family.

NorthEast_Paddler did you ever purchase a canoe?

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