recommendations for solo canoe


Never been in a solo canoe but would like to get one that is easy to transport for some afterwork workouts, relatively inexpensive and can become a tandem for 2 kid if needed. I’m about 200lb and will only use this for day trips, no overniters. Lakes and slow, but rocky, rivers. Any advice would be appreciated.



– Last Updated: Jun-07-04 12:42 AM EST –

Based on the "rocky" might want to consider a royalex hull over some of the lighter but more fragile glass compsites.

A hull that can be paddled tandem or solo is always a difficult call...but it sounds like you're looking for an all around "general purpose" canoe... take a look at a "Prospector" hull, origianlly from the Chestnut Canoe company back around the turn of the century... and so nice of a design, it's still a popular boat today... and was one of Bill Masons favorites. Several companies build them... Nova Craft, even Wenonah has introduced thier version of it this year.

Good Paddling

Sounds like you may want a small tandem instead of a solo. Paddled “backwards” from the bow seat it makes an adequate solo boat and will already be set up as a tandem for the kids. You can also put in a third seat for solo use.

A dedicated solo boat will have a seat placment more towards the center and will usually be narower with lots of tumblehome. This would not be a good choice for the kids to take out solo.

I agree with the above…
…in terms of a shorty tandem. Another alternative if you can afford it right now is 2 solo canoes. Kids will have more fun in their own boats anyway. I don’t think you can beat an Old Town Pack for what you described. That’s what I started with. Inexpensive, Royalex, 33 lbs, etc.

The prospector is a wonderful boat, but not for what this person wants to do. The prospector is a blast to solo if there is no wind. It performs very well with a considerable load. That is not a solo paddler or two lightweight children. I would recommend a boat like the Wenonah solo plus. It is a big solo and a small tandem for the kids. It is not as maneuverable as a prospector, but you said you wanted a workout and you will enjoy the speed you get out of this hull when you get a good cadence with a polished technique and a light bent-shaft.

Dagger-Reflection 15
Try out the Dagger-Reflection 15 with the center (solo) seat. I found this canoe to be real nice to paddle both solo and tandem.

Small tandems

– Last Updated: Jun-07-04 12:20 PM EST –

The Old Town Penobscot 16 and Bell Morningstar are often mentioned as good solo/tandem canoes. We've got a Royalex Morningstar that we bought for tandem use but I've had a great time learning to solo it. Center seat is an option -- I use a kneeling thwart so the dogs have more room.

mad river explorer
not sure what you mean by relatively inexpensive but the Mad River Explorer would fit your needs perfectly. it has a symetrical hull and thus paddles well forwards or backwards. this means that as a tandem it would be great, and paddled backwards from the bow seat, would be a great solo. i have an Explorer and use it this way often.

Nice suggestion and mohawk
The reflection 15 has a bit of rocker and with be more maneuverable.

Another suggestion might be a mohawk odyssey 14 or 15. Fun solos and big enough for kids to tandem. There are pictures on their website of kids paddling a solo14 tandem.

solo plus
I would say to go with the solo plus. or a short tandem paddled from the bow. My uncle paddles his WENONAH Saranac that way.

Solo canoes
Thanks for all the input. I guess I should have said that I’ll use it solo 95% of the time and that the kids are very lightweight, about 125 lbs total and I thought about putting 2 drop in sling seats in something like a bell yellowstone solo or wenonah vagabond for the rare times the kids use it. I have a Malecite with a center seat but it is an older FG version, about 70 lbs, and is difficult to load and unload alone. Also, I tried paddling it solo once which was OK but not great. Do the dedicated solo canoes paddle better than a malecite paddled solo? I have paddled a Pungo 12 Kayak which seemed pretty easy…maybe a kayak would be a better choice and let the kids have their way with the malecite.


solos and small kids
Had a similar situation years ago when my boys were young. I wanted a solo instead of having to paddle the 17’Spirit solo when i went to fish alone or get some exercise. Bought a used Wenonah Solitude and the boys paddled it everywhere tandem. At 8 & 10 thru 10 & 12 years old, they paddled it kneeling, and on sling seats. It suited them well, they were about the same weight as you show for your kids. The narrow gunwales of the solo suited their narrow shoulders and their paddling strokes were very efficient. They had no trouble pacing their older brother and me in the Spirit. It was not a great tandem for rough water, big boat wakes found them bracing and angling towards the wakes, but they never dumped it or swamped.

The solo plus would be better than the old Solitude design for the tandem part, but they could probably paddle a Prism tandem at 16’6", and you would have a better solo than the solo plus. Go out and try them in both combinations.


How about a royalex Vagabond? Its light for roylex solos, a good solo for a 200 pounder on day trips. And the royalex would hold up to the rocky river and the youngsters. My only question is the stability. Haven’t paddled a Vagabond I paddled a Sandpiper which is supposed to be a little less stable than the Vagabond, yet I thought the Sandpiper was fine relative to other solos I’ve paddled. Would the Vagabond be steady enough for the youngsters to adapt to?

See post above
Thanks, I was thinking about this (see my post 2 above). If anyone has tried this please let me know how it worked out.


Like my Vagabond as a solo, but…
…haven’t thought about two kids using it w/ sling seats. Might work, although thwart positions might make it a problem setting the slings right. I still think two solo somethings are the way to go with two kids.

Skip the solo with the kids
I have a friend that does day river trips with his kids… He used an Explorer. He’s now switched to solos exclusively… we’ve done short paddles with kids in solos… way to small. The Solos get way to sluggish with kids in them, and the kids want to hang out over the rails and not sit still like you’d likely need in the solo.

So, you say you have a Malecite. That’s an optimal canoe to use with the kids. One on each the bow and Stern seat, and you on the center. There is plenty of boat to support the crew and it will travel as fast as you are likely to go. Skip the Solo Plus for the obvious reason that the Malecite is nearly an identical boat in all dimensions, and in my personal opinion is more fun to paddle.

Now go buy a dedicated solo. Use the Malecite with the kids, and soon they will want to paddle themselves. Teach them to paddle the Malecite, and swap off with them into the solo as they get big enough to paddle alone.


Who makes the Malecite?
I don’t have time to go through all the manufacturers under “Buyer’s Guide”. Thanks.

Tap, Paul, ghoti
Tap, Malacite is by Mad River.

Paul, I think ghoti was looking for a boat that he could solo, and that two small kids could tandem by themselves. Maybe I’m not understanding. I’m with you on not planning to take kiddos in a solo on a regular basis. My Shearwater would work for one but not ideally. The wildfire worked for my then 6 year old but not well, really.

ghoti, sorry I missed your earlier reference to the Vagabond.

mad river makes the malecite - nm

Kids tandem in solo boat
I was thinking that the kids could tandem in the solo woith me and mom in the malecite - I wouldn’t put kids in the solo with me. But I think your idea of a dedicated solo for myself after work and letting the kids grow into the malecite is a good one.