Request for Comments, Ascend Canoes

So the short of it is that I’m looking to purchase a first (inexpensive) canoe.

To give a bit of perspective - here’s a bit on my background: I’ve paddled for years in other peoples boats, (friends boats, rented boats, college “phys ed” course in canoeing) and I’ve gotten to play with some really terrible (these enormous AL boats we had in scouts) and some fancier (whitewater / kevlar single seat) boats. I am 6’3" 225 lbs and was able to move those big aluminum boats by myself without too much grief (both in the water and on the river).

What I’d like is a boat that I am comfortable taking out myself, but that I can also use as a tandem (or tandem + a child or something of the like). I’m not looking to do any type of portaging / camping, and I’d like to keep this total purchase as inexpensive as possible, while still buying a quality boat.

I’m currently eyeballing the Ascend C14. I realize it’s going to be heavy, and I don’t particularly care for the seats (I learned to paddle on my knees, rather than seated, and am just more comfortable that way) - but it’s very inexpensive, and accessible (I live near bass pro shops), and appears to have enough seating for 2 + a non-paddler / picnic stuff in the middle, which is nice. I’d likely be using it solo 50% of the time.

Thoughts on this boat from more experienced paddlers would be appreciated, also thoughts on construction / length / other boats to look at in the < 600 dollar range.

Many thanks for any comments / assistance on this. Looking forward to spending more time on the rivers here in central PA!

Look here for used boats
that boat has the built ins that are useless. You will get way more use out of a boat that does not come with a cooler nor cupholder that makes it impossible to kneel close to the center. See that tube? It indicates the hull needs longitudinal support as its so poorly made.

Frankly Bass Pro is not the place to look for a first boat.

That they are selling it for 3 people is just plain reckless. A fourteen foot boat will NOT hold 3 with adequate freeboard.

I’ve actually never spent any significant amount of time in a boat with all of that built in stuff, so I have no idea if I’d use it for anything. I want to say the most I’ve had was a cup holder next to a moulded seat in a rental, and I’ve already got dry bags, so no need for those type of sealed containers or anything. Based on my experiences thus far, I’d actually prefer a much simpler interior

Also: I’d agree about the 3 person thing for sure, thinking of putting 3 on that seems ridiculous.

So if Bass Pro is a bad place to start, where is a good one? - the area I live in doesn’t really seem to have much in the way of specialty outfitters for this kind of thing, outside of the big boxes (Bass Pro / Cabelas / Dicks / Gander / etc)

try craigslist
I have bought 5 canoes that way and saved considerable money. When you see something you like check the reviews here, and ask advice.

Here on P net
is one place to look under Classifieds.

Wherever you are. Sometimes there are canoe events or clubs where you can look over other peoples toys.

Where in Central PA
Dear gkrash,

There are a few specialized paddle shops in Central PA.

Blue Mountain Outfitters in Marysville and Lancaster County Marine outside of Ephrata are two places that stock a pretty good amount of canoes and paddling accessories.


Tim Murphy AKA Goobs

Based on your described need, I’d look for an Old Town Penobscot 16. There are other similar canoes you might find, but it seems like I see these pop up on Craigslist fairly regularly for around the price you are looking for. It’s a Royalex hull that at just under 60 pounds should be just light enough to lift and car top by yourself.

Good luck finding the one that meets your needs. Let us know what you come up with.

I had a similar boat as my first purchas
At 38" it’s slightly narrower than a battleship.

That center cooler is not insulated but it makes a nice place to stow stuff but you cannot store long things by laying them on the bottom due to the center seat filling the space’ The paddle and fishing rod holders are bungee cords at the edge of the middle seat, the widest part of the boat. If what you are storing there conforms to the shape of the hull you are good to go. For something you don’t want bent, not so great.

At 84 lbs it’s pretty stout. You don’t have to worry about skinny crackheads stealing it off your rack. The polyethylene hull will probably become hogged after two years like mine did and everyone else I know who has one like it. The beauty of the design though is that it really doesn’t hurt it that much.

I still use mine for river clean ups every year.I challenge any other canoer who would non chalantly say toss that rusty jagged broken BBQ grill in my boat.

I paddled it tandem a lot and also turned it around and solo’d it full of camping gear. Those “comfortable molded seats” are not. Get you a foam stadium cushion and strap it on top when you go.

If you wait till fall you can probably get same boat for 250 or 300 with a PFD and paddle or find something used on craigslist for that price but if you really really really want a boat now like I did back then it will get you on the water relatively cheaply. I paddled mine for a couple summers before upgrading and it’s still on the rack for cleanups or to loan to the kids.

If you have extra cash spend it on a nice bending branches paddle which you can keep when you upgrade canoes

Hi Goobs (heh),

I’m located between Harrisburg and Hershey - although I do make it out to the Lancaster area fairly often (was actually just in Ephreta on Sunday at the legion post for a motorcycle gathering/show.

Good to know there are a few shops there, we had one shops here, (wild-something outfitters) but it closed a few years back and I haven’t really seen anything else pop up in the meantime.

I’ll check out these stores you mentioned, thanks much!!

– Gary

Whoops, noob alert - clicked the wrong link for reply, please look one post “up” from here for my reply to you.

What about something like this:

(there is actually exactly the boat you described on Craigslist as well, I’m just not sure if I can fit a 16’ boat in my garage with all of my other toys :)) Plus this one appears to come with a bending branches 57, which is almost a sign :slight_smile:

Osprey 140
I’ve never seen an Osprey 140 in person before. Looking at it’s specs, at 14 ft. it seems a tad short for a tandem. At 38" it’s also wider than most. However, depending on how far you’re planning on going, and how fast you want to get there, it might not be too bad to get you started. But at those specs, I’d expect it to be on the slow side, and not travel as straight as you might prefer. On the plus side, at 57 pounds, it should be a good weight to move and car top. It’s probably pretty stable at that width. The option to row might be nice, but unless you’re looking for that, might be meaningless too.

In general I try to get as long a canoe as I can manage. In my garage, 16 ft is my comfortable limit. I’ve had a 17 footer in there at an odd angle, but it was a hassle and I got rid of it. You need to be able to live with it both on and off the water. So I get the concern over size. But from my experience, longer is generally better.

Rocker and paddling technique not withstanding, I’ve found longer canoes travel straighter and faster and with more volume are more stable than a similar, yet shorter model. I’m generalizing when I say this. As folks will tell you, there are a lot of variables that influence speed, stability, and straight tracking.

As for the Penobscot, I’m guessing the one in Mechanicsburg. That looks to be a much older model based on the seats and gunwales. Newer models have narrow aluminum gunwales and web seats. I think the web seats are more comfortable than plastic. The last two digits of the ID number should indicate the year. A really well taken care of canoe can last a very long time, but age can be a concern. You’d want to inspect it carefully for wear and weak spots. Try to get a feel for how it was stored. Indoors preferably, or under a covered shelter if outdoors. Fading and discoloration are some visible warning signs.

I personally like the Penobscot hull, and you could always swap in webbed seats later. However, if a 16 foot boat won’t fit your space for it properly, then that’s a deal breaker for you.

If you can live with its limitations, the Osprey could be a good compromise for your paddling needs and your intended storage space. If I had to choose, I’d rather have the Osprey than the Ascend C14. You can always trade up later. It looks like they may have just dropped the price, though the way I read the ad, I don’t think they intend on including the paddles. They seem to have their own price. Maybe you could get them thrown in.

Looking at the few Osprey reviews on, they all seem to come from newer paddlers where this was a first canoe. The reviews are all pretty good, so as a starter canoe maybe it’s a good start. Looks like they find it a good fishing boat that is hard to control in the wind. (do you get a lot of wind where you intend on paddling?)

There’s also a Mad River unspecified Royalex model in Harrisburg that you might want to take a look at. Mad River makes some good canoes as well. How does a 15 footer fit your garage?

Good luck in your search.