Revisiting my canoe choice.. again

Hey, all. Thanks so much for the responses you gave on my last thread “Tripping Canoe Advice.”

I am in a spot where things have changed and I’m considering adding another canoe to the fleet.

My current boat is a Reflection Dagger 16 (1994, Royalex). I’ve removed the center seat and added a yoke with shoulder pads, which has been fantastic.

I am curious of there is perhaps a better option for camping with the wife and two dogs plus a good bit of gear. It would be a huge bonus if the boat in question has a symmetrical hull.
I’d enjoy reading responses about canoe models with similar features (good primary stability, moderate rocker, etc).

This boat would primarily be used for camping on lakes and ponds, but I’d love to be able to take it solo on rivers… unless boats of that size/capacity just aren’t meant to be a jack of all trades to that degree.

It would be wonderful also if the canoe wasn’t 70 pounds so portaging isn’t terrible.

This boat is liked by many including for solo use. It has a bit less rocker than most Prospectors so should cruise more efficiently while maintaining a lot of versatility. I haven’t tried one (yet).

As you have surmised, your two objectives are counter to each other. Get a boat which is middle ground and does neither perfect, or get two boats… bigger trip canoe and a dedicated solo.

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“Revisting my canoe choice.”
You have described a life long hobby for many people.
For tripping with a wife, 2 dogs and good bit of gear get a larger canoe. I like 18 feet. It can be kevlar or fiberglass and won’t be that heavy.
For solo, use the Dagger.

I’ve ordered a Novacraft Prospector 18 for loaded touring; wife, grandkids and a dog. It has massive capacity and plenty of space. I didn’t have money for the lightest layups, but if you do you can get that less than 70lb mark.

I have no intention to use it solo. I have a OT Penobscot 16 or Novacraft Bobs Special for solo trips.

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It’s a tough call. I feel the dagger does so many things well. I can solo it from center. I can run it through moderate white water (light bow in wave trains due to minimal rocker). I can stand in it, fish from it, and camp in it. Maybe it’s all the boat I need… but the itch to add to the fleet is a very real thing!

If you want one boat that behaves like multiple boats, I recommend a PakCanoe 170. I have owned one since last fall and have taken it on multiple overnight solo river trips. For a big boat, it handles like something several feet shorter (at least when it’s empty). It checks a lot of your boxes.

  1. Symmetrical
  2. Great primary and not bad secondary stability (as long as the seats don’t slide left/right which they sometimes do).
  3. Fairly aggressive rocker that can be trimmed out by moving gear, dogs, and seats.

It weighs around 54 lbs. You can have up to 3 seats or remove all of them. The seats can be moved and place between any hull cross sections (as long as the seat isn’t too wide–no putting the optional middle seat in the bow/stern).

So you can have a light but long solo boat with potentially very high rocker for fun times on up to class 3 rapids, (as I did on a day trip on the Buffalo from Kyle’s Landing to Erbie) or you can load up the wife and the dogs and take it out camping on those lakes and ponds (or rivers). Place more gear in the bow and stern to flatten the rocker and it tracks quite nicely. Place some ballast where you need it if you’re soloing it, particularly if it’s windy.

You can check it on an airplane too, if you feel inclined, just be sure to take out a few pieces from the duffel to avoid any nasty weight surcharges. I flew it out to take it on the Skagit river a few weeks ago. Don’t forget the 2/3 piece paddles.

It is an incredibly versatile and forgiving boat, basically 3 in one. I haven’t managed to break anything on it, and I haven’t babied it. I highly recommend it.

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Nice to see someone else on the forums besides me giving props to PakBoat folding craft. I’ve long been a fan of their kayaks (took my 28 pound Quest 135 out last Sunday) but I know the canoes are excellent, rugged and versatile, and you described one of the many remarkable advantages of a folder, that being able to modify the rocker to adapt to your conditions and crew and cargo loads.

Having owned and paddled both a Dagger 16 and a prospector I would recommend the prospector for the heavy duty you describe and reserve the Dagger for moving far and fast on flat water. That way both boats will be in their element.