River Tripping boat choice?

I paddle mostly in Texas and Arrkansas. We also paddle a yearly long trip. Our rivers are alomost always low water shallow rock gardens with drops up to 4 feet.

I have been paddling a Mad River Legend 15 for years that I sometimes solo. It has worked for me but it is a pig in the flats and doesn’t have enough capacity as a solo boat. I LOVE the way it turns though.

I want a big boat Royalex boat that can turn and carry two people and gear for a week. I’d prefer it wasn’t too bad in the flats and can still take a drop.

I know it needs to be a durable jack of all trades. I’m looking at an Equif Cayone 16.5 or a Bell Alaskan.

Does anyone have experience with these boats or can they make a recommendation?


– Last Updated: Jun-01-14 2:55 PM EST –

There are lots of good boats out there for big water and big trips. Mad River, Wenonah, Clipper, and Bell to name a few. As I have gotten into my 60s I weigh a little more, bring a little more and like to paddle with dogs. I like 18 foot boats for the extra room and freeboard. They make good speed on rivers.

Mostly I still paddle a 1951 OT Guide 18 in cedar and canvas. We don't portage much. I would still like a royalex boat in the 18 range with more rocker a deeper hull, and a less flat bottom.

Nova Craft Prospector
I just got a Nova Craft Prospector 17 in Royalex, and I think it would fit the bill for you. It’s maneuverable, rugged and roomy.

nova craft Prospecter
I second that. Hear Hear!

Maybe there’s an Old Town Tripper still
available, even though the Royalex supply is drying up.

We had a Tripper for several years, and it was a wonderful river tripper. Heavy, yes, but for the gravel bars, just drag it. And the Tripper can handle whitewater about as well as near any tandem.

I wouldn’t put much emphasis on speed for river tripping, unless you are traveling huge rivers like the McKensie. As long as you get some help from the current, give away speed for handling.

OT Tripper
is the choice for many Maine paddlers solo or tandem.

Of course many Maine paddlers also are polers. The Tripper handles that quite well.

Nova Craft Moisie
I am a bit confused by your comment that the 15’ Legend (which is quite full in the ends) does not have enough capacity as a solo boat.

I assume you are looking for a boat minimally 16’ long. Certainly a 16’ or 17’ Prospector is worthy of consideration and I like Nova Craft’s Royalex Prospector the best.

Esquif also makes, or made, a 16’ (well 15’ 11") and a 17’ Royalex Prospecteur that turns even better than a Nova Craft Prospecteur. I have not paddled the longer one but have paddled the shorter one which has 4 1/2" of rocker bow and stern. The longer version still has a healthy 3 1/2" of rocker front and back.

The Old Town Tripper is certainly a good option if you can find one. Good luck with that.

Another consideration would be the Nova Craft Moisie (16’ 6") which is the reincarnation of the old Blue Hole Starburst. The Blue Hole Starburst and the Dagger Dimension (long out of production) were two of the most acclaimed whitewater tandem Royalex tripping boats ever.

Another boat which I have only seen but not paddled, but which I believe would have real potential is the Two Brothers Arkota.

But you might not be able to find a Royalex river tripper new or used within a reasonable time frame. Royalex production ceased for good at the beginning of last month and manufacturers who did not preorder sheet for this year may not have been able to produce any boats at all. Makers who did are probably selling out their inventory as we speak.

Esquif canoe (which makes the Prospecteurs) is working on an alternative material to Royalex (T-Formex) which they may get into production for 2015. If you can’t find a Royalex boat you might consider an Esquif Mistral (16’) in Twin-Tex. The problem with Twin-Tex is that it is not easily repairable if cracked and generally requires factory repair or replacement.

Strictly a solo boat
I’ve used my Swift Raven for long distance river hauling. It’s a big tough solo. It has been used (not) by me on multi month expeditions. I’ve been on two week long trips. It’s quite dry even in big big wave trains

OT Tripper
fer sure!



– Last Updated: Jul-04-14 11:00 PM EST –

Water you're on is kinda flat for royalex. Royalex IS heavy and relative to prior experience as if you are in lighter weight hulls then move into Royalex, the hull IS heavy. Royalex is more for sliding quickly down a gradient then banging off rock gardens, there caws gravel has flushed out into the next pool.

I was looking for a long hull single in Kevlar provoking an avalanche of advice touting Wenonah Tuffweave. A tuffweave may be more Texas than Royalex.

Frankly, I can't imagine using a rockered hull in Texas. No glide is a bad day.

We're a month late..what did you find ?

I think you’re right about most Royalex
being a bit piggy.

But be careful what you say about rocker. A lotta rocker is bad for that kind of trip. Some carefully planned rocker can leave a river canoe both fast and pleasantly agile. John Winters has offered a recent 18.5 fast cruiser that has considerable rocker. And there’s the Wenonah Itasca.

New canoe

– Last Updated: Jul-25-14 2:35 PM EST –

My brother and I just ran the Willamette R in Oregon. We are going in together on a Wenonah Cascade. It is 17 1/2 feet, royalex, with 2 inches of rocker and 15 inches deep. Found one and bought it 3 days ago.

I’d be interested in hearing what you think about the Cascade. It’s a boat I have been looking at for a while.

Cascade trip
Probably the first time out with the Cascade will be the Sacramento River in early October to chase the wily king salmon. The boat lives in Oregon and I am in Nevada.