Sawyer Loon tripping in the Adirondacks

So I got the Loon (Kevlar without rudder) out on an Adirondack trip and wanted to post some comments. It was a good test for the boat and its capabilities as a tripper, and in an environment that required a good amount of portaging and a good amount of maneuverability…where I thought that the Loon might not excel, but as it turns out it did.

I did a three day, two night trip in the Adirondacks, from Lake Lila to Lowes Lake. It was not a long trip but all that I could fit in with work. In all it was about 30 miles of paddling and a good amount of portaging. Despite the short duration though, I had to take a fair amount of gear given that the temps were sub-freezing at night and the daytime temps were about 35 with constant rain. Winds were about 15-20 mph. I pack moderately so I would guess maybe 60 pounds…??? Since I was not backpacking I didn’t bother weighing it.

I was pretty favorably impressed with the Loon and it was the first time I had the opportunity to test it as a tripping boat and in some very tight and windy streams.

First off I have to say that the boat handled a load like it wasn’t even there. My Bell Magic, which was my previous tripping canoe and one I was and still am quite fond of, did well, but you could certainly tell the difference in speed, handling and efficiency with a load on board. Not really the case with the Loon in my opinion.

The Loon did not seem slowed down or overly burdened by the load, and its handling seemed just as adroit as without a load. That impressed me. Of all the canoes and kayaks I have paddled with a load this was the first that didn’t really feel to be hindered by one.

On the other hand I have to admit that I had to load the boat with all the gear behind the seat. Without having a rudder on my Loon, I find that the only way it seems to track well is with weight in the aft end and putting any bags in the front really seemed to throw the trim off on the boat. This is still something that I find somewhat puzzling about this boat: The fact that it really only handles well in my opinion when weighed down in the stern. Without that weight in the stern I find that the boat wanders too much and is hard to bring out of a yaw once the stern starts to skid out a little from either wind or from paddling. However, with the stern weighted down a bit it does great. Maybe this is how Verlen designed the boat. Of course with a rudder it wouldn’t matter.

For handling the narrow and windy streams I encountered, the Loon did much better than the Magic did. The Loon was able to maneuver much more easily through the narrow and bendy steram channels…even after I took a wrong turn and headed up a stream that was only a few feet wide and eventually petered out. The Loon was really capable in the turns with a load and with a little bit of edging. I have to admit that I was impressed.

For portaging the boat did much better than expected. I had figured it would be very uncomfortable to portage, but it was not. My Kevlar version is about 45 pounds, and I recently found an original Loon portage yoke that sits on top of the seat rails. The boat was reasonably comfortable to portage, despite a few rugged portage trails, and while carrying a small pack on my back as well. One of the portages was almost more of a glamorized bushwack, but the Loon really wasn’t a problem.

My only grip about the boat was its trim sensitivity. You still have to pay attention to that, but it’s really not a problem if you put all your packs behind you.

Overall the Loon was quite impressive in an environment where I figured it might only be mediocre.

Still a very unique and impressive canoe. I still like the Magic a lot, but its hard to find anything that it or any other more conventional tripping canoe can do better than the Loon. Really is a neat and impressive boat. Still don’t know whether I will put a rudder on it or not. I think it certainly would have been a PIA on the thickly wooded portages I encountered, but would have been nice on the open water in the winds I encountered.


The Loon is nicely maneuverable.
I find it nice for poking around in nooks and crannies along the shoreline.

I’d like to find one of those original portage yokes that attaches to the seat slider tubes. My clamp on yoke is serviceable, but a bit of a pain.

Single or double carry?
You must have done some tootling around Lows…otherwise there isnt thirty miles of paddling from Lila to Low’s through Harrington Creek.

Portages come out to about two miles total including the mile along the railroad track.

How is the portage along Harrington Creek this year? I last did it two years ago and it was a bit lumpy and rough!

I dont consider that route especially twisty etc but wonder how Loon would do in the Barrens on the Batsto or Mullica. Its pretty long for those rivers…but if a Prospector can go it might too.

wrong turn
wrong turn contributed to the longer paddling route and to the very windy stream that I went up. Thought that was clear in my post, and yes I did do some exploring both on Lowes and on Lila.

And yes…two trip portages.

Now you have to go to the Everglades
and thats where your Loon will shine.

That is if anyone can catch it.

Plenty of good paddling
In the Everglades.

Check out:

have done that trip a couple of times. great place. hope to get back to do it again, the area used to be in my back yard.

i used a racing c1 which proved to be tough in the tight turns but is light! the boat carried supplys fine

come on now!
We all know there are no two trip portages, they come in numbers of one, three, five.

For me, the imperative of the one tripper is paramount.