Shallow Arch vs. Shallow V

What is your opinion of the shallow arch vs. shallow V bottom hull shape?

I am looking to get a new canoe and after reading the many descriptions, I still don’t know which one (arch or V) will serve me best. It will used on midwestern rivers (rarely anything more than Class I) and some lakes. In the past, I’ve only paddled a flat bottom.

Has anyone ever paddled canoes with nearly identical specs with the only difference being the arch vs. V shape? What are the big differences?


Go with V if tracking is importanat
The shallow V like many Mad River boats have,…will help give you some tracking on lakes and flatwater whereas the shallow arch (though excellent for many purposes such as maneuvering and moving water) will not give you quite the tracking characteristics. Other than that they are both good designs that would both do you well for your purposes.

You’re probably better off asking about

… specific boats rather than V vs. shallow. You’ll get more useful feedback and advice. I have both and enjoy both equally well.

Shallow Arch
There are posters on this forum that really know what they are talking about when it comes to hull shapes and characteristics. I’m not one of them, but I do know what I like, which is shallow arch. Thousands if not millions of paddlers love the Mad River Explorer’s shallow vee. I hate em. The vee makes it harder to get the stems out of the water for maneuvers.

Should be an interesting thread you started here. You should get lots of opinions. But then go try the boats and see what you like.


I also prefer shallow arch to shallow V,
and in optimized designs, shallow arch will be faster and will track just as well.

One issue with shallow V in rocky, gravely rivers is that the V line will wear. A canoe with a marked V, like my old Mad River Compatriot, may trip over the V line when slipping sideways in rapids.

In recent years, Mad River designers have learned how to combine a shallower V with some arcing where the hull goes toward the chines. Examples I own are the Mad River Freedom Solo (Guide) and the no-longer-produced Mad River Synergy whitewater tandem. Both benefit in tracking from the bit of V, but when maneuvering, they are not hampered by the V line.

Still, racing improves the breed, and one does not see V hulls on marathon racing canoes, nor on slalom canoes, nor on the best poling canoes for competition.

I should have mentioned that one reason designers like to add some V is that it helps stiffen the bottom lengthwise and prevent “oil canning.”

Main differences that I can tell…
…are that the shallow vee hull may feel a little more steady with a moderate load than the shallow arch. The shallow arch tends to have a livelier feel. A lot of other variables factor into speed and maneuverability and plenty of others here with far more experience than I can speak better to that - but as one who progressed from flat bottoms just a couple years ago, this has been the biggest noticeable issue to me.

Between the two, I now generally prefer a shallow arch - but the shallow vee Malecite is still a sweet ride. And it is confidence-inspiring to those with little or no paddling experience who I have put in that boat.

If all I paddled was flat water, I wouldn’t concern myself too much with the difference between the two, unless perhaps I might be getting into some serious competition. Just progressing past flat bottoms is a much bigger deal. Either will generally be faster, will track better, and be more stable overall than a flat bottom. Other factors such as amount of rocker will generally have more effect on maneuverability.

If you drag a boat over shallow river bottoms, certainly you will see some wear concentrated at the point of the vee, but I don’t know how much of a problem that is.

have a shallow v hull
I own a shallow v shaped hull kayak, have paddled a shallow arch and flat bottomed kayaks.

My input is a follows: shallow arch feels to me like sitting on a pop can. Kayak felt best a full speed, while at a slow lazy pace the kayak felt wiggly.

Shallow V hull feels lively in moving water, a bit more stable at a lazy pace.

Hull shape is only one factor in the purchase decision to be made. Equally important is beam and length and cockpit size.

your best bet is hope in kayaks with different hulls and see what feels right to you

good luck

problem is
dlf is looking for a CANOE.

Personally, I have several rounded bottom canoes, one flat bottom, and no v-bottom. I pole a lot with folks in MRE’s which are v-bottom. They like them, but I like my Dumoine for big water poling. I think it gets up on waves better and is more maneuverable.

With a little paddle technique, tracking my 5" rocker Encores, slalom Flashback, the Whitesell or the Dumoine is no issue at all.

Shallow V vs shallow arch
I have two race boats that are very similar. The Wenonah V1A is 18.5’ and has a v bottom. The Wenonah AR is 18.5 and has an arch bottom. At first glance they are the same but they handle very differently. The V1A tracks well and is a little harder to turn. The AR also tracks well but when leaned turns very well. The AR is also more stable than the V1A. The AR handles the waves and trash water better. I also paddle a Savage River Susquehanna (shallow v) and a Wenonah Jenson 18( shallow arch). The Savage River is fast, tracks great, stable and turns great when leaned. It is probably the fastest stock boat out there. It is also very light. The 18 is good but the SR is better.

Roundside down
has expressed a lot of what I experienced.

I had a Sawyer Shockwave and a DY Special at the same time which were pretty similar solo’s other than the DY had a shallow V and the Shockwave was a shallow arch. The Shockwave was faster and was easier to turn with a lean and had more predictable handling. It was more confidence inspiring when leaned over on it’s side.

The DY Special tracked straighter, but was also less influenced by cross winds. Heeling it over in a turn didn’t really seem to make it turn any better.

At one time I had a short conversation with David Yost about this, and he expressed that the DY was a better canoe to fish out of as it got blown around less. Made sense to me.

Depends on how shallow the arch or
how flattened the V. As I said earlier, my old MR Compatriot had a rather deep V and handling suffered because of it. My MR Guide has a shallow V, close to a shallow arch, and handles very well.

Our old 18.5’ Moore has a rather deep “shallow” arch, is pretty fast, but a bit tippy. (Nevertheless, I learned to pole in it.) Our 17’ Bluewater has a very shallow arch, is nice and firm at rest or in motion, but isn’t much faster than our erstwhile OT Tripper, though the Bluewater is sharper ended with less rocker.

I can’t think of a reason to have a deep V, but a shallow V, or a little V going to an arch, can work well.

That’s why I said someone coming from flat bottomed canoes is better served asking for opinions comparing specific boats being considered.

My shallow v hulls are: Indpendence, Malecite, ME and TW Special.