Single man canoe

-- Last Updated: Sep-21-04 9:49 AM EST --

I need some suggestions for a good lightweight one man canoe for quiet to class III rivers.

I mainly do class I/II rivers. I will only occasionally do a class III.

solo canoe
Getting the combination of enough rocker for maneuvering without being too slow, plus low weight? My problem too. I’ve been paddling a tandem Appalachian Old Towne thats pretty good, but the weight is 58 lbs. I looked at the hull of the Nova Craft Supernova and it looks very good and am now going for a test paddle. The Mad River Guide (probably slower but dryer) in Kevlar is another good possibility, as is the Bell Wildfire.

I don’t think you will find the Guide to be dryer. The Supernova ships little to no water even in good sized standing waves. The bow has a lot of volume to it, it rises up over the waves quite well. Both are very good boats–but very different.

Yep…Wildfire is good…but
a lot depends on your size and experience. The little boat likes to flip over as some who know will tell you. A wider flater bottom like the MR Guide is more stable in the rough stuff. Mohawk makes some good boats for this type of river too. The wildfire is not so good in class III+ without airbags or a cover. As you go to a more WW type boat you lose the tracking and speed needed in the flats, this can be a real pain on a pool and drop paddling trip. So I’d say look closely at the rives you will be on most of the time and pick a canoe accordingly

I know this …

– Last Updated: Sep-18-04 2:17 PM EST –

Whatever boat you decide upon; if you are going to do class 3, you'd better have flotation rigged in it. There may be some paddlers who paddle class 3 without flotation, or at least say they do, but a mere mortal like myself is paddling a fully rigged, whitewater canoe, when I paddle class 3.
I own a Mad River Guide, and a Bell Wildfire, and I've paddled Jeff's Supernova. Generally speaking; I would try some class 3 in a Guide or a Supernova "if" they were correctly outfitted. I would "not" try "true" class 3 in my Wildfire even if it were correctly outfitted. I wouldn't consistently paddle any of them on class 3.
I have a Mohawk Odyssey 14 I would "consider" trying on class 3, but I think class 3 would be pushing it's capability.
Of the 4 mentioned so far (including the Odyssey), if I "had" to pick one, I'd pick the Guide.
If you find the perfect class 1 thru class 3 canoe in your search; let me know what it is. I want to buy one! I think you're talking about two "different" boats!


P.S. Hope you get a hundred responses; I will be avidly reading them all, looking for the answer in the search for the "perfect" boat.

I like my MR Synergy for class 1-3.
This is a strange thing to say, because it will sure blow around on a lake. However, on an 84 mile trip down the San Juan Canyons, with windy conditions, few rapids, and plenty of flat sections, I had no trouble at all keeping up with Dagger Reflection 15s and 16s, loaded similarly, and unlike them, I could do pretty much what I wanted to do in the rapids. I have had similar experiences on the St Croix in Wisconsin and the S Fork of the New River in NC. A highly rockered WW boat which eats up miles of flatwater and easy whitewater. I like the Synergy about as well for these waters as I like my MR Guide, and of course, on Chattooga III, the Nantahala or even the Tuckaseigee, the Synergy has it all over the Guide.(On windy days paddling easier rivers, I would take the Guide.)

SOME highly rockered WW boats can be paddled easily and effectively on moving flatwater, and when the rapids appear, the WW boats have that reserve of performance which makes all the difference.

By the way, the Synergy is technically a tandem, but WW tandems (Synergy, Caption, Probe 14) can often be a pain to paddle tandem, but fairly easy to manage solo.

re:…a ww_boat

…For a ww_boat, Esquif’s Nitro is a pretty efficient canoe.

Esquif truck & trailer was at Chattooga
9-18-04. River was at 4.0 so even the brave were mostly running section 3. It was interesting to see so many different Esquif models, including some that have not yet hit the stores.

Efficiency for flatwater paddling in a WW open boat has more to do with the willingness of the boat to run straight through its “sweet spot.” It has less to do with absolute speed. When you say that the Nitro is efficient, I assume you mean it is not touchy about running straight, does not take a lot of J-strokes, etc. The Synergy is a very “tubular” boat, like the MR Outrage. The long (15’), narrow hull of the Synergy is not only willing to run straight without correction strokes (especially if rigged a little bit “forward”), it is also quite fast for a rockered boat. I would not expect quite so much glide from a Nitro, though a Blast or Vertige might come close.

Mohawk Odyssey 14 …
is the boat I own, and have paddled it quite a bit on flatwater and up to Class II. I have paddled it in a couple of Class III’s. It is definitely not a playboat, and I would portage more Class III’s than I would run. The runs that I did were more experiments in the boat’s capabilities (tough to manuever and wet).

I think it makes a fine solo river-tripping boat, but if you’re looking at a lot of whitewater and playboating, I’d look elsewhere.

I have paddled a Kevlar Mad River Guide. It was about the same speed as the Mohawk, but more manueverable, probably a better boat. But, for the price of the Guide, I could have bought two outfitted (including short airbags) Mohawks.

Bottom line: in plagarizing Consumer Reports I would say the Mohawk 14 Odyssey is a best value buy for a solo river-tripping canoe.

What 2 Mohawks would that be ?
What 2 Mohawk canoes, fully outfitted, could you buy for the price of one Mad River Guide?

Mohawk’s Solo 13, proprietary layup, retails for approx. $559.00(buyer’s guide). What Mohawk canoe is cheaper than that one? Two of those would be $1,118.00, “plus” the cost of outfitting for both. Mad River Guide in Royalex retails for approx. $999.00(buyer’s guide).


Esquif . .
Esquif Vertige X. Bought one this summer for a 165K river trip. Fully outfitted it weighed in at 71 lb. This might not seem “light” but it was far better than my MR Freedom. Did the CII loaded (2 weeks of gear), CIII unloaded. Dry and stable, lots of rocker (6 and 5 inches). Cozy fit as a solo with all that gear for tripping but actually sold as a tandem.

As with most river trips, rapids are only short bursts of adrenaline with stretches of flat in between. Once used to it’s “feel”, tracked fairly straight.

Some pics here:


PS: hope you find a boat that does it all - I want one too!!

I was comparing it …
to the KEVLAR Mad River that I paddled.


How about the Ocoee?
A couple of the guys I paddle with own the Bell Ocoee. They take them down class III rivers on a regular basis and do very well. They did note that the boat was pretty tender although I get a kick out of watching it roll! It’s also pretty light.

Wenonah’s new Argosy?
I just am throwing this out in the mix to see if anyone has tested one yet. They are made in composite layups of 32, 41 and 50 lbs. with the 41 pounder being their kevlar flexcore (no Royalex listed for it so far online). It doesn’t spec out with a lot of volume, but there’s enough rocker for medium maneuverability and enough of a slender entry for decent speed in the flats. Has a roundy looking bottom, but they show it as having decent stability (8/10). It is represented as being a river variant of their Vagabond … and as such, sounds pretty good for rivers up to Class II. Just curious to hear how it performs in the real world … and am asking here because it fits the original thread idea of a light river solo canoe. Shawn

Solo for what ?

I am assuming soloeing in the wilderness for 2 to 4 weeks.

The best answer, for me is: the OT Appalachian

Bell Ocoee …

– Last Updated: Sep-20-04 10:06 PM EST –

It's pretty light alright........
It also has a flat bottom & 5.5 inches of rocker on both ends. Surfs well, spins on a quarter & gives you change, will turn your head around hitting eddies, or peeling out into class 3 water.
Get in one of your buddies Ocoee & paddle it 3 or 4 miles on flatwater & see what you think about it as an "all round" class 1 to class 3 canoe!
I don't think so.........


I was lucky, got a Guide for $400 used.
Good condition, snap on spraycover, Mohawk pedestal seat with thigh strap. Just sitting there at NOC, and no one else realized what it was worth!

Millbrook boats, Bell, Esquif…
Bell is now making the classic Outrage in Royalex and Carbon/Kevlar. I’m seeing alot of new cobalt blue Outrages on the river.

John Kazimierczyk,, has revived the Rival, now available in Kevlar. Most of John’s boats are in the 26# range. John also designed the Spark a new offering from Esquif in Royalite 31#.

Soft, hard, double chined boats, what do you prefer? If you want to run the river with play then tracking is less a priority than carving circles. Most boats can track given the right skill of paddle, lean…but it takes a dedicated WW boat to get the goods from the river.


Great question about canoes
I’m in the market for a similar boat. I’m mainly interested in tripping with my wife and have a Kevlar Wenonah Champlain for that. Since my wife isn’t too interested in whitewater, I figure I’ll get myself a solo whitewater boat so I can hone my river skills which will help when tripping. How about a Wenonah Rendevous? The Mohawk should go since I’ll be heading east this year and maybe can pick one up from the factory?

Wenonah Rendezvous does not have
the turning ability for serious whitewater use. I was really disappointed in my two tries of a Rendezvous. My Mad River Guide is much more maneuverable. The Rendezvous is certainly fast, but it isn’t fast for a whitewater boat, because it isn’t a whitewater boat at all.