Small paddlers: Solo 13 vs Rx Wildfire?

-- Last Updated: Mar-30-07 11:22 AM EST --

Mohawk Solo 13 or Rx Bell Wildfire for small twisty creeks, sometimes with standing waves or wave trains. No heavy whitewater - most challenging would be the Big Pine in Indiana - not at high water.

I'm 5'6" and 150 lbs and would like feedback mostly from similarly sized paddlers, but feedback from larger and smaller paddlers is welcome also.

I've owned an Rx Wildfire since late last spring and have an opportunity to buy an extensively used Mohawk Solo 13 at what I believe to be a good price. I haven't seen the Solo 13 yet, but hope to test paddle it Saturday or Sunday.

I'd like other paddler's thoughts on how the two hulls compare on moving water and if the Solo 13 excells at something that the Wildfire doesn't and vica versa. I would expect the Solo 13 to be a little more maneuverable and the Wildfire to be faster. I've also read that the Solo 13 is more stable and user friendly for beginners, which may be good for taking less experienced paddlers out.

Thanks in advance for your input.

Solo 13 oil canning
I’ve owned the Wildfire Royalex, and paddled a Solo 13 for a while and the difference is pretty much night and day between these two boats. If I had to chose it would be the Wildfire RX hands down. Just a better design for just about every kind of water IMHO. I found the Solo 13 to be distractingly “floppy”, for lack of a better word.

Simple solution…

– Last Updated: Mar-30-07 4:48 PM EST –

If you already have a Wildfire, and the Mohawk Solo 13 is cheap, buy it! Let the less experienced paddler you spoke of use the Mohawk Solo 13, and you use your Wildfire.

When you get tired of messing with the Solo 13, or the inexperienced paddler using it improves, resell it. The Solo 13 will be a good learner boat for the inexperienced paddler, you won't worry about it getting banged up, and when you resell it, you shouldn't lose much money, "IF" you don't invest too much.

Keep the Wildfire. No way would I choose a Mohawk Solo 13 over a Bell Wildfire. It doesn't matter how, or where I planned to use it.

No, I am not "down" on Mohawks; I currently own a Mohawk Odyssey 14, and a Mohawk Probe 12 II. Have previously owned a Mohawk Solo 14. I personally don't like the R-84 layup(the reason I no longer own the Solo 13); I'd rather deal with the extra weight of Royalex.

I also have a Wildfire, and like having the option of picking either the Odyssey 14 or the Wildfire.


night and day
I use a Solo 13 alot for students. Pros is that it is stable for learners particularly when seated. It has more initial stability.

Cons are that most smaller paddlers actually find the Solo 13 too wide and they may have trouble getting a vertical stroke unless they heel the boat. For kneelers this is a transition that will happen sooner or later.

Its tough to get the Solo 13 to the rail. That logo is persistent…advertising counts.

No way does it outperform a RX Wildfire. But I havent seen any significant oilcanning in mine (about ten years old). The flatter bottom does give you a floppy feel so the Royalite does have limitations.

If you have people that you would like to share your love of paddling with but they are a little timid, the Solo 13 is a good place to start.

Wildfire & Solo 13
I have a Solo 13 and two Wildfire’s(white gold). I use my Solo 13 now for rambo trips where I drag it if I need to. I’ve paddle the Bell and the Mohawk on lots of rivers in several states. I wouldn’t sell any of them, because they each have a purpose. I was fortunate in finding the second Wildfire for $600, too good a deal to pass up. I bought my first one for $1500, new, eight to ten years ago. I bought the Solo 13 in 1995 when they cost $374 new.

Thanks for all of the feedback.

  1. Wildfire is sturdier of build.

  2. Wildfire preferred by more experienced paddlers for most, if not all situations.

  3. Solo 13 good for beginners because of strong initial stability, but maybe a little wide, which may make it more difficult for small paddlers to reach the water.

  4. Buy it if it’s cheap enough and I have a place to store it.

    Any other feedback on these two boats?


More feedback
I’m coming into this conversation late, but you asked if there was any more feedback…

I’ve seen Solo 13s used by smaller beginning paddlers getting into FreeStyle. From what I’ve seen it doesn’t seem to be a problem to get it on edge and it spins like the dickens when it’s up there. For such a flat bottomed canoe it has very solid secondary – as well as initial. This may seem contradictory to what’s been said at this thread, but those are my observations - fwiw.

My daughter owns a Solo 14. At 13 she’s a smaller paddler and would be a better fit in a 13, but that’s what she has. It’s a very similar shape to the Solo 13 and is a fine FreeStyle boat for her. She also uses it as her all-purpose solo canoe – it’s her only boat so far. She dreams of a Loon Works, but don’t we all?

Personally I use a Wildfire RX for beatin’ around in small rivers & creeks. At 200 lbs (+/-) and 6’2” the WFRX is limited to being a day-tripper for me, but it’s still a better fit for me than either of the Mohawk Solos. I also prefer its handling characteristics. I use a different canoe for flatwater FS. - Randall

Randalls observations
are different from mine re heeling the Solo 13.

I have had about fifty differnent beginning students in Freestyle that used the Solo 13. Perhaps his daughter is more unaftaid to really heel the boat (teenagers!?) but I had one guy that really struggled with it for about eight years. He had a Solo 13 and just couldnt get the rail down. Then he went to a Wildfire and there was no problem.

The shoulder on the Mohawk is a little different than the Yellowstone and the ends are even fuller. There is also about three and a half inches to the rail on the Solo 13 compared to less than two on the Yellowstone.

Another neat thing about the Solo 13 is that the fore and aft thwarts can be modified to make a tandem boat for little kids. Kids six or so can really have fun with this boat as a tandem.

Wildfire rails go under water easily
also - at least with me sitting in it on a river and crossing eddy lines :slight_smile: I won’t do that again.

Thanks Arkay and Kayamedic for the additional feedback.

Even though most of the feedback is not very positive, I think I’ll test paddle it tomorrow anyway - they guy only want’s $250 for it.

My major challenge if I bought it would be how to store it in my already crowded rental garage without being ticked off at the boat for being in my way. At least it would be so light that it would be easy to move around.

WildFire verse Bell Yellowstone

– Last Updated: Mar-31-07 6:29 PM EST –

Bell's, now Placid boats, composite WildFire is a symmetrical boat with 2.5 inches of rocker at the ends.

Bell's RX Yellowstone has ~2" of rocker at the bow and ~1.5" at the stern, and is, therefore, asymmetrical.

When speced to DY, we figured lower pricing and more entry level consumer, hence we skegged the stern a little to improve tracking.

Bell's ~new composite Yellowstone mirrors the detuning the RX version received. Tracks better, turns slower, problematical for reverse maneuvers for the twenty or so larger paddlers who care about FreeStyle.

Dispite the WildFire decal, there has never been a real Royalex/Royalite WildFire.

That ends that argument.
It’s been said many times by the armchair experts that the Wildfire and Yellowstone are the same. Thanks for clearing that up.

Someone else got the Mohawk Solo 13
that was advertised locally for $275. A 60 something year old farmer bought it for use on the local streams. He got it yesterday morning before I was even ready to face the world. Good for him. It will be replaceing his aluminum tandem that got damaged.

If it doesn’ work out for him, I may see it advertised again sometime.

Sawyer Solo 13
I have an opportunity to buy a Sawyer Solo 13. This is my first canoe and I need information on

whether this will be a good choice for a novice on small lakes and slow creeks in Oklahoma. Is this a poor choice due to stability for fishing?

Thanks for any help that you can give me.

I’ve only paddled an Oscoda Solo 13
once for about 10 minutes on a shallow and swift river with the owner’s double bladed paddle and I liked it. That’s all the feedback I have for you.

Sawyer Solo 13, Coda
Great little boat! Pretty quick, maneuverable enough and quite stable, if, maybe, a little wide, and , at 13 feet, it can’t get too heavy.

It was made in kevlar, fiberglass and chopper gun glass, with wood and alu trim.