Small Rushton like double bladed boats?

You see many older people in lakes and ponds with a wide variety of small to medium sized plastic rec-touring kayaks, but hardly ever see them using the small very lightweight type of canoes-boats loosely based upon the old Adirondack Rushtons and paddled with double bladed paddles. Hornbecks’ come to mind.

Yes they are much more expensive, but considering their ease to lift and move about and ease to get into and out of, I am wondering why they haven’t become a little more popular with older people compared to the plastic boats outside of the price point. Are they more limiting in their paddling characteristics or the type of lake chop they can handle? I just missed getting a great priced used Hornbeck for a relative to have at their lake camp, but didn’t know if it was a blessing in disquise or should continute to see if I can dig up another well priced used one rather then a plastic boat. Ease to get in and out of and move about the property, stable and able to deal with a shallow lakes’ wind chop is the goal, but if they really don’t outshine the plastics, then I will just go for an easy to find cheap plastic boat.

Depends on what the paddler wants.
If piddling is the goal, plastic is fine. If you want to get serious about handling, seaworthiness, speed, and comfort, get a serious boat.

My Rapidfire does everything I have tried very well and is now my boat of choice for anything but the ocean.

Pack Canoes verse Rec Kayaks
Pack canoes are high tech, open topped rec kayaks. They come in two groups.

Hemlock, Heritage/Native and Hornbeck make ultra light variations on the original Rushton designs that are very portable but, perhaps, not all that rugged.

Bell, Placid boatworks, Vermont Canoe and Wenonah make slightly larger craft that will take more abuse, but aren’t quite as portable.

Check out all six websites. Their must be at least one hull in the 12 to 25 lb range that will improve your time afloat over a 50-60 lb rubber bottom. After all, only High School football players are getting stronger.

depending on the size of paddler
and size of Hornbeck boat…they come in a variety of lengths…the boats are remarkably seaworthy.

I have a friend thats near 80 that paddles his Lost Pond on the Maine Coast…yes that is the Atlantic Ocean… He doesnt do multimile bay crossings but he handles some rough stuff remarkably well. Yes light is a key for keeping some people paddling and I know quite a few that have switched to a pack canoe to keep at an activity they truly enjoy.

It seems in the last few years that the pack canoe has taken off in the Adirondacks and you see many different models including Peters and Charlies…so far it seems to be a regional thing…dont know if its because of limited opportunities to try the boats in other areas. Folks are apt to buy something they have the chance to paddle.I noticed far fewer rec kayaks in theADKs this summer compared to four or five years ago.

Kayaks are in and easily available.
Just about any major sporting goods chain carries them. In all of Houston, there’s one dealer who still has canoes, another guy who will order OT canoes for you. Availability, cost, and what’s popular at the moment trumps.

The Hornbeck decked canoe and
kayaks also look interesting. Has anyone tried them?

They’re at the bottom of the link:

Hemlock Nessmuk
Funny you should post this, as just recently I picked up a Hemlock Nessmuk, 10’6", 16 pounds. It had come to the point that loading/unloading/ carrying my boat had become such a pain that I never went out alone anymore. While I still have my kayak (Carolina 13.5), I now have a little boat that lets me do things on my own. Yes, it is more expensive than the poly rec boats, but for what I do with it, it is perfect.

I have found that while I can use the same system for getting in the canoe as I do the kayak (straddling, a little touchy with a 27" beam, but still doable), I am still trying to perfect a method for getting out. And I am sure that when I get a 240 cm paddle, I will have a drier ride. The weather around here has been so good since I purchased it that I cannot report on its handling in rough conditions.

Since I did not have the opportunity to test paddle before purchasing, I did a lot of research on line before making my decision. While the Hornbeck Lost Pond and Hemlock Nessmuk are the same length and weight, the Hemlock is narrower, which I wanted. It also has a protective gel coat exterior, which I find more esthetically pleasing. Hornbeck boats are wider so as to carry a heavier load. I didn’t need that.

The workmanship of the Hemlock is first rate, and the woodwork is beautiful. Just a classy little boat. Aside from oiling the wood, it probably won’t take anymore care and feeding than a poly boat would if properly cared for, but I think the rec boat can withstand less careful handling. I wouldn’t necessarily call the Nessmuk fragile, but I wouldn’t manhandle it, either.

The Placid boats sound like awesome vessels, but were larger/heavier and more expensive than what I was looking for, although down the line, if I get rid of the Carolina, there just may be a place in my garage for a Rapidfire.

Bell Bucktail
After trying the Hornbecks, I opted for the Bell Bucktail Rushton design. It paddles efficiently, can be leaned, and is much faster than some of these pack canoes that boast light weight more than speed. That said, it is no way as efficent as my touring kayak - gets push around by wind more and has no foot pegs for efficent strokes. Thus, i use it for photos and exploration, not distance paddling.

why carry a deck
if you dont need one?

BTW comparing the RapidFire to most of the Hornbeck boats is like comparing apples to oranges.

The hull shape is different. The Hornbecks are cheeked boats, which slows tham a little and lets a beginning paddler keep it going straight. The RapidFire allows you to learn to paddle.

Both have a strong Adirondack history. Open boats are easier to bushwhack with; some ADK portages are almost three miles long. I believe the designer of the Bucktail does not regard it as a pack boat.

If the Rapid is too heavy the SpitFire is plenty adequate for short trips.

I dont understand the “heavy” about the Placid boats. Who has a 23 lb plastic kayak?

The Hornbeck boats are OK for durability. A friend of mine had one fly off the roof of the car on Rt.128 in Boston at rush hour in the left lane. It had a couple of broken rails. How no one ran over it I will never know.

Please understand that I never said the Placid boats were heavy, just heavier and longer than I was looking for - and also more expensive. Sometimes where my paddling takes me, even 12 feet is pushing it, hence the desire for something smaller. For this, the Hemlock Nessmuk is perfect. You are correct, there is no 23 pound plastic kayak that I know of, and you voiced my feelings exactly when I started to look for a new boat - why carry a deck around when you don’t need it?!

BTW, I am aware that the Rapidfire and Nessmuk are two different types of craft; I was looking for an “apple”. When I am looking for an “orange”, I will definitely look in that direction!

Lots of DIY options
here are just a couple:

Compass Cayak
Does anybody have any experience or knowledge on these boats?

Compass Cayak = Native Watercraft…
Compass? That is my guess and vague memory of it.

I looked at Compass Streamers a few years back I think.

Compass now Native
Compass was acquired and incorporated into the Native Watercraft Lineup.

See you on the water,

(Going out today in my VT Canoe Tupper)


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Maybe in Texas Not true in the Northeast
While Dick’s, Gander Mountain and even Sam’s club sell many discontinued, blem and renamed (re-marketed) rec kayaks and canoes cheap, some as little as 200 bucks. They are heavy, oilcan like a plastic milk jug, slow as Moses, unbalanced and weathercock like a tin rooster on a barn roof, are the next best thing to a sit and spin and certainly can NOT be compared to any of the boats mentioned above. Some of these low end boats are good enough for pond paddling or to get your sea legs with. I say some because some of them are so bad that they can turn you against paddling. If paddling gets in your blood you will soon be wanting to try some nicer products.

Also support the local paddlecraft dealer near you! Not the deep discount stores or Internet wholesalers. Or buy used if you are on a budget.

No one is getting rich selling even High end canoes and kayaks. There is not that much demand for them. Most people look at the price and say wow that’s a lot on money for a canoe. They simply do not realize the cost of material, equipment, thought, time and labor that goes into making a fine boat and the fact that the price of raw material goes up on a regular bases. Its true…you get what you pay for. The people making those boats are doing it because it is what they like to do.

“You could make more money as a butcher”

Frank Zappa.

Sorry…bad day.

Please give feedback on the Tupper.

Why must it always break down into
"support your local paddle shop"? All my boats came from individuals or paddle shops (3 shops, 1 individual). However, those people the thread starter talked about are most likely buying at big box stores. They buy what is in stock. As for supporting you local paddle shop, when I buy my next canoe, it won’t be from my local shop. I’ll have to drive 150 miles as the local shop that carries canoes is run by asshats.

Yak.canfish makes a really good point about the situation here in most of Texas. I haven’t been to a Houston paddling shop in 10 years or more. Back then there wasn’t much choice for sure. Average folk weren’t going to know about well designed and built canoes for the most part. You’d be doing really well to locate a decent Old Town royalex Penobscot or the like I think. Probably couldn’t find many composites at all and certainly not something like a pack canoe. I remember ordering some wood paddles through a local place and it was like I was bothering them. It was probably just a hassle.

San Antonio doesn’t have a paddle shop that I know of.

Now, the San Marcos and Austin area is blessed with a wonderful family run shop, TG Canoe Livery who recently bought another good shop, Austin Outdoor Gear and Guidance. TG can probably get you anything you want, but they mostly stock royalex boats and poly kayaks, since that is what most people want for the rocky rivers of central Texas. Don’t think I’ve ever seen a pack boat there. Once saw a kevlar Bell Flashfire on consignment at Austin Outdoors…thought I was dreaming. I think I’ve bought six boats from the two combined.

I don’t know the situation in the Dallas Area.

I think N.T.'s point that some of the tubs that pass for canoes at places like Academy here probably turn as many people against canoing as turn them on to it. “Let’s see do I load up the 85 lb. log, er canoe, on the F150 and hit the lake this evening to fight that thing around the closest cove…maybe I’ll just watch the Outdoor Life channel instead…or maybe one of those cool looking kayaks they had by the door at Bass Pro Shops is what I need…” Not bashing kayaks. We own three. They are what other family members wanted. But I paddle the canoes.

For specs go to

As to paddleability; the Tupper is a fast 12’9" canoe that has a suprisingly comfortable although spartan cane seat that is attached to the floor. An adjustable backband rests quite nicely at about 1/3 of the way up the back on my 6’ frame. Slotted gunwhales are a pretty and useful touch to the ash gunwhales. Kevlar construction is tough enough that you don’t have to baby the boat. With the Werner footrests adjusted and you ready to head out the boat is very nimble on the water and paddles much more like a rockered short touring kayak. Very different from the very stable and hard tracking Compass boats I used to carry here in the showroom. The boat is a lively ride and if you are thinking that it is simply a short, light, untippable platform you are in for a surprise. The feel is quite spritely with dynamite secondary stability in which you will feel that you are in a performance boat not a flat bottomed john boat or rec. kayak feel. Biggest surprise is that the Tupper surfs wonderfully well on boat wakes or wind generated chop on the Hudson. Makes me wonder what it would be like with thigh straps and float bags for whitewater? :wink:

There’s a Tupper on eBay! stores, if anyone is searching for one.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Good to hear Austin Outdoor was
bought by someone who knows about paddle craft. Heard they were in trouble and might close the doors. You are right about availability. We have one shop in Houston carrying halfway decent canoes, but only one brand, Wenonah. There are issues with the owners, though they’ve been around a long time.

The best shop close to me stopped selling canoes, they sit on the floor and do not sell and the owners, as much as they love canoes, have this strange idea that eating is a good thing. People getting into the sport often buy what’s available. To them a canoe is a canoe, a kayak a kayak. Big boxes have them, are easy to get to, os get the business.