Solo Canoe for a Fat Guy

-- Last Updated: Aug-02-09 9:58 AM EST --


I am looking at a Wenonah Solo Plus and was wondering how it would handle with a guy that's pushing 300lbs. the main things I'm looking for are light weight. I'd like it to be stable and manageable with about 450lbs total. I'd be using it for general touring, fishing and possibly short camping trips. If I ever used it tandem it would probably just be on lakes for fishing. I'm not really looking to take week long expeditions and I'm not too concerned about exceptional speed.

I'm trying to get out and do more active things and I currently have a Wenonah Northfork. I love the Northfork when I have someone to go with. It's a beast to try and cartop, portage, and generally control solo. I'd like to be able to get out more without having to always try to find someone to go with me.

I'm also considering a Penobscot 16RX and possibly a Wenonah Wilderness as a dedicated solo.

Add Encounter to your list
Encounter is another dedicated solo to put on your list that will meet your stability, good fishing platform, and heavyweight hauler critera. It has a 25" beam across the gunnels while the solo plus is 29", making the encounter an easier boat for most folks to paddle solo. And I really don’t think you would find the solo plus stable enough for you plus someone else as a tandem. Keep your Northfork for the times when paddling with someone else.

lots of choices
If price isn’t a concern then a Hemlock Eaglet is one possibility for you…it’s light and strong and would be happy with your weight in it. I’d look for a solo for you and use your tandem for tandem stuff. There’s a used Swift Shearwater in the ads that would take your weight solo with no problem, it’s a great boat.

There was a guy in my Wenonah Voyager

– Last Updated: Aug-01-09 10:30 PM EST –

today who is 300 plus.No problem at all for that boat and you can get it in Kevlar.
It's the long red canoe.

As much as I love paddling my Voyager, I can’t recommend it for the OP. His criteria were for stability, fishing, easily manageable, and carry up to 450 lbs. Many find the Voyager too tender (instable). While I’ve fished from my Voyager, when dead in the water it is not a great fishing platform. It takes a skilled paddler to control a Voyager in the wind. And although I’m sure you could put 400 lbs in a Voyager, I think 450 lbs is really pushing it. The Voyager is not a beginners canoe and does not meet any of the OP’s criteria well.

Canoe Length
Thanks for the replies so far. The Encounter and the Voyager are both a little too long. I should have mentioned that I kinda need to keep the canoe to under 16’9" though for storage reasons. I don’t have a garage to keep my canoes in and I keep my Northfork at Mother’s in her garage. Anything longer than 16’9" is not going to work.

Better check with the MFRs to see
… where the length (including deckplates) actually comes in. The advertised dimensions are for the hull only. Keep in mind that the length of a royalex model is probably shorter than the same boat in composite. So, you’ll have to be specific.

I think a Solo Plus is one for your short list. I haven’t paddled a Wilderness so I can’t compare the two. But I would expect the Wilderness to be a tad slower and easier to turn.

Good luck.

Can anyone comment on a Wenonah Prism for what I’m looking for?

How about the Wenonah Advantage?

if you are really strong you might

– Last Updated: Aug-02-09 12:23 PM EST –

be able to turn it in a wind. But otherwise its going to be sunk rather deep..

Not the easiest boat with 200 lbs to turn from upwind to downwind.. Need to time the waves to free the ends.

WHat you might think about in the boat is how sunk the boats stems get with a load of 350 may pay to get more rocker built in.

And consider a deeper boat. Somewhat like the SRT or the Rockstar or even a Raven.

Oops forgot my reference..A Prism.

Prism is perfect.

38 special
from the northwest canoe shop. It is a scaled up version of the Merlin. I owned a Merlin an loved it response on the big water of Lake Norman. Stable in boat chop, and fairly fast( I lose to advantages etc)

Depending on how handy you are it is a great boat to build yourself.

Just three
You didn’t say whether you’ll be kneeling or sitting; an important consideration. But, at over 300 lbs plus gear, I’d suggest considering hulls over 30" in width.

There are three solo hulls made that are 31 inches wide, the Solo 13 from Sawyer, the Wenonah Wilderness and the Bell Rockstar. The Sawyer, at 13’2" may be a little light on capacity. The Rockstar has more and differential rocker compared to the Wilderness. Lots of shops stock both Bell and Wenonah, so a heads-up comparision should be easily done. Be sure to compare similar laminations, as ABS and composite hulls are always vastly different.

Larger yet is the Super Nova at 32" by 14’10", but it’s round bottom with heroic rocker pretty well eliminate it for your use[s].

Larger and more stable yet is the Hemlock Eaglet at 33" X 15 feet.

I’ll bet you would soon be dissatisfied with a tandem rigged as a solo: too long, too wide, not enough rocker, etc. They do not convert to dedicated solo well and with a big guy perched near one stem will never be stable tandem.

Keeling vs Sitting
I’d rather sit the majority of the time but be able to kneel when the going gets rough.

i like my solo plus
i use it exclusively for solo paddling while camping. between myself, my dog, and gear i carry alot of weight and find the boat handles it great.

Real world experience
I am very similar in weight to you, and I am quite happy with mt Bell Magic. I have not used it for fishing, but have friends who do (WesD and Pyker). I have tripped in it (BWCA and Assateague) and it has performed flawlessly for those applications.

One boat not mentioned (and one I have not paddled) is the Souris River Q-16 solo. It is a wider, flatter boat that apparently has a following in the BWCA and Quetico areas. It is not paddled from a traditional center position, but rather from a behind-center location to give one a narrower paddle staation. I assume that it needs some ballast in the bow (pack, dog, etc).


TOO Many Choices
I’m getting a headache trying to go through all the suggestions.

The thing that sucks is I’m probably going to have to make a decision on one of these without trying one out. The only places I know of near me in NJ that stock canoes are Ramsey Outdoor and Campmor (Has a Solo Plus in Kev UL and Royalex) but you can’t demo them.

Can anyone suggest a place near Northern NJ that lets you try these out? Bell Haven Paddle Sports which is over 2 hours away is the closest one I know of but I have no idea what kind of canoe inventory they have.

Call them and ask
A two hour drive is a minor inconvenience when you want to spend your money wisely.

The Jersey Paddler

– Last Updated: Aug-03-09 3:13 PM EST –

Jersey Paddler is in Brick, NJ. They demo, about a mile down the road for a fee that is refunded if you buy.

They are Bell and Wenonah Dealers, so you can try magic, RockStar, Wilderness and SoloPlus.

Online at www.jerseypaddler.cpm, phone: 888-22kayak

Probably better to test most of the range yourself rather than guess which advice happens to fit you best.

2 Hours
If you say Jersey Paddler is worth the drive, I’ll try to take a trip down and check it out. I don’t mind driving 2 hours as long as the store has a decent selection of what I’m looking has knowledgable employees that know what they’re talking about.

I just don’t want to drive all that way to look at one canoe and talk to a minimum wage HS kid that doesn’t really know or care about the products he’s selling.