Solo Canoe Models

I’m looking a maneuverable, relatively light solo canoe. This will be my first solo, and I don’t have a lot of experience with the models and manufacturers.

Any suggestions on a good canoe that fits the bill?

I’m hoping to find a used deal online but I’m not ruling out new if that’s the only option–

Also would love to know of any good sights that might have a good line on classifieds for solos (other than of course).

What is your budget first off? How light and what length were you thinking? What kind of usage will it get (day paddles on calm water, extended river trips, etc.)?

Are you looking for what they call a pack canoe?

I converted a shorter 14’7” tandem into a solo and that has suited my needs very well. I paddle it with a double bladed kayak paddle.

To add to @bud16415 what size are you? If you’re 220lbs like me there are probably some models to stay away from.

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$600-2000 in the used market

used for marshes, swamps, creeks, rivers and lakes—Flatwater

I’m thinking 11-15 feet long
28.5-32 inches wide
29-42 lbs

I’ve found a few.

One was on here for $600. Carbon fiber. 29 lbs. wood trim. Decided to buy it and it was already gone.

The other was a Mike Galt Lotus Dandy for 600 as well, but the reivews mentioned that it was sluggish and didn’t maneuver well.

Will you be sitting and ,if so, low on the floor or 8 - 12 " up, or kneeling? Also, roughly where are you located?

There is a Bell Merlin II in Illinois at a reasonable price that would fit.

Craig’s list & FB Marketplace can be useful but you probably know that.

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I had a Dandy. Marvelous cruiser Not slow but the hull is constant flare so its wide at the paddling station
It is an rarly Freestyle boat and turns but there are turnier boats out there
Again excels at lake cruisibg and many have installed a sailing rig
600 is a bit high
I paid 700 for mine in 1999
Its a 30 year or more old boat

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It was definitely a nice looking canoe; maybe I should’ve bought it.

I’d be sitting and kneeling. I’m in the southeast but wouldn’t rule out a drive to pick up. Is the Bell on classifieds?

no worry… There are others out there.

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I think a Bell Merlin II would suit your size and aims very well. A Merlin II in “white gold” construction would be right at the upper end of your weight criteria. A “black gold” version would be lighter.

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Yes - in central Illinois.

Solo canoes are worth more now than they were, even before factoring in Covid. Especially in areas that aren’t flush with canoes.

Any of these should work for you, although you may find some misguided reviews calling some of these “tippy”:
Name Length GWW MaxW WLW B C S Rocker
Flashfire 13-0 26 NA 25 NA 12 NA 2.5/2.5
Firebird 13-6 26 29 25 18 12.5 16 2.5/2.5
Ladybug 13-8 26 29 27 16.5 12 15 1 ⅜ / 1 ⅜
Wildfire RX 14-0 27 30 26.5 18.5 12.5 16.5 2.5/1.5
(AKA Yellowstone Solo)
Wildfire FG 14 27 30 26.5 18.5 12.5 16.5 2.5/2.5
Echo 14-0 29.75 31 ⅞ 11.5 1.75/1.75
Keewaydin 14 14-0 24 28 25 18 11.5 15 2/1
Dragonfly 14-6 24.5 28.5 26 17 14 15.5 2.5/2.5
Phoenix 14-6 26 30 26 19 13 17 2.5/2.5
Argosy 14-6 27 30.25 27 18 13.5 16 1.75/1.25
Vagabond 14-6 28 29.75 29.75 16 12.5 14.5 1.25/1.25
MR Guide 14-6 29 14 symmetrical
Kestrel 14-9 25.5 27.5 25.5 16 11.5 14 1.75/1.25
SRT 15-0 26.5 28.5 26.5 20 14.5 18.5 2.5/1.5
Merlin II 15-0 27 29 25.5 17 12 15 2.5/1.5
N’wind Solo 15-6 26.5 30 26.5 17.5 12.5 15 2.5/1.5


Encyclopedic answer.

Excellent! Thank you!

Follow up:

I just bought a used, older Bell Magic.
Might not be the most maneuverable, but I think I’ll enjoy the glide for my first solo–I’m pretty stoked!

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Learn to lean it, and it’ll be great for the flatwater maneuvers you’ll encounter.

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Excellent flat water boat. Can certainly be used for non-technical rivers, especially if you get comfortable heeling it to turn.

At your height and weight, the Flashfire would be too small. Not enough room to move around in the boat and not enough reserve for equipment. A Wildfire would be an excellent choice, both size wise and for your intended usage. For the usage that you describe, you’d likely want a boat that has modest rocker. 1 1/2" give or take would be the right range. Yes, you can heel and turn a flatter keel-line boat and I do recommend learning how to heel but you did list maneuverability as a priority specification.
Another boat to add to you shopping list would be a Savage River Illusion though finding a used one may be tough.

I have a sneaking suspicion I may be entering into a “canoe phase” where this boat may be the first of more to come.
Maybe the next will be one with more rocker.

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