solo canoe opinions wanted

I knew that thread title would get attention. :wink:

My paddling club is looking for a solo canoe to add to our fleet. It would be used mostly by beginners and novices for day trips on lakes, brown water, and class 1 stuff.

I was thinking of a Mohawk Solo 13 or 14, but a friend thought that these might not be tough enough to take the use/abuse that the beginner paddlers dish out.

So any suggestions on a durable (preferably Royalex) solo canoe, suitable for beginners on flat/easy water?

why not mohawk?

– Last Updated: Mar-18-05 12:59 AM EST –

Based on your fleet of OC1s, you probably know more about this than I do.

I see no reason why the Mohawks you mentioned wouldn't stand up to abuse.

The other current boat I can think that's geared to starters/high stability market is Esquif's Vertige. I've heard the same beginner paddlers that might have bought an Impulse in the past (or one of Mohawks), might now look at the Vertige?


p.s. On re-reading your post, maybe more of a flatwater boat would be better. I'm sure others will have better ideas.

in about 7 months Canunuts boy scout trop laid up 5 wood strip canoes.They made it an all hands evolution. Use 6 or 8 oz. clothe and you have a tough boat.Use the Merlin or 38 special plans from the northwest canoe shop. In Class 1 there is definetly a place for composite or wood strip, so don’t limit your self. All you need is a big enough work area and a table saw. Every thing else is incidental.

We have a Solo 13 & 14, they both have a seen quite a bit of use. I feel they have held up very well. They show signs of use but nothing worse than any other boat. They are very beginner friendly with good initial stability and aslo great for freestyle with the rail on the water.

They aren’t specialty boats, but are great for general use and the price is hard to beat. No complaints with ours.


Freestyle with rail on water?
The Mohawk is that flat? (no rocker)? Must track well huh?

Great looking boats…

My thoughts
Probably a good choice. Tough, light, easy to paddle. Plus, the price is nice. You might even get a deal if you buy more than one.

beginners and novices ?
I guess I might question whether a solo canoe is a good idea to start out on, rather than a more stable tandem? but that does not answer your question. That might narrow the choices somewhat though. You would probably be looking for “the most stable” solo ? ( and maybe cheap and durable) no clue what that might be, but depending on length of trip and speed, it might include something like an old town pack canoe - definitely not fast, but it is wide. How about the Grumman solo - Grummans have always seemed really stable to me, and zero maintenance for your club. You have a Dagger Sojourn - how would that work for a beginner ? they occasionaly show up in the classifieds here. The Mohawks would be a good choice, and I think I would go with the royalite if its offered - I see no need for heavy duty royalex unless you are really looking for a beater boat. I think the pack canoes, grumman solo and mohawks are all in about the same price range.

Dagger Sojourn…
That one would be a fun boat to put a beginner in; if you want take some funny capsize photos, and stop a few people from getting into canoeing.

Don’t get me wrong, I have one, and I enjoy it, but I don’t think it’s suitable for your average beginner.

The Mohawk Odyssey 14 & the Mohawk Solo 13 & 14 on the other hand, would in my opinion, be great boats.


Yes- I have put a couple of beginners into my Sojourn. They did not enjoy it!

My rational for asking my club to purchase a flat-water solo was that we have tandems, and we have WW solo boats.

It’s a BIG jump from a tandem to something like a Rival, and I think that jump might be too much for some folks.

Thanks to all for the opinions - keep them coming!

I’d especially be intersted to hear more from the Mohawk Solo 13/14 owners re: durability.

Have any of you had to install skid plates, seen the R-lite hull wear through, etc.?

How about Wenonah Vagabond.
I’ve never paddled one, but it looks pretty good in our local store. I considered buying one before I picked up a used Mad River Slipper. I think it’s in the $700 price range and about 45lbs.

solo 14
I have a solo 14 and love it on tight creeks that I visit.It does oil cans a little when on the lake,but that makes it slide over rocks in the shallow stuff. for as durabilty I wouldnt worry.I looked at a Vagabond one time that was factory blemished (hardly noticable) for $650.


Mohawk Solo 13 and 14
are wonderfully versatile boats suited for beginner and intermediate. They have a fair amount of rocker and are suitable for advanced paddling (freestyle). However in my classes where I have a never ever soloed or even canoed before person that is going to sit and perhaps even use a double blade because they are afraid the single is too hard, I put them in the Mohawk. They dont dump and can go from a to b very quick. Half an hour later they come back for a single blade. Best of all they are now addicted to solo paddling.

I have had no durability problems but then again I dont take this boat on Class three rivers but you probably wont take your beginner on class three either. I have had my boat six years.

When you talk about durability of Royalex or Royalite I think you number one enemy is sun. Keep it out of the sun and the material wont degrade.

Old Town Pack and WNN Vagabond
in my opinion. I haven’t paddled any others, but the Pack was my first, and it’s light and forgiving. The Vagabond, which I’ve now ordered in graphite, has lots more glide. Both good boats for your purpose, I think.

Bob Foote & Karen Knight
use the Mohawk Solo 14 for the freestyle classes that they teach.In fact most of their fleet were solo14’s.I don’t know what that says about being beginner friendly but I think it says quite a bit about durability.When I took their class a couple of years ago,I paddled one of the solo 14’s and I was definetley a beginner then.I thought that it was a pretty good boat to learn solo paddling in.If I ran into a good deal I surely would have one as part of my fleet today.For what it’s worth I would suggest that you too use one to help your beginners.Hope this helps.


Mohawk 14
This is a great boat for you–it will take abuse.

Solo 14 Durability
OC1, you asked about the durability of this canoe. We bought our daughter one a couple of seasons ago (when she was 9). Though she’s a “born paddler” – having been paddling with us since she was a babe in arms, she is still a kid… and yes, she’s bashed into lots of things with it. The Royalite hull has held up very well. Before we bought this canoe I had the opinion that Royalite was substantially less durable than Royalex, I no longer think that. Perhaps it is a BIT less durable and it’s certainly less UV resistant than vinyl covered Royalex… but the weight savings alone more than make up for that.

I’ve also put many miles on this boat, just to try it out, and I agree with many of the positive comments above: this is a durable little canoe, very steady, yet heels very nicely for FS maneuvers – right up to the rail, steady as can be.

I would not hesitate at all to put a rank beginner in this boat – we’ve done it many times. Everyone who’s ever been in my daughter’s Solo 14 has said they felt secure. FWIW, it also tracks straight very easily for “newbies”.

In fact the only minor downside to this particular model is its slowness… No surprise, like all ABS boats it has a blunt entry. It’s also fairly full in the quarters and obviously has a high width to length ratio… This adds up to slow canoe, especially trying to work upstream.

With that (very minor) caveat aside I’d say this is certainly one of the best canoes in its price range in terms of over-all performance and “bang for the buck”.

Also, as I’ve said so many times before, the good folks at Mohawk are great to deal with. -Randall

Wenonah Vagabond
I have a Wenonah Vagabond. I think its what you looking for. Its stable and maneuverable for the type of paddling you described. I really like the canoe.