I use a Souris River Quetico 17 for solo trips. I paddle it backwards and I put a very large gas can filled with water in the front. I was thinking of getting a solo because my BWCA buddy seems to be interested in other trips besides the BWCA. So I would be going solo up there. For local lakes, I take out the Quetico 17 by myself but only if it is not too windy. Would a solo addition make my single paddling experience better or should I just stick with the Quetico 17? if so, I am 6’2" and 245 american pounds. What solo would be best for my weight? Thanks.
go with solo
I paddled a tandem (Mad River Malecite) as a solo for a couple of years. It was very susceptible to wind. Since then, I’ve had mainly dedicated solo canoes, and they are much nicer to paddle, in wind and current and even calm, flat water (the latter because you can paddle on both sides easily).
I’m 6’0", 200 pounds. My solos have been the Blackhawk Shadow 13 (no longer made), Mohawk Solo 13 (on the small side for me), Bell Wildfire (later made as the Placid Boatworks Wildfire, now out of production, soon to be in production again at Colden Canoe), and Placid Boatworks RapidFire. You’ll get more expert advice here than I can give, but of these boats, I think only the Wildfire might be big enough for you. And there are probably better, bigger boats for you.
How heavy a tripping load do you carry?
I am heavier than you
and have been pleased with my Bell Magic. It has swallowed large loads with ease and still handled well in terms of seaworthiness. Earlier this year I packed for a trip at Assateague Island and after loading the usual pile of gear (we pack for comfort!) I stuffed firewood into every available nook and cranny.
Some friends have Prisms and like them. Charlie Wilson pointed out to me that although the Prism may be faster overall than a Magic, the latter will hold a larger load due to the fullness of the bow & stern. And teh Magic appears to be a more efficient boat in the shallows.
That said, I bet you will be pleasantly surprised at how much more enjoyable paddling a dedicated solo will be.
BTW - Before buying the Magic I was seriously considering a Souris Tranquility Solo. But I was unable to test paddle one before departing on a BWCA trip, and teh Magic was available. You should look at it as well.
I’m the same size as you and settled on a Wenonah Voyager for solo paddling in the BWCA and on local lakes for day cruising without a load. It will be very hard to find a boat that will cover more distance in a day’s paddle while carrying a 300 pounds plus load. But this long and rather high sided boat out in wind and waves does require your full attention to keep it headed straight, and wider packs may not fit the narrow gunnels of this boat. A more user friendly solo with a bit more initial stability, in a slightly slower Wenonah with the same capacity would be the Prism. If you don’t like the feel of zero rocker boats, take a look at Wenonah’s Wilderness or their big Encounter. The perfect solo tripping canoe for you is something that you won’t be able to answer until you experience several boats. Rent for your next few BWCA trips before you decide.
Been paddling solo canoes exclusively for five years now. You just missed the Raystown Rendezvous in central PA the second weekend in October. This gathering is focused on solo canoes and very nearly any model or make can be found and paddled during the gathering. If you are in no hurry to purchase and can make the trip next year it would be the best opportunity to try many solo boats.
I’ve now done five BWCA trips in my Bell Magic. 6-3 and 220# with a 55# pack and this year a 45# food barrel. Paddled through wind and waves with the boat loaded and empty and never felt uncomfortable.
To your overall point, yes a dedicated solo will make your trips much more enjoyable in the BWCA than a tandem paddled solo.
I also have a Swift Shearwater I use for river trips though it would be fine for the BW as well. Lots of choices and lots of fun in the decision.
I go 180 and really like my Bell Magic for daypaddling and lake tripping.
If I was your size though, the Wenonah Voyager is the boat I’d use for that. It’s noticably quicker.
While the Voyager is fairly rocker free it does respond nicely to a heeled turn.
At my weight the Magic deals with the wind better.
If you consider
the SR Tranquility Solo you must test paddle it first.
It intrigued me until I got to test paddle it. I found it deep (good for gear) slow(especially when empty) and hard to turn unless heeled to the rail all the way.
Hemlock Peregrine is a boat you might consider but its not at dealers.
The Swift Shearwater is an excellent boat for taller heavier paddlers.
The Bell Merlin II gets a little logy past 300 lbs of weight but by no means unsafe.
You have to figure out where you like to go. One of my friends smitten with the Tranquility solo likes to paddle twisty creeks and rediscover old routes. The TS is too much of a straight line boat for that. He sold it after two months.
As much as the boat might be important, its even more important to match the boat to the sort of paddling you want to do..where and for how long.
Interesting comments about the SRTS
Ilooked at one at Red Rock Outfitters a couple of years ago, after I bought the Magic. From my “eyeball” test it looked slower than the Magic, but I didn’t expect it to turn slowly.
Good reason to try before you buy!
Wind, lakes, think about sliding seats
I don't know the OP's current boat.
Of the several excellent canoes suggested so far, I would initially tend to the Swift Shearwater. It is made for larger paddlers. It can be paddled kneeling or sitting. It is fast enough on lakes, yet can turn adequately.
And, it is the only one, I think, that has a factory installed sliding seat for kneeling or sitting, newly redesigned for increased comfort. Shifting trim is the most effective way to fight wind. If you don't have any gear (just a day paddle), or if you only have one bag, it is hard to shift gear for wind trim on the fly. If, however, you have a good sliding seat, shifting 245 pounds of body weight several inches can be very effective to alter trim significantly on the fly.
In addition, Swift (for a price) offers uber-light vacuum infused hulls with CobraSox trim having wooden rub-outwales.