Solo Canoe Recommendation

I am new to canoeing and have recently take some formal paddling instruction. I am interested in purchasing a solo boat and will be doing the following:

60% of the time I will be on flat water lakes sight seeing on regular day trips

40% of my time I will be on 2-3 day camping trips on the Lower Mississippi River. The Lower Mississippi does not contain tight turns and would be classified with as a slow moving river with a few spots of mild current but not Class anything. There are however commonly 2-3 ft. waves resulting from barge traffic. I weigh 230 lbs.

Frequently, I will be traveling with tandem canoes that have two paddlers. Right now I’m considering the Wenonah Prism, Bell Magic and the Souris River Tranquility. I need something that can manage the waves, carry me and 2 days of gear, and keep up with the tandems. I would welcome recommendations particularly from people who have experience paddling two or more of the models mentioned. If there are others better suited please mention them as well. Thanks for your advice.

i’d look hard at wenonah’s other…
solos – the voyager and encounter.

the voyager is very fast and handles a load well. the encounter more seaworthy and really holds a lot of gear.

i think the prism or magic could fit the bill, but in heavy seas with a heavy load, the bigger wenonahs may be better.


The SR Tranquility Solo
is a slow one…the Magic and the Prism would leave in the virtual dust.

Moreover it is a real beast to turn unless heeled…and it was not designed for that. Secondary stability is a little shaky.

I was looking forward for some time to paddle it as they are hard to find around here (dealers dont stock it but do stock the SR tandems) and when I did paddle it it was quite a letdown.

A plus for it with gear is its depth. Quite deep.

I fully agree with kayamedic that you should scratch the Souris River off of your list, I was also totally disappointed when I paddled one.

You’ll get the best advice if you specific whether you plan to kneel or only want to sit while paddling…and tell us more about the tandem paddlers and boat(s) that you want to keep up with.

Additional Info
Thanks for the insight on SR. I will be sitting most of the time due bad ancles. I will be traveling mostly with 16 & 17 ft. Royalex Tandems (Bell, Wenonahs’s) some Grumman & Alumacrafts, and the occasional Kevlars like Wenonah Excape Bell Northwind, Seliga etc. Most of those paddlers will be of no better than medium experience level.

great feedback
Prism is one solid choice, I didn’t like my Magic and sold it but I always kneeled so can’t comment on stability sitting.

Wenonah Prism
I have a Wenonah Prism Flex Core Kevlar that I really like. I have no trouble keeping up with tandem paddlers. I paddle mine sitting and the sliding seat makes trimming a breeze. Wenonah’s workmanship on my boat is flawless. On twisting streams it turns well. If the Prism has a fault I couldn’t find it in over 300 miles of padddling last summer.

It sounds like the prism would fit your bill really well. Not too much canoe to paddle empty on day trips, and more than enough canoe for your tripping plans.

I have paddled a couple of Prism’s and liked them. I already owned a Voyager when I borrowed the Prism’s and decided that for me (I am a bit heavier than you and do 80% day paddling and 20% tripping) my best option was tobuy an Advantage to supliment the Voyager.

I also paddled a Magic a couple times, but was less enthusiastic ablout it (where I LOVE my Bell Northwoods tandem).

The Voyager is a GREAT canoe to paddle loaded and in all kinds of conditions, but a bit much for paddling empty on day trips. The cover I made for it improves it’s handling in the wind a LOT.

If your only buying one solo, not two (the way I did), the Prism would be a great choice for your intended use in my opinion.

One more question
Thanks to everyone for all the insight. The contined rave reviews I read and recieve about the Prism have me leaning that way heavily now.

Whitewaterwennie, you mentioned not liking your Bell Magic, do you mind sharing some of the specific things you didn’t like? I know the sharp gunwales are literally a pain from the one time I paddled a Northstar.

Does the Prism knife through waves?
"There are however commonly 2-3 ft. waves resulting from barge traffic. I weigh 230 lbs. "

Those are huge waves…

Does the Prism have sufficient bow flare to deflect those waves when you angle into them?

I would be inclined to look for a boat more responsive to turning and with more fullness in the bow… Wenonah and Bell do not have a monopoly on fast boats.

You dont say where on the river you are going but the lower Mississippi is full of whirlpools and boils.

I’ll be the antagonist here

– Last Updated: Dec-05-08 1:05 PM EST –

I've spent time in the Prism and own a Magic. While the Prism is capable it never felt alive. I've actually heard it described by a respected designer as not having a soul, and it clicked with me the boat has a very flat personality. The Magic on the other hand dances on the water and makes the paddler feel a part of the environment instead of detached from it.

Regarding capability the Magic has probably over 100 days of water time including a month of trips in the Boundary Waters. Fully loaded with me, dog, and gear the boat carries between 300 and 350 pounds. Never squawked once during big wind and water. Took water over the side for the first time this year in a squall that whipped up 30 mph gusts and 1.5 foot waves. I can't say enough good about this boat. And if you want proof of its ability here is a pic of a 48-inch northern pike that was landed, on the water, from a Magic.
Good luck with the search.

i’m guessing …
he’s measuring them from trough to top, so it’s probably more like 1 to 1.5 footers.

just a guess.

but your point is right on, as usual


Show us the fish!
something like }-< 0 >

I have a kev flex-core Prism (w/wood trim), but agree it doesn’t have a lot of personality. If I could I would trade it for a BG (or WG) Magic. Yost designs have always seemed to feel more ‘natural’ in a weird way to me. Hard to articulate other than saying ‘just feels right.’

I added the link.

Now that’s a fish!
What is that, just a Rapala? Looks like a shad rap to me!

Good catch!

Good eyes!
Now ya need to figure out the pattern, size, and method of fishing!

Wow that is a nice fish. No pike down this way unfortunatley. I’m looking for a rental place that has both the Prism and Magic to paddle. Once I’ve done a test drive hopefully I can connect with some of the more qualitative characteristics that have been described. Kayamedic I’m a newby, can you call out some of the specific boat alternatives you feel I should consider. I’ve naturally found the big brands but there are many smaller producers I’m not familiar with. Regarding waves, I was characterizing them from trough to crest. Sorry if that’s not the correct nomenclature. There are “standing waves” behind barges that are literally 6 feet high. Only the crazys go play in those, NOT ME!! I respect the barges and stay a safe distance away.

The answer
The answer is:

The right size.

The right pattern.

The right technique.


If I had to hazard a guess it’d be a 3" gold.

Here’s 2 out of 3

It’s been a while but I’ve paddled both. Yes, the Prism may seem ‘boring’ to some. But, sometimes a boring canoe is a good thing, especially if your fishing, taking photos, hitting large waves, etc. It was very stable and straight tracking, whether you use good technique or not it will go straight!

The Magic was fun! It too will go straight but just a tad more technique is helpful with it compared to the Prism. Remember, this is all from memory. To me the Magic didn’t feel all that tippy, the Merlin II seemed to be more tender. In the end I bought a Hemlock Peregrine. I sold it and wish I would have gotten a Magic which a is no longer sold in my area.