Solo canoe suggestions?

See what you can come up with. It may not even be available, but here’s what I looking for:

  1. I am 6’3", 330lbs
  2. lightweight canoe (I’ll use a 2-blade paddle)
  3. for use on rivers,lakes,and small creeks
  4. hopefully not over 13ft long
  5. I’d be willing to remove/modify seat
  6. $700-$800
  7. I’m pretty new to paddling, but not unwilling to

    spend some time with a canoe to get it to work for

    me. Thank you for your time.

I don’t have the answer for you, but a thought.

Don’t get hung up on the length of the boat. A much longer boat can manuver very well in a small stream, and if you can’t turn around, you can always back up until you can.

You will want to learn from the canoists about hull shape, that’s where your focus should be.

A short boat will need to be wider. There is no substitute for volume. Short and wide will be a lot of work, if you are keeping pace with others.

I use a 17’ kayak, and a friend of mine paddles a longer one. We don’t shy away from small twisty streams, at all.

That’s where the shade is, and summer sun down here is hot.

Find a boat, and enjoy the learning curve. It’s no crime to bump into a few trees.

Best of Luck,


My little experience
I have had a friend of mine use my We No Nah Solo Plus who was 330 pounds. I am not sure why you were looking for the 13 foot mark. Was it for storage? was it for manageability? The Solo Plus is the same beam and weight as the Fusion, but 3+ feet longer. That would (or should) make it a more efficient hull.

If you are not doing white water or too overly abusive to the boat any layup should be fine. Yes a plastic hull will be cheaper and an extra light one will be expensive. I like to look at the idea that you can have this boat for the next 15 or 20 years. Spend the money now and you can appreciate it for all those years.

You should be aware of the hanger brackets for the seat. There is always a span of free fall when you are sitting down. Look for metal brackets, or hefty wooden ones. Beef it up if needed, but it probably won’t be necessary.

Good luck on the search, keep us informed!


P.S. what is your intended use? I see WHERE you will be using it, but why are you using it?

Mohawk Solo 13

– Last Updated: Aug-27-08 10:23 PM EST –

comes to mind..a decent canoe that can be double bladed and is not a budget breaker

also look here

Solo 13 might be too low-volume
At 210 pounds and carrying camping gear, the Solo 13 felt overloaded to me. I think it would be too small for 330 pounds plus gear.

– Mark

How about looking at a Native …they have somen ice boats

Mohawk Solo 13…Surely you jest?

– Last Updated: Aug-27-08 11:50 PM EST –

From Mohawk website:

Solo 13 capacity: 300 pounds
Paddler's stated weight: 330 pounds (without gear)

Mohawks to "seriously" consider:

Mohawk Odyssey 14: Royalex, weight 49 lbs, capacity 400 pounds

Mohawk Solo 14: Royalex, weight 44 lbs, capacity 375 lbs
The Solo 14 also comes in the R-84(Royalite)layup, and weighs 39 lbs.

My opinion/whatever canoe you buy: Royalex

P.S. Here are some canoes that I think you should research. If price is an issue: think used! Lots of the boats previously mentioned & those listed below often come up for sale in pnet classifieds ads. Some are lightly used, and way under new retail price.

I am of the opinion that if you buy "any" make of 13 foot canoe; it will end up in the classifieds, after you've learned that you did "not" make a well reasoned decision.

Wenonah Wilderness
Wenonah Prism
Wenonah Solo Plus

Mad River Freedom Solo

Bell Morningstar

Mohawk Odyssey 15

Old Town Guide 147
Old Town Pathfinder
Old Town Penobscot 15

The Old Town Pathfinder is either relabled as a different model, or no longer made, but does occasionally come up for sale as a used boat.
I own a wood trimmed Penobscot 15 that I found in near new condition(used less than 10 times) for $575.00.

Good luck,

Mad River Freedom Solo
Or maybe a Clipper Prospector 14, or a Novacraft SuperNova.

Old Town Pathfinder
The Old Town Pathfinder canoe has been discontinued for quite a few years now, but I see that the specs for the Camper 15 are identical to it. The canoe is 14’10" long and weighs 57 pounds in royalex. A great all around canoe, I’ve owned one for about 25 years.


13’ A Bit Limited
That new Wenonah that will come out soon might work, but IMHO 13’ a bit too short for big guys. I paddled a Mohawk Solo 14 for several years (6’2" and 260-270 lbs) and it was a bit marginal with a big load. If you’re doing day trips, the Mohawk Solo 14 will work fine. I can’t even imagine the Solo 13 paddling well with that weight, though. I wouldn’t limit myself to 13’.

That OT Pathfinder people are talking about has been reincarnated into the OT Camper 15; at least, that’s what an OT dealer told me.

My favorite big guy do-it-all boat is a Mad River Explorer 15. It’s a bit less than 15’. I removed the seats, added two thwarts and put in a center seat. Great boat for a big guy like me. IMHO it has more glide and paddles better than Mad River’s Freedom Solo, even though it’s a couple inches wider.

Another big guy boat is the Bell Angler 14. It’s a bit shorter, wider (but doesn’t feel it) and actually paddles very well from the bow seat with the canoe turned around.

And if you’re paddling primarily flatwater I would highly recommend the Sawyer Autumn Mist. With your weight, you would want the seat at it’s lowest level, but this would be a relatively fast, efficient big-guy boat that will put a smile on your face!

Good luck, here’s pics of some of these boats, the “Modified” Mad River Explorer 15 running a rapid, Sawyer Autumn Mist, and the Mohawk Solo 14. WW

Old Town Pack
I bought a used 12-foot Old Town Pack canoe for about $450 that works well for me. I’m a total novice, 6-foot-4, 265 pounds. I’m using a kayak paddle. Did 8 miles RT in it this morning. Based on the specs on their site, it might work for you, though they list only total capacity, not paddler weight …

No I am not kidding

– Last Updated: Aug-28-08 10:33 AM EST –

It is a high volume 13 footer and I HAVE put sizeable peole in there.

Granted its a bit of sluggish then.

Folks, nowhere is a pack load are ASSUMING that.

Yes the 14 would be better, but I have friends who like to explore and bushwhack small creeks and 15 feet is too long.. May be I am making the assumptions here.

The paddler

– Last Updated: Aug-28-08 11:49 AM EST –

The paddler who started the thread stated they would be using the canoe on rivers, lakes, and creeks. I took part of their comments as evidence that they were an inexperienced paddler.

Mohawk estimates the capacity of the Solo 13 at 300 lbs. The paddler estimates their weight at 330 pounds, or 30 pounds "more" than the estimated capacity of the boat.

Surely a paddler should "reasonably expect" when they purchase a boat, that it would at least have the capacity to carry them, and enough gear for an overnight.

Will the paddler only use of the boat be day floats with no gear. Is that realistic? Is that what the vast majority of paddler do; a day float with no gear?

Why would any paddler purchase a boat that would be carrying 30 pounds over the estimated capacity as soon as they step into the boat?

Let's say, just for the sake of argument, that the paddler(inexperienced) would (travel light)and carry only 30 pounds of gear for an overnight on the river. Now the combined weight of the paddler & their gear is 360 pounds. That is 60 pounds above the estimated capacity of the boat.

How much freeboard do you anticipate a Mohawk Solo 13 might have when carrying 360 lbs?

It is my opinion that a Solo 13 with 330 lbs of weight will not just be sluggish; it will be wallowing in the water, and with 360 lbs of paddler & gear aboard, it will be actively seeking a place to take on water; prior to it's capsize.

You state you have seen a Solo 13 used by "sizeable" paddlers. Define sizeable paddler;
200, 225, 250, 275, 300, lbs? Have you seen a 330 lb, inexperieinced paddler, using a Solo 13?

I would love to see a video of a 330 pound, inexperienced paddler, in a Mohawk Solo 13, paddling on a lake with some 12 inch rollers & a head wind, or the same paddler in the same boat, going over a 12 inch ledge, followed by a 50 to 100 foot long series of 12 inch standing waves. I don't view those conditions as extreme.

Why not go for a longer/higher volume boat to begin with; so the paddler has a more versatile boat?


Enjoy, but later on you’ll find that a
couple of feet of extra length makes a wonderful difference.

Agree Solo Plus
I’m not quite as big as this paddler but being 6’2" and 290lbs I fit in my Solo Plus just fine. My seat is a sliding tractor seat so I don’t have to worry about breaking a seat hanger.

The boat works well in all types of water; lakes, rivers and streams. I was in a small stream (10ft wide)that fed a lake and I couldn’t turn around. I just got out of the boat, picked it up and turned it aroud.

I also use this boat with my kids in the tandem seats. This adds an extra 120 to 160lbs to the boat and it has no problems. It probably would swamp in windy conditions/waves but I won’t be out there in those conditions. The boat does have problems with wind but a quick trim adj and it is manageable.


Some Minor Comments
In general, I agree that a 13-foot boat will be too “wallowy”, though I suspect the Old Town Pack is about as close to your “stated” specifications as anything, and it might work okay if you don’t carry much stuff with you. I like the looks of that new Wenonah Fusion for use by a beginning canoer (but I got a kick out of the spell-check generated typo in their description: Steering with a rudder is a “cinch”, not a “synch”).

Regarding 14- to 15-foot boats, I would add the Wenonah Vagabond to the list. The Vagabond is a fantastic boat for general-purpose solo canoeing, and it is very fast compared to most solo boats made of Royalex. I paddled mine a short distance one time with a passenger, so my total on-board weight was near 300 pounds, and it did not feel one bit overloaded (even though it was very out-of-trim since it’s not made for two people). If maximizing cruising speed and distance is more important than precision manuevering or dealing with choppy conditions, the Vagabond would be a good boat. There would not be a “lot” of extra capacity for camping gear when carrying a 330-pound paddler, but for daytripping I think it would work. If handling more-choppy conditions is needed, my first step up from the Vagabond would be the Mohawk Oddysey 14. Beyond that, some of the the bigger boats already listed would probably be even better for big loads and choppy conditions, with the exception of the Supernova, but only because I don’t believe the Supernova is a good “first boat” for a beginner and because it would be a very poor choice for paddling with a double-blade paddle (it’s also darned heavy when made of Royalex. Mine “feels” like it weighs about 70 pounds in comparision to another boat I have which is about 67 pounds).

Love my MR Guide, but for him, the
Supernova might be better. The Guide/Freedom Solo is narrow and can feel edgy in crosscurrents. Not that there’s anything wrong with edgy.

Bill Mason
Bill Mason was a Canadian fellow who wrote a couple of canoeing books and made many films.

He was not big at all, weighing about 140 if I recall correctly. Nevertheless, he stated in his books/films that even when paddling solo, he liked a canoe to be at least 16’, as shorter ones start to feel dumpy/sluggish.

Now, he was writing before the days of dedicated solo boats, and certainly a flashfire wouldn’t feel dumpy to him. However, I am sure you would prefer a bigger boat. I owned a Bell Yellowstone for about a month - sold it because with my 190, plus gear, I didn’t think it was big enough to handle conditions.

Another post reminded me - a Mad River Courier would be a good boat you might find used.

I have a Mowhawk Odyssey
It’s 14’2", 56lbs outfitted with backband and footpegs for paddling seated, with a double blade. I just finished a trip where my total load was approx 350lbs. It handles better with a load and I am able to keep up with tandem canoes. We paddle the types of water you list; some of the streams we paddle are only 15’wide. It tracks well on our local small lake, even in 20mph wind with chop. My canoe is a suitable combination of ‘stability’ and manuverability for people with some physical limitations. If you can kneel, you might like the SuperNova better.

I am shorter than you (5’5")and use a 230cm paddle to give me better reach and leverage. Getting in and out of my boat is easier when I use trekking poles to lean on and saves my paddles from damage if I lose my balance. It also helps me lower myself more gently onto the seat. Mowhawk seats and hangers are strong, but you can damage the gunwales if you land too hard. (I haven’t done that, but I’ve seen it happen)

I would definitely consider a 14’-15’ boat. They distribute the weight over the length so that the width can be less. That means it should take less effort to paddle and are generally more stable than a shorter boat of the same width. If you’re not portaging much, the few extra pounds is not an issue. Also, it’s worth spending a couple hundred more to own a boat that works well for you.

Happy boat hunting! Paddling is a great way to exercise and relax.

Vagabond would probably work
I weigh only 225 (you can’t imagine how good the “only” felt when I typed that), but I paddled my wife’s Vagabond with a 7 gallon water container and about another 50 lbs. of camping gear for a couple of hours when we traded boats on a trip. That totals over 330 lbs. and the boat felt OK–it was on a river without any rapids whatsoever. It’s 14’.

I also have a SuperNova and it would swallow up that weight, along with a week’s camping gear, and ask for more. But I agree with the poster above, you would have to be pretty determined and patient to learn to paddle in a SuperNova.