Solo canoe thoughts?

-- Last Updated: Jun-02-16 8:30 PM EST --

My wife wants us to start kayaking together. She's trim and hot, and I'm not LOL. I am 6'1" and 250. We have a 10' SOT Pelican Apex that I can get on but it's too uncomfortable for me. Sits too low and I'm at the max load limit, and my hips were weary trying to hold on. I felt confined as well.

I'm considering a solo or small two seat canoe. I figure it would get me a little higher and more freedom for gear. I'd like to find something cheap but not sure what models to look for.

Thoughts on my ideas?

Thsese are my choices.
Not sure of your skill level,water type, or paddling style. But here are my favorites for flat water. If you can find a used one try a Mohawk 14 solo in Royalex. Nice beginners ride, stable and easy to turn. Next comes the Wildfire great for some one with a little experience. Kneeling or sitting so you can change positions. The things this canoe can do. Not s so cheep even used but worth every penny.

This is going to be a little off topic. But make sure to get a good paddle. Not a plastic aluminum or cheep wood. Get a good wood straight shaft or bent shaft depending on your style. A good paddle can make a so so canoe great.

solo canoes out west

– Last Updated: Jun-06-16 2:57 AM EST –

Since my wife decided tandem canoeing was just not for her, I’ve been trying as many solo canoes as I can get my hands on in a quest to find a good model for someone of my size that I feel really comfortable in. For comparison on size, I run several inches taller and a few dozen pounds heavier than you. So if they float me, you should have no problem. Though a comfortable feel I’m finding is a personal preference thing that varies by individual.

When looking for used solo canoes, some brands are more readily available is some parts of the country than others. There seem to be some smaller brands in the east that produce more solo models that really sound outstanding. Ones that I’ve never seen out here on the used market, and can’t really comment on.

Out here in the Pacific Northwest I mostly see Wenonah, Clipper, and Old Town solo canoes. I’ve tried a number of them and I’d recommend the following for someone on the larger size looking at a first solo canoe.

Wenonah Prism and Wenonah Vagabond: The Prism is fast and forgiving and tracks well. The Vagabond is less fast, more maneuverable, and more forgiving. Wenonah’s website recommends the Vagabond as a “great choice for a first solo canoe.”

Clipper Solitude: this model was also made by Wenonah for a time too. I’ve tried both and they seem identical. I’d put the Solitude somewhere between the Prism and the Vagabond. Kind of a middle ground model, but in a good way. Doesn’t excel in anything, nor is it really bad at anything. Jack of all trades, master of none sort of thing.

Mohawk Solo 14: I concur with the earlier comments. I’ve only been able to try the Solo 13 in Royalite (R-84) and it was just a bit small for me, but I absolutely loved the boat. I just haven’t been able to put my hands on the 14 or one of their bigger solos. One of these days. The weight of the Royalite was fantastic. Right in there with the weight of many Kevlar models. I found the Mohawk construction to be nice and solid in a minimalist sort of way, and I mean that as praise. I was really pleased with it and was sad that I didn't fit.

Old Town Next: Unlike the others, I haven’t had a chance to try one yet. But as a first canoe I’ve heard good things. In fact, the person who bought my Mohawk Solo 13 had just tried a Next at a paddle fest that same day and liked it a lot. Just not as much as my Mohawk, which I had arranged for her to test paddle as well. The Next seems like it’s targeted toward the entry level novice, but at a quality level up from the Coleman, Pelican, Sun Dolphin, etc. big box store brands that seem only have price going for them.

Good luck with your search. Be sure to come back and let us know what you end up with and how you like it.

Are you anywhere near western PA?
Solo canoe rendezvous this weekend. Not gonna get many better chances to try out boats and pick brains.

Lucky man
Trim, hot, and wants to kayak. You are a lucky man.

Hopefully your wife will be happy to lazy-paddle, because most solo kayakers paddle faster than most solo canoeists. If she is the type that wants to hammer, you and the canoe may not be able to keep up.

Something with a bit of length and a narrower beam will be a bit faster, but also tippier. Perhaps a 15’ Penobscot (if you can find one, don’t think they are still making them), Dagger Sojourn or Dagger Reflection.

Many 15’ canoes are configured for tandem. If you are going to use solo, you probably want to modify it for solo paddling so that you aren’t paddling with the bow in the air all the time.

Good luck,


Big guys boats
Bell Rockstar used

Hemlock Eaglet

Colder Starfire

Coleen Nomad

Some of these are narrower than mass market boats but you can generate the horsepower to drive them. Speed is a function of both wetted surface and horsepower

I am betting you and your wife would be evenly matched

A few to demo(if possible)…

– Last Updated: Jun-05-16 9:46 AM EST –

Novacraft: Bob Special and Prospector 15(or 16)
OT: Penobscot 16
Ditto on kayamedic mentioning Bell's Rockstar(most probably used these days).
Northstar's Magic..but imho the Bell(Charlie's)Magic had a better hull(tumblehome) for you, so demo wherever then look for the used Bell version.
Think a few of Bell's, now Northstar's shorter tandems might fit the bill(find em' used).
Ditto on getting to somewhere you can demo a few to compare.
Might wanna check out Dave Curtis's HemlockCanoe(if near..demo their Peregrine).
EDITed: thanks for the head' up kayamedic.

My humble opinion
I am a new canoe owner myself. I have previously kayaked. Due to medical issues I am 100 pounds over my target weight so I am 5’10" and about 305lbs.

My options for trying an affordable canoe before I purchased were very limited. My budget was $1000. The couple solo canoes on Craigslist near me sold before I even had a shot at them. I resorted to lots and LOTS of online reviews and videos. I will also admit that I was smitten with the Old Town Next when I saw it in Lemongrass, which is basically hi viz yellow.

When I had raised the funds the store I was going to purchase from was sold out with no idea when they would have another model in. I called around regionally and found the Next at a Cabelas an hour away. I “test” paddled it on the floor of the store. The seat was comfy, I liked the feet pegs, and could handle the rocker.

In the water it tracks straight for me, paddles smoothly, and is a pleasure. It is unstable with my 70 pound kiddo in the front but what should I expect from a solo canoe. My kiddo also loves my canoe and paddles it beautifully as a complete novice. I got her a small sit on top so I could use my own boat. :slight_smile:

I have had it out several times. I did dump it once. Totally my fault. I was towing my tired kiddo from my stern and tried to turn around in my seat. The concussion I was recovering from was effecting my balance. My hips and shoulders went over the gunwhales and in the drink I went.

Next on my list is some float bags and dedicated time to recovering my swamped canoe in the water. I can’t always rely on swimming it to shore to dump it.

I have read quite a few people who lowered the seat in the Next or removed it to get an even lower center of gravity for increased stability. I’m not sure my arthritic knees would tolerate that, but I will experiment when our water temps rise a bit more.

Sounds like the Next is a hit. I’ve seen quite a few around here and everyone seems to enjoy them.

Colden is in Colden NY
And run by Paul Meyer. Charlie is six hours away.

Solo canoe thoughts
I would definitely get a solo and not a small 2 man canoe. What is available depends in what part of the country you live.

The Wenonah Prism is a nice canoe but can be a bear in a strong wind. The Curtis Peregrin is a great canoe but is made and sold in the western part of New York. Swift has several great solo canoes but are most readily available in eastern Canada and the New York State area. I have a carbon fusion Swift Osprey and just love it. Nighthawk makes a good looking solo but I have never seen one in person.

When buying a canoe give a lot of thought to what it weighs. As one ages strength decreases and a heavy canoe will just not be used as much as a light weight canoe.

A good lightweight solo canoe is not cheap but if you use it a lot the price per outing is not really high. I paid $3000 for my Swift canoe 4 years ago and it has cost me about $7.50 per outing. I could easily get $2000 for it now so that brings the cost per outing down to about $3.30 for every time I have taken it out. That is how I justified it to my wife!!!


– Last Updated: Jun-03-16 9:39 PM EST –

When I used to go out with the local meet up groups was always the fastest in a solo canoe. Most were rec boats or sot that were wide and slow. Nothing wrong with that. Only thing faster was the surf ski or the high end ocean kayaks. Just dislike the disinformation about canoes. You would be surprised how much speed a Wildfire hull let alone some of the other solos suggested here have when combined with a good bent shaft. People in kayaks always look at us like we are crazy going up stream. But with the canoes we use we are as fast or faster than most rec kayaks/ sot going down stream going up stream in our canoe. We average 3.5 to 4 mph on no current water. That speed can be a real downer though. Did what we thought would be a all day trip in just under three hours a few months ago. Rain upstream had the current strong and we did almost twenty miles in just under three hours.

Speed and performance is expensive in what ever type of hull you paddle. If I remember though the OP said "I'd like to find something cheap" and they have a "10' SOT Pelican Apex" and that is no speed demon. I know for a fact a Mohawk solo 14 with a inexpensive grey owl bent shaft with a six foot 230lbs paddler and 53lbs of equipment is faster than a 10' SOT Pelican Apex. Been there and waited while having a great day.

Solo canoe comments

– Last Updated: Jun-04-16 1:34 PM EST –

2 months ago I bought a Wenonah Voyager Kevlar ultra light.
It's initial stability is low and takes some getting used to. Once you get "in the groove", it can't be beat.
I have paddled my Voyager over 60 miles during the past 2 months.
I use and recommend kayak style paddle for directional stability.

“Directional Stability” is a Misnomer

– Last Updated: Jun-04-16 3:00 PM EST –

There can be reasons for using a double-blade paddle in a canoe, and the most pressing would be to eliminate control strokes when in strong wind, or to simply increase your cadence when maximum speed is the only thing that matters. For ordinary paddling, nothing beats the directional control of a single-blade, even if many still choose a double because it's so much easier and provides acceptable results even without any practice. In any case, there's probably not a production canoe made that has more inherent "directional stability" than the Wenonah Voyager. Though sit-and-switch is a common method for those paddling the Voyager simply because the reward for that technique is speed, that doesn't mean a double-blade is justified. The Voyager will go as straight as an arrow when traditional paddling (paddling on just one side) and it will do so with much less attention to detail than is needed for almost any other canoe. I can see in the video that this is all new to you, which is the only reason I bring this up at all. If you enjoy such things as improving your paddling technique, someday you might set aside that double-blade and wonder why you thought about it in the way you did.

Oh, and for other beginners out there, I'll mention that to say it "can't be beat" is highly subjective and relative as well. What the Voyager does extremely well is to carry a heavy load on flat water, preferably in a straight line. With a light load or in places like rivers (especially twisty rivers or those with a little bit of whitewater) it's the proverbial fish out of water, and dozens of other models would be far better. In short, it is highly specialized for an extremely narrow niche in the world of solo canoeing.

Solo canoe for bigger guys
I’m 6’4" and 250 pounds. I find the Wenonah Voyager works good for me. It took a lot of practice to get my balance skills to match the tendency for this canoe to be “tippy”. But it is fast, easy to paddle and I’ve done a few 5 mile non-stop runs at an average of 3.5 mph in still water (Lake Livingston). I’ve maxed out at 5.5 mph for a 30 second sprint.

Good recommendation
The Mohawk Solo 14 is a nice looking canoe. I looked it up and I’d like to paddle one of those myself. And, they can be found on the used market for well under $1000. I just saw one in Ga. offered for $400. It won’t be the easiest boat to learn in. Once proficient, OP should be able to keep up with a 10’ SOT, if that is what the wife is paddling.

The class of solo canoes available for budget prices includes a lot of OT Packs and not many Magics, Wildfires, Coldens and Voyagers. So I like the suggestion of the Mohawk.

And all I said was most solo kayaks paddle faster than most solo canoes. That’s not disinformation, it is just my observation.


Mohawk Solo 14
One of my cohorts has that boat. Very good all-around solo. Very mild-mannered. I have even stood up and poled it quite comfortably. Should be a good beginner solo, but not a boring boat for a more advanced paddler.

Big guy in a Solo 14
I don’t know what Harry weighs, but he’s bigger than me, and I’m 225. Even loaded with gear the boat looked fine.

Solo Choices

– Last Updated: Jun-05-16 10:49 AM EST –

Some manufacturer's names are misspelled and many of the hulls suggested are too small for you. Some are pack canoes where the paddler sits very low and uses a double paddle as contrasted to sitting somewhat higher and using a single blade. That's OK, but stance in the boat and paddle choice need be decided first. I have a comprehensive list of every solo canoe made that might be helpful. Email me for your copy.

It’s the phones fault
Does not mix with fingers at 70 mph

No I’m not driving