Solo Canoe to Tandem Canoe

I have a 1998 Mad River Traveler, solo, kevlar, 16’3" long. I wish to change to a tandem by installing two seats. Will this hull successfully handle two people? Any advice as to specific heights and locations of the seats? Thanks, Jeff

Not thinking its a great idea
What would be the width at the bow station especially for a kneeling paddler?

Anything less than 24 inches and you have to be very well balanced. The bow person suffers more from not being able to spread knees for stability and there is less leeway for their body to avoid getting the head over the rail which can lead to capsize. Raising the floor up a little with minicell foam sometimes minimizes getting knees jammed together.

Of course if you are both racers the situation might be a little different as it is for really small people.

The Traveler is a big solo but not a small tandem for all.

Traveler is
A low sided variant of the Screamer, a down river race boat in its day[s] the mid to late 70s.

It’s narrow and has pronounced V, so will be touchy for larger paddlers. If you are compact and skilled, go for it.

To locate the seats, find a Malecite. Measure from the center thwart to the front edge of the seats. Subtract 6" each and mount the seats. There is an in depth formula when you know the weights of both paddlers.

MRC Traveler
I have a Traveler as well although I have never entertained converting it to a tandem.

It is a pretty big boat with a quite a bit of fullness and height in the bow, originally descended from a downriver racing boat, the MRC Screamer.

I used my Traveler many times to take my daughters (one at a time) out on flat water lakes and Class I rivers, and I have loaded it out pretty heavily and it still maintains plenty of freeboard.

Of course, my daughters were much smaller than me. My impression is that it would work as a tandem for 2 adult paddlers who were not too big. I would place the bow seat as close to the stem as the bow paddler’s comfort level permitted.

The Traveler is not going to be as full in the bow as a dedicated tandem, so the bow paddler’s legs may be squeezed together some. Obviously, the farther back the bow seat is positioned, the more leg room will be available for the bow paddler, but the closer together the paddling stations will be and the more likely you will be to smack the bow paddler on the head if you need to switch paddling sides.

Once you determine the bow seat position I would get the boat out on the water with both paddlers in it and determine what position the stern paddler needs to be in to trim the boat, and mount the stern seat there. You will need an observer to help determine the trim.

I would go out and paddle the Traveler solo in some wind. If you have the sliding seat that I believe most of these boats had, I would adjust it so that the boat is neutral in the wind (so that it neither weathercocks nor leecocks) then paddle it in to the dock or shore and have a helper place some Duct tape strips just above the water line while you are still sitting in it. Those strips will make it very easy for an observer to determine the proper trim with both paddlers in it.

I would also replace the center seat with a yoke or thwart if you are going to remove it. You will probably need to take out the stern thwart to put in the stern seat. I suspect you could take out both thwarts (if you put in a center yoke or thwart) since the MRC composite Explorer, which was heavier and 2 inches longer, had only a center thwart (and two short carry handle/thwarts near the deck plates).

I find your idea intriguing. If you do it, I would like to know how it turns out. I have been thinking of selling my Traveler since I have other smaller solo canoes better suited to day tripping (Bell Merlin II and a Sawyer Summersong) but I wouldn’t mind having a compact, fast tandem day tripper for flat water.


I have a MRC Traveller and really like it but feel it wouldn’t make a reasonable tandem boat. If I had to give up all my boats the Traveller would make it to the final cut.

I did a conversion with the Wenonah Encounter and feel that boat is an excellent choice for a solo/tandem convertable. A real rocketship for paddlers of your weight. Have a write up and photos for that conversion.

Sent you a note but didn’t hear back as to which boat you were asking about.