solo canoe

I’m looking for some sage advice about what canoe to buy for solo trips down rivers. I’ve got a great carbon Wenonah but I’m not comfortable bashing it down the sometimes shallow and often blow-down debris ridden rivers here in the Northeast. I’ve done it and have the dents and rash to show that it wasn’t pretty. I’ve got a plastic kayak that I can use but I so much prefer a canoe that it’s time for me to get another hull. Weight and manueverability are considerations and I’d like the sometime option of carring gear for 3-4 day excursions. Thanks in advance for any input.

Many choices
I’ve got a Swift Osprey that does pretty well in class II and under. It’s their kevlar expedition layup and and seems pretty tough but I’ll admit I cringe at the zipping sound when it slides across a rock.

Other boats you might want to look for would be the Mad River Guide or Freedom Solo as it’s known these days, the Bell Yellowstone solo, and the Mowhak Oddesey. Those can all be had in Royalex which might give you more peace of mind on the stoney boney rivers up here.

Good Luck,


Adding to what Tommy says, …
…if you consider the Mohawk Odyssey boats, you really would be better off on rivers with the Odyssey 14 instead of the Odyssey 15. The 15-footer is more of a lake boat which doesn’t have much rocker, and as such it is not all that manueverable. The 14-footer is highly maneuverable. I haven’t paddled the 15-footer, but others here have said there’s a world of difference in how the two boats behave.

Tommy’s good suggestions…

– Last Updated: Feb-05-07 2:23 PM EST –

I too own an Osprey that I won't use for rock bashing on the Ozark rivers I frequent.

I do own & "regularly" use a Mohawk Odyssey, and a Bell Wildfire aka Yellowstone solo; both in Royalex layup. Good choices for your usage.

The Mad River Guide aka Freedom Solo is also a good option (I own a Guide/have owned a Freedom Solo). A couple of Wenonahs you might consider are the Vagabond(I own a Vagabond), and the Argosy.

I believe any of those listed will do well as solo/down river/class 1 & 2/ rock bashers. All will easily carry an average sized paddler, and plenty of gear for 3 to 4 days. I weigh 200 lb, and I travel w/lots of gear.

Haven't paddled the Argosy, but I believe it is probably more manueverable than the Vagabond.
The Wildfire/Yellowstone Solo, Odyssey, and the Guide/Freedom Solo are more manueverable than the Vagabond in my opinion. None are a big problem (weight wise) for a healthy paddler. All are similiar in price. My opinion; the Vermont made Mad River canoes are better quality than the new ones.

A smart paddler, test paddles, before they buy.......

If by some twist of fate you decide buy a new, white gold, Bell Merlin II, and find out that it's not what you "really" wanted; contact me, and I'll help you "get rid of it"!


bony water
My low water/ poling boat is a fiberglass Mad River Independence. Many other comparable boats out there. Do you want to go up shallow streams, stand in the boat? These are some considerations to pare down the choices.

I’ve been
eyeballing the Mohawk Odyssey 14 as well, looks like it’d be more maneuverable than my 16’4" swift Dumoine. I do like my Swift a lot though and for being 37" wide, I get around pretty well in it, surf, kneel, take the wife for a ride, stand, very versatile for a bigger paddler (I’m 6’2"). I’ve been eyeballing a few canoes lately, playboats and that Odyssey (as Guideboat guy said, the 14 not the 15)etc…probably 'cuz I haven’t paddled in 2 weeks.Once I hop back in the Dumoine again, I’m sure I’ll stop shopping.

Mainly if I were you, I’d find something in royalex with a couple inches of rocker, and that fits. If you’re around my size or bigger, I highly recommend the Swift Dumoine.

MR Guide
It works well for me on Ozark streams, loaded or not. It’s now called the Freedom Solo. A versatile boat I’d say. I do stay off big open water and wind is my enemy.

My wisdom
I was in the exact situation as you two years ago wanting a second “beater” boat for spring creeking and shallow rivers. My list of possibilities included all of the previously mentioned canoes except for the Odyssey (wasn’t able to find one). In the end I selected the Bell Yellowstone Solo. I have no negative comments for any of the other canoes. I can only say that given my size, weight, and paddling style (5-8, 160lbs, stright shafted kneeler) the Yellowstone seemed the best fit. You will find that most folks have high praise for that which they own and I am no exception. The only sage advice I can offer would be to listen to everyone, paddle them all, and don’t believe manufactures gross weights.


– Last Updated: Feb-06-07 8:30 AM EST –

Given the kind of paddling you do and your size, you might want to take a look at the Supernova. It is a little more rockered than the Odyssey. I love mine, but like conk says, that's pretty much expected.

thanks Clarion
I’d hate to mail order something, then not like it. One of the things I keep harping on in these advice threads, is letting people know what’s available in your area. It makes no sense to recommend a “spinmasterrockslider16” if the nearest one is 6 states away.

Looking at some pix this morning, I’m real sure I’ll stick with my Dumoine, maybe supplementing it with a used playboat. Had one awesome year.

Daggermatt needs an OutrageX
He really really needs it!

Either that or a Cascade like Gabe’s. LOL


yeah Tommy

– Last Updated: Feb-06-07 12:19 PM EST –

laughed so hard my knees hurt!!
Anyways, I just checked out the supernova specs, and yeah, it's sweet, though actually less rocker than the mohawk 14 odyssey. Here's my point...I've never seen a nova craft canoe.
So Zeke, what's available in your area? I'm in Ct., and the local shops offer mad river, bell, and swift in collinsville, we-no-nah in new hartford(though both places limited in river trippers), old town in canton. I wanted to check out esquif last year but the guy in Mass. was closed and the rack of Dumoines WAS 20 minutes from home. Might head up to Zoar Outdoor in mass. to poke around. Junior wants to "up the ante" and will need more freeboard(or a bigger bilger pump)to do so.

advertised rocker

– Last Updated: Feb-06-07 1:19 PM EST –

Odyssey 14: 1.75"
Supernova: 2.5"

Oak Orchard in Rochester has a red one on clearance.

my bad. I’ve been checking out the “xl” line of mohawks, not the odysseys. Wish I didn’t just do that, 'cuz my mind gets to thinking about how a canoe I’ve never paddled would be so much sweeter than the one that took me through 60 river runs this year.

Thanks clarion, now I’m thinking about income tax returns…

thanks daggermat/everyone
I’m taking all this in and freakin’ can’t wait to get in some of these boats. I’m in upstate NY (Binghamton) and there are none of these boats available here. We had a paddle shop here - they were mostly into kayaks- but they folded. Eureka is here but they got flooded out in June and are just getting product back on the floor. There product line has become limited in the past few years to what they own within the company. So I’m thinking road trip in the Spring up to Mt. Man or Oak Orchard or some of the indie builders that we are lucky to have in this state. I’ve got 4 hulls (one I’d sell) that work for me in different situations. But I really want a river rat for those solo trips down low-water, lazy summer rivers and streams and not have worry one about rocks, branches and other crap. But I’d want it to perform in deeper faster moving water as well. I’m thinking royalex for layup but am not wild about the weight. I like the Bell Yellowstone but don’t know jack about the others. I have several Wenonahs and wouldn’t hesitate to look at the Vagabond but I’m not sure if I can get a slider bucket seat-which I’ve grown to really like for comfort and trim. I don’t mind kneeling but do like to sit if I fish or take pictures. My back sucks from 30 years in heavy construction so a good fit is important as is hull weight. I’m 175lbs and 6’.


– Last Updated: Feb-06-07 8:14 PM EST –

if you can find something in "royalite" you'll save maybe 6-8 pounds over the royalex. My swift is royalite, and at 64 pounds it's a pain to get on and off my shoulders from the ground, but the royalex is
72 pounds which would compress and rupture the vertabre that survived my "concreteconstructionmotorcycleracingdatsunrolling" youth. That's one of the reasons I've been thinking of "downsizing."
The Mohawks are mail order, price a bit lower, and I'm really drooling over the xl 14 and 15. Check
Disclaimer: all weights posted above are utilizing and not Conks realistic approach.


– Last Updated: Feb-07-07 12:35 AM EST –

Raven. Its a dedicated river solo. Its 15'4 not a playboat. Drier than a MR Guide. About 50 lbs.

Pretty big for 3-4 day trips. I use it for longer trips. Got it for Maine river running which is usually bony unless you have been very lucky. Its ABS.

About 31 inches beam

I would bring a drysuit or wetsuit and come to Paddlefest in Inlet in May and be prepared to test drive. No idea if Swift will be there

Bill Swift
is bringing a Raven to Collinsville Ct. for me to try at their open house end of april.(he says I NEED one) Specs look right. A bit rich for my wallet, no used ones around. Similar to the mohawk xl line. Mohawk offers a nice ww outfitting package for their canoes. Hopefully they’re up and running soon.

If you are heading up to Mt Man etc you might want to talk to Dave Curtis at Hemlock Canoe and see if you can demo a Hemlock SRT.

I have not paddled one but it looks like it has some things going for it and you will be hard pressed to find a better built canoe than Hemlock.


I had a Swift Raven, Winters design
In my ignorance of the sport, I sold believing it was too hard to paddle. People on the river would always say what a nice boat it was. It was great in Class I, II, speedy, could edge and had great proportions. Anyway, the buyer was very happy to be getting it.