Solo Canoe

I am 6 foot 4 and weigh in at 215lbs. I am in search of a solo canoe that would work for lake to lake trips (Algonquin style) as well as some smaller white water conditions. An all around strong boat for 1 person. What are your recommendations and material suggestions?


Where are you?
If you are in Canada or the Northeast check out the Shearwater or Keewaydin 15 by Swift. Mad River Freedom solo is another contender as well as the Bell Rockstar ( if you can find one). Merrimack Baboosuc

Because of your height you will need more boat under you though some paddlers with long seat time in solos are comfortable with much narrower craft.

Alot also depemds on whether you will kneel, sit or sit on the bottom.


– Last Updated: Mar-06-14 11:41 AM EST –

Kim is right on. A little extra, if you sit low, as in pack canoe you'll want a double blade paddle. If you sit high, like in most Wenonah's you'll optimize travel with a bent paddle, and if you kneel, optimizing control, you'll want a straight blade stick. These paddle configurations optimize the interaction of blade physics with biop-mechanics in given stances.

E mail me at for a comprehensive list of available solo canoes.

Since Kim mentioned two Swift units, I'll comment on another. Osprey, a John Winters design, is the same length as Swift's Keewaydin 15 but is an inch wider at waterline, hence more stable, especially for the taller amongst us, which will never be me.

solo canoe
Maybe an Old Town Pack?

Probably a little small
I think at 6ft 4in and 215lbs,…the Pack is a little small. I would also consider a Wenonah Rendezvous or Mohawk Odyssey 15. I had a Composite Rendezvous and it was a great big-water solo that paddled better with a little load. I can’t remember if the Odyssey 15 is a solo or tandem. My Odyssey 14 is my favorite solo but I am 6ft 190.

Not too small.
The president of our local ski club is at least that tall and heavy and used a Pack with a kayak paddle for years on the local streams.

He never paddled lakes, though - they bore him.

If the OP is paddling Manitou
Smoke, Cedar Opeongo or other big Algonquin lakes in a Pack he will quickly learn a practical application of Archimedes principle

Especially with several days of supplies and big waves, a twelve foot canoe no matter whose it is, is inadequate.

I would get bored with lakes…
… paddling an Old Town Pack too, and I wouldn’t overload it the way he does. Small wonder someone who’s pushing the boat’s “practical” load limit would feel the same. Of course, some people just don’t like lakes, but you’ve gotta wonder in this case.

He’s also got rec kayaks.
He likes the challenge of negotiating fast moving twisty streams and mild whitewater. He does swim now and then.

For me, the Pack is an overly wide pig.

well there you go
I also owned an OT Pack and know its capabilities. There are MANY solo canoes better suited for the big guy.

Never denied ther weren’t better options
Just that it was good enough for that tall guy who wasn’t very discriminating about boats.

Who said he wasn’t discriminating?
He is looking for a lake cruiser!! And something portage friendly.

You guys ever been to Algonquin??

You must specify kneeling or sitting
These are the two basic paddling postures for single blade canoeing. Virtually all hulls are designed with one or the other posture in mind.

Assuming you are a kneeler, the the answer to your question is a Swift Osprey in one of their lighter Kevlar or carbon layups. You can go with the very lightest layup if you are only doing lakes, carefully.

Bring a fat wallet or search the used ads.

I’m saying the guy I’m referring to
isn’t very discriminating about boats.

All of my comments are referring to the guy I personally know who’s used his Pack numerous times on streams & rivers without a load and never on lakes that I’m aware of.

I never implied the suitability of the Pack for a big guy with a tripping load on open lakes.

I know that but the
advice sought by the OP is not relevant to your friends experience. I know several people who camp with the Pack for small overnights on twisty streams and are quite happy with the boats nimbleness there.

But its about the OP.

I don’t know what "Agonquin style"
means and I wasn’t responding to the OP, but another response and my response to that response was appropriate.

I thought the purpose of posting
was to address the original question.

That said I am occasionally corrected by the guy below me re thread drift.

You’re not going to Canoecopia??

No Canoecopia for me, this year.
Car has coolant leak that the mechanic says is likely a cracked head, since coolant came out of one of the spark plug holes during a pressure check.

Also, Saturday is the 5 year birthday party for one of my great nieces and my niece is not pleased when I skip her parties for Canoecopia. She’ll just have to deal with it next year.

A small tandem
would not be a bad choice for a guy who is 6’4". He can probably reach across a wider bost when needed and at 215 with a bit of gear added will appreciate the added bouyancy.

The DY Starfire would be a good choice at the pricey end of the range. If money is limited, A Millbrook Souhegan or any one of the smaller Prospectors out there might work for him.

Full diclosure here: I’m one of a few solo canoests who are not comfortable in narrow, twitchy boats.


I’m not as tall as you, but I am heavier. I will vouch for both the Swift Osprey in Kevlar and Bell Rockstar in carbon. I have used both exclusively as my solo trippers. In Algonquin I have used both to travel the length of the Nippissing River and some of the larger lakes, too on week long excursions.

The Rockstar rides drier, but takes more care on windy lakes as it rides a little higher.

I like the Osprey for its nimbleness. I find it easier to heel, too. I would ditch the sliding seat, though, as the contraption adds unnecessary weight.