Solo canoes in high demand these days?

I love solo canoes so I routinely check to see what’s available in the used canoe market. Never know when a great solo canoe for a good price comes up for sale. They seem to be in high demand these days due to “social distancing” and I noticed that one canoe manufacturer in particular has had used solo canoes “flying” off the racks in comparison with years past. Anyone else notice this?


I am not the right person to ask.! I have a stableful of solos and since they last for years I am not in the market for the newest shiny penny!
What solos have you noticed flying off the shelf?

It might reflect an aging paddling crowd. Solo canoes are often much lighter weight, so as the paddler gets older the extra bucks matter less than the easier ability to use it.

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The solo canoes I mention are lightweight and oriented towards quiet water or fairly mellow whitewater. What I found interesting is how the same canoes that were available for sale the past few years but sat on the racks for months, even a year or more, are now selling very quickly. People are getting older and figuring out that lighter canoes are easier to handle but there seems to be something more than coincidence going on. I’m wondering if it has to do with people wanting to get out canoeing but maintain distance from other paddlers.

I doubt it… Pack canoes have been gaining popularity for their low seating stability and lighter weight. People that wanted kayaks and were looking for "light " kayaks were contemplating 50 lb kayaks and were thrilled on some FB groups to find out there were lighter deckless options.

Seating options have become numerous.

The CV would not have affected sales here. Ice out has not happened yet state wide and there is still snow in the woods. I think sales would be down actually with tighter budgets. Light solos are not cheap.

Are you sure the same canoes? Swift and Northstar have upped their dealer networks.

Lightweight in a solo canoe can mean anything. There are 10 lb solos and 40 lb solos

Funny you should mention pack canoes, that was the last one out of maybe 7 to 8 solos to be sold. The weights were from 22 lbs (kevlar) to 34 lbs (fiberglass), which I still consider to be fairly lightweight in comparison to Royalex and poly or heavy-built fiberglass boats. I know there are even lighter solos out there but some of them are a bit on the delicate side and/or very expensive. The canoes I’m talking about weren’t inexpensive either but as I’ve said before: You get what you pay for.

Ice out was about two months ago here and the boats I’m talking about sold in the last few weeks. It’s just speculation but seemed to be more than a coincidence. I’m fine with the later. :grinning:

You can mention brands here. We don’t mind.

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Even what store is involved or the area. Then we could understand better. I don’t mind. The mods will prune if they do mind.
Just curious.

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They have always been a small niche part of canoeing. Lately they do seem more common. I no longer look forward to large groups. I like 4 max. The best is just me and one other person in separate canoes. I have never owned a solo, but have paddled tandems solo for decades.

Mad River has a solo that they produce intermittently. The demand for solo canoes goes up and down and they don’t want to flood the market.

One factor may be the value of good used canoes versus the price of new ones. For example I paid around $1900 for my carbon/Kevlar Bell Merlin II in 1999 but now a similar Northstar NW Solo is $3k+. A Swift solo can be well over $3k so a good quality used boat at $1500 is quite a good value. Frickin’ T-Formex boats are $2k new now.

Good points, all. The increased demand for solos may be simply due to more (older) people looking for lightweight canoes, especially high quality used boats to save some money. My hunch is based on a very limited sample but it sure seems like it’s the solos that are selling. At least in upstate New York.

To give you a hint as to which used canoes I’ve been watching: I own solo canoes from Wenonah and Hemlock (Curtis) Canoes. But I also keep my eyes open for solos from Savage River, Bell, Northstar, Colden, and Clipper (Western Canoeing & Kayaking). Never know when the next best boat might show up. :wink:

In the retail paddlesports business for nearing 30 years. We’ve never seen the interest in solo canoes that we have the last few seasons, to the point where solos are almost even with tandems in terms of unit sales.

It’s like everything else: the public determines what they want and the product follows, and for right now, anyway, a lot of folks that used to buy solo kayaks are looking for solo canoes. The fact that the boats are so much lighter, on average, is a big plus for solos, and for my shop, anyway, lighter boats are what’s driving the market.

If this is so, I think it’s an encouraging trend. Solo canoes have a lot to recommend them - but I’ve seen darned few going by on the highway for many years now.

But I wonder… Youngsters tend toward kayaks because they just do for some reason. I don’t know why nor do I have to. They have their uses and some advantages and are fashionable. Anything that gets people paddling is a good thing, IMHO. To each his/her own.

But as lifelong canoe paddlers get older, perhaps among couples that used to paddle tandem, well, maybe folks don’t necessarily feel the need to quit paddling at the same time? Health problems for one or the other, or perhaps if canoe camping is the draw, one or the other partner just gets tired of sleeping on the ground and moves on to other interests.
With me, and I suspect I’m not the “lone ranger” here, pushing a tandem tripping canoe alone in the wind for a few years creates a really strong desire for a solo canoe. Even among couples who both remain addicted (for want of a better word) to paddling canoes, two solos can often carry more than a single tandem, are more maneuverable in challenging water, and allow a degree of freedom that tandem paddling doesn’t. And it is easier to load and unload two light canoes than one heavy one, especially if rugged terrain at landings is often encountered.


I gravitate to my solo canoe when I paddle with the canoe club or slow paddlers. It is easier to move around and more stable when waiting. Which I have to do frequently with some of those.

The Sea kayak gets out there and handles weather that those previous groups would never consider. But it is more difficult for the old guy to get up out of.

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You might want to check out the Shadow by Placid Boatworks. And Savage’s Falcon ! Some builders have shed the dumpy canoe .

I love it when I can push my RapidFire faster than the group can with their sea kayaks. They thought that canoes were slow and said they would not wait for me. 5.5 mile ocean shoreline paddle. I was first. I had to wait for them! Of course I could have been nicer and paddled slower.

A lot depends on the day… A very good paddler I once knew used to say, “there are canoe days and there are kayak days…” At least for me the occasions when one really needs to cover miles fast are few and far between. I’m thinking of those occasions when everyone has to be to work on Monday, folks have loitered around camp a bit too long on Sunday morning, a headwind kicks up, many mile to go… sustained speed then matters. Sea kayaks can do that, of course, but many solo canoes can do a pretty good job of that as well, provided the paddler is willing to just hunker down and paddle the thing.

Wind, to me, is a big factor with solo canoes. Solo canoes just show more square inches to the wind. (And on those windy days the extra horsepower of a tandem canoe paddling team really helps, also.) Kayaks have the speed advantage on windy days. Really big waves advantage kayaks also, but not as much as wind.

BUT under normal conditions, I can’t begin to count the times I’ve paddled my solo canoes in mixed groups, been passed by a few sea kayakers who then feel they’re "fast"in an undeclaired race, only to catch up to them doing leg stretches on an island ten or fifteen minutes later. Because they need to do leg stretches. This can happen three or four times times a day and we all get to camp or the take out together. My point is that you don’t cover a distance any faster if you have to get out often because your boat is not comfortable enough to sit in for the distance. Well conditioned kayakers have become accustomed to cramped conditions and can take it, but the average ones usually can’t. Solo canoes often get to camp first at the end of the day. Comfort can translate into speed. 80% top speed and steady steady steady usually wins the day. I don’t know any kayakers who take lunch while on the water, canoeists do it all the time. Maintain an even strain.

Any larger group moves more slowly - its hard to get a group to average more than about 3mph over the course of a full 8 hr. day. Its the potty breaks and the slowest common denominator that sets the group pace. Under those conditions waiting is a pretty common situation for most of us here, I’d venture to guess. (I used to know a fellow who claimed he only smoked because it gave the youngsters a chance to catch up. :wink:)

And just minutes ago I recieved an ad from REI encouraging folks to get out on the water - they pointed out that it could be done with either a kayak or a paddleboard. What’s up with that, anyhow?

I went to a Swift demo day last year and Bill Swift said the pack boat line is their fastest growing segment. I also got passed by some inexperienced paddlers flying by me in pack boats with their kayak paddles. Seems like a nice option to me with the light weight and easy portability of a canoe plus the ability to sit low and stable and use a kayak paddle. I’d consider one of those.

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You know it is usually the paddler that determines a lot of the performance. Most people that paddle are 2 - 2.5 mph (avg) people no matter what boat. Then there are the others.

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I posted a kayak for sale on several sites, and much to my surprise I got 2 inquiries during the pandemic asking if I had a solo canoe for sale. I often flip boats and I’ve never had this happen before.