Solo River Trip Canoe

I checked out the Mad River website, and didn’t see any solo river boats. Also, Wenonah doesn’t have a great offering. What do people use these days for a river tripping boat? Whitewater?

No expert advice here, but here’s what I use. I use a Mohawk Odyssey 14 for 95 percent of my river tripping. I’m extremely happy with that model as a do-it-all boat for any moving water, for typical whitewater (for my neck of the woods), and for small, twisty creeks. That info doesn’t help you much because, like the good solo river boats once made by Mad River, you can only find this model on the used market. When I need better whitewater capability, I use a Nova Craft Supernova. That boat has a rather unusual semi-bulbous bottom-center part of the hull, but though it looks a bit strange, you can learn to love what it accomplishes. For a big, maneuverable boat, the handling is really quite traditional as long as you realize that you can’t “let go of the reins” for even a moment or it starts to spin (that’s not to say it’s not a good cruiser, because it’s not too shabby for that). For big, flat rivers or any time I’m putting emphasis on high mileage and the risk of impacts is negligible, I use a Bell Merlin II in “Kev Light” (another boat that’s only found on the used market). Maneuverability is not it’s strong suit, but cruising ability is quite good.

If I ever lost my Odyssey 14, I would absolutely HAVE to replace it with something similar or better, and I think I’d go with a Clipper Prospector 14 in Duraflex. I’m pretty certain that this would do everything the Odyssey 14 can do, but probably do it better.

Like guideboatguy, I can’t help too much with what is on the market other than from some mild lust. My three (Rendezvous, Independence, & Dagger Rival) all date from the '90s. ! I have used all three of them for multi-day river trips with some white water. Of the three, I like the 'vous for water like the Batchawana - the picture below.

If I was shopping now it would be tough as there are a lot of choices out there. The issue is that you are now looking at $2,500 - $3,500. Makers that I would look at are Northstar, Hemlock, Placid, Colden, Swift, and Esquif.

So many options depending on what you are going to paddle:

Me in my Wildfire

Crossing Holeb Pond - Erik

Riverstrider in his SRT


TommyC1 in his Magic


Obviously if you are looking for a royalex boat, you’ll have to go used. If you can spring for a new composite boat, there are plenty of choices from Rival51’s list above.

Colden Dragon Fly. I also have a Colden WildFire. My Swift Raven in Royalex is a large whitewater tripping boat but alas no longer made.

Placid does not make river tripping boats though I have used my RapidFire on rivers. I would take it on the Yukon in a heartbeat but might get wet in Five Fingers…

Esquif has the corner now on t formex but have not seen their boats lately. Check out Nova Crafts Tuff Stuff.

I have a Royalex Wen Rendezvous as my river tripper - great all around boat and handles CII well: CIII capable with the right paddler, but the too sharp bow won’t shed waves well and it is a wet ride (I’ve both done and swum CIII) Wenonah has never promoted the boat in composite and does not list it anymore, but it has always been possible to get one in composite if your dealer orders one. I just looked at local dealer and he has several, including a couple in Royalex. Many people I paddle with have the composite rendezvous. The Wen argosy is kind of the little brother of the Rendezvous. I also have a Mad River Independence, but wouldn’t really consider it a river tripper for anything much over CI - it was supposedly designed to be a down river racer. WW tripping in my old Dagger Impulse will work for 3 to 4 day trips - not really enough gear capacity for much more.
I posted a link to my local dealer’s website - they also have a Northstar Phoenix, which would be my other choice to look at if I were buying new.

I would spend a lot of time looking at the P-com classifieds, and craig’s list to see what you could find used - I think a majority of river trippers would prefer royalex, and used is about your only option there unless you can find a new one still in stock. Expedition Kevlar layups are equivalent to royalex for durability and dependability I think, although much much more expensive.

I’m not entirely sure what your intent is. Are you looking for a canoe that would be suitable for river tripping that involved some degree of whitewater? Or where you asking if individuals used whitewater canoes for river tripping?

It would be helpful if you could give some examples of the types of river trips you are interested in doing.

I’m really looking for a river tripper that will perform in CI-CII conditions. I like the specs of the Wildfire, except the price tag that is. Good information about the supernova, as that boat is easily obtainable in my area (only a 5 hour drive). I’ve run my Wilderness on small fast streams in this area, and it is a little sluggish. I do like the fact that it will move out when I want, however, and the Tufweave seems stout (gelcoat scaring only on my boat). I don’t take it at low water times. Although small for tripping, my old royalex Argosy was a mean little river boat around here, but I stupidly sold it to make room for a lake boat. A canoe that handles rapids like the Argosy, with the capacity and stability of my Prism would be ideal. I started another thread about modifying the Wilderness. The sticker price of the above boats is pretty discouraging. My knees also don’t tolerate kneeling, so there’s that.

I hate my Argosy but till a Yellowstone Solo in RX floats by it will have to do.

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With what you say about kneeling, I’ll make a cautionary note about the Supernova. I myself have very limited paddling experience in the sitting position. I did it for my first year of solo paddling, and still do when I’m taking a break from kneeling, and that’s it. I may lack the proper background to give advice on this, but I suspect that the Supernova would not be the best choice for someone who sits, mainly for two reasons. First, it’s a little on the wide side as solo canoes go, and having the ability to move one’s shoulders a little closer to one side without moving one’s point of attachment to the boat, as is easily done when kneeling, can be a help at times. This is especially true if you move the seat forward by “one seat-width” as most people do (the boat comes from the factory with the seat farther back than normal so it can be trimmed when carrying a single large pack in front of the paddler. I carry two packs, a heavy one behind and a lighter one just in front of my knees, to maintain the same trim when loaded as when empty). The other has to do with that bulbous hull bottom. This boat has about the roundest-profile hull of any “standard” canoe I know, and you can sure feel it. The canoe is very free to roll around its axis, and as I said in my previous post, you can learn to love that feature (for example, it’s quite resistant to being flipped over by sudden cross currents - if your knees are on the floor), but I’m not sure how much a person who sits would agree. “Stable” is not a word that comes to mind regarding this boat, even though for a kneeler, that free-to-roll feeling doesn’t mean it’s at all prone to rolling right over. It even comes from the factory with a canted seat set up for kneeling. Other than on Wenonah canoes with adjustable seat brackets, how often do you see that? “Try before you buy” seems wise in this case.

You might look around for an older Roylex whitewater boat. Quite a few of the old school boats in the 13.5-14.5 foot range made pretty decent whitewater trippers. Some examples are the Blue Hole Sunburst and Sunburst II, Whitesell Piranha, Dagger Caper, Dagger/Mad River Caption, Mohawk Probe 14 or XL14. Depending on how much gear you need to take, shorter boats can also be made to work. I know people who have tripped in Dagger Encores, Dagger Impulses, Mohawk XL13s, or Mohawk Probe 12s. The picture is a Clipper Viper 12 in Duraflex. This is a composite version of the Mohawk Viper 12 (actually 12’ 6" in length) that was molded in Royalex. This sub 13’ boat has enough volume for two 30 liter barrels, a soft cooler, and some additional small packs.

I have not paddled the Wilderness but Wenonah Tuff-weave boats really are pretty tough. They and many other composite boats will easily stand up to the rigors of Class I-II tripping. Another option you might consider is looking around for a used Royalex Prospector type boat in the 15’ length range.

I’m in agreement with Guideboatguys comments re the Super Nova. I paddled it ( kneeling) for maybe ten minutes… It is so spinny that it requires constant attention on the flats.

Good information.