Solo Tripper for a Big Fella

I’m a short, squat, Fred Flinstone looking guy weighing about 240 on a light day and I’m looking for suggestions on a solo tripper. Because of my size am I best suited to look at a tandem boat paddled solo? What would suggest?

Well, look at this one

– Last Updated: Feb-10-04 1:15 PM EST –

I am bigger than you and I don't even come close to the limits on my boat. A Nova Craft Supernova. Designed for wilderness tripping it will hold a lot of gear.

While their rating of 850lb load max might be a bit optimistic, I can see 700lbs in the boat without a problem.

The boat is nice, great secondary stability and pretty quick for what she is.

While I have managed to fall out of the canoe, I have yet to see it dump.

solo boat
A Swift Shearwater would handle your size and weigh easily.

A Bell Starfire would also work extremely well…a bit more roomy but not as efficient.

Wenonah Voyager

Mohawk Odyssey
There is a 14 and a 15 foot version of this, either of which I think would suit your needs. I don’t have any experience with either boat, but I’ve been eyeing the 14. I have a Probe 12 II and love it.

Probe 12
I actually just picked up a Probe 12 for short money. I can’t wait for the ice to break so I can actually start paddling it before my whitewater class this spring

I’ve heard
nothing but fantastic things about Novacraft (I’ve been eyeing a Prospector 16) but the closest dealer is over 7 hours away. I’d love to paddle one but I’ve yet to see any novacraft designs here in New England

I know what you mean
I bought mine site unseen. I trusted the person I was dealing with and it was a great deal.

My boat has definitely made me a better paddler.

I have yet
to hear anything bad about a Novacraft Boat. What made you decide to make the leap of faith?

I talked to the previous owner and I talked to someone I know who had paddled with him. He said he would trust the guy without a problem.

I also did a lot of web research. There is some coverage of Nova Craft boats on Canadian canoeing sites.

Their quality was always above reproach in everything I read. Most gave the boat very high marks in performance factors. It seemed to be the right boat at the right time.

When I come across a deal that feels really right I tend to go for it. The deal on my boat felt right.

So far the boat is everything Nova Craft claims on their web site.

MRC Freedom Solo (Guide)
My best friend owns this boat and goes 255. He loves it, and I love paddling it when he lets me.


If you’ve the…
size, strength and skills I’d recommend the Wenonah Encounter. It’s a dedicated expedition tripper - highly efficient hull with teriffic capacity and secondary stability that will not quit. The hull is strong, sheds rough water and in kevlar it’s 17’ weighs under 40 lbs.

It really rewards the larger paddler, for the 200+ paddler it will travel reasonably well empty but it’s characteristics really shine when it’s heavily loaded, never a burden just a craft that begs to go for distance…it’s a wonderful mistress.

Wenonah Solo Plus
I like the Wenonah Solo Plus for a big guy solo. I don’t like it at all as a tandem, but it’s a pretty good solo. If you get one, have it outfitted as a solo only, that is, only the center seat. Tell them to leave the stern and bow seats out. Good capacity. Good stability.

I paddled one of these
I am a big guy and paddled Vic’s solo plus. I have to admit it is a VERY comfortable boat. Not highly maneuverable, designed to go straight.

It is a nice boat.

Nova Bob Special
If I may make a suggestion. Since you asked about using a tandem as a solo, and since you are showing an interest in Nova Craft, I’d like to suggest the Bob Special. It is a nice weekend tandem. It is also a fine solo tripper. Sit in the bow seat backwards, gear in front of you, to paddle it solo.

I think the Prospector is too wide and floats too high to be used as a solo. I know Bill Mason used it that way, but I don’t think he represents the average paddler. Unless you want to paddle kneeling with the boat heeled over, I would go with the prospector as a solo baot.

that should be the Prospector should NOT used as a solo boat.

Hellman Canoes
Check out

The “Scout” can be built for solo paddling as opposed to tandem as shown on his website. I’m considering getting one for a 9000 kilometer coast to coast solo canoe trip across Canada.

check ‘em out.

I used to have a Nova Craft Supernova as well, nice canoe and pretty good quality.

Cheers…Joe O’

I’m 6-2 265# use a Dagger Magellin for extended stays in the BWCA. Big boat for a big guy. I can’t imagine overloading it. Big displacement. Good speed too.

lakes? rivers?
What is your primary use?

Agree with opinion about Prospector style being wide. Bill Mason kneeled next to the gunnel to paddle solo and often heeled it over to improve maneuverability. However, the Prospector is very versatile.

We bought the Mohawk Odyssey 14 for solo river tripping. Haven’t had them fully loaded, yet, but we like them so far. I’m a big mama and the boat needs more weight to settle into the water so you can get down to work. At this point I feel like I have plenty of capacity for gear. Empty, the boat rides high, but still handles well.

I paddled a RX Vagabond in wind on a lake, empty, and it was too large for me. It may be the right size for you. It’s only a few inches longer than my Odyssey 14, but the difference in handling is night and day. I got along pretty well with a composite Wildfire, but maxed it out for good performance without a load. Fun to play with as long as I don’t have to go very far.

If you share your boats or paddle with kids, Royalex will stand up to abuse. Nice not to have to worry about kids climbing all over the boat while it’s sitting on the ground. I hope to get a lightweight flatwater boat someday and will go with composite. It will be my personal boat and pampered.

In case a kayak would interest you
Check out Wes Boyd’s website for big paddlers at