Solo Tripping Canoe for river travel.

-- Last Updated: Jan-05-05 2:58 PM EST --

I've read about the Prospector and Wenonah's Rendezvous but are there others you would reccommend from day tripping to 2-4 days of river travel? Or is the Rendezvous and Prospector as good as it gets? I'll add I'm no expert but would like to do class I-II and maybe some "easy" III's.

I’ve owned a bunch of solo canoes in my life. For river travel I’ll take my Bell Yellowstone Solo. I have fun in II’s & lower III’s. It tracks fair and has reasonale speed. Last Fall I friend & I did a 4 day trip. He had a Merlin II. Crossing windy lakes and no problem for either canoe and the Yellowstone Solo was just as fast as the Merlin II in the wind-blown waves.

Check out the Mohawk line of solos. Less expensive than the big names but great boats for gunkholing around.

Great people to do business with.

Bell Yellowstone
Formerly Wildfire (ABS). Is a great small river/creek runner. Personally I don’t like how it paddles loaded with a bunch of gear for tripping (Dave and I disagree on this point). But running light I think it’s great. At 6’2” & 190 lbs (+/-) & with small to medium sized packs it does just about everything I ask of it. I spend at least 50 to 60 days a year paddling and my ABS Wildfire is by far my most used canoe for day trips.

As a long distance tripper I prefer my Swift Shearwater. It carries a huge pile of gear and is pretty darn maneuverable for a 16 footer. It’s not as maneuverable as the Wildfire to be sure, but it carries “tonnage” much better. It actually handles better with a good load IMHO.

Both of the above canoes have differential rocker which helps them track straight with little effort. But differential rocker also has the down-side of a “sticky stern” and I’m a little weary of that at this point… I’ve come to appreciate “looser” canoes of late.

Jose mentioned Mohawk and what a pleasure those people are to deal with. I’ll second that comment. My dealings with Mohawk are second to none. As to their canoes, I’ve paddled an older Royalex 16 foot tandem a few times (don’t know which model) and found it acceptable, not a bad boat for the price. I’ve put many, many miles on a Mohawk Solo 14 and find it more maneuverable than my ABS Wildfire and its secondary stability is outstanding. Makes a darn good freestyle boat and as Jose said a good gunkholer. With its blunt bow it’s a real slug speed-wise though… I don’t know what it’s like loaded with gear… but logic would suggest it’s not a good tripper. If I were considering a Mohawk solo for tripping I think I’d have a look at the Odyssey.

Nova Craft Supernova
Maybe I haven’t paddled a Wildfire/Yellowstone enough yet, but for now, I enjoy the Supernova more. To me it is more comfortable, has better secondary stability, turns better, is a better kneeler, has more volume, and is just about as fast.

I don’t remember seeing a comparison of WF/YS and Supernova on the board.

Tripping ???
Not sure I belong to this planet.

Trips I know are from 2 to 3 weeks depending about weather.

My best solo was an Old Town Appalachian.

You won’t find rivers that long in GA or
much of the SE. Even the longer rivers could be done in a week to ten days. (Example: down the Ocmulgee from Lake Jackson, and then down the Altamaha to the coast.)

I have a Mad River Guide which, packed carefully, would be enough boat for six nights on the San Juan in Utah, including the class 1-2-2+ rapids. When I did that trip, though, I used my Mad River Synergy, a WW “tandem.” It did fine in the wind and was more fun for playing than the Guide.

Merlin II

– Last Updated: Jan-05-05 6:26 PM EST –

I was under the impression the Bell Merlin was more of a lake canoe. I've demo'd it a couple of times but never seriously considered it for ww. How would the white gold hold up to rocks, etc which go along with rapid water, a concern for me? I also demo'd the Wildfire [Yellowstone] and have a very similar design in a wood/canvas canoe but I don't want to take it down ww at this time. The Yellowstone may be an option but I think I'd like a 'bigger", maybe more stable canoe.The Mohawks and Hemlock canoes are hard to come-by out here [oregon]. What about Clipper's? I believe I've seen Nova Craft advertised somewhere. Anyone paddle a Rendezvous?

not a Merlin II
I’ve owned some of these boats and put quite a few hours on rivers and lakes.

I have to disgaree with Dave T that a Yellowstone can match a Merlin II on a windy lake…a Merlin II has a big big edge over a Wildfire and a Wildfire has a tiny tiny edge over a Yellowstone. I’ve driven both a Merlin II and a Wildfire into big winds many times. The Wildfire is always easy to paddle and always responds to a paddle stroke, but the stroke will not drive you forward nearlya s far as same power put to a Merlin. But the Merlin II is NOT a river boat - even though it works great in many river conditions…while the Wildfire actually seems to get calmer and calmer as the water gets faster and faster. The Merlin won’t turn on a dime like a real river boat and fast current will push it around when a real river boat still responds to the paddle.

I don’t like the Rendezvous because the handling is not nearly as smooth and predictable as many other boats. Mine was Royalex. It tried to spit me and the dog out once or twice.

Any Prospector should be great for downriver use. Great capacity and handling and dryness. Not the best efficiency.

An SRT would be great. A Bell Yellowstone or Wildfire might be even more fun if your total load was under about 250…and the lighter you are, the more you should lean towards a Wildfire versus an SRT.

You can order a Bell with a sprayskirt if you like, which might be useful if you get into serious whitewater.

A Swift Osprey would also be a great choice for you…again if your total load was under 250…and the Osprey is best if the load is under about 225 (in my opinion).

Mad River Guide is also perfectly capable of doing a great job for what you want. I admire this boat but it turns so well it makes me a little dizzy.

Overall you can’t go wrong for value and performance with the Bell Yellowstone if your weight fits the boat.

Just my two cents.

well in my opionion if you want the best solo boat, get the one built by the man who traveled more than anyone on the world. Verlen Krugers company builds the toughest and best solo expedition canoes around.

I used one this summer during a solo 6-month trip from st. louis to tthe pacific following lewis and clarks trail. Its not a traditional boat but one designed for comfort and effieciency which traditional crafts dont do well

my trip at


I’m anywhere from 190-200lbs depending on the time of year : >]. The Yellowstone may be on the cusp for me. I’ve never paddled a Prospector but the Wenonah model is a possibility. Any Clipper paddlers out there?


not to belittle
Not taking anyhting away from Verlen Kruger, his Sea Wind design or your epic journey, but the Kruger canoes are built for expeditionary tripping. I feel they are overkill in construction and price for the type of paddling most people do day to day.

Mowhawk Odyssey
Mowhawk will ship to your area and has an excellent record of getting them there in good shape. Unless you know of someone who has one to test paddle, you will be buying without trying. We actually did that and it’s the best thing we’ve done in a while. As others have said, Mowhawk is great to deal with.

The boat is an SUV of solos. I’ve had 300lbs. in it and it handled great. Bebops thru class II with me in the sitting position. (I have it set up pretty much like a kayak.)It handled well in 40mph wind with a kayak paddle. The hubby uses a single blade and kneels in his and gets along fine. With the double blade, I keep up with tandem river trippers. It’s not fast on flat water, but is a nice ride on a river.

If you’re out in the Pacific NW
… as I am, you’re choices for demoing boats is fairly limited to Bell’s, Wenonah’s and Clippers. Since no one else has mentioned it, you might look at the 14 foot Prospector made by Clipper. Their kevlar duraflex lay-ups have served well on amazingly arduous (dragging over ice for miles!) trips throughout Canada and the small Prospecter (with a skirt) is featured in one of their website articles (Arctic Land Expedition). The canoe so so deep, it has 10 inches freeboard at a tripping weight of 300 lbs. Moderately arched and rockered, deep and tough … it’s description and history makes it sound like a highly competent river tripping solo (esp. with a cover!).

Merlin I I & Wildfire
There is no doubt the the Merlin II is faster than the Yellowstone Solo. What I said is the Yellowstone Solo got across the wind-swept lakes as faster if not faster than the Merlin II…but this was very wavy condition will 1-2 mile crossings. BTW, we also paddled some I’s & II’s and the Merlin II in black/gold did fine…almost got wrapped once but the paddler saved it. Hull was scratched but fine at the end of the trip.

Search for a good canoe?
I enjoyed The Old Town Appalacian ( Royalex 16 feet ).

No way, I’am an expert, this canoe is my best, may be, cuz I know little about other canoes.

Sure, I know much better about partners.

Solo tripping canoe
I have owned a Bell MerlinII, Mad River Indie and a Swift Osprey. The Osprey is my hands down favorite and is very nimble on rivers. Better speed than a Yellowstone, wonderful secondary stability, good capacity. Dry ride with lots of flare in the hull. Mohawkk 14 is another possible.

thanks Dave
Don’t mean to debate you fella.

My Merlin II is also black gold and has handled many tough river situations for me, and mine too has taken just tons of abuse on rocks…I’ve been pinned against rocks more than once in current strong enough to make me wonder - what now? But the Merlin always pulls me through. Both the Merlin and the Wildfire are super versatile for sure!

you’d still fit!
Not sure what the weight of your packs and gear would be, but I think you’d still fit into a Yellowstone or Wildfire quite well. I go 180-190 and without the dog my load is light for these boats…but I do almost 100% day paddles so I don’t bring much gear.

My Wildfire was very noticeably better for cruising with the dog’s extra weight…it gave up a touch of acceleration but the acceleration is so effortless that losing a touch doesn’t matter, but gaining glide and cruising capability is really nice. Wildfires like to have some weight in them.

You can’t go wrong with a Wildfire or Yellowstone or Swift Osprey in my opinion.