Some Help with a Canoe Purchase Decision

I’ve posted prior asking for advice on my next canoe and received some really excellent guidance. I spent the last few weeks researching Nova Craft, Wenonah, Esquif, Mad River, North Star, and Old Town. I do have an OT Discovery 164 and it has been a great canoe.

I’ve really become enamored with Nova Craft. The only drawback I see is the cost. But let us not dwell on the $$. I’d like to ask and hear from the much more experienced here. It will be a buy and keep for as long as it lasts purchase. My OT 164 is from 1995 and needed new seats but otherwise excellent shape. No resale issue here. Kick that out of the equasion.

I spent some time looking at where the next decade would take me for canoe trips. Main use will be lakes and tributaries like found in the Allahash, Rangley, Moosehead, Sebago in Maine; a few trips to Boundry Waters; Algonquin in NY, and I would like to get into Canada (post COVID), specifically Quebec since it is so close and has lots of great opportunities. This is the main usage. While I won’t be seeking rapids or racing anytime I would think it realistic to run into class II every now and then, especially certain areas in high flow periods.

There will be a mix of tandem use with dogs and solo use with dogs. My dogs are 55lb and 85lbs so they need a little bit of room.

Nova Craft questions. I immediately was drawn to the Prospector 16 which was recommended by Nova but they also recommended Cronje 17. I’ll not get a chance to get any of these on the water to test out, certainly not when loaded up with a week’s worth of gear and food. So I’m blind here.

The only understanding I have is that the Prospector is more of an all arounder and more stable but creates more drag on open water? And the Cronje is smoother or faster on larger, open waters but isn’t as stable and offers less width? Maybe soneone can explain it a little better.

Material is a huge question as well. Tuff Stuff seems to be an ideal choice. What is the expected benefit of the Tuff Stuff Expedition? Is that more for those running white water above class II? Adds weight too.

I am in no rush to order and I realize chances of receiving one for the upcoming season is pretty nil. That is a ok.

Interested in your thoughts. Thanks, Sean.

There are a lot of canoe manufacturers that have produced models called Prospectors in various sizes. They can vary considerably from maker to maker but tend to have some similarity in terms of design. The Nova Craft 16 happens to be my favorite out of the Prospector models I have paddled.

If you plan to paddle solo with your dogs I think 16’ is as large as I would go. The Prospector design is more or less a jack of all trades design but more geared toward river than lake use. Prospectors tend to have tall, recurved stems that catch wind on open water. The Nova Prospector 16 could certainly handle Class II whitewater.

If you plan to use the canoe for canoe camping and tripping in the Boundary Waters or elsewhere in the northwoods where portages are the norm, I would go with one of the lighter layups and would choose the regular TuffStuff over the expedition TuffStuff. But I might also consider the Blue Steel layup if your budget allows.

I’m also looking for a new/first canoe with similar use it seems (minus the class II). One canoe I’m considering is the Esquif Huron 15’ in T-formex. They also have a 16’ you may like.

From what I understood they are basically prospectors that were lowered a bit for better lake and solo use as they catch less wind. I’m very new to this so I can’t give advice but they came up in my search and may be something to consider if you like the prospector style canoes but won’t spend much time on rivers.


Making the decision is a lot more difficult than I expected! Good luck with yours.

I have owned a lot of canoes but never a new one. I never wanted to commit to using it for 10 years. If you buy a used canoe you can always trade it. It makes purchasing easier and less stressful. If you have never paddled them, how can you make a decision?

I agree that nearly all Prospectors are all-around canoes designed to handle some rapids. The Cronje is more of a lake boat.

My first canoe, a OT Discovery 164 is still going strong some 26 years later. I expect I’ll be keeping the second canoe for as long as I can and then I hope it remains in the family with one of my kids. We are polar opposites on this issue.

How can I make a decision without paddling them…Great question. Not sure how you paddled yours before you bought used. The only real way to know would be to rent one for a trip and load it up with all your gear and go for a trip. I’d like to do just that for a few day trip I have in July on Lake Champlain. I’m hopeful but sure not holding my breath the rental place offers Nova. Chances are its Mad River or OT. And even if it is a Nova and I rent one, chances are it will not be the TuffStuff material but the PF3 laminate. It’s not so easy to do.

Alrighty! To complete the thread…

I ordered a Nova Prospector 16’ in TuffStuff, Ox Blood color, alum gunwales, web seating, no keel, and skid plates. Should be about 60lbs. My current OT Discovery is listed at about 87lbs but I hear they fudge the weight by about 10lbs at OT. A 30lb difference is pretty large. And the acompanying 2x price difference as well.

For me it sure seemed there is no “perfect” canoe for me to be able to have it all! Such is life. I felt the Prospector 16 will allow me to run trips tandem with my kids and allow me solo with the 2 dogs and gear. Delivery is late September/early October. I expected that.

I’ve never dealt with a center seat. Would it be beneficial to add the center seat option and simply remove it for tandem? Or just as efficient in the Prospector 16’ to paddle solo from the bow seat?

You can paddle from the bow seat if you have dunnage in the boat or a dog.
If you add a center seat then the center thwart has to be removed making portaging a little tougher.
Paddle it for awhile before you think of modifying it.

Yes, Sir! Paddle it first for sure.

I you really want to know, take your bathroom scale out there, weight yourself, note the number, pick up the boat and subtract.

Chuckle chuckle, I don’t know anyone who can stand on a bathroom scale holding a Disco and look down and read the scale. The best scale to weigh a Disco is the Richter Scale.

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