Souris River Canoes

Souris River canoes seem to have a strong following in the BWCA but seem to be unheard of and rarely seen here on the east coast. No local dealers,no brochures, and a rather generic website that lacks detail on hull design,rocker…the details that most people spending $2000 dollars or more tend to want to know. Whats the deal,are they as good as BWCA trippers think? Will they ever seek or gain market share in other parts of the country? Your opinions please.

They are even better than that!!! Best
at what they are made for. There are lots of us around that have 'em. We used to talk about them a lot. Guess we all talked ourselves right outta words. Now we just go and do. ;^)

Go check out this sites product reviews and see for yourself.

Happy Paddl’n!



Souris River Boats
I believe that their reputation is generally good. Carl’s Paddlin in Madison WI used to sell them and still may (

I have a Jensen Solo 16 (not lised in current catalog) and I like it a lot. It’s 16 feet and 29 pounds with aluminum trim and it’s a missle. I paid something like $1325 for it new and this was the lightest lay-up.

I like the boat a lot…I would not sell it.

But - the finish IS a bit crude…and one of the selling points was value, and the other big feature is that their boats tend to be both light and quite tough.

I’ve also seen enough Wenonahs over the years to comment that their quality control may not be best in industry either.

I’d like to try their Quetico 16 just because I’d like to know how well it paddles, since I would not mind having a 42 pound tandem that’s tough with good capacity and versatility.

There really are plenty of great boats out there so if you pan to keep it forever just find one you like a lot and grab it. Canoe resale value is pretty fickle no matter what you buy.

And the Wenonah vs non-Wenonah decision often comes down to how much you value maneuverability…Wenonahs like to go straight and fast so for covering miles they may be hard to beat.

My opinions
I own several wilderness tripping canoes including a Souris River Jensen Huron 18 (an extinct model) in their epoxy flexible rib layup. I’ve had this boat for 5 seasons and have have put a lot of miles on it including about 750 miles of wilderness travel mostly in the Quetico. It’s my favorite tandem. I bought it over the Wenonah’s at the time because it because of it’s speed, paddling efficiency, and it had a very special sporty feel to it that I didn’t find in a Minnesota II. The boat is in great shape, I store it in the garage, I use 303, I don’t do crunch landings with this or any kevlar canoe, and I expect to use this boat a long time yet.

But Souris River has phased out the Gene Jensen performance canoe designs. My opinion is their line is now primarily based on being functional for flatwater tripping and being a user freindly canoe for a wide variety of paddling experience levels. Their Quetico line does wilderness flatwater tripping chores extremely well and most any paddler will have no problems handling these canoes.

If I were again shopping for a wilderness tripper, I’d still be looking for that very special feel in a canoe that gives it a personal paddling performance edge over another manufacturer’s product. You gotta try them first!

Wenonah maneuverability
This is a bit off the original topic, but Wenonah makes a range of canoes. Not all of them are go straight go fast boats. For whatever reason, folks tend to stereotype the Wenonahs. A quick look at their product line will show you that their designs are more varied than many folks would have you believe.

As for the Souris Rivers, the only one I’ve paddled was a Quetico 16 set up as a solo. I liked it.

For both gelcoated and non-gelcoated boats, using 303 or a marine polish with good UV protection will do a lot to keep the boat looking good, and will help it to last longer than it would otherwise. Canoes are like anything else. Good maintenance is well worth the time spent doing it.

a little topic shift: epoxy clear coat
If you use the proper type of clear coat on top of epoxy, then you’ll get the UV protection of a poly gel coat. But it’s not as cheap as gel coat.

Example: System Three sells a clear coat in their line of paints. Use the clear caot with the cross-link additive, and it’s rock hard. But like with gel coat, deep scratches need attention.

Best bet is to store your boat in the shade if possible.

Now back to your regularly scheduled discussion.

Epoxy/Souris River/Helman
I toured Souris River Canoes production facility. They really are tougher than any comparable composite boat. Ultimately, any sort of foam core will dimple, crease, and be harder to repair than SRC’s epoxy layup. If you are looking for an epoxy canoe in a different style, check out Helman canoes on the West coast. Another tough composite is Western Canoeing’s prospector layups which are ribless. They even make a “duraflex” layup for whitewater.

I wonder, though, if a composite boat would work as well as royalex where rocks are inevitable. They just aren’t as slippery.

Not sure what you mean by slippery.
I have found any of my composite boats which has an S-glass or E-glass outer coat to slide over anything as easily as do my Royalex boats. The difference comes when the boat is no longer truly sliding, but is actually grinding under high force. Even then, a glass hull will often “slide” and may not be gouged very deeply. The Royalex hull is likely to develop permanent dents in the outer ABS layer, and will also lose a lot of vinyl.