-- Last Updated: May-27-07 10:59 PM EST --

Greetings. Sorry if this has been asked just under a million times, but as a beginner I guess part of paying my dues is going through the "dumb question stage".
My son bought an Old Town Guide 14 today and I helped him (father's rights) out with it this afternoon. We chose the Guide for both price, weight, life span and advertised stability.
I am very surprised as to how "tipsy" it feels to me. Before my wife and I go out and also buy our own canoe, could you recommend a model that is:

a. Affordable, meaning not hand assembled in Switzerland by devoted monks of the canoe faith. Under $1,000.
b. Light enough to be carried by a middle age man without the use of either slaves or an all terrain crane. Under 70 lbs.
c. Stable enough to cast a fishing pole, or yard a lab back on board without running through two rosaries and three hail Mary's. To be used on lakes, and up to class II.
d. Will hold up well enough for the occasional bump on the rocks and ultra violet degradation.

Thanks for the input. I'm sure I just opened up a can of "Ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge" worms, but I have to start somewhere. The obvious solution would be to rent one of each model and try them out, but there are not many rental shops around here that have canoes let alone different models.


A couple of suggestions:
I won’t give advice because I too am a newbie. But I know what people will ask you so here are some things for you to add:

1.) “Affordable” is relative. What’s your budget, or at least what is the max you’re willing to spend?

2.) Most important, where are you going to canoe? Whitewater, fast rivers, slow rivers, flat water (lakes), big water (waves and wind).

3.) Will it always just be you and wife, or are you planning on a third passenger occassionally or regularly?

I’m sure there will be more questions from the “experts” but this will give them a basic understanding of what you’re looking for . . . .

Good luck, don’t forget the PFD’s and paddle safely . . . .

The Grumman 17’ is about all I can think of that matches your needs. They are great canoes (though clearly not the “best” canoes for any one task)

If you remove the UV light, lots of used Royalex boats would also qualify.

If you remove the UV and weight restrictions, Poly is just fine.

Look for something a bit longer. Maybe a Wenonah Adirondack would fit the bill.

Swiss monks need to make a living too, cut them some slack!

canoe thoughts

– Last Updated: May-28-07 7:20 AM EST –

Under 70 pounds and under $1,000 gives you a pretty limited selection of new canoes. You'll have a much better chance if you also look at used boats.

If you really want stability, consider the Sportspal:

There is no easy way to get an adult Lab back into a canoe. It's safer to just have him follow you to shore. It also might tire him out enough that he won't do it again.

Do you mean standing up to cast, or casting from a seated position?

When you mention UV resistance, does that mean you'll be storing it outside uncovered, or are you just concerned about exposure with normal use?

If two people are going to be fishing, don't even think about anything shorter than 16 feet. Dueling rods does not make for a relaxed day on the water.

The perceived stability of any canoe can be improved by lowering the seats.

Most boats miraculously become more stable as you spend more time in them.

Stability is relative. The Guide is rock-solid compared to many canoes. I comfortably fish from a 22" wide sea kayak, so I'm probably not a good one to give advice.

Borrow your son’s boat
and take it out solo a few times. What feels tippy when you first try it might feel untippable after a few trips on the water. Then go demo some longer boats for yourself and your wife.

I have a Chevy and a Ford,…
and neither one is tippy, but I would keep away from the Dodge!

Boats don’t tip people tip them.

With all of your questions I suggest that you go to various rental places and try different ones out.

Why not post your profile, and then some kind person that lives not too far from you might let you try one of their boats.

On the “Lab”. since you are a new paddler I strongly suggest that you leave it at home until you become proficient at some “saving braces”, or you will both be doing a lot of swimming.

All this does not help you too much, but your criteria is what every new paddler is looking for, and there is not too much out there that will satisfy all your needs.



Strangely, nearly all canoes get to
feeling quite stable if you just live with them for a few months.

Our first canoe was quite tippy, though it had tremendous final stability, and we had no problem with our toddlers clambering around from side to side.

I still recall a magazine article on fly fishing from a canoe. The guy was routinely standing up in a Mad River Horizon, a rather fast non-bargy tripper.

About two weeks ago I saw two guys fly fishing in a Mad River. One standing and poling and the other standing and casting. I just hung out and watched in amazement for about 20 minutes.

A given canoe becomes more stable with use. It is not the canoe that changes to make it more stable.

Really you have to use the canoe with frequency as well as purposely tip it over to gain confidence.

Your using a different combination of muscles in a new canoe and until you establish, ‘muscle memory’ you will not feel comfortable.

Marketing and sales point to hull design and dimensions to show brand X is more stable than brand Y. Unless you get into a racing hybrid hull most boats are in the same ballpark re stablity if you consider that the human body is the gyroscope.

Can’t go wrong with a used Old town Penobscot or Mad River Malecite. Many other good boats and brands. Best to buy used for the first few boats until you establish how and where you like to use your canoe.

If you get some wide beamed slug that weighs more than 60 something #s you will rarely use the boat and have wasted your $$. However, there are a lot of such boats in use and their owners are probably satisfied.

Wondering about the trim…
I can’t help but wonder about whether you had the canoe in proper trim when it felt tipsy. Since the Guide 147 is less than 15’, trim is important.

I have assisted my 80 pound dog back into my 14’ OT Stillwater a couple of times, and my paddling partner needs to do a balancing act to make this work. If that is what you will be doing, a SOT kayak will facilitate this feat much better, as it is closer to the water and without high sides. I have done this with the dog, too, and it is much easier. Maybe better suited all around. Good luck!

old town osprey 155
is a good solid boat and does well on low class rivers. I fish out of one all the time and use it for overnight trips on the buffalo river in arkansas. It is very responsive when loaded and tracks pretty well with two paddlers

Yes and no.
True, all canoes will be more “stable” when you get used to them. However, some narrow racing-inspired canoes will never be as stable as a wider, flatter bottomed canoe. Typically canoes marketed at fishermen aren’t great for cruising/touring, but are good for being a stable casting platform.

Length and width both add to the stability.

Test paddling works well, and buying used is often a great way to go. For under $1000, you have to compromise on something (weight, durability, or new/used). New/used seems like the best bang/buck, as, unlike Fords, Chevys and Dodges, canoes have no moving parts and are pretty easy to inspect for condition.

Tip: Don’t lift the lab into the canoe. Let it get its front legs over, then hold its head down (hand on back of head) allowing it the leverage needed to lift its rear legs over. Do this while you are kneeling, and be prepared for when it re-enters (will jump to the other side of the canoe, requiring you to lean to the side on which the lab entered).

Tipsy Guide?
You aren’t likely to find a canoe much steadier than the 38" wide Guide.


Thanks for all your observations and suggestions. I have yet to find a rental place that is under 150 miles away from my home, so what I wanted to do in going out and renting a few different models is pretty much out. I’ll go out a few times on our farm pond and see how it goes from there. I understand the “getting used to it” stage of the game so perhaps I just need more time.

On another note:

Between the Old Town Guide 147 and 160, is the 160 any more stable than the 147 with two people? I realize that there is a weight difference, but if it means better stability for casting and the occasional ducks I’ll put up with it.

Thanks again for your help.


147 vs 160
The 160 should be a bit more stable due to the increased beam and length.

Enough more to make you comfortable? That’s a question only you can answer.