Tandem or Solo Canoe

What’s a good canoe or general length/width for day trips and touring weekend trips down rivers (class 2 max) as a tandem or solo canoe - probably half and half tandem and solo? Looking for poly/royalex and hoping to find used. Thanks!

One popular choice for solo/tandem is the Old Town Penobscot 16(Royalex version). The Bell Morningstar RX would be another option.

15 or 16 ft.
Shorter than 15 ft, and they tend to be either really wide canoes intended for fishing or highly rockers white water canoes for Class 3+ tripping or playboating. Longer than 16 ft, and they are tough to handle solo unless you are either really big or mainly poling instead of paddling.

Besides OT Penobscot, there’s a whole bunch of Royalex/Royalite/3-Layer Poly canoes that would likely work for you. In no particular order: Nova Craft Pal, Nova Craft Bob’s Special, Esquif Avalon, Wenonah Solo Plus, Wenonah Aurora, Mohawk Intrepid, Mohawk Odsessey 15T, Mad River Explorer, Mad River Journey, Mad River/Dagger Legend, Mad River/Dagger Reflection and anybody’s Prospector. There’s probably more.

River Touring Canoe
I would second the Morningstar and would add the Esquif Canyon or the Bell Chestnut Prospector.



We dont know your dimensions
Most small tandems are too big for shorter people.

There is no single best canoe but in the long run for most combination solo/tandem canoes do nothing well compared to true tandems or true solos.

The StarFire has become a fav among tall large paddlers as well at the Millbrook Souhegan.

The Morning Star is another good choice if you must combi.

16 ft. tandem

– Last Updated: Jun-11-12 10:58 AM EST –

I like a 15' canoe as a dedicated solo for all-around purposes from day play to wilderness trips. However, I think 15' is too short for a tandem with gear unless the couple are menehunes.

A 16' canoe can handle most tandem applications and is also quite manageable as a solo. Others have given some good recommendations above for popular and broadly market-established 16' plastic tandems (not including the Starfire or Souhegan, which are composite and niche market 15' canoes).

, and no more than 36" wide
Lots out there to choose from

15 foot is fine for two

– Last Updated: Jun-11-12 11:14 AM EST –

for up to a week. Did Quetico between 1973 and 1989 with the two of us.

We had a Grumman and could not afford another boat.

Don't discount those 15 footers for short trips in good weather where you don't need to carry a toilet. They carry more than you think. We graduated up in length eventually as the trips got longer.

The Prospectors tend to be a demanding solo in wind with their high stern sheerline.

BTW we are doing the Yukon River this summer in a sixteen foot tandem..500 miles two to three weeks Longer is not always necessary.

Penobscot 16 and…
then add a center seat for solo paddling.

Jack L

16’ MR Explorer

– Last Updated: Jun-11-12 3:19 PM EST –

I love mine. Stable and responsive, fairly light (68 pounds in Royalex/Ash), can handle quite a bit of gear, and most importantly, my nine year old feels very comfortable in it. I've only soloed it once so far, but I paddled from the bow seat and knelt on a pad for the rapids. I was exremely pleased. Paddling with passengers works well too. FWIW I'm 6' 190ish.

Oh what the hay…
I’ll chime in again just to say I’ve got an Esquif Avalon, their 16 ft Royalite “touring” canoe. Very similar to the Penobscot and the Explorer. I paddle it solo from a center kneeling thwart all the time and tandem with my kids as well. Lovely canoe, in every sense. I suspect that Penebscots and Explorers are more plentiful on the used market, but if you come across an Avalon you should give it a look.