The 5 best canoes

Has anyone seen this? Is it just me or is this way off base?
It is rating the 5 best canoes:

"BestReviews is majority owned by Tribune Publishing (NASDAQ:TPCO), which operates newsrooms in 9 markets with titles including the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, The Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel, South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel, Virginia’s Daily Press and Virginian-Pilot, The Morning Call of Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Hartford Courant. "

Fake news.


Fake news is a great assessment of the value of the reviews of the 5 “best canoes”.

Just for grins; take a look at the photos of the 3 young ladies who prepared the reviews.
I seriously doubt that any of them even paddled the 5 “best canoes” and would guesstimate all 3 of them put together have never owned 5 of any type of canoe. Furthermore,I doubt that any of the 3 could correctly identify port, starboard, bow, stern, freeboard, rocker, gunwale, thwart, decking,painter, spray cover, kneeling thwart, or saddle on a canoe.

Since the 5 picked are “the best”; what would be the position of the following canoes???
Bell Wildfire
Bell Merlin
Bell Flashfire
Dagger Caption
Dagger Ocoee
Mad River ME
Mohawk Probe 12
Mohawk Probe 12 II
Mohawk Odyssey
Mohawk Solo 13
Mad River Guide
Mad River Outrage
Curtis Dragonfly
Hemlock SRT
Swift Osprey
Chestnut Pal
Chestnut Prospector
Old Town Canadienne
Blackhawk Starship
Blackhawk SS Special
Blackhawk Zephyr
Lotus Dandy
Lotus Caper

I suggest that the ladies get some scoop shovels, scoop up their mess, put it in a wheelbarrow, and haul that crap elsewhere.

What a crock!



Yep. Looks like a paid ad disguised as a legit review.

It’s obviously a money-making advertisement. From their website: “We only make money if you purchase a product through our links”. And so to maximize sales they choose “the best picks for most consumers”.


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yes. It’s obvious that several of the big outdoor companies paid to have their product listed. Sad because the average reader might think this is a legitimate list.

Okay Jester, I’ll bite! Aside from the obvious Best 5 from the article (can’t argue those because they spent “thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers”), I’ll put my next 5 in order!

In no particular order:
Wenonah Minnesota II - great touring/tripping boat. Large capacity, lots of speed, available light weight. My choice for covering distances in a tandem.
Mad River Explorer - good all-around hull. Stable, maneuverable in decent whitewater yet not a dog on flat water. I prefer the older Royalex versions, but the mid-80s kevlars are great too.
Kruger Seawind -classic for the long haul!
Dagger Ocoee - I think still the best solo whitewater hull out there. Small enough and maneuverable enough to be fun on Class II-III, but can handle Class V when you want it.
Sawyer Summersong - I had to include a Sawyer, and this is my choice for leisurely flatwater solo paddles. Not the fastest or the slowest, but comfortable with good adjustability to fit a wide range of paddlers. Good stability and capacity, and still has decent speed.

I’d love to hear some more opinions on this!

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A few more missing here. For tandem, I still think that there are few better than a Sawyer Cruiser 17’9". For solo Whitewater the Dagger Rival fits near the top. For solo moderate tripping (not where you need a Sea Wind) the Mad River Independence is right up there.

I do have a question on Jesteer’s list. My memory says the the ME was a Mad River boat. Whitewater tandem for sane people as opposed to the MR Howler that used to live in my garage.

You are correct rival51 regarding the ME being a Mad River.
I made my list in the early morning hours, and in a rush to finish it before I crashed.

Mad River or Dagger; it’s a good boat, and beats hell out of most boats on the "top 5
BS list).

Never owned one, but have paddled a Rival a couple of times; loved it.
Tried to buy one on a couple of occasions, but seller overpriced it, or it was too damaged for my taste.

Kruger Seawind: Way more boat that I ever needed, or will ever need.
I’m a flat water to class 3 paddler; don’t do expeditions, where the Seawind excels, according to everything I know about it.

I have also previously owned both an Autumn Mist, and a Summersong; thought both were decent tripping canoes, and both beat anything remotely related to tripping on the (Top 5/BS list).


I almost put a Cruiser on my list. I’ve put many miles on one and enjoyed them all! The Independence is also a great boat. I went with the Ocoee over the Rival because I think it’s a little more of a high performance boat. It’s definitely not as forgiving with it’s hard chines, but it is quick and agile. It was a great slalom OC1 and was great for tight technical runs. Maybe not the first choice for a lot of people for big water, but as a relatively small paddler it was still great for me. I only paddled in a Howler once. I would like to get in one again!

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I do agree with you on the Ocoee but the Rival was a better choice for me and, it is great for multi-day self supported runs.

The Howler is currently living in Charlotte NC. It’s an amazing solo canoe but I think that my brother-in-law & I were a bit heavy for it (guesstimated long after the fact at maybe 400 - 420 for the two of us). I’m thinking that it is better at 300 - 350 lbs.

Running the stupid line at Lesser Wesser:

Don’t forget Savage River. Their Susquehanna is at the top of my list.

Oh the position would be upside down if they tried paddling any of them

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Flatwater solo the Bell Wildfire wins hands down, but my “if you can only have one solo boat” it would be the royalex Yellowstone Solo. Whitewater solo I’m doing my best to transition into a MR Outrage (wood gunnels), but I am finding it to be a bit of a transition from my Dagger Impluse. I like my Wenonah Spirit II for flatwater/tripping as long as there are not too many rocks. My royalex tandem is Mohawk Whitewater 16 - tough boat and OK for poling, but it is a beast if you need to portage. For an all-around tandem I think you have to put the MR Explorer near the top.


Had a very good laugh when I read about your"transition from Dagger Impulse to Mad River Outrage.
That is a transition that will likely requires quite a lot of seat time, and patience…

Big old “tubby” Impulse had rock solid secondary stability.
Outrage is more than a little twitchy, but if you are successful; you’ll have a damn nice whitewater solo. Stick the Outrage’s bow 2 foot into an eddy, and prepare to be spun around 180 degrees. Peeling out of an eddy into strong current was always an adventure.

Believe it or not, when I was using my Outrage X, I stumbled upon a heck of a deal on an Outrage. $600.00, fully outfitted, wood trim, and everything in near new condition. First owner couldn’t deal with it, and the “wanna be whitewater warrior” threw up his hands in frustration, and gave up his whitewater fantasies.

I sprung the 600 to buy the Outrage real quick, before others tried to jump on that deal. I thought I’d recoup my money selling my Outrage X; pretty sure I could have gotten 700 for it. A few trips on some class II+ & low level class III, and more than a few fish counts later; I decided the Outrage X suited me “just fine”.

I kept it, and resold the Outrage (with a good profit) to a guy from down south. He already had an Outrage, but the one he owned had vinyl trim, and he lusted after a wood trimmed Outrage. I helped fulfill his need… He drove a heck of a lot of miles to pick it up, and was happy as a clam to give me my asking price to get it. Never heard how that played out?

I have enclosed a photo of a highly skilled, very young, paddler who had his Outrage figured out, and under control. Someone would have had to pay me to try

to stand up in one; he did it “just for fun”. Great kid; fun paddling companion. His brother, standing in the red canoe (an old Dagger I think), and his sister in a purple Outrage also had outstanding paddling skills; especially being as young as they were.



Best canoe for me is a 17+ foot Alumacraft. It carries like a tank, handles like a boat (not as much of a compliment when describing a canoe as you’d think), looks pretty rough, and was too wide to fit on the car I had when I got it, but it was my first canoe and that’s gotta count for something. Plus my kids couldn’t tip it over if they tried. Now that I work for Sanborn/Merrimack I’ve got a bunch of other options when I go paddling, but I’ll always have a soft spot for where I started.

I reckon most lists are limited by those canoes the lister has paddled which certainly cannot be all, so take with a grain of salt. I’m a solo paddler and I like:

  1. for lakes or truly flat water, a Bell Merlin II
  2. for twisty creeks Class I or less, the Colden (once Bell) Wildfire
  3. for WW Dagger Rival or Outrage

John, agree with Wildfire designation. Wins “most fun flatwater hull that can handle moving water” category. As close to a do it all as I have come after paddling or owning about 45 solos. Nice to see you post!

Steve, great to hear from you. I bought my first Bell Wildfire canoe from you around 1996 or 97. Seems to me that Ted Bell painted it an extra bright white for you. I’ve never seen that white on a Bell since. It had Cherry wood rails and was beautiful. I can’t even guess how many miles it has on it by now.

Keep the open side up.

I must be loosing it Bob - its was an Encore, not an Impluse. Still a transition to the Outrage.