The right solo canoe for me ??

-- Last Updated: Feb-12-05 8:57 PM EST --

Hello folks. I am about 160 lbs. , 5ft 8 in. tall, and I am
re/searching for a solo canoe that I can handle. I have limited experience in an actual solo canoe. However I consider my self an experienced paddler of some 25-30 yrs. I can fairly confidently handle tandem canoes solo, loaded or empty, on flatwater or white water and my intended use would be for both. Lightness is necessary as my aging back and body are not into carrying much. I would use this solo for daytripping as well as well as extended wilderness voyageuring.
Any and all comments and critiques based in actual experience are welcome.

Thank You All
Sincerely George T

Thank You for Your prompt replies. And yes I will check them all out. That is on the internet.
About the only canoe I can check out up here is the Swift canoes. They come to the trade shows in Toronto regularly.

This is a great website. Much appreciated by me. There is no substitute for actual experience. And there seem to be a lot of folks with it on this site.!!

George T

14 ft. Clipper Prospector
When you say …

“I would use this solo for daytripping as well as well as extended wilderness voyageuring.”

… I think of the 14 ft. Clipper Prospector (made by Western Canoeing in British Columbia) with a Northwater spray cover.

Why … well, it’s short and deep … so it can be used loaded for extreme trips (has 1.5" rocker and a decent shallow arch) and for daytripping. If it’s windy when wanting to just day trip, throw in 40 lbs of ballast (a waterbag both fore and aft, but not too near the ends) and use the spray cover to mitigate the windage of it’s high profile. You’ll be able to control a shorter length (14’) canoe better given your size.

Also, you said you wanted it to be light, so any of their kevlar lay-ups would work … the toughest being their expedition duraflex. Even if you load it up with options, it will probably come in at less than 50 lbs.

Wildfire, Osprey
For your size and inteded uses you ought to look at the Bell Wildfire and the Swift Osprey . I think they would both handle class II fine. II+ might be getting out of their range. Others will chime in with thoughts on that probably. As I’m sure you’ve read, if you’re looking for one boat to do both flat and white water you are looking at some compromise.

If you are fairly new to solos, be sure to give yourself some adjustment time. I’d solo paddled tandems for years and found solos pretty twitchy at first. You get used to it and then get spoiled to the responsiveness.

The ease of handling, loading and unloading of solos is wonderful especially for us folk with back troubles.

Here are some boats to take look at
Bell - Merlin II, Magic

Swift - Osprey

Hemlock - Peregrine, SRT

Wenonoh - Prism

Be prepared for hull fever.
Welcome to solo canoeing George. I discovered solo canoes three years ago, and don’t care if I ever get in another tandem.

You and I are the same dimensions, and paddle about the same sort of water, except I rarely get on whitewater. My canoes, in order of purchase, are a Merrimack Baboosic, Bell Wildfire in Royalex, Blackhawk Zephyr, and Bell Merlin II in whitegold. I like them all the best, depending upon where I am going paddling. For lake paddling I prefer the Merlin II, for rivers the Wildfire. The Zephyr is great for playing in my local pond, and the Baboosic is great for a leisurely Sunday morning on the lake. I have not tripped in any of them, but intend to use the Wildfire next spring on a Missouri River trip or two. If I were to pick one to keep as an all around canoe it would be the Wildfire.

Canoes are like children–you love them all, even though they often are quite different. If resources permit, part of the fun of solo canoeing is choosing the next one. I’d really like to find a Wenonah Prism or Advantage to round out my fleet. Good luck to you as you deliberate on your first solo.

solo canoe
Check out the SpitFIRE from Placid Boatworks at

I picked up a Swift Osprey in October. I’ve only had it out a few times so these are first impressions.

It is very responsive. Really jumps to the paddle. Seems reasonably fast and easy to maintain a good pace. Responds quite nicely to a J stroke. I’ve tried to hit & switch but find I’m switching within two or three strokes. I’m 190+ lbs, 5’ 10". Mostly I’ve been paddling with less than 10 lbs of gear.

Last time I had it out I picked up about 30 lbs of trash someone left at a camp site. The boat actualy felt a little better with the extra weight.

Pics of the boat in action are here.

And here.

Thanks for sharing the photos Tommy. Good looking paddling spots and a fine looking canoe.

The right solo for me !

Great photo albums Tommy. Were You sponsored by Swift(just joking)! Actually really good/excellent.

So, how does Your experience loaded on a river in rapids add up, using the Osprey? How much do You weigh/height/total weight of canoe/gear/and Yourself etc…!!

Any idiosyncracies You care to mention that I should be aware of?

Thank You for the reply

George Tsapoitis

Like I said, I’ve only had the boat out a few times.

Never had it in rapids or with a big load.

It firms up nicely on a lean. Makes me think it will be good in moderate whitewater. Certainly not as manuverable as a playboat but a whole lot nicer on the flats.

The sliding seat doesn’t have any locking mechanism. Be nice if it did.

Swift Osprey
I am 5-10, weigh 160 lbs, and paddle a Swift Osprey. I have used it for day trips on rivers, the local canal, and some salt water, as well as three-day canoe-camping trips. I have had it out in strong winds, but never whitewater. In all conditions, this boat handles remarkably well with a combination of pretty good tracking and excellent maneuverability. The Osprey is able to go effortlessly whereever I tell it to go. It seems extremely seaworthy and can handle much more than I have given it. I hope to provide greater challenges this coming year.

My only reservations about this boat are skid plates that came installed. Definitely try to get it without (see posts elsewhere on this topic). The Osprey is also a bit heavy for a solo boat at 50 lbs in the layup I got. You can get it a bit lighter for a whole lot more $$$.

I have a Vagabond. They are 14.5 feet long. I love mine for fishing on local rivers and lakes. If I intended to do some trips I would go larger. However, I needed a canoe to do many things well, not one thing really well. Mine is a tuff weave and weighs in at about 45 pounds. For what you are talking about I would look at the new Argosy. It is the same length but has more rocker to help deal with the WW. I have heard many great things about the wildfire as well. I have never paddled one though.