Top three Canoe manufactures

Looking for peoples opinions of who they think the top three canoe manufactures are.

Easy one…

– Last Updated: Mar-09-08 6:19 PM EST –

Ah' like de small shops...

Hemlock, Placid an' Swift... ok one more - Bell.

Fer de big guys probably Old Town (still make some decent boats, IE: Tripper, Appalachian, Penobscot), NovaCraft, Wenonah an' Esquif. Funny why ah' didn't mention MR (Confluence!)

Ya, ah' rekon's dats more than 3.... wuzn't too good at cypherin' in reform school.

Fat Elmo

size or quality of hulls?
Pelican is probobly the biggest , then Old town and then Wenonah. quality general manufactures are wenonah then Oldtown. speciality hulls is where it gets tough.


Savage river

Grasse river


Placid boat works



Then a host of other small seciality manufacters Like






why? NM

Can’t answer question as stated.
Do you mean in terms of sales volume? Variety of products in their line? Quality of construction? Performance on the water?

Tops how?
I hear good things about wenonah, but they have nothing that appeals to me.The WW Mohawks appeal to me, but without a distributorship, I’m not ordering sight unseen. Typical p-net troll?

Buying canoe
My reason for this question is that I am going to be purchacing another canoe and am having a hard time making up my mind. I am looking for an all round river canoe. Old town is an easy choice because they are so popular around here, I already have a 17.4 discovery. I have never really paddled anything else so I am a bit in the dark when it comes to other brands.

a lot of potentially good info here

– Last Updated: Mar-10-08 8:30 AM EST –

... but you need to ask the right question and give some info about yourself.

Here are some suggestions:

What kind of water will you honestly paddle 90% of the time?

What kind of water do you hope to be able to paddle the other 10% of the time?

How tall are you?

How much do you weigh?

How strong and fit are you for lifting purposes?

What kind of paddling have you done? (this is a skill level question)

If you are thinking tandem, how much does your partner weigh?

What is you budget?

Where are you located?


Doing it backwards

– Last Updated: Mar-10-08 8:42 AM EST –

Well by starting with the brand you're you're doing it backwards.

Start with figuring out what you are looking for in a canoe. What kind of paddler are you? Novice, intermediate or expert?. Where will you be doing most of your paddling? Large lakes? Smaller ponds? Quiet rivers? Small streams? Some whitewater? Do you paddle mostly alone, or with a partner? Will you be doing mostly day trips, or overniters? Or a mix of both? Will you be fishing a lot? Got a dog you bring along? Kids? Will you be carrying a load? How much do you (and your partner) weigh?

Answer those questions and you'll narrow things down to a few types of canoes to target. Once you've done that, then you start looking at the various manufacturers who make those kinds of canoe.

More info
When it comes right down to it I feel that the prospector would suit my needs, now I have to figure out who offers the best design and quality.

or what do

– Last Updated: Mar-10-08 12:22 PM EST –

you want to do or learn to do? Play in the waves and currents, just aim downriver, surf specific, high speed ferries, dodge rocks, run drops, or just recreate on calm water?
Ah ha, just saw your new post. What's around? Wenonah and Esquif make nice prospector hulls. I think Bells is less rockered (edit : maybe not), but a friends Bell Chestnet is black crystal is a sweet river runner/poling boat, and real light.

Check out Novacraft

– Last Updated: Mar-10-08 12:32 PM EST –

The Prospector is a very traditional design, and Novacraft builds very traditional boats, so if you want a Prospector, be sure to consider Novacraft. Novacraft's build quality is very good.

At Canoecopia, I was sort of lusting after Novacraft's new Cronje. I don't even know what the specs are (rocker, etc.), but it sure looks nice. If I ever need a general-purpose tandem canoe, I'll surely check that one out some more.

…ditto the above!

– Last Updated: Mar-10-08 2:04 PM EST –

just $.01 worth...
Try not to pick a canoe soley by its advertised prowess. Best to demo, even if it takes you hours to get to.


All Prospectors are not the same
The Bell is quite close to the original design…has quite a bit of rocker…a bit difficult to steer if your technique is off.

That said, when Chestnut brought out the first Prospector Fort it took very little time for various tweaks to be made. Compare the Bell Prospector and the Wenonah Prospector side by side…the latter is finer ended…would be a fine solo ww boat but a wet tandem ride. I have so little exposure to Nova Craft I cant comment on theirs and the Esquif Prospecteur is a true ww boat…shaped like a banana.

Probably the most popular canoe made is the Pelican…It hardly makes my best canoe list.

Very true

– Last Updated: Mar-10-08 6:16 PM EST –

That's why I thought it sort of made sense that Novacraft's version of the Prospector might be truer to the original design, since their boats tend to reflect a more traditional shape in the first place. In addition, Novacraft has resurected at least three other Chestnut designs, not just the design which everyone knows about because of Bill Mason, and that also makes me think they might try harder to make an accurate copy. I thought it was interesting what you said about Wenonah's version of the Prospector having sharper ends than others, and that you think it would be a wet whitewater ride when used tandem. I remember being really surprised that Wenonah put as much rocker as they did in their Prospector, since Wenonah has just about ignored maneuverability as a character trait in almost every other boat they make. It wouldn't surprise me if they thought that the original Prospector had ends which were "too blunt", since they definitely go for the sleek look overall. I'll have to take a look at one some time.

big name manufacturers
i’d go with

  1. wenonah – they’ve built a lot of canoes and have some great designs. i like the fact that they go for a longer boat with sliding seats, etc. they’ve been around for nearly 40 years, too, meaning they’re doing something right.

  2. bell – quality, beautiful canoes. shorter than wenonahs, overall, but they paddle very well in wind and waves. they make a lot of boats as well, and everyone that i’ve paddled has been top-notch in design and construction.

  3. tie between placid boatworks, souris river and swift. all solid designs. i love placid’s construction methods and thoughts toward lighter, functional canoes. souris river just plain makes good canoes, swift, too.