trying to choose a caone

Alright, still looking for the second canoe for the family. I figure that I know what I will get from the used canoe options, but a small amount of dreaming leads me to this quandary:

I want to compare the pros and cons of a Wenonah Escape 17’6" to a Spirit II 17’. Both in a Kevlar flex-core layup, standard equipment.

I hear nothing but great things about the Spirit II. I think I like the sounds of the Escape as well. I like the fact it is slightly longer, slightly more narrow and has that arched bottom.

I am just wondering what others think. anyone able to tell me about both of them? good or bad things about Escape. Bad things about the Spirit (since i ALWAYS hear good).

I am just curious. I figure i will be getting a used Grumman, but if I were to get an inheritance or something I would like to know what my choice would be.


Spirit vs Escape
My observations on paddling both these fine boats:

If you will be paddling mostly flatwater with this boat, enjoy the feel of performance, you favor tracking over maneuverability in a boat, want to be able to fly with the boat with bent shafts and sit and switch, you have a good bow person for a partner, and you and your partner don’t mind a little hint of tenderness in sitting still in the water (for fishing, etc) – go with the Escape.

If your paddling is a mix of flatwater and moving water up to easy class 2, your paddling style is mostly for extended periods on the same side, you like/need rock solid stability (for fishing, pets, etc), you have an inexperienced bow person and need to be able to completely control the boat from the stern, and you favor maneuverability over tracking in a boat – go with the Spirit II.

Both boats have generous sized paddling stations for the bow person comfort. For flatwater tripping, the Escape can keep up with Minneosota II’s at a sustainable all day cruising pace. While the Spirit II isn’t exactly a slow boat, it cannot keep up with Minnesota II’s.

I guess it depends on the use of your second canoe. It is hard to say bad things about a Spirit II. I guess the bad thing is that it is not specialized. If you want a fast lake boat, or a good moving water boat, or a boat that holds 5 people, or boat to solo, then there are better choices.

The reason I don’t like the Escape is probably the same reason some folks like it – it is a smaller version of the MN II. It doesn’t have any rocker. Basically it’s a racing design. However, it has disadvantages over the MNII, because it is shorter it loses some speed/efficiency and volume. Truly, my guess is that it was designed for those people who wanted a MNII but a MNII was too long to fit in their garage.

I actually like your aluminum canoe idea, especially if storage is an issue. They can be stored in the backyard. They also last forever and can be passed down.

We have the Spirit II…
…in the kev flexcore and we do like it alot. It is a beautiful boat in the ivory w/black trim and gets a lot of looks. As stated previously, the stern paddler will be the one to make it go where you want it to. It sometimes seems to defy paddling logic and you will need to do some strong corrective strokes to get it going straight again. I haven’t figured that all out yet I guess. Seems like the faster you go, the straighter it will track. Last time out our GPS told me we had it up to 5mph. Handles rough water nicely and is pretty roomy. We had to add cusions to the tractor seats but you can order the webbed seats instead.


I think that for folks who usually don’t
push the pace a lot, they will prefer the Spirit II to the Escape. One reason the Escape has not proved to be a totally successful smaller mirror of the Minn II, is that at the sort of loads it is likely to carry, it is pushed down into the water to the point that it doesn’t handle as well as the Minn II.

Spirit II vs Escape
Its hard to find bad things about either of these canoes since they are both on my favorites list. And both are better canoes than a lot of other companies best sellers and some highly revered models.

But to compare them head to head, and i have been in each one paddling against the other, here goes.

The Escape is best paddled by experienced paddlers. It is best used as a fast canoe to get from one camp to another. It will leave the Spirit II behind with equal experienced paddlers and equal loads. It is deep enough to take a tripping load on very rough water.

The Spirit II is a better canoe for less experienced paddlers and those who are large or timid. It turns much better than the Escape and is easier handling in open water with waves. The stern is deeper and the slight rocker in the Spirit II makes it easier to control and dryer in following waves and wind. Where a set of less experienced paddlers will be bracing and worrying about staying upright in the Escape, they will be paddling forward in the Spirit II. Even though the Escape is the faster canoe, the Spirit II is easier to keep paddling for the less skilled or timid. Some people never get used to the rocking of a canoe and will grab the gunwales and panic way before the listing comes close to a capsize. These people will be much more comfortable and confident in the Spirit. They may never get comfortable in the Escape.

For fishing, or gazing about, the Spirit is the better platform. For navigating narrow twisting streams, the Spirit is the better canoe. For large paddlers, the Spirit is the better canoe. The narrow ends of the Escape which add to its speed, have less volume to support a heavy paddler, and the canoe will dive into waves where the fuller ends of the Spirit will stay dryer with a heavy paddler.

These two canoes come from different design philosophies, one is from the Minnesota II design meant to go fast across big stretches of water with a load, the other to be user friendly and forgiving yet paddle very well and carry a large load.

I own an old Spirit and a 17’Jensen. Had the Escape been available when i bought the Jensen I would have bought it instead, and will probably add one in the future. It is about equal to the Jensen in speed and deep enough to use on trips. Neither can replace the Spirit for me because the Spirit can go out in weather that keeps the others home, it can go out with paddlers that could not keep the other 2 upright; and yet the Spirit is fast enough to win races against the Jensen and Escape when the course is tight or the weather bad.

Either one is a great canoe, family use favors the Spirit, fast or distance paddling favors the Escape.


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thanks so much for all the info
Granted this still looks like the two are running neck and neck. I guess I should have mentioned that the canoe I have is a Solo Plus (for those unfamiliar the solo plus is basically a Jensen 17).

My family is rather unfamiliar with canoes while I enjoy freestyle. So I want a tippy canoe while they might like to have an outrigger.

I might be leaning toward the Escape due to the fact that it is different in design. But who knows. That grumman will be great to beat around until the family gets used to the water.