Type of canoes to look for

We are in our 50’s, we absolutely love paddling the slow rivers of south central Wi. We have problems moving our old Yankee rebel.

Lots of patches and paint it looks like 5 or 6 coats lol.

We don’t know from good to bad designs. From the shape, lack of rocker a a slight v hull from what I have read is a touring boat?

What type of boat is this and is it any good in the water?

I mean we love it and if it sucks man I can’t wait to get a good one!

What type of boat should I watch for that is cheap and light?

We don’t care about looks and weight is the most important.

Also a solo model for me when she is working I scout out our trips.

I have physical issues. And am mobility and finance challenged. But it doesn’t stop me so don’t feel sorry for me. I got it made when the ice melts I can paddle all the time any day when the weather is right I can go!

“Cheap and light” !!!
We all want that.

Good luck if you can find it

I have great tandem and solo canoes. They are nice and “light”, but they are not “cheap”

Jack L

Cheap and light = used.
I’m not clear whether you want to tandem and solo the same boat. That makes it harder to select something.

I suggest looking for a used 16 foot Wenonah tandem in Royalex or Tufweave. The latter is stiffer and lighter. Later you can find a used solo boat like a Wenonah Argosy.

A tandem with good capacity will usually be hard to paddle solo. A solo that is nice and narrow and handles well will be too low in capacity to make a good tandem.

There is the Wenonah Solo Plus, but I found it stiff in handling and would not use it in twisty waters.

Finding your boat
Head to Rutabaga in Monona, tell them just what you said here and let them suggest a few boats for you to test paddle (you can do it right out back of their store.) To the very good Wenonah suggestions offered so far, I’d add the Nova Craft Bob’s Special, which is a tandem easily used as a solo and available in a number of layups. It is a fine little river boat. But do paddle as many boats as you can; you won’t regret the time spent. Pick one, buy it, and spend the rest of the summer and fall paddling the heck out of it to see if it really does fit your needs. You can get a great start on all this by spending a day or two at Canoecopia in March.

Functional, Light, Cheap?

– Last Updated: Dec-23-14 6:37 PM EST –

The lightest hulls are Swifts, because they infuse, use foam cores and have a proprietary foam rail and trim system translating to ~ 30-35 lb. tandems. Colden, NorthStar, Placid and Savage share infusion, and all but NorthStar integral foam rails, but small, semi custom builders have fewer hull designs and cost more.

The best paddling hulls are often Jim Henry, Steve Scarborough, John Winters or David Yost designed with differential rocker to aid tracking, flare at the chines for immense seaworthyness, and all pretty efficient in the water. New that would mean Colden, Hemlock, NorthStar, Placid, Swift, some older Sawyers, but the Sawyers will not be light by modern standards. Tumblehome helps achieve vertical paddlershafts across the rail, available from all the above solo, only from Bell used, Hemlock and Swift in tandems.

To find any of the hulls listed above at inexpensive price you'll need to find used ones. Unfortunately, the newest advances are rare used. Among Functional, Light and Inexpensive one may select any two characteristics but all three almost never combine.

To offer specific hull suggestions we need heights, weights and preferred stance[s] in the boat.

Bell Morning Star and Northwind

– Last Updated: Dec-23-14 1:21 PM EST –

That's two that immediately come to mind. Novacraft Pal's another. Are you looking for extended tripping or mostly day trips with an occasional overnight?

used Kevlar boat

– Last Updated: Dec-23-14 6:28 PM EST –

start searching on Craigslist and paddling.net, or paddleswap.com for a used Kevlar ultralight boat. if you search over the winter you can probably find a sub 50 pound boat for under $900. it sounds like for your uses, paddling slow rivers, the hull design won't be as important as the weight. my favorite boats for day tripping are Jensen 17 or Jensen 18 made by Wenonah or clipper, or possibly the Susquehanna by savage river

Times two !
Jack L

I am you
i think we agree Jack; for anything but whitewater, extended tripping or very twisty streams, give me a J17/18, Susquehanna or monarch. I love that hull more than any stock boat.

Until you find the right buy,
you might consider using a canoe dolly for your current canoe. That would lighten up the “moving around” part, although you would still have to load and unload it.

Many 14’ or 16’ kevlar canoes would fit what you are looking for, including the Wenonah Fisherman.

You may not have tried it, but you can use a kayak paddle in solo mode in a canoe, for most practical purposes. The kayak paddles even work in tandem canoe use, for most practical purposes.

Good luck!

Tandem or solo
I am going to look for both

We are planing some over nite’s but mostly day trips.

“Limitations are shackles we apply to ourselves”

3 solos in Wisconsin
just now in the P-Net classifieds:

Wenonah Advantage

Wenonah Prism

Blackhawk Shadow

I’d guess that the Blackhawk might fit you the best & the Advantage the worst. I don’t know enough about the Prism.


– Last Updated: Dec-24-14 8:19 AM EST –

I don't know where in south central Wisconsin you are and this isn't an ad, but you might want to call and/or pay a visit to Carl's Paddlin' in Lone Rock on the Wisconsin River. (And Rutabaga also, of course.) Carl always has a good collection of used canoes and there's a good chance he might have something that fits your bill pretty well. (He claims he ought to just call the shop a canoe museum specializing in the fiberglass era.) Some are almost collector items and pretty expensive but many aren't too bad. It would be wise to call first since he's a "one man show" these days (though he used to have a bigger operation in Madison) and isn't always at the shop.

When I saw your post I though first of something of the Prospector sort; Nova Craft, Bell, Wenonah and made in something other than royalex. (Royalex is sturdy but not usually very light - which is important to you, I think.) Like its brother the Pal, the Prospector is a very versatile basic design that can carry a load for camping, solos easily, tandem paddles well and, in one brand or another, is usually findable on the used market. It handles whitewater reasonably well and can be poled. For its large size its an amazingly maneuverable canoe. There are minor design variations among manufacturers of Prospectors. NovaCraft makes a canoe they call the Bob Special that is very Prospector-like and tracks a bit better.

Prospectors are very old and traditional designs and have a few downsides, IMHO. They can be hard to handle in a wind when being paddled empty and solo on a large lake, for instance. As a solo they are pretty wide and are best paddled heeled and kneeling. That's not everyone's cup of tea either. They aren't especially fast canoes. Otherwise the design has a lot to recommend it and it might be worth your while to look into it.

Just a thought. Happy hunting.

He didn’t say he was going racing.
Ultralites are much more fragile than builds like Kevlar Flexcore or Tufweave Flexcore.

For the average paddler, that last 10 pounds or so gained by going ultralite is just a PITA.

We have a Bluewater Chippewa that, at 48 pounds, also has a design far more suitable for Wisconsin streams than a Jensen. And the Bluewater is way more durable than the same design would be, 10 pounds lighter.

I still say, there are several tandems in Tufweave available from Wenonah that are more suitable for everyday Wisconsin paddling than radical ultralite designs. More available on the used market, too.

Since when is a Jensen a radical

The Jensen 17 and 18 are stock canoes.

My Jensen 17 in Kevlar has thousands of miles of swamps, rivers and lakes and is lighter, faster and easier to handle than your Tufweave !

A few pounds here and there makes it lot easier to pull over a log too

Jack L

Take 'em down class 1-2 Talking Rock
Creek and you’ll see how specialized they are. You’ve been paddling and racing in your own circles for too long. This guy needs a middle of the road Wenonah cruiser, not a Jensen 17 or 18.

Those thousands of miles
I mention above are not racing or with others. They are just my wife and myself exploring by ourselves and yes many times in Class I rivers.

If I had to get rid of every canoe I own, the one do-all that I would keep would be my Jensen 17 in Kevlar.

At 39 pounds, it is a delight to load, handle and paddle.

Jack L

We have to rely first on our own
experience. But out experience may not transfer to others. I suspect your Jensen 17 is not your first canoe. But we’re trying to help someone whose first canoe is junk. We need to start him on something that makes success likely, and does not impose limitations.

I say you have been with that Jensen too long, and can no longer see why others might want something different.

As to materials, I would not want to drag an all Kevlar canoe over logs. Kevlar fuzzes and is deficient in compression strength. An outer layer of glass will wear smooth and will resist point forces better. SSKK is the optimum. If you have kept your all Kevlar boat baby smooth and free of delamination, you should enter it in a show. The one boat I have with outside Kevlar did not fare so well.

Wenonah on Tuf Weave
"The Tuf-weave® layup results in our most durable composite canoes."

I don’t see the Jensen 17 in their on line catalog, but I imagine they would still make one if asked.