Ultralight canoes... Mix of solo and "tandem"

Currently paddling a ~1975 Old Town. 16.5’, 85 lbs, symmetrical hull.

I do a bit of everything… short solo paddles on local rivers, multi day trips (prefer solo), taking the family out for a couple hours (young kids and my wife doesn’t like to paddle, hence the tandem in quotes) and possibly a real multi-day tandem.

I’m 6’5", 210lbs and most of my buddies are pretty big as well.

I can solo my old Town but it is just too darn heavy. I really want my next to be under 40lbs.

Based on my mix of paddling, I was planning on a symmetrical hull at about 16’ and my current preference is a Swift Prospector in Kevlar Fusion

I’m planning to finish this season on the Old Town and order something over the winter.

Any tips? Saving money is great, but I am not super interested in used unless it fits what I want almost perfectly and I am not willing to give up much weight to reduce cost. I’m comfortable with spending the 3500ish that the swift will cost.

Thanks! Mike

Sounds like a good fit to me. Very versatile hull.

Test paddle it before buying. While you may be comfy with spending money if you don’t like it you will not get all the moola back on resale.

Its a good boat for the experienced paddler.

Thanks. I’m going to try and find one, but that might be tough considering the pandemic. If this wasn’t going on, I’d be taking a road trip up to their factory.

I have one dealer at around an hour and a half and another at about 4 hours, both out of state.

What about a prospector necessitates an experienced paddler? I think the shape is generally comparable to my old town (I believe it is a Carleton, either the 16 or the Voyageur https://adirondack.pastperfectonline.com/library/21FA5A4C-6A4A-4F23-9692-433539293670)

I think I would call the Prospector a very inexperienced paddler friendly boat. This thing is so stable, I’m pretty sure anyone could paddle it.

That’s what I always thought about prospectors, so I was wondering what I was missing

I’m not looking to win any races in this. Stability is far more important than speed for my usage. I have solo’d my old town on a lot of local short trips as well as a 60ish mile trip in the Adirondacks. By no means would I consider myself and expert paddler, but maybe intermediate

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Don’t want to speak for Kim but she may have meant directional control, not stability, requires some experience. A center seated paddler may catch some wind on the stems as is it is a fairly maneuverable boat…depending on the load.
Kim…sorry if I misinterpreted.

Paddle all of the solo boats you can, since they are all different. Find a demo day if you can.

Sometimes a good boat just presents itself. Last fall I bought an OT Canadienne the short one which is 15’7" and 32 inches at the beam. I was lucky to find out it was a kevlar boat which weighs around 49 pounds. It was a tandem boat, but I decided it would be perfect for me and the dog, so I changed out the thwarts and seats and made a solo boat out of it. It needed some small fiberglass repairs, but I got a classic canoe for $250. It is fast as Hell.

I don’t see myself going to a demo day this year or next, to be honest.

I am not looking to spend 3 grand, but am OK with doing and it am not interested in a project at all. Too much other stuff going on

To get the weight I want, I don’t see it likely that I will get a demo anyway. Could be wrong

Glad you landed a good deal on something that works well for you.

My old town definitely moves around in the wind, but if that is a trade off for the incredible stability, I’ll take it. My kids can walk in it and I have fished from it while standing, on a river. It is a perfect setup for family and inexperienced paddlers.

I see this as the first of likely two canoes. This to start and if I get into a ton of solo paddling, a pack boat down the road. The thought of soloing a 20ish LB canoe is just awesome, especially after solo portaging my old town

It seems like you’d have a hard time finding a more versatile boat than Swift’s Prospector 16. It has less rocker than most Prospectors (just 2 inches where most Prospectors have 3 or 4). People that own them seem happy with them. I want to try one some time…I almost got in one at a demo day last year. I looked at Swift’s website and was surprised to see it’s only 41 pounds with aluminum gunwales. I’m a Swift fan and have 3 of their solos.

I like the idea of lower rocker as I don’t do a lot of tight, fast rivers. Mostly slow moving and open water. Straight tracking is appealing as a solo paddler as well.

At some point, I would love the chance to paddle a bunch of different boats, but for now ignorance is bliss!

You might also want to look at a Nova Craft Pal 16. Less rocker than a Prospector design from any brand (Swift, Wenonah, Nova Craft), but still solos well when paddled from the bow seat or if using a kneeling thwart. About 42 pounds with aluminum trim, and under $3k at the 2021 pricing. It is a bit narrower and shallower than a Prospector, and is designed as a day paddler/weekender, rather than tripping boat, but for an intermediate skill paddler on non-technical water, it’s a fine all-round design.

Thanks. I have looked at them but got nervous about how they described aramid light. We have a lot of shallow rivers, so grounding is unavoidable. I know that any ultralight layup will require care, but I don’t want something that is flatwater only.

Any idea how that material compares to swift’s Kevlar fusion?

I find rocker to be very desirable in a solo boat.

If this was strictly a solo boat, my requirements would be different

Exactly… Directional control means that the shape of the hull is not meant to aid in tracking. You will have to develop good paddling technique otherwise the boat will yaw all over the place. Prospectors are traditionally round bottom but the Prospector name is much applied to very Unprospector like canoes. A center seated paddler may find there is a lot of width there necessitating paddling on one side

Wind is its enemy. especially the stern quartering wind

Rocker as described on websites is not always useful. There is no standard for measuring rocker…the last two feet ? The last foot? From the center of the boat?

At least in my old town, the seat I paddle from when solo is behind the center by a bit. When I am with the family, I tend to paddle from the bow seat, and the other adult with me faces inboard to interact with the kids.

I don’t mind paddling from one side and almost entirely paddle on the right anyway.

To be fair, other than inclement weather on a multi-day trip, I am a fair weather paddler. Heavy wind or rain will almost certainly keep me at home.

Second on the Nova Craft Pal. Lower and less rocker than the Prospector, so, much better in the wind, and better paddling in general. Aramid light with skid plates. So, you may need to do a little gel coat repair down the road, no biggie. I have a 17’ Prospector in Kevlar / Spectra (Aramid) ; love it, but the wind kills me… , and a 14’ Carleton (emphasis on the TON) . My next canoe is a Nova Craft Pal.

Thanks. I’ve gotten recommendations for the Pal a few times, but every time I look at it I don’t get excited. Aluminum or wood gunwales don’t do it for me and their weights are a bit more than I would love. Blue steel looks like it would fit my usage better than Aramid light and that puts it at 10 LB heavier than a Swift. Will that mean more durability? I don’t know.

I looked at GRB Newman Designs as well… Wow, those are light boats. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have anything that can play both solo and tandem, although he has a 14’ solo that weighs 20lb (and a smaller one that weighs 14 lbs which would be a perfect solo for my wife or kids when they get older…)

Something about swift keeps pulling me toward them. Admittedly, anesthetics is part of it as they are very pretty boats.