Vagabond: Royalex or Tuf-weave?

-- Last Updated: Mar-05-07 1:05 PM EST --

What do you more experienced paddlers think about the two options listed? I have been told by the Wenonah dealer that the Tuf-weave is plenty strong and can handle almost the same punishment as the Royalex but will be more efficient while paddling. Which choice did you make and were you satisfied with your selection after taking your Vagabond out on the water? Do you think the couple hundred dollars more for the Tuf_weave is a worthy expense now that time and experience has lent its verdict? Also, did you have a footbrace installed and were you glad you did?


Where will it be used?
Rocky creeks? Deep H2o lakes? Constant or frequent rock bashing or shallow/rocky moving H2o or lakes, go Royalex. If you are able to dodge rocks most of the time, I prefer Tufweave. Usually produces nicer molded exit/entry lines and a stiffer hull. Often at less weight also.

2/3 of the time will not have rocky concerns. The other 1/3 will have rocky concerns.

I have royalex
Most of my use is shallow lakes with lots of stumps and logs so I hit obstacles ofetn and the royalex holds up well. Can’t speak for Tuf-Weave as i have no experience. for my use i am not as concerned about speed and glide. I have a kev-lite Bell magic for that.

I have the footbrace and frankly do not want a canoe without one. I have installed them in my other canoes. The foot brace improved paddling efficiency considerably.

If it was strictly non-rocks I’d go with the Tuffweave but since you’ll be having rocky conditions a good amount of time I’d go with the royalex.

I like the boat. I have never paddle it with a foot brace. I do think a foot brace is OK for most people paddling a flatwater boat. It is especially helpful if you are using a doubleblade paddle. I don’t find it helpful if you are paddling moving water, however.

Personally I wouldn’t get it, but I am not strongly against it.

Maybe WildernessWebb will chime in
I know he swears by Tuff Weave, and those Ozark Rivers he paddles can require a lot of scratchy going. I suspect that unless you are actually bashing the rocks head-on, Tuff Weave will do just fine. Though I have no direct experience of my own to bear this out, I’ve seen plenty of older fiberglass canoes, including a number of Wenonahs, which looked like they’g been dragged 100 miles down a dry river bed, yet there was no damage which would detract from the quality of the boat. Fiberglass is actually a lot more scratch-resistant than Royalex so even though the scratches in fiberglass are more visually obvious, they are not nearly as deep.

Tough Call, But…

– Last Updated: Mar-05-07 8:11 PM EST –

....I think I'd save the money and get the royalex. That's coming from someone who really likes Tuffweave, too.

I'm not crazy about Wenonah's royalex in tandem boats, there's too much oilcanning; it feels too "Floppy." Had a royalex Adirondack and would probably never buy another royalex TANDEM canoe from Wenonah unless I got a great deal. But, I have paddled the Vagabond in royalex, and it's a fine little solo boat. In a narrower solo canoe, the oilcanning doesn't seem to be an issue. I also have a couple friends with them and they are pleased with them.

Now, as for my opinion about Tuffweave on shallow streams; I've had two Wenonah's in tuffweave and prefer it to Wenonah's royalex. If the scrapes bother you, get a lighter colored gelcoat, but I never had any problems with integrity bashing them arround on shallow Ozark streams, and rocky BWCAW landings. Even had two brief "Pins," one on a Sycamore, one on Merrit Rock on the Current and survived with a few deep scrapes. Tuffweave is an excellent layup and I wouldn't hesitate to use it for anything up to class II rivers.

My oldest, 'Ol Blue, an '80's vintage Adirondack, is still in use by a friend.
Here's a pic of the hull (the boat on right) after almost 20 years of use and a pic of Sandy, my white Adirondack doing a bit of WW on the Granite River in MN.

As for the footbrace, once you've used one you're hooked. You'll want one in every boat you paddle. Good luck!

Get the Royalex…

– Last Updated: Mar-05-07 10:46 PM EST –

Get the Royalex Vagabond; unless you plan to do a lot of long distance portaging.

The footbraces aren't something I use on a regular basis because I kneel about 75% of the time, but they are handy to have, especially if you're paddling into a strong headwind.

Paddle & bash the Royalex boat for a couple of years,then sell it, and buy whatever you feel you want/need, after you have more paddling experience.

If you haven't done so; take a look at the weight difference between the tuff weave & the Royalex layups. Divide the weight difference into the extra money the tuff weave will cost you. A Wenonah dealer near me has the Royalex Vagabond listed at 42 lbs/$924.00. They have a Tuff weave/flex core Vagabond listed at 38 lbs/$1,448.00. Can that be right? Saving 4 lbs costs you $524.00 OR $131.00 per lb. It should be damn efficient at that price!

The difference could purchase you a high quality pfd, a couple of nice, wooden paddles by, lets say, Bending Branches or Grey Owl,a pair of Yakima foot braces, and a decent pair of NRS river shoes. You might have change leftover.

You have yourself listed as a beginner.
How efficient do you "need" to be?
Going to be racing?
The difference in the efficiency of the 2 different layups can be partially offset by using correct, and efficient strokes.
If the tuff weave is so much more efficient; I suppose a beginner paddler in a tuff weave Vagabond will be able to leave an intermediate paddler in a Royalex Vagabond "eating dust"?
I don't think so.

The Vagabond in any layup requires very little effort to attain & maintain a decent speed; especially with correct/efficient strokes.

My wife & I both have Vagabonds.


Vagabond and tuff weave
I have a Vagabond in royalex and a Solo plus in tuff weave. I’ve not encountered any problems with oil canning in the Vagabond and I was looking for it initially. Nice small water boat, its a bit slow and if you want to get speed out of it you’ll need a footbrace. Speed is a relative term in a boat this size, it will never be a fast canoe; but a footbrace will let you get from one place to another a little more quickly and efficiently. The tuff weave Solo plus shows no oil canning whatever and most of its solid dings, but its all cosmetic. The royalex on the vagabond “seems” a little soft.

Anybody have any suggestions on what to do with my size 11 feet on the Vagabond? I have the factory seat and can’t get them under and would like to kneel on occassion; otherwise, I’m happy with the seat height relative to the footbrace. Would the now standard adjustable seat from Wenonah help with this?

Seat suggestion

– Last Updated: Mar-06-07 11:20 AM EST –

I don't know if this will work on your boat, but I raised the seat on my Vagabond as follows.

The factory seat was hung on two wide pieces of sheet metal. Each piece of sheet metal hangs down from the gunwales, and has an L-shaped bend at the bottom on which the seat rests. I inserted a ramp made of wood on each L-shaped hanger, and set a new seat on that ramp. I can't remember the exact dimensions, but I think this raised the front edge of the seat about an inch and the back edge about three inches (also, I replaced the factory seat with one that is slightly contoured to improve comfort - highly recommended!).

Raising the seat that amount let me get my feet under with not too much trouble, and giving it some slope by mounting it on those ramps makes it perfect for kneeling, but here's the real surprise. Ramping the seat also makes it work better for sitting than it was before! With my feet against the footbrace and the seat sloping forward, I'm really "locked in" a lot better than I was when using the footbrace and a seat with no tilt.

To give you some indication of overall seat height, I think the rear edges of those wooden ramps are nearly flush with the bottom edges of the gunwales, but I can check on that later.

For either material, consider a combo
kneeling and sitting minicell pedestal. I have one in my MR Guide. It is a Mohawk pedestal, but I have made them from slabs of foam and contact cement.

For this approach, the cross-thwart supporting the top of the pedestal should be at the back edge. The rear of the pedestal is broad and supports your butt for sitting or kneeling. Lack of a thwart at the front allows you to swing your legs forward to footbraces for sitting. The front end of the pedestal can be extended to make a foam portage yoke, though you may have to put a paddle in the bow to get good balance.

For either hull material, the foam seat and the cross thwart tend to stabilize the bottom and stiffen the hull.

Get the Tuf-weave. It will be faster, will last longer and is easier to repair.

I agree with you, though in whitewater
a boat like my Mad River Synergy has lasted for ten years without a consequential repair. I wonder whether, if Kaz had laid up a similar design in S-glass and Kevlar, it would have gone this long without serious repairs.

Of course, my neck is more in need of repairs, after carrying the Synergy to and from the car on my head. Somebody asking about a Vagabond could be having Kaz lay up a 40 pound AC/DC or Patriot for similar money.

Who is Kaz?

Did I miss something on this post?

– Last Updated: Mar-07-07 12:54 AM EST –

The guy who posted the original question is asking about the differences between a tuff weave, and a Royalex Wenonah Vagabond. He has himself listed as being a beginner, who paddles on lakes, and slow rivers in Kansas.

The Wenonah Vagabond is listed at 14'6" in length, the Royalex version weighs 45 lbs, and retails for $924.00. Sounds suitable for his needs to me.

The Millbrook AC/DC is listed at 16'5" in length, and weighs 2 pounds less than a Royalex Vagabond. The AC/DC retails for $1,325.00, plus whatever it will cost to get it to Kansas from New Hampshire? Canoe & Kayak magazine (who may or may not know what they're talking about), has the AC/DC listed as a "whitewater specific" canoe. Millbrook's website mentions class III. Is an AC/DC "really" what the guy needs for a small lake & slow rivers in Kansas, or wherever he paddles?

How fast & efficient a canoe does a beginning paddler need for a small lake, or a slow river? Repairs/durability? What is it that he's going to be tearing up a Royalex boat on, if he's paddling on a small lake, or a slow river?

If he really wants to tear down those slow rivers, fast & efficiently, he needs to throw down $2,300.00 & get a Black Gold Bell Magic.
I jest. Come on Toto; we're outa here.........


Choose, then believe . . .
You did the right thing. The Royalex can take a lot more impact, but the tuff-weave will be stiffer, lighter, and faster.

Barring catastrophe or improper storage, either will last a lifetime. Either can be repaired easily.

Don’t make the same mistake I do - always searching for a “better” canoe, when the canoes I already have do everything I need them to very well.

Actually, the AC/DC and Patriot are
quite suitable for flatwater use. They have little rocker, little wetted area. They are not as fast as some of the rough equivalents made by Wenonah. The AC/DC was designed by Berry for tandem combined class open canoe whitewater (slalom and downriver). I suspect that, in anyone’s hands besides those of Berry and his partner, the AC/DC would not turn well enough to do well on a slalom course.

TheBob, I’m not sure what your point was about price, because I think a Tuffweave Vagabond would be similar in price to the Millbrook Patriot, the latter being a solo model.

Thanks for your input!
I have found out that the Tuffweave is about 5 lbs. heavier and would cost $225 more than a Royalex Vagabond. For my circumstances I believe that the Royalex will be a good choice. I hope to pick it up Saturday and look forward to paddling the waters that surround me. It’s great to have such an informative website like this …thanks for your opinions!


I believe you are right…
If price were the only issue regarding the AC/DC vs the tuffweave Vagabond; then you would be correct, they are similiar in price.

But, what would the price be for an AC/DC, after the paddler paid the shipping of an AC/DC from New Hampshire to Kansas?

The AC/DC, as far as I am able to determine is 16’5" feet in length, and was designed as a tandem, open canoe, for whitewater. Why would someone wanting a 14’6", solo, Vagabond (whatever layup) choose the AC/DC to use on small lakes, and slow rivers?

I was jesting about the 16 foot Bell Magic in Black Gold layup, as an example of speed/efficiency overkill. A paddler seeking a Vagabond (whatever layup) to use on small lakes, and slow rivers doesn’t need a $2,300.00 performance touring canoe do they?

I’m sure the AC/DC and the Magic are both fine canoes. But are they what the paddler in question needs for his intended usage?