weight distribution, how to?

I weigh 275 my wife 125. We have a mad river explorer that we use exclusively on flat water. As you might have guessed we have a major weight distribution problem. Can anyone suggest the best way to add weight to the bow in order to stablize our canoe?

A dog?
A 60 lbs lab should work just fine :wink:

5 gallons of water and/or martinis under your wifes seat will help. You could also substitute a lead anchor, portage wheels, rain/screen tent, ect. OR you lose weight. hehe

Turn it around
Paddle “backwards”. My daughter and I did this for quite a while (age 9 to 13 or so). We still do it when we don’t have any gear with us. This positions the stern paddler much nearer the middle of the boat and trims it easier. The limitation is that the bow paddler is sitting facing the stern so there is limited leg space. Not a problem for my 5’4" daughter, but my 5’9" frame would have some difficulties!


I experience the similar problem
When the wife and I are watching the Simpson’s on the sofa I experience the same imbalance.

May I suggest my wife as your new paddling partner, shade provider and hood ornament.



Just kidding, Im still the most eligable and least desirable bachelor on P-net

A couple of thoughts.
1. Replace the permanent seats with sliding seats.

2. Have her seat as far forward as she can get it.

3. Have your rear seat custom built or make it your self and have it so you can get yourself twice as far forward as a normal sliding seat will allow. You might have to move the center thwart, which you can do if you have to.

4. I addition to that you might have to add some weight under your wifes seat.

Where there is a will there is a way!

Good luck and cheers,


JackL’s got it
Don’t be afraid to move the seats forward, it’s the only way (without ballast/gear) to trim the canoe for specific paddler weights.


Bow seat placement
Mad River, Dagger, and Old Town tend to place their bow seats very far from the stem. With two same sized adults it will helps to keep the bow dry in the waves and drops of whitewater. On Flatwater the bow will run light, but with two same sized adults that can be compensated for with gear placement.

With the big size difference mentioned, the rearward placement of the bow seat has 2 bad effects. It makes the boat very bow light and hard to trim. And it puts the small bow paddler way back in the hull where the gunwales are much farther apart than the paddlers shoulders, making the reach to the water difficult and the resulting paddle stroke is automatically more of a sweep than forward stroke. This will tire the bow paddler due to the long sideways reach to the water, and make going straight that much harder.

Putting the bow seat on sliders and making the rearward point of travel where the fixed position now is, will help both the problems. With the typical hung seats in a Mad River, it is easy to put in a wood trimmed slider and mount the original seat on the notched side rails. The Old Town notched slider used for years in the Canadienne and Columbia is an easy to copy arrangement for a bench seat wooden framed slider. It can be made from hardwood square stock and standard hardware.

With a 150# weight difference you may need to do the slider for both seats in order to move the stern position farther forward. It will allow you to use the existing seats and have a canoe that can still be used with same sized adults.


This will take time…

extra weight all the way up in the bow
IMO it works much better to add the exra weight all the way up in the bow. This gives you more of an advantage than placing it under the bow seat. I use a water jug. I have different 5-6 gallon water containers for different canoes. The explorer has a pretty big bow area so you can get a pretty big container (or two) up there. You’ll have to experiment a bit.

Wall mart sells at least three different water containers that you can mix and match.