Wenonah Advantage vs Voyager

-- Last Updated: Jun-23-12 1:03 AM EST --

I have an opportunity to pick up a used Wenonah Advantage. As a large paddler (6’4” – 300#), I’m a little concerned about the stability of this somewhat narrow boat with. I paddled a Wenonah Voyager, which on paper strikes me as having similar lines. While the Voyager is a fun and fast boat, it’s narrow for me and more twitchy than I’m really comfortable with. I’m concerned the Advantage will be pretty much the same experience for me as the Voyager.

My use of the boat would be for simple same day excursions on lakes and flat rivers. No plans to pack a lot of gear for over night expeditions.

Does anyone have any experience with both the Advantage and the Voyager to compare? I appreciate any input you might have. Thanks.

I’ve owned the…
Voyager and have paddled the Advantage, and at 240 lbs I felt like the Advantage was a little too small for me.

I’d think at 300 the Voyager would work great for you. It’ll take a little seat time to get used to the “twitchiness”, but once you get past that the boat is capable and fast.

depends on your build
But you’re probably pushing the curve. At 265 and 6’3" I feel like I’m a bit large to be in an Advantage, but I have an athletic build and a low BMI. Yes, the Advantage will feel more lively than the Voyager. If you want to take it out, add some ballast to lower the center of gravity. I trip in my Advantage with probably 60lbs of gear, so that puts my tripping weight over your body weight, but that extra 60lbs down low and secure make the boat feel much more solid on the water.

The problem with the Voyager
is that it’s too narrow. I’m sure you are right that with some experience I’ll feel more stable in the boat. But even if I get used to the twitchiness, I’m afraid the narrow gunwales will continue to be a problem for my general wideness. They’re pretty uncomfortable pressing in against my thighs and knees.

In Wenonah’s line of solo boats, I believe the Prism is probably my best bet. But sadly, that’s not immediately available to me as an option right now. I’m keeping my eyes open for a used one though.

high COG
So you think it’s that high center of gravity that makes the Advantage feel a bit small for you? Undoubtedly that would be magnified with me carrying more weight above the gunwales. Good feedback, thanks.

My Advantage
The canoe is narrow and those gunnels press on knees and calves. I use sections of foam pipe insulation to cover the gunnels and cushion where my legs splay out and make contact.

I’ve paddled a Voyager once and think I would prefer it over the Advantage. I’m 6’1" and 235 and the Advantage works well for me, but if I had found a Voyager used I would purchased that instead.

I too trip with Advanatge and agree with Nermal that some gear weight will settle canoe down and make it feel more stable. The main thing I dislike about the Advantage is I find I cannot kneel in it - too narrow for me - and that makes for some nervous times when you want to the the center of gravity low. And getting in and out took some practice - I straddle the canoe at the bow and pull it forward until the seat is under my butt and then drop in.

I have both…
If you do a search here, you will probably find a number of posts where I compare the two. I bought one of the very first Voyagers made, and have had a couple Advantages. I still have one of each.

I am about 230 lbs these days but have been as heavy is 290 and never really had that big of an issue in either.

I prefer the Advantage for most day paddling use and it probably sees 4 times as much use as the Voyager does.

That has to do with the weight of my layups though too. My Voyager is flex core Kevlar where my Advantage is a far lighter carbon/Kevlar layup. The lighter canoe is usually a first choice.

This is all opinion based on my experience, but If you get a Voyager, do yourself a huge favor and put a cover on it. It is a totally different experience, and the Voyager with a cover is now my first choice for a windy day paddle.

There have been times (when I hadn’t paddled it in a long time) where the tippy initial stability of the Voyager bothered me, mostly from feeling my hips hurt after a long day on the water from fighting it. Since I put a cover on it (first a home made one, then a Cooke) I have been using it enough that I never notice it any more.

I use my Advantage a lot more, but if I could only have one it would be a tough choice which to have. It would probably be an ultra light Kevlar Voyager with a Cooke cover. It would do everything I need well.

You can also do some modifications to either to meet your needs if you are bold. You can lower the seat for more stability. You could also experiment with longer (or shorter) thwarts which will change the hull shape somewhat.

I am glad I don’t need to pick only one :slight_smile:

Question for yetiman
Just curious about comparing covered apples to covered apples: If you fundamentally prefer the Advantage over the Voyager, why wouldn’t you prefer a covered Advantage over a covered Voyager?

The Voyager needs a cover
I feel the Voyager really needs a cover when paddled empty. It is something of a wind sock. The Advantage with lower sides doesn’t have nearly the problems in the wind.

For a day paddler I prefer the Advantage, but for a tripper, the Voyager is a hot ticket to glide. It paddles reeeeallly well with a load in it compared to an Advantage with a load (AND my fat butt. This is in MY use, and lighter people may feel the Advantage is an excellent tripper. 20 years ago I used my Sawyer Shockwave as a tripper too).

To only have one I would choose the Voyager as it’s an awesome tripper and a good day paddler for me.

I did consider putting a Cooke cover on one of my Advantage’s after seeing what it did for the Voyager, but I didn’t think there was enough pay off to drill either of them.

The Voyager is a handful in the wind.
Even with a Cooke cover, it is still a beast in a side wind. Wenonah says it is made to carry a load and I never carried anything but my 240 lbs which apparently wasn’t enough.

I am happily back in SOT kayaks.

If you found the Voyager somewhat
twitchy I think you’ll find the Advantage even more so. Haven’t gotten into a Voyager(insert rolleyes) to paddle yet…so no experience to compare, but by hull specs…and I’m “guessing” that a Voyager has a little more stability, especially in a slightly heavier layup…Flexcore/Tuffweave. Think you’d definitely prefer a Flexcore or Tuffweave Advantage over UL.


The Voyager has more secondary stability than an Advantage, but less initial stability.

The Voyager feels a good bit more tippy just sitting on flat water than an Advantage does. Untill you get used to it your hips might hurt a bit after a long day of correcting (and over correcting) for it. After a while you will barely notice.

just curious,
have you test paddled an Escapade, 17’ Jensen, Solo Plus etc? At 6-4 you can solo any halfway narrow tandem and be comfortable.

OK, you’re a big guy who paddles Sit & Switch.

The Advantage is an old USAC Solo Cruiser design by Dave Kruger. It will prove way small for you.

I’d look for a WeNoNah Encounter, 31.5" max beam or a Swift ShearWater, 31", both more size appropriate; the Encounter more dedicated to S&S style paddling, the Shearwater the more stable of the two.

[Terry Kent, 6’4" 240 lbs calls Shear the USS Enterprize.]

2nd the encounter
Absolutely agree that an ‘Encounter’ would be an excellent choice.

That boat can haul a moose and a kitchen sink and you’ll never know it. I ran one for a while and really liked the effeciency. Turned it into a solo/convertible tandem and even placed in a race.

The catalog description doesn’t do the Encounter justice. A kevlar Encounter would be a keeper.

That’s a good thought.
I’m not familiar with the Escapade. We had an 18’ Jensen tandem for a while and though it was a great boat, it was fairly heavy and didn’t really meet our needs when paddling with my wife. I never tried to solo it. A couple of years back I test paddled a Solo Plus, but didn’t enjoy it much at the time. As I recall, I had more trouble getting it to track straight as compared to other boats. The one thing I did like about it was the web bench seat over the pedestal that Wenonah seems to favor.

I’ve found I like to be able to kneel. I feel like I have better control and a more stable position when I do. And being able to switch from kneeling to sitting extends the amount of time I can stay out before my back forces me to call it a day. Plus, I just can’t get my big size 13s along side the pedestals and be comfortable kneeling. I need a bench that I can kneel with some of my weight resting against the leading edge of the seat and get my big feet tucked under.

I do have an Old Town Penobscot 16 that I like to paddle solo. My only real complaint about it is that I’d like it to be a little lighter. If they made that in a fiberglass or Kevlar layup and shaved off 10 or more pounds, I’d probably be happy with that. I dunno. Maybe the Penobscot ends up being the best option for me anyway, but I’m always hopeful that I can find something better.

The folks at Wenonah suggested…
…the Encounter as well. That and the Prism. I was a little surprised they didn’t suggest a Solo Plus too. At our local paddle fest a few months ago, I tried both the Encounter and the Prism. In as much as you can get a feel for a boat in the few minutes you can try one at an event like that, I liked the Prism the most. The Encounter was okay, but I felt a little…I don’t know how to describe it…too buoyant? Like maybe I needed more weight in the boat. It felt like it bobbed around a lot in comparison. I don’t know if that makes much sense. The Encounter was fine, but the Prism felt better. Sadly, unless I buy new, right now neither of those are available to me on the used market right now.

I’ve read about the Shearwater and like how it sounds. Unfortunately, we don’t have a Swift dealer out here in the Pacific NW so I’ve never seen one in person. If I bought one new I’m sure I could have it shipped, but it sure would be nice to try one before making that kind of purchase. I’ve never even seen one listed used on CL in this area. Not just the Shear, but any Swift boat.

I like the local paddle shop we have here and while they carry a good number of Wenonah models, not a lot of manufacturers are represented in the Portland, OR area. My local choices for new are pretty much limited to Wenonah and the odd Esquif at the paddle shop, and some limited models of Old Town and Mad River through REI. But most opportunities to test paddle solo boats are mostly limited to Wenonah. I envy you folks in the north central and north eastern part of the country with the multitude of options it seems you have.

The Voyager is pretty narrow too.
If the Advantage gunnels press on your knees and calves then I think you’ll find the Voyager, which is narrower between the gunnels, has the same issue.

I’ve never tried that method of entry before, but especially on these narrow tippy boats that’s something I’ll keep in mind. Thanks.

Test paddle comparison
Thanks so much for all the advice and opinions. As it turns out, I was able to try the Advantage and Voyager back to back at a local lake and learned 2.5 things.

  1. The Advantage is a really great boat. Fast, straight tracking, and surprisingly stable. That said, as everyone has suggested, it is simply too small for me to be comfortable in for very long. If I was smaller, this could be the boat. Especially in the Kevlar UL, it was such a pleasure getting it on and off the car and in and out of the lake. Based on the earlier comments, I was afraid it would be ridiculously unstable, and it really wasn’t that bad. That small tractor seat and my big behind are simply not meant to be in contact for very long.

  2. The Voyager is also a great boat. Faster and straighter than the Advantage I think. And it didn’t feel as tippy as it once did. Maybe I could get used to it with more practice. But after just moving the Advantage around, the tuf-weave Voyager felt even heavier than ever. Even though at 54#, it’s just 22# more, but it felt like a ton back to back with the Advantage.

    2.5) I need a good, light-weight (Kevlar) canoe that fits me, and while these are both outstanding boats, neither of them is really that. So I guess my search continues.

    Thanks again.

2 more cents. I found a carbon voyageur last year, was worried a little about the “wind” issue. I really haven’t had a problem with it, and it turns easier that I was anticipating. I also don’t find it unstable. My first solo was a royalite dagger sojourn and it was far less stable. Or maybe I was far less stable then. Considering a cover but can’t get past the drill-holes-insert-snaps thought on this hull yet. 6’1" 200.