Wenonah experts, question. Also everyone

-- Last Updated: Apr-27-12 10:33 AM EST --

D Day is here: I am buying a new (used) canoe tomorrow. I am deciding between 2 boats: Both Wenonah Jensens, a 17' in Tuf-Weave or a 18' in Kevlar Flex core and need to decide tonight. Both are $800.

More than length I kinda want the Kevlar Flex core to save a few pounds (listed as 60lbs for 17' Tuff or 53lbs for the 18' Kev Flex) but Im not confident that its actually the kevlar as opposed to tuf weave. The 18' does sound nice though as I want a straight tracking boat, but I think either would be acceptable.

I thought the 18' had the diamond core with side ribs but the pic the guy sent me only has the bottom ribs like the 17' model. I called wenonah with the serial but rep couldnt tell me anything because the boats are from the 90's. He said the kevlar 18' was made with the cross ribs but He didnt sound confident.

So, to any wenonah experts: Was the Kevlar Flex core 18' made with ribs only? can you tell from the pics?

Take a look at the pics:
17' Tuff weave:

18' supposed Kevlar Flex core:

Any other thoughts?

Cross rib construction
I think those boats are both cross rib constructed, a method that was unique to Wenonah that they don’t use anymore.

The 17’ Jensen in Tuf-weave cross rib construction should weigh about 64lbs (per Wenonah).

The 18’ Jensen in Kevlar cross rib should go around 53lbs.

If you plan to paddle the boat solo or do much river paddling with it, the Jensen 17 might be better.

If you are paddling tandem only, plan any tripping with a load, plan to do much portaging, and are going to be paddling primarily on flat water and open rivers, I would go for the Kevlar 18’.

First Is Definitely Tuffweave

– Last Updated: Apr-27-12 11:38 AM EST –

I'm no expert like Pete is, but I owned two Wenonah Tuffweave boats. I spent a lot of hours looking at the inside of the hull! 2nd looks like kevlar to me. The 17' is a sweet boat. Never paddled the 18.

Hard to be certain from the photo
I think the 18’ boat is Kevlar, but it is hard to be sure. A close up of the hull interior would help.

Wenonah made both the 17’ and 18’ Jensen cross rib boats in Tuff-weave and Kevlar so the construction method does not help determine the layup.

The 18’ Jensen cross rib in Tuff-weave would go around 66 lbs per Wenonah.

Bah. Now I dont know what to do. I thought the 18 might not be kevlar but it sounds like it is. I will be with my wife most of the time but it would be nice to have the solo option.

Also the 7 lbs difference would be nice… but i dont know now… I think im slightly leaning towards the 17’.

The 17 had a crack that he sent to wenonah to be repaired. wenonah said it should be basically as good as before.

The 18’ has 2 decent gouges in the nose gel coat but to the fiber…Id probably put some g-flex in it…


You can’t go wrong. They are both nice boats.

The tractor seats make it difficult to paddle either boat solo by facing toward the stern sitting on the bow seat, so you would have to kneel or install a kneeling thwart.

The 18’ has less than 1/2" greater maximum beam and has about the same gunwale width. Don’t expect either to turn very easily paddled solo. The 17’ boat would be a little more maneuverable paddled solo than the 18’ boat.

If you plan to paddle mostly tandem, unless you and your wife are collectively on the small side, you would probably be better off with the 18’ boat.

The 18 seems to be a much more popular boat but this one appears to be gelcoated inside (not kevlar).

weigh it and you will know. The gelcoat chips are of little consequence, easy to fill. If it is Kevlar it is a steal.

The 17 may be a bit more stable. it was cataloged as one half inch wider at the waterline.

18 looks Kev
The TW cross rib boats were painted sand on the inside, while cross rib Kev boats were not. The interior of the 18 appears to be unpainted, and the Kevlar will naturally fade from bright yellow to either a brown (if it’s been in the sun) or just slightly yellow/putty color, which the 18 appears to be.

I had a 17 Jensen with a middle seat that I used as a solo/tandem combination boat. At the time, the thought process was that you went that option if you wanted a boat that was primarily tandem and occasionally solo, and a Solo Plus if you wanted the other way around. For two medium sized paddlers, the 17’s a fun, reasonably fast boat, though unless you know you need the solo option, I’d take the 18. Lighter weight and more efficient is always a good thing…

18’ Jensen is the choice here
Unless you have space constraints in storage or plan to paddle really tight little creeks; go with the 18’. The paddling is better and its just enough lighter to be easier to handle by yourself loading and unloading.

The 18’ is Kevlar from the photo, the 17’ has the colored roving that was the inside cover on glass cross rib hulls. A strong person can carry either with ease, but getting down to the low 50’s makes the loading so much easier you will go paddling more often.

Solo is about the same in either. The 18’ is really no wider in the center so the reach to the water is the same. Not solo canoe narrow, but almost 4" narrower than the Grummans most of us learned to solo as Scouts. And even though its 18’ long, the low sides of the Jensen make it much easier to handle in the wind than those high recurved ends on the Grummans.

The earlier remark about the tractor seats eliminating being able to paddle the canoe backwards from the bow seat; it doesn’t matter, you would not want to paddle a Jensen backwards, the handling would really be crap. They are decidely assymetric, the bow seat is a slider and backwards on a cane seat your legs would suffer over the slider frame and the bow of either Jensen is slender a long way back. The boat would be way out of trim and very unstable. Much better to solo from a seat placed behind the yoke or kneeling behind the yoke.

The price is a steal for the kevlar and about average for a cross-rib glass Jensen.

Neither is a bad deal, the 18’ is just a better deal.


Which one did you buy ?
Or were you just playing us for fools ?

Buy one yet?
Give me a holler if not. I’ve got something you might be interested in.

Which one?
Wouldn’t happen to be that grey wenonah you bought off of me would it? Brian

Got the 17

– Last Updated: Apr-29-12 8:57 PM EST –

I ended up buying the 17'. I tried to get the 18' but he needed me to drive to Madison which didn't work for me. I really wanted it but I couldnt drive 10 hours yesterday due to long standing plans and that was the only time he could meet. Im still very happy with the 17' in tuff weave. The next boat I buy will be a Escape or MN II in Kevlar flex core but this will get me through the next couple years until I can save some substantial money for a new/nearly new boat.

I wanted to take it out today but it was 55 and windy up here in MN so Ill have to wait till tomorrow or tuesday it looks like.

Seeing it in person it really stands out how low this boat is. I made 2 shelves on my garage wall to store my canoe. I sized them to have about 2" ceiling clearance from the bottom of my Penobscot 164 in Poly. The jensen has about 6" to the ceiling now.

I know its initial stability will be a little less but the final stability should be about the same as my old boat, right?

Thanks for the input.

Feel free to comment about it too. I Know its fast. I feel like finding a racing partner suddenly...

Also, there are a couple very small chips in the gel coat. Is it worth buying the repair kit from wenonah or should I get some G flex? or something else? they are only 1/4" square or smaller.

Also, after thought: mine weighed in at exactly the factory stated 60lbs.

I owned first a 17’ and then a 18’ Jensen that I bought used in tuff weave with oak gunwales and cane seats

I converted the 18 to tractor seats with bow sliding seat which made it easier to trim with my wife in the bow who weighs 60 lbs less than me

Years later I sold the Jensen 18 and got a Kevlar Escape with bow and stern tractor seats which both were adjustable fore and aft

The Escape may have been a bit slower but I found the kevlar Escape better for our needs and easier to steer in wind and waves

I sold it because we were using our lightweight tandem Kaskazi kayak( Duo ARX) more and we could take the tandem kayak in the ocean

I do miss all 3 Wenonahs though



– Last Updated: Apr-30-12 11:07 AM EST –

That boat isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Might part with my Sundowner 18 though.


Took it out, thoughts

– Last Updated: Apr-30-12 10:53 PM EST –

I took it out for a solo run tonight and all I have to say is Damn.

I do not have a good canoe palette developed yet but I love the Jensen. It was night and day compared to the Penobscot. I know they are completely different boats but I didnt know how big of a difference it would be.

I put on my knee pads and paddled from the middle just behind the portage yoke. I have basically no experience with a solo boat but I loved paddling the Jensen today. It is fast. really fast. really really fast. My opinion may be skewed by the many years of entry level canoes but I think its fast.

On that note, its surprisingly stable. I am used to straight sided canoes but after experiencing something with some tumble home I really like it. Its still too cold to find out the limit of its stability but I liked how it maintained a uniform feel while leaning on it.

The middle was low enough that I was able to sit in it and paddle somewhat comfortably. Ill still make a center seat (since im a machinist and im obligated to make things) but the floor was ok.

I dont like the cross rib design. A flat/smooth bottom would be nicer but I know they discontinued cross rib for the current design. Way to go wenonah. My other beef is the front seat is cramped. Im 6'1 and the foot space is a joke. a short person would be ok up front. Ill extend the rails because I have aluminum bar stock at my disposal but it would be a pain for a normal person without a machine shop to use. The portage yoke is rather painful too. I probably need to develop my technique, but I will definitely be getting some foam cupped pads.

The tuff weave seems very rigid and im very happy with the material.

Overall it was a fun paddle and I cant wait to try it tandem.

Feels Good To Say…

– Last Updated: May-01-12 9:58 AM EST –

...."I told you so" (LOL)! The cross ribs in the tuffweave was to decrease weight. I had a later toughweave boat that didn't have cross ribs and came in much heavier than it should have been. They hadn't perfected the change over at that time. You'll get used to them in time. A good kneeling pad is a great investment. But, that IS a sweet, fast boat and that layup will last. CONGRATULATIONS!

another altered yoke(Spring Creek’s)

– Last Updated: May-01-12 11:45 AM EST –

Spring Creek's Yoke has worked well for me....fwiw.
If you won't be center paddling the Wenonah, Spring Creek's Yoke, with the wide bars of foam, makes for the most comfortable yoke out there imho. If you don't want to drill the center of the boat's gunwale holes I threw out the cash, bought two of the wood/foam-cupped thwart-yokes, took out/sold the cups...and connected the thwarts to the Spring Creek's bars...for a double-thwart gripping setup without hole drilling....FWIW;-)