Wenonah Sundowner to Escape -- ?

I have a well-used 18' glass Sundowner. My wife and I typically do day trips to local largish lakes with our three-year-old, but have also done an occasional multi-day camping trip. I bought it used and made my choice based on educated guesswork.

It is a very nice canoe, overall, but I'm contemplating whether the Wenonah Escape would be better suited for us. We'd like to do more local rivers (not whitewater), and I gather the Escape should be a bit more manueverable. But I don't want to give up speed or seaworthiness (the Escape's flared bow seems like an advantage, but I don't know if it brings tradeoffs).

Capacity is not too much of an issue, since I suspect that the Escape would still hold enough for the length of trips we're likely to take.

Query: am I expecting too much to think the Escape would be noticeably different, under the majority of our paddling conditions, to be worth the cost?

I know where I can demo an Escape, and certainly will before I buy, but I'm also interested in whatever opinions are out there.

If your wife is the bow paddler
listen to her opinion. A flared hull may be tougher for her to reach the water with a vertical power stroke.

If she is into hit and switch its really tough. I cant do hit and switch in my Odyssey because I at my short height am constantly banging the hull during crossover.

I am curious as to the role boat weight might be playing. As I get older I find that light boats get used more often…lol.

Unless you paddle hard and fast,
I think you might be happier in a Spirit II. For lots of us folks, a faster boat is not functionally faster in relation to our paddling style. The Spirit II is no slug, it is a better swamp and marsh boat than the Escape or Sundowner, and it is also better in easy whitewater. It should be as dry as the Escape on wavy lakes. The only way the Escape will pay off is if you paddle hard and fast.

Sundower vs. Escape
1) Kayamedic makes good points. 2) The Escape is essentially a shortened (by a foot) Minn II and the length removed is primarily in the ends. The effect on this is obvious to long-legged bow paddlers, who can feel cramped in the bow of an Escape. 3) They are both very straight-keeled, straight tracking canoes, like much of what Wenonah makes so well. The 6 inch difference between your 18’ Sundowner and 17’ 6" Escape just isn’t going to give you much additional maneuverability. 4) When you do your test paddle, be sure to bring your Sundowner and compare directly. They are both really good boats; it would be hard to go wrong with either one. If you DO decide to get an Escape, the weight-saving of the Kev UL layup will certainly make you smile, even if the proce won’t! Paddle on!

keep the ideas coming!
Seems like a lot of good advice. I have this nagging feeling that the Escape is perhaps a bit of an effort to segment the market moreso than an inherent improvement in anything design-wise.

We do tend to paddle fairly briskly, so I’m not so sure I want to go the Spirit II route.

Escape vs Sundowner
These are very similar boats. Why the Sundowner so quickly disappeared from the Wenonah Catalog, when it was their most popular canoe for years, still puzzles me.

The Escape is shown as having flare in the bow, but it is not the WW bow of the Odyssey, The bow paddling station is very similar to the Sundowner, but a bit deeper. If you have a problem with hitting the bow with your paddle it will be from the depth, not the width of the front deck.

It is not a Minnesota II with the ends chopped as suggested above, it is a scaled down MN-II. The bow seat is no closer to the bow than in a MN-II, there is just less distance between the bow and stern seats.

The reach to water is good in both canoes, better than in any Old Town or Mad River.

From a paddling standpoint, the performance is very similar, the biggest difference is the extra depth of the Escape will allow it to handle bigger waves than the Sundowner. It will not turn noticeably easier. Speed wise they are very very close. The Sundowner is too long to run in C-2 rec and the Escape is too short to be competitive in C-2 Stock, so they rarely will be paddled against each other in competition. The Escape is noticebly faster than the Spirit II, for a paddling team used to an 18’Sundowner, the Escape has no downriver advantage.

Both are great all around canoes. Had the Escape been in production when i bought my 17’Jensen i probably would have bought an Escape. When my old Spirit wears out i will probably replace it with an Escape. If i can find a used Kevlar 18’Sundowner, I will buy it. Everett Crozier designed canoes are so well rounded and forgiving i need to keep one in my collection.


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There is “a” Sunddowner in the Catalog
Timely discussion, as I was just reading about the Sundowner this afternoon, two weeks prior to making a decision about whether or not to borrow one for a weekend trip. It’s only in the racing catalog, and it is only available in Royalex. The length is listed at 17 feet, not 18’, which may be because Wenonah finally started correcting their earlier mistake over-stating the length of their Royalex boats. Still, for a boat to only be available in Royalex is very unlike something I’d expect Wenonah to do. For anyone who wants a composite Sundowner badly enough, I bet the nice folks at Wenonah would build one for you - it couldn’t hurt to ask anyway.

special order
If the mold is still servicable, Wenonah will make any boat for an additional special order charge.

17 Royalex Sundowner+
It is a nice canoe, but not the 18’ Sundowner, which was made in many different layups in its life, but not royalex. I have a hard time thinking of the 17’ as a Sundowner, it began as the Echo at 16’6" and was renamned Sundowner to capitalize on the name earned by the 18’. Then redone as a 17’ canoe. My mind still says Echo, when i see the short Sundowner. Just a mindset thing i have to live with.


Standing pat
"…for a paddling team used to an 18’Sundowner, the Escape has no downriver advantage."

This is exactly the assessment I was looking for. I think I’ll be sticking with this canoe for a good while longer.

I get it now.
This yet another example of a company taking a newer, ho-hum product and giving it the same name as an older, better product.

(Late to the discussion)

I’ve done a lot of thinking and figuring about our recent canoe purchase: our choices were between the Minnesota II, the Escape, and the Spirit II. We settled on the Escape for a number of reasons:

–I like the straighter tracking I’m expecting to get from the Escape over the Spirit II. (We’ll be paddling the vast majority of our time on lakes.)

–I expect the Escape to turn a bit better than the Minn II, being a foot shorter. And the Escape should be a bit faster at slower paddling rates (when paddling about 30 strokes a minute, circa 3.5 to 4.0 mph–a rate which we’ll be using a majority of our time) due to having about 5% less wetted surface area than the Minn II.

–The Minn II would be faster than the Escape when paddling at about 40 strokes a minute (circa 6 MPh, perhaps 8% faster than the Escape from the modeling of canoe speeds that I’ve read, due to the increased length), but we don’t expect to be going that fast that often.

–I compute the Escape to sit about a quarter inch lower in the water than the Minn II for a similar load: this should also make the Escape slightly less subject to winds. (About 170 square inches less surface area above the waterline for a full broadside wind.) In comparison, the Escape will sit about an eighth inch lower in the water than the Spirit II.

–Also, we don’t anticipate carrying a lot of cargo, so the larger hull space of the Minn II won’t be needed.

–And I agree with the poster above who observed that the leg space in both canoes (Minn II and Escape) will be similar, from what I can judge from the pictures.

If we get a second canoe, it might be a Spirit II in a tougher layup. I compute the Spirit II and the Escape to have about the same wetted surface area, so the slimness of the Escape should tell when paddling at both moderate speeds and high speeds. But the Escape will be tippier at low speeds. The Spirit II will definitely be better at turning, but on big lakes that shouldn’t be a big issue for us.

Our Escape is on order, but with everything being slower due to Covid-19, it may be a few more weeks before we receive it.

"If i can find a used Kevlar 18’Sundowner, I will buy it. Everett Crozier designed canoes are so well rounded and forgiving i need to keep one in my collection. "

11 years later this bears worth repeating. Crozier makes some of the fines designs and craftsmanship of canoes ever. If you ever see a Crozier boat, compliment the person on excellent taste (or luck) in boats.

I haven’t heard in a couple years, is he still making canoes? The finest racing canoe i ever paddled was the V1-Pro Corbin 3x27 pro boat. (that is, the corbin modified V1. Which is a different boat than the Corbin pro boat) . It was stupid fast and fun to paddle.