Wenonah Voyager vs. Encounter

Hi everyone,

I am looking at these two Wenonah models and trying to figure out which best suits my needs. I am looking for a distance tripping solo (obviously). Speed and efficiency are important, and seaworthiness is a very important factor. The PNet reviews seem to put the Voyager clearly in the lead, but I wondered what other opinions people might have.

A major difference seems to be in capacity. I come in at 250, and will be paddling the boat with and without a load. The real question is: when it comes to efficiency, how much is too much for the Voyager, and how little is too little for the Encounter (I will sandbag a boat, but for obvious reasons I prefer not to.)

Also, neither of these boats are going to turn on a dime, but just how unmanueverable are they? Are you really looking at a straight across the lake only kind of boat, or can you get down a river with a bend here or there?

Any other thoughts (including other similar boats out there) would be greatly appreciated.



voyager vs encounter
I’m a little heavier than you and my solo is a voyager. I also like paddling the encounter, but find it much more fun to paddle a voyager without gear than the encounter without gear. My suggestions. If your gear load doesn’t get much more than 100 lbs, voyager will be fine for you. You seem a little concerned about maneuvering and maybe this boat will be used more on rivers than lakes, and if that is important the encounter is more maneuverable. I find if you paddle a voyager with a straight shaft paddle you will have adequate maneurerability to hug a meandering shoreline and negotiate all but the tightest river turns. But if I were routinely paddling the more powerful Mississippi R. south of the Twin Cities, I would probably choose encounter over voyager. Being from Minnesota you should plan to attend either Piragis sunsplash in May or Midwest Mountaineering spring expo usually in late April. Both events should have both of these solo’s to try out. Be sure to bring your gear load to get the feel of these boats both loaded and without gear.

“Sandbagging” a Boat
Perhaps you say that if needed you’ll “sandbag” a boat as a quick way of saying you’ll add weight, or perhaps you really would use bags of sand. The safest method for adding weight to a boat is to use containers of water. It requires more space for any given amount of weight, but if you swamp the boat, containers of water become weightless, but the submerged weight of sand is still pretty great. Sand would at best make your swamped boat very difficult to deal with, and at worst could take it right to the bottom.

I don’t know if it was necessary to point that out, but better safe than sorry.

Extremelt different
I own an Encounter and have paddled a Voyager.

How’s your balance? The Voyager is a FAST but tippy canoe. Some people love them and will argue they are not tippy. Those are the same folks that were probably on gymnastics teams. :slight_smile: It will carry a good amount of gear though will almost certainly need new packs because it is so narrow. It is a “go straight” boat meant for lakes.

The Encouter is a “two-moose” canoe. That will carry a huge load. IMHO it is too big. Unless you have a large load, it won’t “sit down” in the water. It floats too high. It catches the wind. It too is pretty fast but not as fast as the Voyager. It is very stable (which is good when the wind catches you and spins you around). It is hard to trim, too, unless you have a load in it. If you’re set on an Encounter, I have one for sale.

Really I can’t recommend either one. I like the wenonah Vagabond but that may be too small for you. I also like the Argosy, though it is meant more for moving water and is not terribly fast. You may be happiest with the good, ol’ Prism – fairly fast, fairly efficient, stable, carries a good load, tracks straight, maneuvers when it has to.

Encounter sliding seat assembly position is set to accomodate a 225ish paddler without ballast.

It is indeed a “two moose” boat!! The capacity of this boat gets lost in the marketing hype where each manufacturer wordsmiths the differences among its many models. It does have good glide with a lot of weight.

The pedestal is too narrow and too high for my liking so it feels tippy initially. Lower an 1" and widen the pedestal base by at least 2 inches over stock and it feels better. The narrow pedestal base Wenonah puts in this boat is like trying to balance on the edge of a 2x4 instead of a 4x6.

If you reposition the thwart and move the whole pedestal assemby back about 3-4 inches you should be ok in an empty boat.

Manueverability is like saying something, “tastes good”. The boat was comfortably maneuverable. Use draws to move the boat suddenly or lean in anticipation of a move.

A kayak is better in the wind than a canoe! Otherwise canoes are generally comparable. Again we’re talking individual experience under non comparable conditions. An Encounter is as good or bad as any other big canoe and its paddler in the wind.

Thanks for the input guys. Obviously all of the important factors (speed, manueverability, seaworthiness, and of course “stability” are pretty subjective). I haven’t paddled either the encounter or Voyager (and would want to paddle both before buying either). I have paddled the Magic before, and found it a bit narrow for comfort. Do you think that this rules the Voyager out? Also I neglected to ask about the Prism in my original post. I had been primarily thinking about the big boys, but perhaps the smaller more “versatile” boat would be a good option to consider.

Maybe try all three???
I own a Voyager, and I’ve paddled both the Encounter and Prism. You can tell my preference, but yours might be different.

If you live in Minnesota, you’ll probably be able to arrange a test paddle of all three. I suggest you try them all–and preferably for an extended test, rather than just a few hundred yards at a demo day. Try them both loaded and unloaded.

After a while, your preferences could change as you “outgrow” one model. Or, maybe you just get more tolerant, for example, of the Voyager having less initial stability than the Encounter, and begin to feel like it’s worth it for the extra efficiency. If that happens, you can always trade.

Another suggestion… Consider how you’ll be using the canoe most of the time. Here’s an example… If you’ll be paddling around home without a load 90% of the time, then maybe the Prism might be one to consider over the Encounter.

Anyway, I’d say try 'em all, and give them a good thorough test. Then it’s up to you.