Wenonah "Wilderness" Canoe

I would like to hear from any one that has one; on your likes and dislikes about it?

Is it a fast canoe?

Is it responsive ?

I looked at the reviews here on P-net and they all seem favorable.

I recently got rid of My J-200 racing canoe and am thinking about something to replace it - Not for racing, but just for solo pleasure.

Jack L

Does everything well…
…but nothing great. Pretty much what I was looking for with this purchase, though. It’s a foot longer than many of the boats in this category, more or less, so you pick up some speed there. But, it’s not skinny. You may lose a little speed there, but it’s very stable. Hardly any rocker so it tracks well and lends itself to sit & switch. All in all, quite pleasant for leisurely paddling and a good platform for fishing, photography, etc.

I have one in RX and I really love the boat. At 15’4" it is a little longer than many of the solos in this category, as the previous poster said. I have the adjustable web seat, which works well for me as I kneel probably 3/4 of the time. Secondary stability is outstanding, will carry everything I need and more for multi-day trips. Defo not a whitewater boat, but I have no problem with typical Class 2. Slight downsides: Pretty sensitive to trim and wind. Not a racer, but great for what I do on Missouri’s rivers, especially the Big Muddy. On a good day without headwinds I can average 7-8 mph on the Mighty MO. I would recommend the Tuff-Weave for all-round river and flatwater use.

that must include river current. Top hull theoretical speed is just under six,after that bow resistance makes faster very very hard.

Yes, with the current
Sorry I didn’t make that clear. Missouri River is a slow river, but anything helps! You are right about the theoretical hull speed, although I don’t put a lot of stock in that. Actual speeds attained are subject to so many variables.

Hull speed and avg canoes

– Last Updated: Apr-23-14 2:33 PM EST –

For average canoes and canoe-shaped boats, the theoretical speed limit as defined by the basic hull-speed formula really is quite accurate. The physics behind that principle (including wake effects and the relatively limited amount of propulsive power available) have a very clear-cut effect with such boats. With canoes, especially solo canoes paddled with single blades, it takes a pretty remarkable person to even get close to hull speed though. No ordinary solo paddler in an ordinary canoe will reach hull speed as defined by the formula, but assuming the paddler's strength matches the length of the boat, a longer boat will still be faster than a shorter one. For what it's worth, the observations I've made that make me believe hull speed is a real and accurately defined concept were all based on driving a boat with oars, which supplies much greater driving force than can be supplied with a paddle.

Of course, the relationship of length to potential speed will fall apart once the length of the boat is too much for the strength of the paddler in question. In that case, a shorter boat may be faster.

This is all review of popular topics here, but my main point is that to "not take much stock" in the idea that the concept of hull speed is valid for general-purpose canoes is to ignore one of the most important things affecting speed potential.

I’ve been paddling a Kevlar Flexcore Wilderness for the past 5 or so years. It’s a great all around canoe. Stable, not fast but I’ve never been left behind, ok in the wind (better with a load of course). I’m not shy about crossing beaver dams and have hit more than a few submerged rocks without consequences. I paddle mostly small lakes and ponds here in Virginia but have loaded up for base camping in the Adirondacks and have paddled many tidal creeks on Cape Cod and also in the Chesapeake Bay. As I said I think it’s a great all around canoe.

Other options?
I know nothing about the Wilderness but would certainly recommend a Bell Magic for your situation. It’s now being produced again by Ted under “Northstar Canoe.”

I’ve raced mine once or twice when I wanted to combine racing and camping on the same trip and didn’t want to bring two boats. It’s not going to keep up with something like an Advantage in a race, paddlers being equal, but it doesn’t give up too much and is extremely versatile. Stability is not an issue, especially considering what you’re used to paddling. It’s narrow enough that it’s easy to paddle sit and switch.

I take mine on multi-day trips, day tripping/fishing with my dog, and workout paddles. I don’t think anything slower (or wider) would have much enjoyment for a workout paddle, and the Wilderness certainly would be both of those.

What about an Advantage?


Bell Composites Magic
I have one of the “new” Magics and it is a fantastic canoe.

Jack, you’re welcome to come to Eastern NC and give it a try. Matter of fact, you can try my GRB Classic XL too which I happen to have for sale :wink:

Thread drift
In an effort to completely derail this thread how does the GRB compare to the Magic? I’m sure it’s faster but by how much? What about stability and maneuverability? Not looking for a which one is best answer, but how they compare to each other.

Those boats have always intrigued me but I’ve never seen one.


I haven’t paddled every solo canoe, but I think it has to be the fastest non-racing solo canoe there is. I owned a Wenonah Voyager and have paddled a Wenonah Advantage and I was faster in the Classic XL.

That said, the Magic while not a slow boat is noticeably slower than any of those. I have no empirical numbers because I’ve stopped the quest for speed, and don’t track my speed anymore other than for navigation purposes, but based solely on feeling.

The Magic wins hands down in both manueverability and stability. I should add the Classic XL does respond well to a lean and I’ve paddled it some pretty rough conditions, but there would have been less white knuckles in the Magic.

Probably, the best way to describe the differences is the reason I’m selling the Classic XL. The Magic is fast enough, is easier to paddle in tight streams, and handles waves and wind with more comfort. Finally, last but not least the Magic is easier to load and unload because the “radical” design of the Classic XL makes it difficult to fit a pack.