Which boat for 20-30 mile day trips?

Daydreaming about my next boat. I’m ready to upgrade from my Blackwater 12.5’ to a true performance boat. I want more speed so that I can extend my daytrip range. Rivers are my primary love, but the rivers here in TX are exposed enough to the wind for weather cocking to be a consideration. The boat will primarily be used in flatwater but I’d like it to also be capable of occassional class II rapids. I’ve been reading lot of the threads on boat design and I’m pretty sure I want a smooth hull without a defined keel. I have a strong roll and am not worried at all about it being “tippy”. A skeg is more appealing to me than a rudder. The big question that I just can’t answer for myself yet is how long is too long and how short is too short for my objectives. I’m plan on purchasing 2nd hand. A couple models that have caught my attention are the Stratos 14.5 and Tempest 170. I’m really not familiar with other brands or composite boats which is one reason I’m starting this thread.

  • what length boat would you consider ideal for my stated goals?
  • what boats would you recommend?
  • what have I not mentioned that I should consider?

You list kayaks but there are many canoes that would meet your criteria.

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Regarding length I have a 14’ and an 18’ boat and paddle a lot on a fairly placid river. They both work, but the 18 footer is a lot harder to worm around downed trees. Dunno what your river is like or if that is an issue.
18 footer is an Epic 18x. It has a rudder. Sharper turns (without backpaddling) are possible when the rudder is not deployed, as it keeps the back end from sweeping sideways when deployed. It takes less effort and is faster than the 14 footer, and I prefer it. I did 30 miles on it once, wouldn’t attempt it with the 14 footer. That said, the 14 footer is a better all around boat and can do whitewater. It is an ancient 32 pound fast flatwater boat with no rocker.

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that’s an idea I might need to look into more and why I posted here. Can a solo paddled canoe reach same travel pace as a touring kayak? I naively assumed I wouldn’t be able to reach same pace with a single bladed paddle. Which canoes would you recommend I look into?

Many solo canoeists use kayak paddles. I had a Placid Boat Works Rapidfire which was like a kayak without a deck and a Wenonah Voyager which was even more so. I put a fabric deck on the Voyager to eliminate weather cocking. The Rapidfire didn’t have the problem.

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It is much more about the paddler (or paddle) both for speed and for manuverability. I know of a local paddler here in Mid-Michigan who can manuver around the wood & shoals on the Red Cedar in a marathon C1 (Racing C-1) easier than I can in a 15’ 6" Rendezvous.

For your distances of 20 - 30 miles, Most anything will work unless you are racing or have an other need for speed. I’ve done 50 miles on Michigan’s Grand River (the Hugh Heward Challange) in one day in a Mad River Independence and 30+ miles on the Missinaibi in a loaded Wenonah Rendezvous.

Going back to your original focus on used kayaks, you might consider adding a P&H Delphin to your list. Comfortable, turns easily with the skeg up, tracks well with the skeg up if you are willing to work the edging, and has the skeg when needed.

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In my not so distant younger days I was known for routinely going 28-32 miles on a solo day trip. Longest day paddle was 44 miles. This was primarily around the Chesapeake Bay. Flat water, no currant assist, and low wind and waves. This was in a Necky Arluk 1.9, 18’ x 22" no rocker 45 lbs. in Kevlar with a rudder. Necky is out of business and the Arluk is long out of production, but there are quite a few boats with similar dimensions available today. The Epic 18X is of similar design and even faster.

If you need maneuverability, you would want a rockered boat, which causes some reduction in speed and tracking. The Arluk is a bear to turn without a lot of edging or using the rudder. It is designed to track straight.

You need a relatively fast boat to cover distance in a day. Wind and waves are the enemy of speed and distance. Longer, narrower boats are generally best for speed and distance on open water. They can be a bit twitchy and hard to turn quickly on whitewater though.

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Wow, 44 miles in a day is impressive.
I love going out on the lake and paddling around, and just camping where ever I feel like stopping. But I do love the paddling and I have had days I went from early morning to about 8:30 in the evening. My longest single leg of a trip in 1 day was 29 miles. Just a bit more than 1/2 of what you did. I am not trying for speed at all, but just going “here and there” to see what I can see and enjoy the trip getting there.

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I am always looking to see what’s around the next bend. If you work on improving your distance, you can get to a lot of places that no one else can. Keep in mind that unless doing a shuttle, which I detest, as far as you go, you have to paddle back!



Well Josh ot’s a bit risky to recommend the right size boat for you when you haven’t mentioned your height and weight but in general I think you want something in the 14.5-16 foot range with a little rocker. There are too many boats to list so if you’re buying used you can just ask the forum for advice when you find a boat. I paddle canoes. In general a touring kayak will have a slightly higher cruising speed than a canoe but in my experience 20-30 mile days are all about how comfortable your boat is and how fit you are (how much power you can deliver for hours). I have canoes comfy enough to paddle for 4-6 hours without a break and I typically use a 10 oz paddle so even if your kayak has a slightly higher cruising speed you better not stop for a rest break or I’ll pass you and get there first. :slight_smile:

Honestly a kayak may be best for you since you already know how to paddle one and there are lots more used kayaks than canoes.

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26 miles in 4 hours and 20 minutes. I paddled my 18’3" Artisan Millennium.


I have done a half a dozen Ultra Marathon races in a Westside Wave Excel. All of these were over 50 miles and all done in less than a day.

I doubt many others here can even paddle my boat, much less be comfortable enough to go for eight or more hours in it.

What boat will make it easiest is more about the paddler than the boat. I can turn that 19 foot boat around in a area less than 19 feet wide, while many just past recreational boaters need an area twice as wide as their boat to turn around.

The best boat for the OP is one that they can feel comfortable, but still feel enough joy in paddling to make it 24-30 miles. Many boats are not efficient enough to be a joyous thing for more than a few miles.

Rent some boats, borrow some boats, and find your match.

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Some solos are designed for marathon racing. Savage River Blackwater is one. Placid Boatworks Shadow is a solo canoe designed specifically to go fast. They can be paddled with single or double blades

Decks are an asset in coping with wind resistance… You can get a fabric cover for the Shadow .

The problem is mostly supply and demand… The orders for a Shadow I believe are a year out.

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Right. Delivery on anything from PBW is at least a year out and requires a thousand $$$ deposit. Non-refundable.

good point about my size. I’m lucky enough to be a medium 5’11" and 160lbs. I had two objectives with the post. One was to get some more insight into my decision and the other was to start an enjoyable discussion about boats. Your comment is helpful inconfirming that I’ll be more satisfied with the additional maneuverabliliy of the shorter length and rocker than I will with the small speed boost of a couple extra feet. Thanks for the feedback.

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I’ve been trying to figure out the differences betweent the Leo & Virgo P&H models and it seems like length was only difference. Looks like the Delphin has a bit more rocker. Thanks for the suggestion.

Yes, this. My desire for a faster boat is so that I can cover more distance. I still have some conditioning to improve before I have the endurance for 5-8 hours of paddling. Currently I can comfortably cover 6 miles in 2 hours of non strenous paddling in my Blackwater 12.5, but I recognize I’ll need more breaks on a full day paddle.

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never even heard of Artisan. Thanks, this is why I asked here.

The endurance conditioning and paddling skills you mention here are goals I’m working towards. I’d rather get a boat that has plenty of room for my skills to grow into than another one I’ll quickly outgrow. For reference I started my whitewater journey in a RPM a couple years ago and I really like how that boat reveals my bad technique and has helped me learn faster than I would have in a big modern creeker. Sadly, there isn’t much whitewater here in Texas, but we do have a lot of slow rivers to explore. Someday I’d even like to do a few races.

For a 30 mile day trip on non-moving water (no current assist), complete with a short lunch break, in-boat snack and rest breaks, and occasional at least one foot out of the boat bio-breaks, you will need a moving average of about 4 mph or better. You will also need a boat that you can comfortably sit in for at least 8 hours unless you maintain a faster pace.

Wind, waves, and adverse currents add to this. Be fully prepared to cut a trip short if the conditions look to worsen, even by a little bit, before you reach your planned turn around point.