which canoe to buy ??????

I am a beginner canoeist and want to buy a solo/tandem canoe that can handle up to class III and also do ok on the lakes . Which one should I go for ???

Do you want a canoe that you can
go out tandem with enough camping gear for a couple of days or more? Are you going to be in white water more than in lakes? Will you do any portaging with the canoe since weight then is an important consideration? Is speed more important than volume? Will you take a dog with you while paddling? How about fishing from the canoe?

A do-all canoe is an impossible dream that we all have when starting paddling; however, if you can refine your requirements a good compromise can be found – within reason. I now own three canoes and am planning on expanding the fleet this year with a sea kayak, or two (one for my wife).

It’s great that you’re getting into…
…canoeing, and that different paddling activities appeal to you. BUT I agree with the others-no one boat will meet all conditions. (I own a pickup AND a sedan, for different uses. And my wife likes her Miata, but I can’t get into it.) My suggestion is you get a canoe that’s good for flatwater and up to I+. With more experience, you’ll know what you really want. You may go for a fast flatwater day boat, a capacious long-distance camper, a rock-dodging river boat, etc. Or one of each! And buy used-good boats are out there, and you’re sure to be trading in a year or two. Have fun, and keep the open side up.

My advice on this

– Last Updated: Mar-19-06 4:05 PM EST –

There are plenty of boats that can handle the class III and survive to paddle the rest of the day on the lake.

One that comes to mind is the Royalex Explorer but Old Town and Mowhawk made some good ones too. The origional prospector canoes are famous for making these runs.

They are not specifically for white water. These are the Tripper canoes used for hauling people and gear on long outings in places like Canada where you will encounter plenty of fast moving whitewater between the lakes.

Conventional wisdom
seems to be that most decent general-purpose canoes can safely run up to class II water if properly handled, but playing in class III requires a whitewater-specific model.

check the archives here on PNet under the advice threads. I found a lot of good information from everyone here on them and eventually bought a used canoe (Wenonah Spirit II) from a PNet member and am very happy with it…Order a Wenonah catalog too. Even if you don’t buy a Wenonah brand, their catalog has a lot of decent information for the first time buyer… Just my 2 cents…


Wenonah Prospector 16 RX
These folks are giving good advice about doing research and refining your choice. That being said I was looking for a similar boat and am very pleased with the Prospector. Plenty of rocker to easily handle Class II and I’m betting III although I’ve not done that yet. It’s not a dog on the flats either. Good Luck. Dwayne


– Last Updated: Mar-19-06 1:06 PM EST –

I don't know much about them but some can go in whitewater and lakes.

the canyon can go on rivers and tour

NovaCraft Prospector 16.
This boat will haul everything for two people and can be paddled solo, Canadian style. What the others have said about a Prospector style boat is true. The hubby and I are seriously considering buying one. That said, I want to paddle the Esquif Canyon before we buy.

We’re planning a lake trip and it’s something we don’t think we’ll do more than a few times. I’m for renting a kevlar cruiser, but we would have to modify the bow seat for me. I think outfitters can accomodate us if we give them enough notice.

I mention this because when you’re buying a boat, you should consider what the majority use will be. We run classI-II rivers/streams most of the time. If we did II+/III more often we would consider bigger bags and possibly different boats. What we’ve found is that it’s best to spend the money on the boat that will be suitable for the majority of our paddling. Then we save money and shop for the next boat. Cause that’s pretty normal if you keep paddling. :slight_smile:

all-purpose start
You’re getting some good advice. Some of it may seem conflicting or confusing, but it’s tough to interpret how you’d favour solo vs. tandem and whitewater vs. flat.

One boat won’t do it all very well, so you’ll have choose your compromises and frustrations.

I agree with the suggestion to start with an all-purpose canoe like a Prospector, or a Canyon/Starburst if you’ll do more whitewater and are a strong solo paddler.

When you have more experience and know how you’ll be spending your time, then you can move to specialized solo boats, whitewater boats or lake/tripping boats.

I don’t mean to be discouraging, but “beginner canoeist” and “class III” probably shouldn’t be used in the same sentence too much. There’s lots of ww fun to be had on class II rapids in an all-purpose boat.


not just the hull design…
Most general all-purpose paddlers can get down class II rapids.

But, to paddle much class III water requires an experienced, specialized model of paddler.


I love the Prospector, but do respect an old catalog description of the boat.

“The Prospector is not for beginners and we are reluctant to sell one to an inexperienced paddler.”

If you have some time in another boat, you’ll find a Prospector to be very different. When I got my first one, it felt as if I went from a dependable station wagon to a sports car. The shallow arch hull makes it very tippy (primary stability), but the secondary stability is phenominal. It takes a lot to dump this boat.

It has 4" of rocker, which makes it very manuverable, but tricky to track straight. High sides and stems make it suseptable to wind.

Ahhhh…but if you know a little technique and are willing to practice with the boat a bit, it is IMHO, the best all-around canoe ever designed.

I tried the Esquif
It’s a small WW boat with extreme rocker. I was not impressed. It seemed to be lacking craftsmenship and made of very thin material.

Canyon small?
If this person is looking for a canoe that could used solo in ww, how is the 16’ Esquif Canyon (or similar Evergreen Starburst) too small?


Prospector + Mason
The prospector is, indeed, a wonderfully versatile canoe. There are all sorts of prospectors being made that are variations on the original, so you can even get one more tuned to flatwater, whitewater, bigger loads, solo, whatever.

Bill Mason (legendary prospector booster) made a series of videos called the “Path of the Paddle Series”, along with a book by the same name. These are worth checking out, for a good overview of the all-purpose canoe, and types of paddling.

Good luck with your search.

If you are a beginner…
I would keep away from class three for quite a while, but a Old Town Penobscot 16 if properly fitted with air bags should be good for just about all your requirements.



yes, with no class III

– Last Updated: Mar-24-06 1:22 PM EST –

Penob would be good. Especially if you avoid technical whitewater manouvering for now.


Mad River Explorer in Royalex
NT’s comment was in the ballpark.

I have first-hand experience with a MRE-Rx, one being my only boat in the '80s. While it is big for a solo, I routinely used it as such on streams such as PS’s Slippery Rock, the Middle Yough, WV’s Greenbrier, Elk, New and Cheat.

I have soloed one on overnight trips, but I ended up carrying much gear for other folks, a major downside.

Paddles tandem with a willing and coordinated partner the MRE is a fun boat. The natural initial instability of the shallow V works well when the hull is leaned for entering and peeling out of eddies. The full bow makes for a reasonably dry ride as well.

I have not used it for long-distance lake tripping, but on the Dumoine River in Quebec two loaded MRE/Rx canoes easily kept up with my old MR Northwoods (paddled tandem). That impressed me greatly.

So to wrap it up, this boat gets my vote for the all-around best all-purpose canoe on the market. And Topher will probably add that it can be poled.


PS: Wanna buy a used MRE/Rx?