Which economical canoe?

-- Last Updated: Sep-26-14 10:12 PM EST --

I want a canoe for my wife and I. It will be used to fish in our pond and occasionally drift a slow moving river. We can't afford an expensive canoe at this point. I have alot of hours in a canoe - whitewater, slow moving rivers, etc. She has very little experience.
I am looking at the Old Town Guide 160 and the Saranac 160 but can't figure which would suit us best. The Saranac looks more comfy and I like the rod holders and built in storage but I think the guide might be a tougher, better tracking canoe.
Any Suggestions or comparisons would be greatly appreciated!

The Guide will track better and is also designed so you can kneel in it, which is a useful option. The solid based seats in the Saranac make that impossible. Being flat bottomed, the Saranac will also be slower and not paddle as straight or be as stable in waves. You can add the fishing geegaws to the boat yourself, so I would not base a purchase on those things.

I paddled a Guide for several years and found it a nice canoe for the type of paddling you describe.

Of the two you mention
I would pick the Guide, without question.

The Guide is a rotomolded, three-layer polyethylene boat and the Saranac is a single layer poly boat. The problem with using solid (single layer) polyethylene for a tandem canoe of this size is that it is just too flexible. That is why the Saranac has those vertical risers going from the seats down to the hull floor, and that rather useless center console with another riser. The purpose is to add a bit of stiffness to the hull floor but the boat will still flex too much.

Triple layer poly hulls have a foam core that adds stiffness throughout the hull. It is definitely a better method of construction for a boat of this size than single layer poly.

But both of these boats are ungodly heavy. If you can live with the weight, the Guide is an OK canoe. But the Carolinas typically have a relatively robust used canoe market. Have you considered looking around for a used canoe?

Virtually any decent used composite canoe would suit your purposes better than a polyethylene boat and you might well be able to find one for no more, or even less than you would pay for one of these boats new.

Didn’t really think about a used one. If I could find a slightly higher end canoe at a better price, what would you recommend? I’ve done a good deal of canoeing and really liked some but never paid much attention to the brand or model I was in.

Check local listings
Your needs are not terribly demanding. You don’t need an especially fast or maneuverable canoe. You are probably looking for something with good primary stability. Rather than looking for specific makes and models, see what is available by scanning the craiglist listing for metro areas near you.

Here is an example from the Raleigh/Durham craiglist.


I don’t know what model Mohawk this is but I suspect there is a high likelihood it would work better for you than any triple dump polyethylene canoe of similar size.

not a Saranac
I made the mistake of buying one of these on a whim, because I thought it looked comfy and fun. Piece of junk. There are many reasons those canoe shaped objects are not a great choice. They track terribly, the plastic junk bolted all over them weighs a ton (and is not very sturdy), etc.

I removed all the god-awful plastic seats and center console thing from mine, and installed some old-fashioned cane seats and an ash thwart. Then the thing oil-canned so bad, it basically bounced around on the water. I’d sell it, but I can’t bring myself to unload on anyone.

I third the suggestion of a used glass boat. They’re all over CL. As long as the hull is sound, everything else can be dealt with (new paint, gunwales, thwarts, seats, etc., all easy to do). Will have a lot more class and be much more usable.

I looked through Craig’s List last night and didn’t see that Mohawk. I e-mailed the seller for more pics. It’s about an hour and a half away. Looks like a good deal if it’s in decent shape.

Go used

– Last Updated: Sep-26-14 1:03 PM EST –

You can probably find a nice used fiberglass boat for $500ish if you wait for a good deal. I've seen good boats like a Wenonah Sundowner in fiberglass go for as cheap as $300 (it was a rare find, but still, you can find good boats for cheap if you look often and long enough, more commonly in the $500-700 range, but you can find good ones for less than $400 a few times a year)

Wife or Both
It seemed that you say you wanted a canoe for your wife, not Both of you. Right? If that is so, then certainly you want a solo or small tandem that doesn’t weigh more than 50lbs and that means used. I would recommend if its just for her, don’t go longer than 15 feet.

Should say - My wife and I

actually, it’s “wife and me.”

Sheesh! Relax a bit.

Think I’ve figured it out—
Thanks for all the input - and the English lesson. It’s been hard to choose because there are no places around here to put hands on the canoes I’m looking at. All the big sporting good stores carry a bunch of Scanoes and kayacs. No responses to the Craigs List messages I’ve sent.

Think I’m gonna spring for a couple more bucks and get the Old Town Discovery 169. I found it on a 2014 model clearance sale at a place in Virginia.

Thanks again for all the input. Now I just have to decide on paddles, rod holders and beer holders, of course!

Not a bad choice
Its a good canoe for your needs. A little heavy but super tough, very steady, roomy, predictable and good paddling canoe. Glad you got a new one at a good price. Enjoy it for years to come!!

Ross, since you have canoeing experience you probably already know this, but don’t plan on just leaving it at the edge of the pond. I know that will be tempting since that’s the main reason you bought it, but be sure to at least keep it covered.

I already have plans - and the left over material - to build a small shelter by the pond with two or three canoe racks and space to store odds and ends. It will also allow me to secure the canoe or friends canoes against theft. Now if I can just find the time!