Which Solo Canoe for Large Person?

I know there’s a similar thread just below but my question is different enough that I thought I might start a new one. Just a little bit of time muscling around my new-to-me 75 lb. tandem has me realizing that down the line I’m going to need a lighter canoe for soloing. So I’ll describe myself and what I want to do and mention a few possibilities that I’ve read about and maybe you folks will have some good ideas for me.

The most important thing is my size. I’m 5’2" and I weigh about 240 lbs. I’ve had major hernia and other abdominal surgeries so I want to keep the weight under 50 lbs. Under 40 lbs. would be even better. And under about $1200 would be great. I will probably end up buying used if I can anyway.

My plan is to use the cano for day paddles, up to a week long trip in the Adirondacks or BWCA. Mostly lakes but also a bit of river occasionally. I plan to fly fish. I need to sit on a seat and will only rarely want to kneel. I prefer J strokes to sit and switch.

So the models I’m wondering about are the Wildfire, Prism, Merlin II and Magic from Bell. The Shearwater, Osprey, and I’m sure there must be others. But am I too large for those Bell’s for example?

I’ll stop here. Any ideas are welcome. Thanks!


Ithaca, NY

Just take a look at this one…

– Last Updated: Aug-12-05 11:45 PM EST –

I am not saying this is absolutely, positively the canoe for you; just take a look..........
If "most" of your time is going to be spent on large, windy lakes, it is probably not the ideal boat. Would work for river tripping. Don't think the Wildfire will fit your needs either.

Mohawk Solo 14
R-84 layup: 39lb.
14 foot length
Capacity: 375 lb.
Cost $620.00 plus shipping charge

Capacity is there.
It will haul all the gear you could possibly need for a week.
Weight of boat is under your desired weight limit.
Not a bad handling boat with good stability for a paddler with some experience.

The Solo 14 is approximately half the cost of any other canoe you mentioned. Even after you pay for shipping costs the cost would probably be less than $720.00. The cheapest Merlin, Magic, Osprey or Shearwater are generally in the $1,350.00 price range, plus tax, unless you catch one on sale, or find a used one.

The boats you mentioned are boats that most people typically hang onto once purchased. Anyone who disagrees, owns any of the boats you mentioned, is unhappy with them, and wants to "ditch" them; feel free to contact me. I'll be happy to take any barely used, and cheap Shearwaer, Osprey, and Merlin II off your hands. I'll even take one of each! Key words are barely used, and cheap..........


P.S. Not trying to get too personal, but based on the medical problems you mentioned; I'm having a difficult time understanding your desire/need to be humping a canoe, and packs(no matter how light), on portages, for a week, in the Adirondacks or BWCA? Am I missing something?

from your list

– Last Updated: Aug-13-05 7:51 AM EST –

Based on your size and your intended uses, I'd suggest trimming your list to only include the Prism, the Magic, and the Shearwater. Of those three, you see more used Prisms than Magics and Shearwaters. A kevlar flexcore Prism with aluminum trim weighs in at 44 lbs. Most folks think of it as a boat that needs to be paddled sit-and-switch, but it can also be paddled using the traditional strokes. I'd recommend keeping an eye out for that boat just because it should be available at some point. Otherwise I'd probably recommend the Shearwater. Although any of the three boats would do a great job for you, I think the Shearwater is the one that is best suited to traditional-style (j-stroke, etc.) paddling.

solo boat
I’ve owned all but the Prism at one time or another and I paddle with a dog so my normal load is around 260-270 pounds. I kneel most of the time.

I’d expect that the Shearwater, Prism, Magic and Merlin II would all work well for you. You’re a bit heavy for the Osprey…it likes a lighter load. The Wildfire is kind of short for a fishing boat (where do you put the fishing rod again?) and it’s much happier if you kneel.

I personally like the Merlin II and the Shearwater much more than the Magic or Prism because I like the way they handle. Even though the Shearwater is bigger and more stable than the Merlin II, my experience is that it still turns better, is much better for freestyle, and is a better river boat. Tons of room for fishing stuff. But the Prism and Magic may be better choices for you if you really don’t plan to kneel because I think they both have more primary stability and are both designed for sitting more than the Merlin or Shearwater.

doing better now
I’m doing better now, Bob. Thanks. Just really weight limited in how much I’m allowed to lift up over my head. I keep portages to an absolute minimum. Can paddle all day. I’ve trimmed gear down to really lightweight functional stuff and now that I’m interested in switching from a kayak back to a canoe just want to make sure I find the lightest one that will meet my needs and stay within my budget.

Thanks for asking!

Mohawk Odessey 14 in r-84
Diane, I am near Colgate U, just a little east of you. Would you like to meet at Stewart park sometime for a demo? Mike

Novacraft Bob Special
The Novacraft Bob Special might be a good candidate. Nice boat, some of the layups fall within your weight restrictions.

I’d love it! Thanks, that would be fantastic. Then I could get an idea of the size, capacity, stability, etc. I’ll send you an email with contact info.

Mo solo 14
I agree with Bob. The Mohawk solo 14 (39 lbs) is probably your boat. Next in line would be the Mo Odyssey in R84 (44 lbs).

You can run CII tech loaded in the solo 14, but for CIII unloaded you will get wet and probably swamp.

I recently sold my Mohawk Odyssey in Royalex (57 lbs) after 3 years of tripping. My knees have begun to bother and it began to feel too heavy on a long portage. Though I am still in the deciding stages my next canoewill either be another Odyssey in R84 or the solo 14.