which solo royalex canoe for me?

im a beginner who has been goofing around in an old town pack. im loving the rivers though, and im planning some multi-day camping/fast-ish water kinda stuff for the coming spring/summer/fall. allready been out twice this year, just did the ipswich river last weekend.

anyway, looking at a more fast water oriented but still kinda universal boat,solo,and it’s gotta be royalex. im about 200 lbs, experienced lightweight camper so i don’t really plan on bringing too much weight. thinking either a mad river freedom solo or a mohawk oddysey, maybe a bell yellowstone solo.

i’d love to hear some opinions. thanks.

Any of those three would be great

– Last Updated: Mar-25-08 12:55 AM EST –

All of those boats are "Just what the doctor ordered" for the conditions you describe. All three are quite maneuverable, yet cruise pretty efficiently. The Freedom Solo has the best gear-hauling ability of the three, but on the other side of the scale, it's also the one which is most-affected by wind. If you pack fairly light, any of these boats will fit the bill. If you pack heavy, the Freedom Solo has the edge. The Yellowstone Solo feels more lively than the Odyssey 14, but I really believe the Odyssey 14 is better at doing a wide variety of maneuvers, and is thus a better all-purpose boat, but that's just what I think (the Odyssey 14 doesn't have the Yellowstone's sticky stern, so it reverses well and doesn't "favor" one end when turning). There are many more people who swear by their Yellowstone Solo than there are who say the same about the Odyssey 14, but either is a good boat for the conditions you describe. All of these boats are "happiest" when paddled from a kneeling position, but sitting works okay too.

For what it's worth, I chose the Odyssey 14 over the Yellowstone Solo, and I'm very happy with it. It's my go-to boat every time I paddle on twisting creeks, and it's USUALLY my go-to boat for fast-water conditions and light rapids (I have another boat that's better in water that's swift and rough, but if that weren't the case, I'd use the Odyssey for all light whitewater paddling instead of only for some).

Include Wenonah Argosy
in your list. I test paddled Wenonah Argosy and Vagabond and Bell Yellowstone Solo all on the same day. My buddy and I both decided to buy the Argosy. Yellowstone was just a little to tippy and seemed to kind of jump out from under me on some turns. The difference between Yellowstone and the Argosy was most noticeable when paddled seated. There was less difference when paddled kneeling, but we still favored the Argosy. The Yellowstone was definitely slower than the Argosy and Vagabond. The Vagabond was not quite as responsive as I wanted for the river paddling with Class I and II that I expected to do. Vagabond would be great for slower streams and rivers where a beginner like me would not be faced with as many direction changes. Wish I had gotten a chance to paddle the Odyssey 14. Based on what I learned from paddling the other 3 canoes and the info I had on the Odyssey 14 I think it would also have been a very good canoe for me. Of course you can never tell until you sit in one.


Solo 14
Are you in MA? There is a listing in the RICKA classified ads from someone in northern RI selling a Mohawk Solo 14. Sixth ad down on this page:


Never paddled one, but they seem comparable to the other boats listed here. I have a Yellowstone Solo - love it. Argosy is also a nice boat. Good luck.

Ah be a’might partial

– Last Updated: Mar-25-08 9:04 AM EST –

ta de Mad River Guide (aka Freedom Solo). It be a good all round symmetrical hulled canoo wit good volume an' maneuverability.

Fat Elmo

if only that mohawk solo 14
in rhode island was an odysey 14… nice deal for somebody though.

thanks to you all for the input. in a perfect world i’d get to test them out, but it doesnt seem like there are many places that have even one of these boats, never mind 2 or 3. besides, im so green at this i cant imagine any of these boats would disapoint.

definitely interested in hearing about any other oportunities local to new england…

MRC Freedom solo…
I still call it the Guide, though.

what kind of mindset do you have?
If you’ve got a real minimalist mindset, and you aren’t doing many solid class IIs while loaded with gear, you may enjoy the Yellowstone or Argosy more. If you like having reserves in terms of gear space, load limits, and WW ability I’d look more toward the Freedom Solo. Can’t speak about the Odyssey, but I get the sense it may be somwhat between the Yellostone and Freedom Solo in terms of capacity and WW ability.

check with Collinsville Canoe and Kayak
and see if they have any solo Royalex canoes. I bought my Swift Raven some years back at a deep discount. Its a river expedition boat and Connecticut is not wilderness river tripping country…

The boat is a great river runner and will haul tons of stuff but a little slow on the flats unless you have really good paddle mechanics…

pulled the trigger
on a brand spanking new bell yellowstone solo up at contoocook canoe in concord nh, nice guy, had it in stock, fair price.

less shopping, more canoeing

thanks to all responders, now im gonna have to learn how to use the damn thing…

Short notice
but the weekend of April 4, 5 & 6 is the LaLou Freestyle symposium outside of New Orleans and you won’t find better solo canoe instruction anywhere. Check out www.laloucanoe.com. Several of us are going down from the northeast, some from considerably further north than you.

If you can’t make it to LaLou, consider the Adirondack Freestyle Symposium 7/20-7/24 or the Midwest Freestyle Symposium Sept. 5,6& 7.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom canoe paddles and cedar strip canoes

im sure those classes are great
but i’m po’ again. maybe i can smooth talk somebody more knowledgeable than me into showing me some basics some time. until then i’ll continue to goof around and get wet…

Local knowlege
Hey Dave,

I’m no expert but I have been paddling solos for a while and I’m local to you (north of Boston).

Let me know if you want to get out sometime.


right on
thanks tom, i’ll take you up on that sometime soon. sunday cant come soon enough, NEW BOAT FEVER…

Great choice…great boat. It’s perfect for everything you want to do and if/when you want to practice some freestyle strokes it will be perfect for that too. Happy Paddling!

it ain’t a new boat no more
squannacook river to the nashua river (groton MA area), lots of trees, over some,under some,out and around quite a few, a few fast choppy spots, two dams to portage around and finished the day with a nice paddle down the nashua, big wide and beautiful,8 hours all together, nobody else in sight. its nice out there.saw some blue herons,a beaver,lots of ducks.

the yellowstone seemed kinda directionally squirrely,but nice and stable,i didnt bring any gear/weight though, and think im going to take out the still kinda high stock seat and put a seat on the floor, most of the way back to the rear thwart. took a bit of water over the bow going through the biggest stuff. i kneeled through the challenging pieces but that really started to suck in the comfort dept. i think sitting low in the boat is going to be the way to go.

anybody use a spray cover on the front of their canoe?

Trees below the second dam?
Hey Dave sounds like you had a good day!

I’ve never done the stretch from the dam at Rt 225 to the Nashua. Are there a lot of trees in the river? How about above the Bertozzi rapid?



Scottb lowered the seat in his YS/WF
He’s been paddling his like that for a couple of years. Hopefully he’ll see this and chime in to let you know what he did and how it worked out for him.

A pad for kneeling will help immensely in the comfort department, like Bell’s t-pad. I consider my kneeling pad as essential as a paddle or pfd.

no work on yourself first.
The sides are way too high for an efficient pack boat. Plus its relatively too wide.

Dont get mad but the answer is learn to paddle and work on your forward stroke.