Which Swift solo canoe?

Swift currently markets two solo canoes - the Osprey and Keewayden 15. I have studied the measurements of both and they are similar. Thus I still have 4 questions about them:

- which canoe is the most efficient to paddle?

- which canoe is the most stable for studying


- which canoe tracks best on flat water?

- which canoe handles best on moving water up thru

class 2 rapids?

Comments from anyone with experience with both these models would be appreciated.

Swift 15 footers

– Last Updated: Oct-24-13 6:59 PM EST –

Both should be included in anyone's top five tripping solos list. [Sit and Switch hulls excluded.] We'll just assume you want to kneel some with a straight and may wish to sit and switch with a bent some of the time too.

The Osprey is an inch wider at waterline, which should make it more stable but compromise tracking a little as that reduces Block co-efficient. Kee 15 is a little longer at waterline as it has less stem layout, effects tracking and forward speed positively.

The Osprey has more bow rocker, remembering that the two designers measure rocker differently, so is, maybe, the preferred hull in REAL class II.

Folks comparison paddling both almost always select the Kee 15, so there's where the market is going.

Fit may be the most important factor, I'm formerly 5'10". reduced with disk compression, so legs correspond to 5'10" I fit fine in the K15 but Osprey is too wide for me; I need to move a knee to cross heel the boat.

Half an answer
I paddle my Osprey a lot. Never been in a Kee but from what I’m hearing I’d jump at the chance. Never been in a good Merlin II either, just that Kev Krystal job that doesn’t hold it’s shape.

Keep that in mind while I tell you that the Osprey is the best river tripper ever made, fun and well behaved on anything from dead water to nontechnical Class II+.

It’s dry and steady in big waves and super efficient on the flats, taking very little effort to make 3-5 mph with or without a load.

So why do I own other canoes?

Well the Osprey is not as maneuverable as a full on whitewater boat. If I’m playing in the rapids I prefer my Outrage. And the Osprey is not as fast or hard tracking as a good lake boat. I doubt I could push it much past 5 mph no matter how hard I paddled. It does not much like waves coming from behind either. So if I’m paddling (or sailing) lakes I prefer my Magic.

But for a river or mixed river and lake trip The Osprey is the best boat I know.

For what it’s worth I’m 5’8", 200 lbs and I paddle on my knees.

Good questions
I was wondering the same thing after looking at the specs and reviews on those two boats. I want both :slight_smile:

You guys are making me want an Osprey. Must…Stop…Reading.

My thoughts…
I recently bought a Keewaydin 15 in kevlar with the carbon/kevlar trim. I’ve got to say, I absolutely love this boat and it’s a dream at 30 lbs. I have only paddled single stick, but the kayak paddle is definitely going to get a go.

I have paddled an Osprey and found it kind of twitchy while the Kee feels very stable and smooth. The Osprey might behave better for a kneeler, but I’m a sitter. Both have quite a bit of tumblehome and the Kee heels nicely. For stability and tracking, I personally find the Keewaydin better suited. The Osprey might work better for class I-II but I haven’t paddled either on anything but flat water so I can’t really comment there.

FWIW, I’ve had my 40 lb. six year old on a harmony seat in the bow with little to no noticeable change in maneuverability.

Kev-Light layup
Have you seen Kev-Light flexing under load or oil canning? I’ve paddled a “good” Merlin II 20 or so times. Didn’t really impress me, but I paddle slow rivers, coastal bays and the Gulf of Mexico. I love my Magic, which is Kev-Light, customized and stiff as marathon canoe. TommyC1, do you kneel in your Magic? If so, what’s the setup like?

As for the Swift questions, I’ve never paddled a swift but I’ve longed for one for years. Love DY designs. I’d go Keewaydin since it’s a newer design and seems like it would be more efficient with the narrow waterline. I’d also listen to CEW. He has been instrumental in building some of the nicest solos on the planet. He’s a great source, especially with Bell, Placid and Swift. If you want info on the top traveling canoes, Charlie is one, if not the best.

Doesn’t Charlie work for Swift?
Check out Placid Boatworks boats if you have not already.


What kind of flex do you mean?

– Last Updated: Oct-30-13 11:35 PM EST –

The only flex I've seen in the Kev-Crystal Merlin II is within the sides, but NOT while paddling. The sides will flex if you cinch it down onto your roof rack with the kind of tension that some people seem to believe is necessary. On that note, I suspect that an unusually heavy person (unusually heavy by my own standards anyway) would see the same thing happen when their body weight, applied to the gunwales by means of the seat hangers, would cause the sides to buckle under compression (I know a guy who's high-end boat (I'm pretty sure it's a Swift Shearwater, but my memory fails me right now) suffered major sidewall damage for that very reason. The usual place you see flexing in a canoe is the bottom, but in a Kev-Crystal Merlin II, the bottom is extremely stiff on account of the foam core.

I'm not the hugest fan of the Merlin II, but I've been paddling one for years and have never seen the slightest flexing of the hull while paddling, even though I'm so fussy and detail oriented that I noticed the molding asymmetry of that model quite easily, once I got my first chance to paddle dead-calm conditions (which hardly ever happens). That isn't something most Merlin II paddlers have noticed, so I'm sure I'd notice flexing of the hull if it were happening.

I think he does and Placid too
if only in his past, but I would certainly take his advise. He wouldn’t have the reputation he does if he steered people wrong. I’ve read tons of his replies, and he always bases his recommendations on a more information than most people would ever know…

The Placid boats seem awesome too if you want to use a double blade paddle.

Good thread, wanted to get mr, Charlies as well as all the other great, canoe folks thoughts. Is the shearwater a dying breed, I am next year on a swift canoe. I have come to the fork in the road and see myself as a laker, Canada, Minn. etc. 6ft 2in. 220lbs broken leg, old injury. Kneeling is not going to happen. I want to enjoy canoing, by myself, on local lakes etc. The Shearwater has a near zero following, SO if I am SWIFT it looks like its the keewaydn or shearwater??