Wildfire big enough?

I’ve been looking for a solo canoe to use for 2-4 day camping trips on the local rivers as well as day playing and fishing on the local impoundments. I’ve had great fun soloing my tandem but would like something more manageable to improve my river paddling skills. I am 5’8’’ and 200 pounds, 15 pound dog, my pack weighed about 40# last time, I like to take a small cooler, so that would bring me close to the max weight for the Wildfire for camping, but not for day trips. I like to kneel when I solo with some occasional sitting for relief.

I was wondering if a Wildfire would be a good fit.

I think the Wildfire would be big enough for you for day trips with or without your dog.

You would probably be pushing it for overnighters with a load and the dog. I find I can get a 60 L barrel in my Wildfire in front of the front thwart and there is room for a soft cooler and additional moderate sized pack behind. But the Wildfire is not real deep and with a big load it won’t have a lot of free board amidships, which could be a factor on flat water if the wind comes up, or on rivers with any kind of standing waves.


– Last Updated: Jul-11-13 4:51 PM EST –

Wildfire is great for a day trip, or even an overnight.
But, if you weigh 200 lbs, and want to carry a cooler, 40 pounds of gear, a 15 pound dog, and stay out on the river for 3 or 4 days; you're going to start feeling cramped for space pretty quick.

Two boats I would suggest you take a look at, and test paddle if possible; the Mohawk Odyssey, and the Mad River Freedom Solo. Gear packing will be easier, you'll have more freeboard on class II rivers, and either will be roomier for you, your gear, and the dog. If you encounter ledge drops, or fair sized standing waves; both boats I suggested will be drier than the Wildfire, particularly if you are heavily loaded.
Strong winds will affect the Freedom Solo more than it will the Wildfire; especially if you are not carrying a load.
All 3 boats are suitable for sitting, or kneeling.
The Freedom Solo is capable of carrying everything you could possibly need, and the kitchen sink to boot.
The Odyssey is in my opinion, a middle of the roader(somewhere between the Wildfire & the Freedom Solo).
Two boats I bought, tested, and found lacking for your usage were the Wenonah Vagabond, and the Wenonah Argosy.
I am a 210 pounder, currently own, or have owned all 5 boats mentioned, and have lots of experience paddling the type of rivers you mention.
Buy used if you can find a boat in decent condition, at a reasonable price; save yourself some bucks.


Yeah, good suggestions. I’d find
packing a Wildfire might push me into ultralight realm.

I was afraid of that
I really need to lose some weight! One size up, there was a Starfire on the classifieds here, but maybe that’s more of a solo/tandem hybrid. I could lose the cooler and drink hot water all days and nights (not just the last).

Higher-end solo canoes can be a little rare here in TX. Interesting comment about the unsuitability of the Argosy (for the specified load, at least). I saw an Argosy on the classifieds before and was tempted, but some of the comments here on this forum made me hesitate. It sounds like it would be what I need, but probably isn’t. Then I saw a Wildfire.

Rent , taking canoe to a river or two.
Find someplace that’ll let you take it off their compound…to a river. You need to try it out for yourself…and practice learned strokes for moving water(via DVD, books…etc).



Wildfire or Yellowstone?
I’m bigger than you (220 pounds), and I paddled my Yellowstone for a week in the Adirondacks. It held everything I needed - two big dry bags, a cooler and my portage cart. Not sure how much room your dog will need, but weight shouldn’t be an issue. Can’t speak about a composite Wildfire.

Here’s a picture of Jeff (about my size) loaded up in his Yellowstone. It does look a little low, but he never had problem, nor did I. TommyC1 in the background in his Magic.


Wildfire FG
and the dog often meditates on top of packs or underneath my seat. But I can appreciate the concerns about freeboard in situations with waves.

FG? I have a black/gold Wildfire.
Maybe only Charlie Wilson on this board would know if anyone ever made a true Wildfire out of fiberglass (only).

In any event, a composite Wilfire could do all that you mention, but it wouldn’t be my first choice for canoe tripping for four days with 260+ pounds and a dog. At that load level, as others have stated, the 14’ hull with modest depth would be fairly bogged down with little freeboard.

I’d prefer a 15’ solo canoe with more depth for that kind of load, but sure you could do it. BOB has suggested two more capacious river tripping canoes. A more sophisticated hull, and my favorite, would be a Hemlock SRT. Not sure I’d want a dog in an SRT, however, unless it was dead.

Hemlock SRT…

– Last Updated: Jul-11-13 10:51 PM EST –

One of my all time favorite canoes.
Regretably I sold mine. Thinking it might not take the abuse of shallow, rocky, Ozark rivers for many years; I decided to stick with royalex canoes for that venue.

The problem with the SRT for the original poster may be price & availability.
I'm betting there aren't too many used SRTs for sale in central Texas?
Other options: pay shipping cost for new one from Hemlock Canoes in New York to Texas, or drive to New York & pick up a new one.
Whether you ship it or pick it up; you'd better have deep pockets. New cost for the cheapest version of the SRT, the kevlar hybrid is $2,779.00; plus shipping, or travel costs.

A new Mohawk Odyssey is $998.00.
Shipping from Tennessee to Texas; probably less than $300.00?

Freedom Solo? Cost would likely be similiar to the Odyssey.

Buying used & taking a long, one day road trip to pick it up could be quite inexpensive; if you got lucky.


so I’ve been told
I don’t think the person really knew, but there are flotation tanks. Maybe Fiberlar (was that the name?)

The WF should work just fine

– Last Updated: Jul-11-13 11:23 PM EST –

Plenty of 200 lbers have paddled it and it has eight inches of freeboard. Add another sixty and Archimedes dictates it wont sink much. Above 300 and you would feel you were paddling a log.

We have a whole bunch of Wilds here in the Adirondacks.. just leave the furniture behind and jettison the cooler.

What I find in fifteen footers on two week trips ( the boats are sometimes narrower than the Wild) is that there is at least two feet of unused space.

We're finishing up a weeklong canoe event . I suspect a few Wilds are off for short trips of 2-3 days in the Adirondacks. BTW Dan Cooke uses a WildFire for camping and he is not Cliff Jacobson sized. He is more normal six foot tall size.

A few more Wildfire/Yellowstone pics

– Last Updated: Jul-12-13 6:17 AM EST –

From a 4 night Machias trip a few years back.



Before this trip I would NOT have recommended the Wildfire for what the OP is asking. Jeff and Erik have convinced me otherwise.

No the composite Wildfire is not the exact same boat as the royalex Wildfire/Yellowstone. It's a bit more lively and might require a tiny bit more skill to paddle effectively. Size and load bearing is pretty much the same between them.
I expect I'd be pretty happy using either as the OP describes.

Riverstrider’s SRT with a load
…rides much higher in the water.


tandem prospector maybe?
I think a prospector paddles really well solo with a big load and even then is great on rivers. Not the bst in the wind on lakes, but nothing beats a guideboat for that anyway.

WF sold
I knew it wouldn’t last more than a day at less than $200 but I had an afternoon doctor’s appointment yesterday and didn’t want to make the drive the same day.

I’ll know better next time. Maybe I should move to a northern state where there’s more of a market for canoes!

Less than $200!!!
For a Wildfire?

Never heard of such a price for a Wildfire – the real composite ones or the later-named Yellowstone Royalex ones – unless it was virtually trashed.

sounds incredible, doesn’t it
but it’s true.

The boat was stored outside and had UV chalking. The seat had been moved down into a sitting/kayak position to be paddled with a double blade. It was sitting on a

box epoxied to the bottom and was also epoxied to the sides.

Some years ago a Flash hit craigslist
in NY for $200. Anyone know who snagged it? I spoke with the seller minutes after it was gone. She had no idea what it was till it was sold.

Freedom Solo
I am around 5.8 & around 240 and could get enough gear for a decent multi overnighter in a widfire. that being said the Freedom solo would seem a better choice. i currently paddle a freedom solo. can get more gear in the FS and it still turns and handle as good as the wildefire did for me. plus I can kneel or sit in many more positions in the FS than the could the Wildefire. the FS is going to catch more wind though.