Wildfire vs. Vagabond...

-- Last Updated: Mar-15-04 11:20 PM EST --

I [as well as a few others] would appreciate a comparison of these two canoes by those that own or have paddled them. I did a search but the two are not compared side by side from what I could find. I have paddled the Wildfire myself but not the Vagabond. I see the Vagabond is a bit longer so I'm assuming it tracks better and carries a load better[?]. But, what about leaning, speed, stability and what about quality of build...how do they compare. Thanks!

paddle both if you can
These are very different boats even though they are within 6 inches of length. One is not better than the other; they just were designed for different uses. Wildfire has more rocker and therefore turns really well for tight rivers and moderate whitewater. Wildfire is deeper, especially in bow and stern, and will handle rough stuff better but will suffer in wind. Wildfire, though shorter, has a more efficient hull design with shallow arch and could be faster if you can keep her going straight. Vagabond is more flat bottomed and is very initially stable but would not have the secondary stability of Wildfire. This is stability assumption as the water temp was 35 degrees the day I paddled Vagabond and I didn’t want to push the secondary to the limit. I have a Wildfire and secondary stability is fine on her. Beginners would feel more comfortable in Vagabond; more initial stability and tracks better and still turns easily. Vagabond would be more a quiet water boat for easier rivers and creeks and small lakes. Vagabond would be great for fishing, photography, dinking around etc. Wildfire will do more but require more effort to learn. I love my Wildfire but a Vagabond would be a very nice boat for it’s intended useage. Paddle both and you will see the difference immediately. Good luck.

Well never paddled either but intend to purchase a Vagabond soon. I have had great experiences with we no nah canoes and will stick with what has worked for me. Plus a fiberglass vagabond is cheaper than a royalex wildfire.

my impressions
I’ve only spent about 30 minutes in each boat, so these are fairly limited impressions.

The initial stability on the Wildfire was fine, but was higer on the Vagabond. The Wildfire has much better secondary stability.

Maneuverability is decent on the Vagabond, but better on the Wildfire.

Neither boat is a speed demon, but they were not designed to be fast. I would not even bother to factor speed into the equation.

Build quality is very good on both boats.

If I were going to buy one of the two, I would buy the Wildfire. The combination of maneuverability and high secondary stability make it a fun boat to play around in.

There is nothing wrong with the Vagabond, but after paddling it for a few minutes, I was ready to die of boredom. My impression is that it was designed to be a bland solo recreation hull, and that is exactly what the design gives you.

A note regarding length

– Last Updated: Mar-16-04 4:06 PM EST –

The Vagabond is listed at 14.5 feet, but it is really a bit shorter than that. It's really only about two inches over 14 feet. I think Wenonah must "round up" to the nearest half foot when specifying length. Not a big issue, but if the Wildfire is 14 feet long, you can reasonably assume that the Vagabond's length is the same.

I haven't paddled my Vagabond enough to tell you a lot about what it can do, but I'm pretty sure c2g was spot-on with his comments. The Vagabond is not an "exciting" boat, but it's a practical boat for my purposes, which is prowling little creeks and backwaters that have a lot of deadfall to drag over.

That describes it better
No, I think you’ve got the edge on me. I didn’t spend that much time in one. I think your description of it as “practical” is a lot better than what I said.

Hey, I’m excited…
…to be going out this weekend in my Vagabond (I hope), but mainly because I’ve been restricted for a while by surgery. I’d be excited to go out on a log.

Never paddled a Wildfire, but I’m a bland guy anyway.