Wood strip canoe durability on rivers?

How well do wood strip canoes hold up to use on shallow and rocky streams?

Does the hull flex enough to slide over occasional boulders without damaging the boat?

Is it wiser to just use the strippers on lakes rather than shallow rivers & streams?

I don’t have any experience with wood strip boats and haven’t even seen one in person, so any info would be helpful.

How pretty do you want to keep it?
Most stripper canoes and boats are varnished and kept very pretty. My experience is that they are as strong or stronger than other fiberglass layups of the same weight. They flex and get scratches and need repairs about the same as all other fiberglass canoes I’ve owned. Given the scratchs and dings you can get on a rocky flowing river, I never take mine out in flowing water with rocks.

I take it in the ocean in bigger waves and in rocky lakes and very slow rivers, but I protect it from rocky flowing rivers. It is a beautiful boat but sanding and varnishing four coats a year is too much work already.

Like Frank Says…
…varies, but many probably a bit tougher than many 'glass canoes. If you’re not worried about scratching and scraping the boat, not that big a problem. Easy to repair if you’re not that worried about appearance, a real PIA if you want to keep it looking nice. Had one, used it on rocky, Ozark streams, but bought a Wenonah to replace it as I was too busy to mess with the upkeep at the time. It was a PRETTY boat! WW,

They were used
alot Down river racing before roylex. faster then the aluminum canoes of the time.

next time
Next time we paddle I’ll bring my Osprey,you’ll love it.

Fragile? Sure. Pretty? Oh yeah… Would I use it on rivers? I have and will.

They are plenty tough, but a woodstrip canoe willget scratched up easily.

I used and extra layer of F/G and graphite on the bottom after the first year as I was getting tired of touching up the scratches.

I don’t think a woodstrip would survive a major pin. You’d have kindling after that.

depends on construction
it’s like asking how a light kevlar or glass boat holds up. Depends on use, paddler skill and construction. If you’re concerned about durability you’d want the boat to be built that way. If you’re a light person and it’s a solo canoe there’s significantly less wear than a big loaded tandem carrying gear.

As baldpaddler
Said back in the late 60’s early 70’s a lot of guys were racing homebuilt woodstrips in Downriver WW races up here in New England. Of course for the most part these were skilled paddlers and I never remember seeing a pinned boat, but running over rocks was par for the course. When some of the major manufacturers starting coming out with glass and kevlar boats geared to downriver racing you saw less and less strip boats but I think that was because those boats were now as fast as a custom built stripper not that they were more durable. Of course downriver racing is hard on any boat and guess thats why most use roylex these days but I have a lot of good memories of racing glass and kevlar boats on the weekend and then working to make repairs on Monday night so as to be ready to get out and train for the rest of the week.

Good Point-"Pinning"
Glass or class-woodstrip may not survive a severe “Pin” on a log or a rock, like a royalex canoe. Surprisingly, my old Wenonah Adirondack in tuffweave survived two such incidents. Funny, I paddle mostly royalex on rivers just because of that possibility, but that old tuffweave boat was the only one that I ever had that happen to! WW

I’ve beat my Freedom up on a couple of different rivers to the point where I needed to rip the glass off the bottom and reglass. If you were going to use it on rivers all the time, there is no reason you can’t add extra glass.

Use: Solo canoe for day trips.
I love the way wood strip canoes look, but am not interested in high maintenance demands. If it’s more maintenance demanding than my fiberglass hulls, I’d probably pass on a wood strip boat.

My expectation was that the finish on a fiberglass & epoxy resin covered wood strip canoe would be about as scratch and ding resistant as a fiberglass layup canoe with epoxy resin finish. Is this the case?

Do wood strip canoes that are covered in fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin still need to be varnished? I had assumed that varnish wouldn’t be neccessary with the epoxy resin finish.

Any problems with the fiberglass cloth delaminating from the wood surface over time or in the event of bumps and grinds?

My main durability concern had been the hull cracking in the event of going over or getting stuck on a boulder in shallow water. I suspect that this potential vulnerability would vary greatly with the construction technique and how many layers of fiberglass cloth were applied inside and outside. It’s good to hear that an average wood strip hull should be able to withstand bumps and grind as well as the average fiberglass hull.

Thanks for all the info. Please correct me if I’ve misunderstood or misinterpreted any of the above info.

Thanks jjoven, I look forward to that!

“Fiberglass” or composite hulls
have an advantage over wood strip when resisting damage…Composite hulls can flex more. Of course, this may be a disadvantage in other ways, because a stiffer hull may perform better.

Under routine abrasion, the outside wear on a stripper will be similar to the outside wear on a composite boat. The difference comes when the boat is forced by momentum and current over a pointy rock protrusion. The composite hull may be able to flex away to reduce some of the inevitable damage. The stripper hull may be gouged through both (2 being the usual maximum) layers of exterior cloth.

Some well-made strippers may stand up better to hard blows than some cheap and poorly-planned composite boats. Composite boats planned for whitewater use, such as Millbrook canoes, are going to greatly exceed strippers in damage resistance.

My experience with a number of composite boats is that it is, where they can’t or won’t bend under a blow is where the damage is going to occur. This means the stem and stern, and the center midline of the underside near the bow and stern. But with strippers, all of the hull is rather resistant to flexing, and that makes for increased risk of catastrophic damage.

The varnish is to protect the epoxy from UV. Clear epoxies don’t have a UV barrier as part of the formula. There are clear 2-part coatings that are supposedly much more durable than varnish but are more difficult to apply.

I’ve built and paddled woodys in th Bwca for the last 15 years. They have all taken te beating and come home in one piece. I can’t think of any place harder on a wood boat than the BWCA. The first year we ground through the 5 layers of glass on the bow in the first day. Sence then I build with and external keel or stem and then use a brass stem to spare the wood keel. On the last trip we where poratageing a small stream too shallow to float, when I lost my footing and dropped the boat full of gear. The crash sounded like a gun shot and I was dure that when I turned the boat over I’d see a big hole. NOT the epoxy was chipped by not thru to the wood. I’ve even run rapids with my woodys. I aslways walk them first and make sure iIcan safely manuver but on one such abventure I ended up tetering on a very large rock. All in all I end upp with a lot of sanding to do when I get home but its worth it every time I paddle by some one and they ask “you build that” and I can Say “YUP” The varnish or poly coat on te boat is for UV protection more than anything else. With out it the wood will keep getting darker and eventually the glass will break down. Store it in side and varnish when ever you refinish it for scratches. Its like no other boat you’ll ever own. Enjoy.

Wood & Delaminating
My back ground in 35 yrs of my family making strip canoes. Over the years the problems we have seen with delaminating is with poliester resin. This resin does not like the natural resins in wood. Several years ago I switched to epoxy and haven’t had any problems, none of my customers have mentioned it either. I have one personal canoe left out of polyester and it is finally showing signs of delaminating, it is around 15 yrs old. I do store my canoes inside, the sun’s UV rays as mentioned before do break down resins. Some other note: I also but a peice of copper on the ends for additional protection. Over the years we also found more damage inside the canoe bottoms than out, we now put a double layer of 6 oz cloth in the bottom. We also put the cloth in side ways, this creates a rib in the over lap areas. We have had canoes go over small falls in the BWCA (not on map) and also get pinned beneith a dam on the Mississippi in Central MN in a race. The first was patched with handy wipes and pine pitch and they paddled out. And my brother finished 3rd in the race by putting his foot on the crack after they dislodged it, though I would of liked to see his expression on his face when his shoe floated by during one of their emptying stops! Wood canoes are truely the best looking on the water! I don’t have any pictures of these but do have others on my web site, www.zapflegacycanoes.com

Thanks for all the great replies,
feedback & insights regarding the wood strip canoes.

Since I’m not into a lot of maintenance and repairs, if I get a stripper, I’d probably use it mainly on lakes and maybe some rivers when water level is adequate.

I’ll stick with royalex hulls for shallow and bony rivers where much abuse is expected.