ww canoe

I am looking for a good solo white water canoe. sounds easy right? Its not. I plan on using it for extended wilderness trips, so it has to have a good carrying capacity, and perform on the flat water stretches one will encounter when they run a river for more than a few days.

The traditionalist will chime in at this point and recommend a prospector model of some sort, and I have nothing against them (rather partial to a Nova Craft Prospector Myself). The problem is I want to be able to play in this boat too.

Of course there is no such thing as the perfect all around boat but still, any suggestions?

Boat must

1 have good carrying capacity

2 be fun

3 be able to run Class III+

4 not paddle like a barge on flat water

thanks John

You want a boat useful for play, but
which, when loaded, will be able to carry you for a number of days and nights on a mixture of flatwater and whitewater up to class 3. (I’m sure you do not expect to be able to play in a canoe loaded with expedition gear.)

You might look for a whitewater tandem that is relatively narrow, and therefore relatively fast on flatwater. My Mad River Synergy somewhat qualifies. It is 15’long, 28" wide, and fairly highly rockered. I have used it for multiple overnights on rivers with a mixture of flat and white water. I have had no difficulty keeping up with “normal” solo canoes (Dagger Reflection 15 and 16) on flatwater, and the Synergy retains considerable agility when loaded.

However, if you also want to cross lakes, you will need to design a drop skeg. Rockered boats will tend to wallow in lake waves, so you may be windborn more than if you choose a Prospector. You will need a hand pump for whitewater or wavy lakes, because when a whitewater boat is full of gear, there is no place to use a bailer; and the boat is too heavy to tip even if you can get it to the bank.

While I will cheerfully continue to use the Synergy on, say, Desolation/Gray Canyons on the Green, if I were doing a solo trip down from the town of Green River to the Colorado River junction, I would use my MR Guide instead. When there is no whitewater, then covering long distances in a WW boat gets to be tiresome, even if one is used to it.

You can check out some of the larger solo and the faster tandem WW boats and see what you come up with. But if you plan to take long voyages in Canada, where routes take you through mixes of lakes, flat river water, whitewater, and portages, you may want to consider two canoes. Running rapids in remote wilderness is not a matter of having a hot whitewater boat. It requires judgement, conservative control, and frequently, it requires lining and portaging.

My $0.02
I’m still looking for a boat that does it all . . . and does it all well!

My tripping boat is an Esquif Vertige X. It is marketed as a tandem but mine is set up solo. Even when fully bagged it will still carry two weeks worth of food and gear. A very stable and predictable hull. On a good day I can get a roll out of it about 2 out of 3 attempts. Not a dedicated WW play boat but enough for my needs.

14ft, 33 inches wide, 15.5 inches deep, 6 inches rocker stern, 5 inches bow, asymetical hull, 62 pounds with bags, straps and skid plates.

Some pictures here:


Esquif site:


You wrote:

Boat must

1 have good carrying capacity

2 be fun

3 be able to run Class III+

4 not paddle like a barge on flat water

My opinion:

1 yes

2 yes

3 depends on the driver

4 watch for wind!


easy enuff

WW tripper
If you can find one, a Mad River ME would probably be your best bet.

I’d suggest you read some books
by Cliff Jacobson or Bill Mason about tripping. A tripping canoe is an entire different specie than a WW play boat. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. You take a loaded canoe down a rapid solo in a wilderness you better know what you’re doing. A rule of thumb is to gauge a rapid at least one grade higher so a II becomes a III. To say the least, I’m very concerned about WW in a wilderness when I go tripping. With a fully loaded tripper, unless you’re very skilled, you’ll portage any technical WW. A mistake in the wilderness can be very unpleasant experience.

Yep–I agree
That’s what it was designed to do. Carry a crap load of gear in almost all conditions.

Check out the Evergreen Sunburst. 14’6" about 31" at the gunnels, 15.5" deep, moderate rocker. I have one and love it. Some people set them up for tripping, some people use it as a beginner white water play boat, some use it as a tandem play boat. I also have a Swift Raven. In a trip with heavier whitewater I favour the Sunburst… trips with more flats I favour the Raven.

Millbrook ME
Millbrook Boats http://www.millbrookboats.com/ makes the ME in glass if you want a new one.

14’ or 13’

It sounds to me like you know the difference between wilderness tripping and ww play and you know what you’re looking for - a whitewater boat.

The part I had a hard time interpreting is how long your trips will be or how much gear you will take.

If it’s minimal gear for a few days, try a 13’ish Outrage X or Prodigy X (or older boats like the Genesis or H2Pro). If it’s a little more, I second the recommendation of a Vertige X as a large ww canoe that could carry gear and be played in solo.

If it’s lots of gear and less play, then some Prospector version, but you already know that. Best of both worlds would be the 14’ Old Town Cascade (small Appalachian), but they don’t make it any more.


read them


You speak my language. I do know the differance and I also know what I want.

I am not very big so I was actualy considering the prodigy and vertage (no X). Can you comment on them have you paddled them

I plan on trips from 1 to 15 days, I pack light.

John (5’9" 140)

I found an old ME
and I just love it. Its beaten and battered, but it is very responsive as a solo. The cool part is you have to hit something pretty big to even get any water in the boatwith all that rocker. It is a bit of a bear on flat water though especially if its windy.

can’t really comment, but will

– Last Updated: Mar-22-06 2:33 PM EST –

I haven't paddled either. We don't see many Bells out West.

However, I expect the Prodigy would probably be a higher-performance boat for ww, although it mught be tighter squeeze and carry less. You might consider comparing the Prodigy X and the Vertige.

I've heard the Vertige marketed as an entry-level boat similar to the Impulse, which many found to be a tank. But those comments probably refer to its handling as a day-tripper, different story if tripping is high on your priorities.

Plus, I'm not too picky about hulls, if I knew it would fit the stuff I wanted to carry, I'd use any boat (Prodigy, Vertige, their X's, Caption, Outrage X, Genesis, ME, whatever). For me, it would come down to what's available locally and/or cheap.