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 Post subject: What kind of vehicle to get for canoeing
PostPosted: August 26th, 2011, 10:12 am 
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Joined: June 20th, 2011, 6:49 pm
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I'm looking for some more experienced paddlers' opinions on what kind of vehicle to get to transport canoes to and from rivers and lakes. I've been throwing all my gear on the Greyhound (I have a Pakcanoe) but that usually involves a substantial amount of walking under heavy load to get to the put in/take out so I want to buy a cheap vehicle. Can I get away with a car or do I need a 4X4?


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 Post subject: Re: What kind of vehicle to get for canoeing
PostPosted: August 26th, 2011, 10:37 am 
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Joined: December 2nd, 2002, 7:00 pm
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Location: Grand Haven, Michigan U.S.A.
Let me start out by saying I think 4wd is seriously overrated for most paddlers. I've gotten to the end of the road in alot of places on this continent, and usually there is a car sitting there that seems to have negotiated the road just fine. That said... if you need 4wd (like driving down roads that require 8 inches of ground clearance)... you need it there really is no substitute. But on nearly all roads (paved, paved with snow, paved with black ice, gravel, gravel with snow, gravel with lots of snow, a car with a set of dedicated snow tires handles monumentally better than a truck or SUV with stock tires in all seasons)

I'd rather buy my car for the 22,000 miles I drive a year than worry about the optimal vehicle to get the last 3 miles to the put-in. I find that I access the put-in for most of my trips via some other form of transportation than my car anyways.

I live in snow country here in MI. I paddle year around, and nordic ski plenty. We get about around 300-400 cm of snow a season, and for work I've driven a K1500, F-150, Ram 1500, Jeep Cherokee, Toyota Tacoma, Blazer, Durango, Dakota, and I'll take my VW with snow tires on any icy road any day. However, all these vehicles perform better driving around construction sites, or landfills. But I find that for the combination of every day driving, hauling two canoes and a month of camping gear, or getting up to NW Ontario where we often trip, the VW rides better, handles monumentally better, and hauls nearly as much as anything but a pick-up, gets far better gas mileage, and is way way, way way more fun to drive!

So I've already got my eye on my next car, and I will again opt for a european wagon, and I'll put dedicated snow tires matched to the conditions I regularly do my 70 mile daily commute. But then again, my current car with 227,000 miles on it, might just go for few years as my trusty canoe carrying steed.

PK


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 Post subject: Re: What kind of vehicle to get for canoeing
PostPosted: August 26th, 2011, 11:33 am 
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Joined: December 29th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 5422
Location: Bancroft, Ontario Canada
I have a Ford Ranger in 4WD but the reason for the 4WD is not for canoe access (well, mostly not), it's for off-roading, winter road conditions, hauling stovewood out of the bush, yanking logs out, muddy spots, etc. A truck in 2WD (rear wheel drive only) often has poor traction because they're lightly loaded and more weight needs to be added over the rear wheels for greater grip.

I used to drive a 2WD Toyota pickup and got bogged down several times but not while carrying canoes... so the need for 4WD with trucks around here became obvious. The added perk is that more canoe access on bush roads is now available with less risk of a long walk out for a tow if there are road problems.

I'm with PK, most canoe access doesn't need 4WD.

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 Post subject: Re: What kind of vehicle to get for canoeing
PostPosted: August 26th, 2011, 11:42 am 
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Joined: September 24th, 2010, 7:31 am
Posts: 26
First I will say ditto on the snow tires, before trip where there is more than 40klms of dirt road, I will put snow tires on my 99 Accord. They just have bigger tread.

I think it also depends on where you generally put in. If its on a paved road then anything will do, but if you regulary drive 40+ klms down dirt roads then something with good suspension (car or truck) is a good idea. But...my Accord is one of those cars with crappy suspension that you see in places where you expect to see only trucks, but it takes me longer to get there and wheel alignments are a seasonal/regular occurance. The suspension still works, but it is really loud since I started using it for dirt road access trips 5 years ago.

Keep in mind too that not all dirt roads are equal so if you are always going to the same park or area take a look at what they generally have. I have found that there are generaly three different kinds: 1-new (and initially built for logging) stone roads than have yet to really pack down, were made with natural gravel/sand/dirt dug up from pits along the road, are rutted and the stones can get as big as baseballs (bad), 2-ones like previously mentioned but are packed down from a lot of use, upkeep and sifted gravel to get rid of the bigger stones (good), 3-and the small little dirt roads with grass in the middle (even in a truck you would be going slow, just watch the clearance). For example I live between La Verandry in Quebec and Algonquin in Ontario. I have since stopped doing any trip in La Verandrye that requires dirt road travel because the roads seem to be built mainly for the lumber industry and not recreation (other than moose hunters in giant diesel trucks) whereas I have no qualms about driving any dirt road in my car in Algonquin since they generally keep their roads in a condition that has car driving canoe trippers in mind (they are good roads). If you go early in the spring and late in fall 4x4 may be a consideration as even the best roads get more unpredicatable.



good luck


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 Post subject: Re: What kind of vehicle to get for canoeing
PostPosted: August 26th, 2011, 12:46 pm 
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Joined: June 20th, 2011, 6:49 pm
Posts: 9
Ah well thanks guys...I guess an early to mid 90s Tercel is in the future for me then. Hooray for beaters :D


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 Post subject: Re: What kind of vehicle to get for canoeing
PostPosted: August 26th, 2011, 1:06 pm 
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Joined: June 20th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 315
Best Canoe Vehicle I ever had was a Buick Century wagon with faux wood on the sides. It went through 2 quarts of oil per tank of gas, but could (and did) go about anywhere and carried a pile of crap and people, with enough power to pull a trailer. Mine had an engine swap and had a 3.1L in it.

Alas is died on the side of teh 403 one night. when the mainseal let go in the engine and it ran dry. A close second was the GMC astrovan and Safari. Sadly no one makes a decent wagon anymore, at least not one that can fit 2 kids in carseats and a teen in the back seat, and all your gear in the trunk.


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 Post subject: Re: What kind of vehicle to get for canoeing
PostPosted: August 26th, 2011, 2:50 pm 
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Joined: December 2nd, 2002, 7:00 pm
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Location: Grand Haven, Michigan U.S.A.
C. Potvin wrote:
Sadly no one makes a decent wagon anymore, at least not one that can fit 2 kids in carseats and a teen in the back seat, and all your gear in the trunk.


This is especially true if you want a "domestic" wagon, as the last of the true domestic wagons died with the Ford Focus, and the Saturn SLs. Ford's Freestyle comes the closest, but it's mileage is really only appropriate for a mid 1990s wagon. But there are a few good wagons from European manufacturers. VW builds a Jetta sportwagon with both gas and diesel engines, Volvo still makes a wagon, and Audi, BMW, and Mercedes still sell wagons. In addition, Hyundai sells the Elantra Touring, which unfortunately has not been updated to the class leading amenities of the brand new Elantra sedan. It's odd that the North American auto buying public has such a poor view of wagons as wagons are very popular in Europe.

PK


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 Post subject: Re: What kind of vehicle to get for canoeing
PostPosted: August 26th, 2011, 3:14 pm 
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Joined: July 22nd, 2003, 6:52 pm
Posts: 156
Location: Edmonton Alberta
For years I drove a yellow '77 volvo wagon.
Travelled lots of lumpy bumpy roads with gear and canoes.
It's so easy to load and tie down boats on a wagon

Never broke down, never got stuck but sometimes drove pretty slow.

Pick something that has a standard transmisson and windows you roll down yourself. You'll need roof racks or another plan, too.

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 Post subject: Re: What kind of vehicle to get for canoeing
PostPosted: August 26th, 2011, 3:33 pm 
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Joined: June 20th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2802
Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
I did a trip once with someone who had an old (late 70's?) Cadillac, it was a monster but was surprisingly good on lumber roads, washouts and loose gravel.

I think many people have trouble because they are trying to keep their vehicles in pristine condition similar to those shiny "looks like new" canoes you see on the tops of fancy SUV's. If bottoming out, getting smacked by branches, hit by flying rocks etc doesn't bother you almost any vehicle will get you there (and back).

For groups it's hard to beat the Safari/Astro and they can be had pretty cheap. For a solo tripper an old Tercel would be perfect.

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 Post subject: Re: What kind of vehicle to get for canoeing
PostPosted: August 26th, 2011, 3:36 pm 
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Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 1496
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
Used 2wd, 4 cyl, 5 speed plain vanilla Toyota (or other) pick up

Take the money you save over a 4WD, bigger engine and option packages and buy a cap for the back, sturdy construction racks for the boats and mount a winch for just in case. (I never had cause to pull me out, but I winched several other folks free over the years).

Trick out under the cap as you like for sleeping and gear storage. I added full window screens and curtains, interior lights, a cooler with a built-in drain hose and stopcock, side shelving for gear, hardware cloth bins suspended from the roof (a rectangular one for paddles, poles and long guns and a circular one on the opposite side of the roof for stuff bags) a 5 gallon water carboy on the inside, a 5 gallon gerrycan of gas on the outside and a deep cycle marine battery to power the lights and winch.

A long, relatively low roof line for ease of boat loading, good ground clearance and racks rated for 1000 lbs. I’ve had two done up like that and both turned 200,000+ miles and lasted 10+ years without ever leaving me with my thumb out beside the road.

I lived in one of them for 18 months and 64,000 miles of rugged travel, and when I wasn’t running cross-country footloose and fancy free it was a decent work truck, daily commuter and weekend camper & boat hauler.

When I hit retirement age I plan to outfit another just the same way and hit the road.


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 Post subject: Re: What kind of vehicle to get for canoeing
PostPosted: August 26th, 2011, 5:20 pm 
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Joined: July 16th, 2006, 8:59 pm
Posts: 705
Location: Now in Sudbury
pknoerr wrote:
C. Potvin wrote:
Sadly no one makes a decent wagon anymore, at least not one that can fit 2 kids in carseats and a teen in the back seat, and all your gear in the trunk.


This is especially true if you want a "domestic" wagon, as the last of the true domestic wagons died with the Ford Focus, and the Saturn SLs. Ford's Freestyle comes the closest, but it's mileage is really only appropriate for a mid 1990s wagon. But there are a few good wagons from European manufacturers. VW builds a Jetta sportwagon with both gas and diesel engines, Volvo still makes a wagon, and Audi, BMW, and Mercedes still sell wagons. In addition, Hyundai sells the Elantra Touring, which unfortunately has not been updated to the class leading amenities of the brand new Elantra sedan. It's odd that the North American auto buying public has such a poor view of wagons as wagons are very popular in Europe.

PK

[crocodile dundee voice] That's not a wagon. This is a wagon.[/crocodile dundee voice]
Image

For most of your canoe needs, a regular vehicle will be fine. If you frequent very hilly places, then the 4x4 will climb out of places your regular vehicle would not.


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 Post subject: Re: What kind of vehicle to get for canoeing
PostPosted: August 26th, 2011, 8:12 pm 
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Joined: December 21st, 2007, 2:45 am
Posts: 196
Location: Connecticut, USA
Depends where you canoe, what seasons and how often.

99.99% of my canoe trip driving is on highways and roads. Hence I want a good road vehicle.

I like to sleep in my vehicle as I wander about the continent, so I have used a 2WD full size van for most of the last 30 years. They still have rain gutters for tower clamps. The downside of big old vans is gas mileage. In fact, it's getting prohibitively expensive for really long drives.

I like having a used and dedicated canoe vehicle. All my canoe and camping gear and clothing is permanently stored in my old van. And during the canoe season I keep 1, 2 or 3 of my favorite boats permanently on the roof. This way, when I want to take off, I just .......... take off.


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 Post subject: Re: What kind of vehicle to get for canoeing
PostPosted: August 27th, 2011, 12:18 pm 
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Joined: February 19th, 2004, 9:53 pm
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Location: Atlanta
Odd that no one has mentioned the Subaru Outback wagons. We owned one for 11 years and 170k miles. It was certainly not as reliable as our Accords, but was an outstanding canoe and gear carrier, and in heavy rain or snow it did very well. Also more secure on gravel and light mud on USFS roads. I'll admit that AWD was not flat necessary most of the time, but it was a good wagon with decent gas mileage. Outbacks are not that expensive, and careful shopping can find a used one. Budget some extra for repairs. I think the auto is preferable. We had clutch problems with out stick.


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 Post subject: Re: What kind of vehicle to get for canoeing
PostPosted: August 27th, 2011, 6:36 pm 
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Joined: February 24th, 2002, 7:00 pm
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Location: HFX, Nova Scotia canada
If I could get a pic from I Photo it would show a 2008 Matrix with 2 canoes on the roof, 2x2's extending the Yak rack. Tight space wise but it can be done by putting gear up inside the boats probably exceeding the load rating of the racks and roof creating dents where the feet of the rack rest on the roof. Gas mileage gets real lousy with two boats on board( have had as low as 375 km vs normal of 525 km per tank). Huge advantage of this wagon is that the hatch window opens separately from the hatch, really handy with boats on the roof. Love it but next one will be a Tacoma.


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 Post subject: Re: What kind of vehicle to get for canoeing
PostPosted: August 27th, 2011, 8:09 pm 
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Joined: July 16th, 2006, 8:59 pm
Posts: 705
Location: Now in Sudbury
scoops wrote:
If I could get a pic from I Photo it would show a 2008 Matrix with 2 canoes on the roof, 2x2's extending the Yak rack. Tight space wise but it can be done by putting gear up inside the boats probably exceeding the load rating of the racks and roof creating dents where the feet of the rack rest on the roof. Gas mileage gets real lousy with two boats on board( have had as low as 375 km vs normal of 525 km per tank). Huge advantage of this wagon is that the hatch window opens separately from the hatch, really handy with boats on the roof. Love it but next one will be a Tacoma.


It was climbing out of a gully with my mom's 4x4 Pontiac Vibe (GM's matrix) that made me mention the 4x4 advantage for steep climbs. It's like having an "easy" button. Not a bad car for the money.


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