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PostPosted: September 11th, 2023, 2:48 pm 
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Hi all,

Apologies for what is seemingly yet another superfluous thread, but I've read every pertinent thread here and elsewhere, sometimes twice, and don't feel any closer to making a decision, so am finally throwing it out to the group to see what others think I should do.

My wife and I have been paddling on and off for ~20 years, mostly flatwater tripping in Algonquin and similar, and day tripping on lakes, rivers, and big lakes (Georgian Bay, etc). Although neither of us have ever owned a canoe, we have collectively used a LOT of outfitter boats along with whatever people had available at cottages and the like, and know enough to know that we don't want a flat bottomed "recreational" canoe.

We have three small-medium size kids that right now fit fine sitting in a 16' canoe on day trips, but obviously that won't remain the case forever. For trips it will either be me solo, my wife and I tandem, or some combination of adults and kids, but when it comes to tripping with the whole family I expect we will have to rent a second boat (or buy another... more on that later).

What am I looking for? I am, of course, looking for a unicorn canoe that is lightweight enough to portage solo until I am in my 70s or 80s, durable enough to bomb Class III rapids and bounce off rocks, tracks straight on big flatwater, is maneuverable in rapids and twisty rivers, is fast, can be solo'd or swallow a whole family and gear for long trips, is easily repairable, and is nice and cheap. If money and storage were no object, I would of course buy 2 or more canoes, (i.e. something like at Esquif Canyon in T-formex for rivers or to let the kids beat up, and something like an H2O Boundary or Swift Winisk in an ultralight layup for lake tripping) but at least for now I must pick a single canoe to buy, and am struggling with whether I want to get a "do everything" Prospector design, or get something that leans more towards lakes or rivers now, planning for the eventual "two canoe" garage. Right now I would prioritize "rough water lake paddling" and weight... 65 lbs is my upper limit, but something in the mid to low 50s would be preferable. I have never paddled white water, but would like to try it and eventually would like to do some down river trips (5-10 day) with running some rapids here and there.

I've been watching the used market for a while and have been quite frustrated to say the least... People have seemingly lost their minds with what they are willing to pay for 30+ year old canoes. I have spotted a few reasonable opportunities pop up in the last few months, but even being the first to message and willing to immediately drive cash in hand and purchase without a test paddle is not always enough! I have lost at least 3 good deals to the same Marketplace/Kijiji seller, who has re-posted the boats for $600-$800 more within a day or two, and they STILL sell within 24-48 hours at the marked up price.

My wife and I are almost ok with the low end of pricing of a new Swift, H2O, or similar composite boat (buy once, cry once!), but adding an option or two such as colours or layup upgrades quickly prices us out. If we are going to pony up for a new build, we need to be damn sure it will be the canoe of our dreams and we will be happy with it for years to come.

I know the first bit of advice is to "test paddle, test paddle, test paddle!", and I have been trying to do this, however it is not always easy to test paddle in conditions that reflect our real world usage. We test paddled a couple of H2O boats at Frontenac Outfitters, and liked the Prospector 16-6 considerably more than the Canadian 16. This was the only test run with both of us present, and the kids on board. Not much wind that day, but the Prospector tracked reasonably well and we both liked the sitting positions and feel in general.

I visited Jeff at H2O, went through my requirements, and he thinks the Prospector 16-6 would serve me well, but he also showed me something he is working on that doesn't have a name yet... it is based on an Old Town Appalachian, which is a little more river focused, which is intriguing and I will be test paddling one when he has it available.

I also visited Swift and paddled their Prospector 16, an old Winisk (17'6"), and a Dumoine, although I was paddling solo on a fairly windy day. I loved the way the Prospector and Winisk paddled, even solo in the wind (I had some sandbags in the bow to simulate a child). The Dumoine basically blew sideways at an alarming rate in the wind, but I realize these were not the ideal conditions for it, or any of them... Part of me really wants to buy the Winisk (Swift will still produce them), but I don't know if buying it as an "only canoe" is prudent. I really like the "click in, click out" seats Swift sells for the Prospector 16 Combi so you can easily switch between solo and tandem setups, and their construction looks really nice, however the Combi options add quite a bit to the cost.

Part of me thinks that the way to go would be buying an Esquif Prospecteur 16 (or used Royalex equivalent if one shows up at the right price/condition), which just barely slides in under my weight requirement, but is fairly bombproof and will last through whatever the kids throw at it for the next 15 years and then down the line I can add the ultralight tripping canoe of my dreams... but something like a Winisk or Boundary is also calling to me as a fast lake tripper that is perfect for conditions on Georgian Bay.Decisions, decisions...

Anyway, thanks to anyone who read my verbal diarrhea thought process, and thanks to anyone that has an opinion to share with me... either way, it was helpful to write it all out!


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PostPosted: September 11th, 2023, 5:50 pm 
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Joined: March 15th, 2018, 6:04 pm
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Location: Ottawa
For me, the compromise between flat vs white water canoes is the end flare & height. Too much flare makes a pig in the flats, while too little plunges into holes and haystacks.

Look for moderate or even more rocker, you’ll need it in whitewater. Sure it makes tracking a chore on the flats, but that’s offset by the ease of turning back on course.


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PostPosted: September 11th, 2023, 8:05 pm 
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matted wrote:
Part of me thinks that the way to go would be buying an Esquif Prospecteur 16 (or used Royalex equivalent if one shows up at the right price/condition), which just barely slides in under my weight requirement, but is fairly bombproof and will last through whatever the kids throw at it for the next 15 years and then down the line I can add the ultralight tripping canoe of my dreams... but something like a Winisk or Boundary is also calling to me as a fast lake tripper that is perfect for conditions on Georgian Bay.Decisions, decisions...


i think that's what i would do given your requirements:

-easy to no repair
-low cost
-kids proof
-rocky whitewater capable
-rough lake water
-solo capable
-light
-great for lake travel

the last 2 or so are the ones which conflict with the rest, all else seems fine. going to be some conflict as there is going to be a period of time before 2nd boat comes. think about which conflict is the lesser during that delay period. i would get 2 boats instead of 1, for all requirements (if you were thinking just 1). by getting 2 you'll get Much Much closer to optimising boat to trip type, compared to getting 1 'do it all'. i mean, you Will appreciate the difference. light easy portages and easier headwinds are big deals (and you mentioned solo, and gbay). so is manoeuvrability, dryness, durability in rock-bouncing rivers. Big, Big deals, each of those. if it can be done financially, i say get 2. if the delay is not a huge issue, i say accept the delay. pros16 seems a good pick for river, kids, mess around boat, and can still tandem/solo during delay period; def not ideal on lake but fine. i paddle NC and Esquif pros a lot on lake. but for the light, lake boat, your big treat (after $ saved), just flatten it down. maybe add a foot. maybe add center removal-able seat (for even more solo optimisation). some rocker is nice in big chop.

and just so you know, esquif prospector 16/17 are made from trailhead mold, so are identical to trailhead pros, but differ in seating placement, decks, etc.


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PostPosted: September 12th, 2023, 11:35 am 
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Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
matted wrote:
We have three small-medium size kids that right now fit fine sitting in a 16' canoe on day trips, but obviously that won't remain the case forever. For trips it will either be me solo, my wife and I tandem, or some combination of adults and kids, but when it comes to tripping with the whole family I expect we will have to rent a second boat (or buy another... more on that later).


We are all at some point looking for a unicorn canoe. In reality, there are no unicorns that are lightweight, bounce off rocks, track straight on flatwater while maneuvering in rapids that can be solo’ed or paddled with a growing family of five, to say nothing of the “cheap”. If such a canoe existed we would all own that model. The best canoe buying advice have heard is “Buy a canoe for what you plan to do most of the time”.

I watch the used canoe market. Locally (mid-Atlantic region) the Covid crazy asking prices have mostly come back to reality. Having rented canoes and test paddled you probably have a basis for which designs work best for your style of paddling, and know the rental costs that can accrue.

A growing family of five may be the most important issue. My advice would be what my wife and I did when our two sons were very young and four people plus gear in our 17’ beater canoe wasn’t working. We bought two canoes, both 16-ish foot symmetrical hulls without a thwart immediately behind the bow seat and first paddled them bow-backwards, each with a young bowman, until years later turning them bow forwards and paddling them properly tandem one son each for another five years, until our sons went into their first solo canoes.

Our sons were much happier as active bowmen than as bored midships passengers and soon became proficient paddlers, which is hard to achieve as a lump of clay amidships. Even at a young age they provided considerable propulsion; there were occasional wind issues when I asked “I need you to hit it hard for a bit” and they did.

We used those canoes for 10 – 12 years of family trips before selling them for not much less than we had paid (bought new but heavily discounted at the end of a demo show, one was a factory blem). We never rented canoes, I do not know rental rates, but family paddling and tripping throughout the years I imagine the rental costs, even for renting one additional canoe, would have been significant.

I’d keep searching for a used canoe, or two. Fall and winter become more of a buyer’s market, and some outfitters sell their canoes at the end of the season.


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PostPosted: September 12th, 2023, 12:12 pm 
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Airbag wrote:
Look for moderate or even more rocker, you’ll need it in whitewater. Sure it makes tracking a chore on the flats, but that’s offset by the ease of turning back on course.


Thanks for the thoughts! Seems like I might be on the right track with the Prospecteur, especially the Sport (3.5" of rocker instead of "only" 2.75" that he regular 16 has). Interesting point about the ease of turning back on course; I had never considered that.

I recently did a day paddle with my wife in a plastic Nova Craft Prospector, and found that it had the tendency to do a 180 when we stopped paddling to eat a snack or take a picture... it should be noted that the canoe was relatively unloaded (just the two of us, no gear), but is this a general tendency of highly rockered canoes? It didn't seem to be windy enough to turn us that quickly, but I suppose it could have been wind.

remogami wrote:

i think that's what i would do given your requirements:

-easy to no repair
-low cost
-kids proof
-rocky whitewater capable
-rough lake water
-solo capable
-light
-great for lake travel

the last 2 or so are the ones which conflict with the rest, all else seems fine. going to be some conflict as there is going to be a period of time before 2nd boat comes. think about which conflict is the lesser during that delay period. i would get 2 boats instead of 1, for all requirements (if you were thinking just 1). by getting 2 you'll get Much Much closer to optimising boat to trip type, compared to getting 1 'do it all'. i mean, you Will appreciate the difference. light easy portages and easier headwinds are big deals (and you mentioned solo, and gbay). so is manoeuvrability, dryness, durability in rock-bouncing rivers. Big, Big deals, each of those. if it can be done financially, i say get 2. if the delay is not a huge issue, i say accept the delay. pros16 seems a good pick for river, kids, mess around boat, and can still tandem/solo during delay period; def not ideal on lake but fine. i paddle NC and Esquif pros a lot on lake. but for the light, lake boat, your big treat (after $ saved), just flatten it down. maybe add a foot. maybe add center removal-able seat (for even more solo optimisation). some rocker is nice in big chop.

and just so you know, esquif prospector 16/17 are made from trailhead mold, so are identical to trailhead pros, but differ in seating placement, decks, etc.


Thanks so much of your thoughts. I think I have always known that 2 boats are the answer, but that may be a tough sell to my wife. I think I want my first boat to tick as many boxes as possible, so that if the second boat never happens then I'm not wanting for much.

I think it is easier to take a river-leaning boat on a lake trip than it is to take a lake-leaning boat on a river, provided that it handles waves well and isn't a total pig. That being said, I don't know if I would want to end up with a Royalex or T-Formex hull as my only ride for too long... I had a friends fibreglass canoe (~65-70 lbs) for about a year and the weight was certainly manageable, but my shoulders and neck yearn for something lighter for sure, even just a little bit. I've also never paddled an ABS canoe and I'm slightly worried about the oil canning and lack of stiffness and "glide" that some designs have... again, not ideal if it will end up being my only ride.

I'm definitely curious about river-capable composites, such as the Dumoine in expedition Kevlar or the Appalachian-like boat that H2O is working on, as they are certainly lighter than Royalex/t-formex and can still take a reasonable beating, but should be stiffer and better in the flats. I don't expect I'm going to be doing any whitewater that is too crazy anytime soon.

There is a 58lb Esquif Mistral that just popped up locally that is intriguing... I know serious white water paddlers had serious misgivings about Twin-Tex but it may fit the bill for me as a lighter alternative to Royalex/T-formex that is more abrasion resistant than gel coat/epoxy, stiff, glides well, etc... and the hull shape has lots of rocker and should be good in waves. If it was field/home repairable it just might be the perfect boat for me right now.


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PostPosted: September 12th, 2023, 12:27 pm 
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Any canoe can be a river canoe if your desire is simply tripping. The Winisk is a fine canoe, I have run the Steel River with a cedarstrip version several times. However, it's asymmetrical and will make for a really bad solo canoe. With three kids, I would look at the Swift Quetico. The Dumoine is a great canoe too, but will be slower than the Winisk....I'd look at the Yukon if you are planning on hauling kids around. The Souris river Quetico 17 is a great all around canoe too, and can be had at a very light weight. Pretty much any composite canoe made now will be quite tough, I'd go for the lightest one you can afford that you like to paddle.


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PostPosted: September 12th, 2023, 7:13 pm 
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Posts: 101
Location: Ottawa
matted wrote:
I recently did a day paddle with my wife in a plastic Nova Craft Prospector, and found that it had the tendency to do a 180 when we stopped paddling to eat a snack or take a picture... it should be noted that the canoe was relatively unloaded (just the two of us, no gear), but is this a general tendency of highly rockered canoes? It didn't seem to be windy enough to turn us that quickly, but I suppose it could have been wind.


At least 3 factors influence a canoe’s tendency to yaw
-Wind, greater the wind, and the higher the ends, more yaw,
-Momentum, An object in motion continues this motion,,,
-Bow wave. If the bow wave is greater on the out side of a turning canoe, it will push the bow to the in side, some refer this as carving a turn. The more flare or blunt the bow is, and the greater the forward velocity, the bigger the bow wave. This, incidentally, is how proficient solo paddlers paddle without conventional correction strokes or switching sides. They initially get the boat to carve to their onside or in side, then fight the carve or yaw with forward strokes.

Probably beyond yr question, but those interested in solo technique might refer to the 2x4 method of control link below,

https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.americancanoe ... Method.pdf


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PostPosted: September 13th, 2023, 10:43 am 
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Just a few comments...

- When looking for canoe recommendations it's important to know how much weight the boat has to carry...on both the light end and heavy end. We can only assume that you are small to medium size if you can get 5 people in a 16 footer.

- I'd challenge you to think harder about your use cases. A 16 footer is very small for five people and a 17.5 foot Winisk is not a solo canoe.

- The age of a used boat is almost completely irrelevant if it has been stored inside. A high quality used canoe may be worth more than you think. I have one 1999 canoe that cost $1900 new. A new comparable boat would cost $4000...plus my older boat is more durable than the newer ones. It would be a bargain at $1900 used. I'll also mention that you need to have cash on hand and be ready to move fast....the last 2 boats I sold and the last 2 I bought were all on the market for less than a day.

- Test paddle as much as you can and remember that there is sometimes a test paddling effect where you are excited and maybe stronger than usual and also more likely to fall in love and overlook things that may bother you later. You may have enjoyed the Winisk solo in the wind but I'm gonna guess that the wind was light because on a big windy lake even a dedicated solo can be a handful.

- All that said, my take is that you can't make a bad decision. The Winisk is a fine boat and if the price is reasonable you can always sell it in the future without losing much money. The Swift Prospector Combi would be a superb choice. Great tandem and actually a good solo. The slightly reduced rocker vs other Prospectors should help paddling efficiency and 2" of symmetric rocker plus the gently round sides means it will be good in moving water (you don't need more rocker unless you are running serious whitewater). The H20's have a great reputation including their 16'4" Propsector and the fact that they use epoxy resin counts....that makes a significantly more resilient boat and it should be able to handle big rock impacts better than the Swift. I also agree with your thinking that if you have any hesitation at all about the weight of a Royalex or T-formex boat then it could be a bad idea since you NEVER want to skip paddling because the boat is a pain to use.


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PostPosted: September 13th, 2023, 11:51 am 
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Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
At some point in first boat purchases the adage “The perfect is the enemy of the good” comes into play. As does the dreaded “analysis paralysis”.

Our first two canoes for family paddling were as plebian as they come, snatched up because we could afford them, flat bottomed Royalex Old Town tandems; a Camper and a Pathfinder. None the less we day paddled with them at least once a month and tripped with them a couple times a year in a dozen States, from Maine and NY to Pennsylvania, Maryland, both Carolinas, Missouri, Florida, points west and across the border north.

Were they perfect? No. Would I recommend them? Not especially. But they served us well for 10+ years and I’m glad we bought them when we did; I wouldn’t trade those early family tripping memories for all the modern canoes in the world.

Back to the original question. I hesitate to recommend a canoe to anyone I haven’t met, or better, paddled with. Too many unknowns in the Who (number of paddlers per boat, size, experience, and skills), What (mostly day paddling, paddle-in glampers, extended tripping) or Where (rocky rivers, swamps/marshes, big lakes, shallow streams). Pick a random assortment of those who/what/where criteria and the choice of canoe is very, very different.

I guess you have the fall and winter to ponder and look. If you see a seemingly suitable used canoe (for two or max three, not five) ask for opinions here.


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PostPosted: September 13th, 2023, 2:45 pm 
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Mike McCrea wrote:
I watch the used canoe market. Locally (mid-Atlantic region) the Covid crazy asking prices have mostly come back to reality. Having rented canoes and test paddled you probably have a basis for which designs work best for your style of paddling, and know the rental costs that can accrue.

A growing family of five may be the most important issue. My advice would be what my wife and I did when our two sons were very young and four people plus gear in our 17’ beater canoe wasn’t working. We bought two canoes, both 16-ish foot symmetrical hulls without a thwart immediately behind the bow seat and first paddled them bow-backwards, each with a young bowman, until years later turning them bow forwards and paddling them properly tandem one son each for another five years, until our sons went into their first solo canoes.

Our sons were much happier as active bowmen than as bored midships passengers and soon became proficient paddlers, which is hard to achieve as a lump of clay amidships. Even at a young age they provided considerable propulsion; there were occasional wind issues when I asked “I need you to hit it hard for a bit” and they did.



Thanks so much for the thoughts, Mike! This year was the first time we let the kids take turns paddling bow (the twin boys just turned 5 a few weeks ago, and my daughter is 6) and they really responded well. Can't say they added much propulsion, but at least they are no longer slowing us down with rudders instead of forward stroke. Their form is good so it won't be long until they can contribute. Great idea regarding turning the boat around with a kid in the bow; getting a symmetrical design was on my "bonus" list for ease of solo paddling, but I don't actually solo that often so it wasn't as important. With your strategy in mind I think my first boat should be symmetrical for sure.

RHaslam wrote:
Any canoe can be a river canoe if your desire is simply tripping. The Winisk is a fine canoe, I have run the Steel River with a cedarstrip version several times. However, it's asymmetrical and will make for a really bad solo canoe. With three kids, I would look at the Swift Quetico. The Dumoine is a great canoe too, but will be slower than the Winisk....I'd look at the Yukon if you are planning on hauling kids around. The Souris river Quetico 17 is a great all around canoe too, and can be had at a very light weight. Pretty much any composite canoe made now will be quite tough, I'd go for the lightest one you can afford that you like to paddle.



Thanks! I discounted Souris River pretty early since unlike H20 and Swift it isn't very easy to arrange a test paddle. And by the time you factor in a non-kevlar colour choice and shipping, the price is basically the same for new for all three. If a used one comes up in my price range perhaps I will take a closer look.


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PostPosted: September 13th, 2023, 3:21 pm 
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justpaddlin wrote:
Just a few comments...

- When looking for canoe recommendations it's important to know how much weight the boat has to carry...on both the light end and heavy end. We can only assume that you are small to medium size if you can get 5 people in a 16 footer.

- I'd challenge you to think harder about your use cases. A 16 footer is very small for five people and a 17.5 foot Winisk is not a solo canoe.

- The age of a used boat is almost completely irrelevant if it has been stored inside. A high quality used canoe may be worth more than you think. I have one 1999 canoe that cost $1900 new. A new comparable boat would cost $4000...plus my older boat is more durable than the newer ones. It would be a bargain at $1900 used. I'll also mention that you need to have cash on hand and be ready to move fast....the last 2 boats I sold and the last 2 I bought were all on the market for less than a day.

- Test paddle as much as you can and remember that there is sometimes a test paddling effect where you are excited and maybe stronger than usual and also more likely to fall in love and overlook things that may bother you later. You may have enjoyed the Winisk solo in the wind but I'm gonna guess that the wind was light because on a big windy lake even a dedicated solo can be a handful.

- All that said, my take is that you can't make a bad decision. The Winisk is a fine boat and if the price is reasonable you can always sell it in the future without losing much money. The Swift Prospector Combi would be a superb choice. Great tandem and actually a good solo. The slightly reduced rocker vs other Prospectors should help paddling efficiency and 2" of symmetric rocker plus the gently round sides means it will be good in moving water (you don't need more rocker unless you are running serious whitewater). The H20's have a great reputation including their 16'4" Propsector and the fact that they use epoxy resin counts....that makes a significantly more resilient boat and it should be able to handle big rock impacts better than the Swift. I also agree with your thinking that if you have any hesitation at all about the weight of a Royalex or T-formex boat then it could be a bad idea since you NEVER want to skip paddling because the boat is a pain to use.


Thanks for the reply! I am certainly not small, but it helps that my family are (for now). Our usual configuration has 2 of the 3 kids sitting side by side, which at their current weight of ~40lbs is not much of an issue, but that won't remain the case for very long.

For the use cases, I am not super attached to the "solo" case... it is more of a theoretical want than a realistic need. Pretty much any solo trip I take is more likely to be in a kayak. That being said, I wouldn't want to buy something that is 18+ feet long that couldn't be solo'd, so I would like the option to do it in a pinch. I agree that the Winisk is not at all an ideal solo boat, but I was able to maneuver it around with a breeze more or less as well as the 16' Prospector, and adding any more load would only improve things (to a point). Either of them for sure would be handful on a big wind day by myself, but pretty much all of my use cases on a big lake with big wind would also have a big load to match.

I agree with you that in the case of a good condition, well cared for boat, the age is more or less irrelevant, and it is worth good money. However the sad truth is that many boats for sale in that age and price range are either not well cared for, or the current owners can't vouch for their storage history. I have looked at a few ~30 year old boats that have numerous patches, rotting woodwork, gelcoat cracks/holes, and suspect repairs performed on their "good condition" boats and can't believe how quickly they are selling. It is not the sellers that I think have lost their minds, it is the buyers. And those that have turned the hot market into a business buying, marking up, and then selling these boats at a profit is just making matters worse.

Lots of other good advice in your reply, and from others. Thanks again!


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PostPosted: September 13th, 2023, 4:10 pm 
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If you are in Ont and can wait a few weeks Algonquin Outfitters usually sell quite a few from their big fleet. Their bottoms are prob well scratched which saves you the bother of doing it yourself.

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PostPosted: September 13th, 2023, 4:21 pm 
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ok, so basically you want:

-lightweight (below 55lbs, so no plastic)
-low cost (this just means, some hot used price one day).
-family trip friendly (3 rapidly growing kids)
-solo friendly (i don't see how your caveat 'solo in pinch' softens the requirement)
because honestly, in a pinch, i'd be ok with a 20' boat on lake.
won't be that comfortable but all good, it's just a pinch.
-decent in c3 whitewater
-decent at tracking on lake, and big blowy ones

does that sound complete? anything i missed or got wrong?


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PostPosted: September 14th, 2023, 11:30 am 
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remogami wrote:
ok, so basically you want:

-lightweight (below 55lbs, so no plastic)
-low cost (this just means, some hot used price one day).
-family trip friendly (3 rapidly growing kids)
-solo friendly (i don't see how your caveat 'solo in pinch' softens the requirement)
because honestly, in a pinch, i'd be ok with a 20' boat on lake.
won't be that comfortable but all good, it's just a pinch.
-decent in c3 whitewater
-decent at tracking on lake, and big blowy ones

does that sound complete? anything i missed or got wrong?


That's about the long and the short of it, yes. Just some minor clarifications...

Aside from day trips while the two 5 year olds can still sit beside each other (which will only be the next 1-2 years I expect), I don't expect to be able to fit all five of us in it, especially not for multi-night trips. Even on day trips now one of the kids often tags along in a tiny sit on top kayak. For any multi night trips with all 5 of us we will be renting a 2nd canoe. If I don't end up just buying 2 in the next year...

You read my mind about the weight. I said somewhere above that 65lbs was my limit, but after walking around with a 65 lb Esquif Prospector yesterday at the Complete Paddler (they have a sale this weekend for a pre-scratched boat for a good price, and their floor models are discounted as well) I think I want my first boat to be under 55 lbs.

Someone wisely pointed out that I should be looking to get a boat that suits the paddling that I do now, and that is pretty much all flatwater (if the Georgian Bay can be considered flat...). The last two points in mind, I think a heavy and/or WW focused boat would be a poor choice as my first boat. I can easily rent such a boat for those trips and buy later if necessary.

For cost, I'm ok with buying new if it is the right boat. The "low cost" is only if buying used. I wouldn't spend over $2k for used... at that point I'd rather spend the extra to pick colour and the little details, and get the honour of putting in the first scratch. I'm partial to H2O since I'm about an hour from the factory, but Swift is also in easy reach.

With all that said, if I took your well laid out points and prioritized them, it would look like this:

1.lightweight (below 55lbs, so no plastic)
2.decent at tracking on lake, and big blowy ones
3.family trip friendly (3 rapidly growing kids)
4.low cost (this just means, some hot used price one day).
5.solo friendly (i don't see how your caveat 'solo in pinch' softens the requirement)
because honestly, in a pinch, i'd be ok with a 20' boat on lake.
won't be that comfortable but all good, it's just a pinch.
6.decent in c3 whitewater


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PostPosted: September 14th, 2023, 12:21 pm 
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Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2826
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
matted wrote:
You read my mind about the weight. I said somewhere above that 65lbs was my limit, but after walking around with a 65 lb Esquif Prospector yesterday at the Complete Paddler (they have a sale this weekend for a pre-scratched boat for a good price, and their floor models are discounted as well) I think I want my first boat to be under 55 lbs.

1.lightweight (below 55lbs, so no plastic)


About hull weight, especially if paying more for less weight with a new canoe, bring your bathroom scale to check the weight before you write the check.

Mike McCrea wrote:
RichardW2 wrote:
Thinking of what Mike McCrea had said about weight I asked for them to weigh it. They assured me that the weight would be +/- lb off the spec of 56 lbs. I insisted and the weight was 62.5 lbs !! That's more than the expedition version of the boat.


I have been told that manufacturers spec’ed weights are the “on-average”. I seriously doubt manufacturers weigh each and every canoe they produce to establish that “average”.

I have owned a couple dozen different canoes over the years, and probably worked on another 50 or 60. Of those I weighed – all of ours and most of the shop work canoes – not a single one was less than the catalog weight. Some were very close, some were a few pounds heavier, and some were considerably heavier.

If I were buying a new boat - factory first, factory second, blem, whatever – I’d bring a bathroom scale and weigh myself with and without the canoe. Even more so if boat weight was one of my criteria; it would suck to buy a canoe for weight savings, get home and find it significantly heavier than spec’ed.


If weight is the #1 criteria I’d weigh a used canoe first as well. I had an Old Town Appalachian in the shop, speced at a beefy 67lbs. It weighed in the beefier mid-80’s. That was Royalex, but even composite canoes can vary weight-wise enough to make a difference.


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