Canadian Canoe Routes

Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)
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Author:  Charlie Wilson [ June 6th, 2013, 6:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

Paul Meyer's Colden hulls are more rugged than Bell's Black/Gold, and I'm sure He would lay another 5 oz Kev blanket in the boat for a fair up-charge to anyone interested and willing to order the thing.

Depending on paddler size, especially height, one might find the WIldFire a more stable whitewater hull.

I know Paul Knoerr, well over 6 ft paddles a Flash often, but for we mere mortals...maybe a little bigger hull for frothy stuff??

Author:  RAY1984 [ June 6th, 2013, 9:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

I sold my supernova and replaced it with a wilderness. And I have to say the boat seems to be exactly what I was looking for. I didn't need a river boat as I have an impulse for the white stuff.

Author:  pknoerr [ June 7th, 2013, 7:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

Charlie, I'm surely a mortal. If I were tripping in whitewater, I'd paddle something other than a Wildfire or a Flashfire. They are great boats, but neither is really a whitewater canoe. But for play, the Flashfire is SOOOOO much more maneuverable than Wildfire in whitewater (this is the name of the game when playing in whitewater), and it attains in whitewater better than any playboat. So the cool thing with a Flashfire is you can climb features that would wash you out in playboat. A 13 foot whitewater canoe isn't that small these days. Whitewater paddlers are generally paddling boats much shorter than the Flashfire. My playboat is 11 feet and it's longer than most today. So that all said, The Flashfire is an excellent handling canoe in whitewater, so long as you can keep the water out. Wave blocking only works so well in a shallow canoe, but floatation helps. Additional depth and bow flare would help.

So this mere mortal loves paddling easy whitewater in his Flashfire. It's no uncommon for my Flashfire to end up with the best surf on the river with a bunch of playboaters.


Author:  rblturtle [ June 7th, 2013, 2:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

I once had an older Bel Flashfire in real heavy thick layup. It weighed a ton,but seemed real tough. I used to paddle it in moving(not big stuff) water and really liked it. I sold it when I bought my ultralite Colden flash. I wish I had kept it for a beater.

Author:  MartinG [ September 21st, 2013, 9:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

Reflecting back on this thread I think a boat has been missed. At the beginning I expressed that I loved my Hemlock Kestrel. I am very comfortable in it. Although, I am a probably near the top end of the size spectrum for that boat. If I could ask for something more it would be a boat that was more fun to turn and could handle mild white-water. I also like the idea of a boat that could take some abuse. I beach my canoes (gently), drag them over beaver dams fully loaded, line/wade through rocks, run c1 rapids and hit the odd rock or dead head. The suggestions that resonate with me are the Bell/Colden Wildfire/ Yellowstone Solo. I would love to get my hands on one of these in Royalex. They just don’t show up in Southern Ontario. Next would be a Wenonah Argosy, a very polarizing boat that may be a bit big for me.

What about the Esquif Echo? It is a 14' solo in Royalex. Does anyone have any experience with this boat? The marketing positioning on the Esquif website is weird. In one sentance they say, "the Echo is a canoe I can dance with on flat water or take down class II rivers or on overnight trips". Later they call it," one of the smoothest and most reliable companions you can have on calm solo paddling adventures." Seems contradictory. Why only calm solo paddling adventures? If that's the case why make it in Royalex? I take my Kestrel out in winds and waves that keep many tandems on shore. It has a similar low profile. So why couldn't I do this in an Echo. I would love to hear from anyone with personal experience with this boat.

Author:  littleredcanoe [ September 21st, 2013, 10:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

It is shallower than your usual solo boat. And it is a little wide. If you think the Argosy is too big ( do you mean wide?)for you, you will wallow in the Echo. ( Not sure why you feel the Argosy would be too big. I know a couple of 120 lb women who are fine in it though they are taller). As you know height and leg length matters more than weight.

One of our members here does have an Echo and likes it.

Echo has symmetrical rocker. Yes it is useful if you want to do FreeStyle as it spins quick. It has the room for week long expeditions. What I find a bit disconcerting is its shallow depth. Echo is much more like WildFire than Yellowstone Solo(which is an entirely different boat than Wild Fire).

For me Echo is simply too wide too. That inch or two over WildFire really does matter.

Author:  rblturtle [ November 2nd, 2013, 5:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

I used to have an Echo. It was a pretty green boat made of royalex. Is handled and turned wonderfully and was a hoot to paddle,the workmanship was 1st class. I took it on a wildernesstrip up the lower Osgood in the ADKs and it was great in the tight turns.I sold it because it was so heavy-48#,and with it's low freeboard,it would ship water in very mild moving water. I still miss not being able to go out and play in it,but for me,it was just too limited for my use.

Author:  MartinG [ March 17th, 2020, 9:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

I have decided to revisit this thread I started 7 years ago. Thank you all for the thoughts and conversation.

I have had 4 solo canoes over those seven years. Kept my Hemlock Kestrel because it is awesome (even though it hasn’t been used in a year). Bought and sold a Mad River Guide and a Mohawk Probe 2. Turns out I definitely wasn’t looking for a heavy boat or a white water boat.

Last spring (2019) I bought a new solo canoe. I found a boat that was good for trips up to two weeks, good with a 240 pound load, good for kneeling or sitting, efficient on lakes but still able to handle moving water and river tripping. Not too heavy. Not an eggshell. I traded off efficiency on lakes for more maneuverability on rivers. I traded of light weight for more durability. At the beginning of this conversation I said I wanted a smaller Swift Osprey or a Hemlock Kestrel with more rocker. I found an excellent compromise in a smaller package.

I bought a Northstar Firebird in IXP layup. IXP is touted as a very tough layup suitable for extended river tripping and expedition whitewater. Not sure I buy that. But it is tough and I will be taking it down some remote rivers. The Firebird is the lesser known little brother to the Northstar Phoenix. The Phoenix was a reincarnation of the Bell Wildfire. My Firebird is a reincarnation of the Bell Flashfire. Only it is a bit bigger all around. 13'6" long, 25"wl width, 29" max width. 2 1/2" symmetrical rocker. I bought this last spring directly from Northstar. I hummed and hawed over it for nearly a year until Bear Paulsen gave me a great deal and made me a very happy paddler. I have earned a reputation for going through canoes. It may surprise some of you to know this is the first brand new canoe I have ever owned.

Some people think of this boat as a dainty freestyle boat for smaller people. The Flashfire was Cliff Jacobsons favorite boat for many years. Cliff is a smaller guy. On the flip side Pknoerr at 6’3” and 180 lbs really likes the Flashfire for playing in White water. I took a real chance buying this without paddling or even having seen one. A year later it turns out the Firebird is a hoot. Not just a boat for spinning around on ponds. Sure it turns on a dime, but it also paddles quick, is easy to control, and is comfortable to sit still in while fishing. Not as fast, light or windproof as my Hemlock Kestral but better in a lot of other ways. It is so much fun as a river boat. Easily able to handle C2’s. Eddy’s in and out of current predictably. Very maneuverable and quick to respond. It is just an awesome all-round versatile boat.


Author:  Carpenter [ March 18th, 2020, 10:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

Great to hear - thank you for the update. A striking boat.
I am looking myself and have found this post helpful.
A bigger paddler than you at 215 lbs so have been considering the Peregrine or Phoenix or even the SRT. An experienced paddler looking for skill development and responsiveness. I am based outside Ottawa so Swift and H2O easier to reach - those boats seem more flatwater oriented though.
Still very few reviews of the Clipper Caribou S - closer to the SRT and again not readily available out here anyone been in the Caribou lately?

Author:  Mollycollie [ March 18th, 2020, 9:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

I hear ya carpenter, there is definitely a shortage of caribou reviews.
I paddled the caribou this fall, I loaded the boat with 450 lbs (me, my kid and 10 bags of lead shot) and took it for a good spin. It is everything it claims to be, stable, decent speed with a load, and fairly agile, it seems like a boat that will get you pretty much wherever you want to go. Needless to say I’ve got a duraflex caribou about to be shipped any day now (virus dependent)

I chose the boat for a few reasons beyond what I considered a successful test paddle. Product loyalty, the cost of purchase (American stuff is out of the question with exchange rates), at 1700 km away clipper is my local canoe manufacture so is the most convenient for repairs....., I own a couple tandem clippers and they build awesome stuff. I wouldn’t hesitate to take any of these boats anywhere, even the ultra lite.

Got a bunch of time planned for the new caribou this summer, hopefully I can add to the sparse reviews.

Author:  Carpenter [ March 20th, 2020, 6:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

Looking forward to your experiences - I am still holding out for pretty well any reasonably priced used solo and will spend the summer trying to paddle as many as I can before I buy a new boat. Caribou does seem to be well-priced and though heavier than some, more durable perhaps?
Dangerous group to be hanging out with here though - easy to end up with quite a collection of boats we just gotta have...planning to get on the water this weekend - social distancing at its finest!!!

Author:  Daniel Odd Job [ March 24th, 2020, 6:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

I dropped the coin on a Hellman Prospector in dura- lite today. Bob is putting the finishing touches on it now, and will be shipping in a few days. She'll be my solo, and I'm convinced it was a good choice. Gave up trying to find used, after a year of paddling beaters while searching.

Give him a call or email, he was very helpful. Possibly a Hellman Prospector, Scout, or Slocan might be the answer for you. His prices were fair.

Author:  DTowlun [ March 28th, 2020, 6:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

With all the social distancing going on you might have enough time to build your own...

Author:  Bearpaulsen [ March 29th, 2020, 3:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)


I'm glad you're enjoying the Firebird. Thanks for letting us display it at the Outdoor Adventure Show. If you're worried about the durability, take a look at this:

The Rage is a whitewater hull that we build out of IXP. Please let me know if your Firebird has sustained anything more than deep scratches?

Here's hoping you're maintaining your social distance by paddling solo,


Author:  MartinG [ March 29th, 2020, 5:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

Thanks again for the Boat Bear, I love it! That Rage looks great too. No problems at all with durability or wear. I will keep in touch and let you know how it is doing.

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