Canadian Canoe Routes

Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)
Page 1 of 5

Author:  MartinG [ March 20th, 2013, 8:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

I have been bitten by the solo bug and love it. I have been on about a dozen shorter solo trips. This summer I am taking on a bigger challenge with a 10 day solo trip in Algonqun. I would be interested in hearing from the voice of experience in this forum. What would be THE canoe to satisfy these needs.

Canoe trips up to ten days with a total load of ~220 pounds.
Must be a kneeling boat.
Must be as efficient as possible for long days (20+km). 70% lake tripping.
Single blade. Occasional use of a double blade for fighting winds.
Able to handle up to class 2 white water with some grace.
~35 pounds or so for significant portages (2-5km). Not an eggshell!
Also used as a fishing and photo platform so the bottom can't be too round.

I bought the Hemlock Kestrel I have based on the above criteria. I love it! Just not for the class 2 WW. It also gets pushed around a bit going down stream on creeks and small rivers. Not a huge issue just a bit of a hassle.

Wondering what other boats might fit this bill.

Author:  ezwater [ March 21st, 2013, 12:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

Kaz at Millbrook ( has a mold for a "Patriot" which is sort of a solo version of the AC/DC. It might be a tad small for the load you anticipate, though. It's 14' 6" and maybe 30" wide. If you were as big as me, you might want to look at the AC/DC for solo. It is 16' plus. The fastest Millbrook solo would be the Swamp Hen, but it is zero rocker and might not meet your needs in class 2.

Author:  rblturtle [ March 21st, 2013, 5:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

the boat that comes to mind reading your post is a swift osprey. i own one and also a kestral. compaired to the kestral the osprey is bigger,almost as fast, much more manoverable and much more capible in moving water. it isn't as good on a windy lake-particularly with quartering winds from the stern as the kestrel,but nothing beats a kestrel for wind resistance. i have tried and owned a lot of boats and there is no boat perfect for osprey is one of the old heavy expidition kevlar ones but the new lite layups are under 35#.i wouldn't recoment the carbon,but have heard good things about the strength of the next heaver kevlar layup and it looks well done. good luck on your quest.

Author:  RAY1984 [ March 21st, 2013, 7:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

we-no-nah wilderness might be worth taking a look at

Author:  pknoerr [ March 21st, 2013, 7:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

I don't see where the Kestrel would be pushed around in a non-whitewater river condition. That's really what the boat is designed for. I see little advantage in the Osprey 15 foot over the Kestrel at 14'9" in running Class II. Neither of these boats are seriously hard tracking boats (like a Wenonah, or a Bell Magic), but I don't see either as being my choice to be in when catching 15 foot long eddies above horizon lines or running boulder gardens. I see both the Kestrel and the Osprey as good river oriented canoes, but neither being great in whitewater. I agree that the Osprey is bigger, and it has good wave shedding for a flatwater boat. But generally a bigger boat isn't what you want in whitewater, that asymmetrical rocker in the stern SUCKS for eddy turns and stern ferries.

Unfortunately, if you want to run whitewater better than these river boats are capable, you are going to have to accept a boat that tracks worse, has a blunter more voluminous bow, and lose the skegged stern. You'll find these qualities in boats like the MRC Guide/Freedom Solo, or the Novacraft Supernova. Both run whitewater well, but aren't terrible on lakes and flatwater. But it's going to be hard to find one that weighs 35# too.


Author:  rblturtle [ March 21st, 2013, 9:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

to clarify because i don't always write clearly.from my experience my osprey turns and manovers much better than my kestral which track much straighter. the osprey also has significantly more freeboard. these were my reasons for beliving it is better in moving water.

Author:  RHaslam [ March 21st, 2013, 11:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

I used my Osprey for pretty much what the OP described. Mixed trips, lakes, whitewater, primarily tripping. It is a tripping canoe, not a white water canoe, and as such is good at a lot of things, but not specialized at anything. I think it would be a great canoe for Algonquin. If the idea is to make it through a white water run, as opposed to playing around, it is fine, I've made it through some pretty big stuff.

Author:  MartinG [ March 21st, 2013, 12:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

Great feedback thank you I really appreciate the response.

I am fully aware that what I am asking for is a contradiction. When purchasing my Kestrel it was down to the Kestrel and the Osprey. I have paddled an Osprey quite a few times. The Osprey is definitely more maneuverable and has much fuller ends. When paddling them back to back the Osprey feels much larger than the specs would show. The Osprey seems like it might be better suited to the occasional light duty white water. The Kestrel is not a turny boat. In my limited experience I would have called it fairly hard tracking. Not like a Magic but still pretty much a straight line boat. My comment about being pushed around downstream on twisty rivers is relative to other boats. I'm not saying I'm ramming into river banks. It just requires more effort. Some outside lean to lift the stems while taking a switchback. On the other hand, the Kestrel is much faster to accelerate and can seem almost effortless to paddle across the flats. It also weighs less than a comparable Osprey.

Rob's hit it spot on. I’m not looking for white water trips in this boat. Occasionally on a trip with lots of flat water and lots of portages you are presented with a Class One you would rather run than carry. Maybe even a Class Two. Prime example of this is 5 mile rapids on the Petawawa. This is rated Class Two. Presumably because of its length. It would be almost ridiculous to portage this. At the same time a Kestrel is not the ideal boat for running some of the larger standing waves.

I think what I'm asking for is a Kestrel with more rocker or a smaller Osprey.

Picky, picky, picky. :lol:

Author:  rblturtle [ March 22nd, 2013, 12:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

amazing. "a kestrel with more rocker or a smaller osprey". the VERY same wishes i came to when fantisizing about my ultimate solo tripper. amazing. unfortunatly-it doesn't exist.

Author:  pknoerr [ March 22nd, 2013, 12:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

I knew what you meant regarding running whitewater vs. playing. Obviously, flatwater specific canoes get to a point where they can no longer shed water, but I see the need to catch eddies as a necessary river running technique to run whitewater not a playboating technique. That's why I felt that the Osprey offers too little advantage in whitewater over the Kestrel.

I disagree that a smaller more rockered non-whitewater specific tripping canoe doesn't exist. I think that Dragonfly very nicely fits your description (and to a lesser degree the Wildfire does as well). The Dragonfly was designed as a whitewater canoe, and the Wildfire while less whitewater intended has enough related genes to hold it's own in most Class IIs. Both eliminate the skegged stern, but in the hands of a skilled canoist paddle great with a bent paddle for long flatwater days.

I'm not as willing to add the Yellowstone Solo (which is no longer commercially available), due to it's stern dragging tendencies like the Osprey, as I struggle to see a canoe that doesn't catch eddies well as a whitewater capable canoe.


Author:  rblturtle [ March 22nd, 2013, 2:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

i have paddled a dragonfly in the's very high freeboard makes it really get blown around a lot compaired to my kestrel. a dragonfly with less freeboard would be a dreamboat for me.

Author:  pknoerr [ March 22nd, 2013, 3:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

Oh there you go wishing for a canoe that magically looses freeboard when you don't need it on windy flatwater. :D

In my mind you need atleast that much freeboard to stay dry running wavetrains and drops, which is where your whitewater problem with the Kestrel exists.


Author:  MartinG [ March 22nd, 2013, 4:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

Huh, interesting. Didn't think they made a Dragonfly anymore? Would that be less freeboard and less rounded than the Hemlock SRT. Or, is the SRT sort of Hemlocks version of the Curtis Dragonfly. I really like the idea of those boats. What turned me off the SRT is the initial stability. Not the most relaxing platform for messing around with camera and fishing gear.

Sorry for my ignorance who makes a Wildfire today? Thought it was Placid but that doesn't seem to be on their website.

Author:  pknoerr [ March 22nd, 2013, 5:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

Martin, For me it's the used market. But you can buy both the Wildfire and the Dragonfly new these days from Colden Canoe

Here in the Midwest we don't see alot of Hemlocks or Coldens. All the Dragonfly's I've ever seen were Curtis Canoes. Bell is out of business with respect to the manufacture of new Wildfires. Obviously there are still alot of Wildfires out there in the used market, and if I were in the market for that specific niche boat I don't think it would take me real long to find a Wildfire in pretty good condition (which is really what I'd need for a tripping boat anyways).

Since we don't see alot of Hemlocks here, I've only paddled one SRT and it wasn't under the conditions I might have considered using it. For me I don't really see the SRT and the Dragonfly as that similar. The SRT is longer and has somewhat less rocker than the Dragonfly. The Dragonfly was definitely designed for whitewater at the time, while the SRT is more a moving water canoe aimed at river tripping. Both are pretty narrow compared with the Osprey.

I would think that if you can paddle a Kestrel you're not going to find either the SRT or the Dragonfly that spooky with regard to initial stability. But I'm sure for alot of paddlers fishing and photography might be a challenge in all three boats.


Author:  rblturtle [ March 22nd, 2013, 6:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Looking for the ultimate solo canoe (for me)

when i first paddled a dragonfly i was a bit aprehensive about it's rumered tenderness,but it was fine.i really liked it. i think all the hrs i spent in a savage river wee lassie set up for kneeling made everything else seem stable. i find the srt to be a noticable higher volume boat than a dragonfly,noticable fuller fore and aft.yes it is teander,more so than you might thing at first look. a mophing solo,like a transformer would be great,but sadly all must be a compromise.

Page 1 of 5 All times are UTC - 5 hours
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group