Looking to get a high-end canoe

Titan_Bow

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 10, 2015
Messages
428
Location
Broomfield, CO
I've got an old vinyl Rogue River 14ft. canoe thats got the molded center seat/ live well / drink holders. Ive seen similar ones by Pelican at Cabelas, REI, etc. Between hunting trips, fishing, family camping, etc. I have really put this canoe to good use over the years. I bought it off Craigslist for 300 bucks about 10 years ago, and have definitely got more than that out of it.
My daughter is autistic and has some other special needs, so as a family in Colorado, we have been finding some awesome places to camp, by taking the canoe in and paddling back to secluded areas. Also, my daughter loves to fish and just paddle around.
The problem is, a family of 4 and camping gear, in an old 14ft. canoe thats probably not the most efficient design, is probably not an ideal scenario. Plus, this canoe is HEAVY. I believe its advertised as weighing 98lbs.
So, I've been looking at purchasing a better canoe, something lightweight, in the 16 to 18ft. range, that on a stretch could be paddled solo, but more often, carry my me and my wife and my daughter in the middle, or 4 people occasionally.
I've scoured Craigslist, and have seen some Wenonah's but people want over 1K bucks for canoes that look like they are 20 years old or more. Anything in a reasonable price range is either as heavy as what I have now, or is old and beat up. So, I have been drooling over the idea of buying a new high end canoe, probably in one of the thicker kevlar layups. I really like the idea of the Wenonah Boundary Water 17 or the Northstar B-17, or something similar. But man, these things are $3500 or more when priced out the way I would want it.
Anyone purchased a high end canoe like this? Regrets? What are some things to look out for? From Craigslist prices, they obviously hold their value, so should I just pull the trigger?
 

wytx

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Joined
Feb 2, 2017
Messages
847
Location
Wyoming
Mad River perhaps.
We have a classic Winooski and it has been a great little canoe for us.
 

Jimbob

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Feb 27, 2012
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999
Location
Smithers, BC
Did a canoe trip last year and was able to paddle a bunch of different canoes. The $400 walmart specials stay afloat and did what you asked, hard to paddle and heavy to carry. The $3000 kevlar canoes were a breeze to carry but what really surprised me was how well they paddled, no joke it was at least half the effort to paddle the high-end canoes.

If I was canoeing regularly then I would be springing for a nice one. You are not just paying for a name you definitely are getting a better performing canoe.

Here is the company that I got to use.

Clipper canoe
 

VernAK

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Joined
Dec 24, 2012
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1,064
Location
Delta Jct, Alaska
Kevlar canoes are going to be spendy but nice to paddle and portage. There are compromises that may weigh a bit less for a lot less money. Check with the guys on the canoe tripping forum as they are up to date.

Four folks and gear in a canoe may require 18' +
 

KyleR1985

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Joined
Jul 28, 2019
Messages
186
I can’t help with the size you’ll need. But I have a Northstar north wind solo. I decided to get a lightweight boat to get into some hunting spots, and got incredibly fortunate with a good craigslist deal. The boat is amazing for what it is designed to do - he carried a long way by one person, and paddles like a dream.

I can speak to their customer service as well - I’ve spent quite a bit of time on the phone with them.

sorry I can’t offer more on the technical side, but this canoe is one of my five favorite possessions!
 

Voyageur

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Joined
Feb 12, 2020
Messages
164
Don't currently own a canoe, but grew up with an 18' Grumman that was an aluminum tank. Also used a 14' aluminum Raddison for several years spring beaver hunting. The last 7 years or so I've done multiple Boundary Waters trips in rented Wenonah canoes. In my mind there is no comparison...in handling and portaging. The Wenonah is light years ahead. For me it makes sense to continue renting, but in your case and locale I doubt that is an option. I would bite the bullet and get a kevlar canoe.
One other option is to contact the outfitters in Ely MN. At the end of every season they sell a bunch of them. Might find what you are looking for that way.
Hope this helps.
 

dakotaduner

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Joined
May 15, 2014
Messages
143
x2 on watching the Ely MN outfitters like Piragis.com We bought a 18 ft. Souris River Kevlar canoe about 10 years ago. Refinished it ourselves. Best investment in canoeing we ever made. At 39 lbs. we love it
 

*zap*

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Dec 20, 2018
Messages
2,374
Location
N/E Kansas
I have an aluminum Osagian 17'. Capacity is 780# and weight is 75#. Works great for me but I do not portage, can load/unload off vehicle fairly easily. Purchased on CL in the winter of 2012 for $200.
 

KyleR1985

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Joined
Jul 28, 2019
Messages
186

Also, for anyone interested, this thing works awesome. If you have the boat strapped tight, and your gear tight, it is deadly silent. It’s surprisingly handy even in thick stuff, sticks and rocks and what not. I have made several 2mile+ hauls with it.
 

Backyard

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Jan 24, 2014
Messages
397
Location
Minnesnowta
Having used one many times, I would suggest a Souris River Quetico 18. It has a wider tumblehome than other kevlars making it a very stable and light (42lbs) canoe. It's great to fish out of with kids because it is so stable on the water. But still fairly swift to paddle.
As stated, check the Ely MN (BWCAW) outfitters sites for rental sales for a good deal on one.
 

Rich M

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Jun 14, 2017
Messages
1,108
Location
Orlando
I've had fiberglass, aluminum, and plastic canoes 12-18 ft. Never a Kevlar version. So take this w grain of salt.

A Grumman aluminum canoe is a tank and near bullet proof but best for 2 paddlers and not for running rivers. Heavy but huge.

Plastic is clumsy and often difficult to paddle for whatever reason. Heavy too.

The Kevlar canoes seem to be light weight versions of the fiberglass canoes. In my experience, I think FG are the best versions of what I've used. Not sure if they make em anymore either. Lighter than aluminum and plastic, easier to paddle, easier to fix if something happens.

For porting and general lugging, get a canoe/kayak cart that straps on to it. At my age they are mandatory.

A 16 - 17 ft fiberglass canoe may be a cost effective solution - if you can find one.
 

DJB

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2014
Messages
17
Location
Northern Minnesota
I have a Souris River Quetico 18.5 Carbon Tec and it is a great canoe and I think would be the size you would want with 3 people plus gear and a little tight with 4. I use it for BWCAW and Quetico trips. It handles vary well and is faster then my old aluminum. They will last you a lifetime so to me its a good investment. One nice thing about the Souris River is the transducer for my depth finder will shoot through the floor. You just put some water on the floor to make a good seal.
 

backcountry_hunter

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Sep 23, 2016
Messages
717
On your paddles if your constantly dealing with rocks you're going to cringe when you bump them with kevlar. Royalex will be your friend in that case.

Nothing beats the ease of kevlar though on serious paddles. If youre serious about canoeing I'd buy a used (even beat up a little) kevlar over aluminum or royalex

golden hawk out of wisconsin make a very stable canoe for reasonable $$$. They're the swiss army knife of canoes for utility. They might be a little short for what you're looking at though.
 

Setxhunter

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Joined
Oct 13, 2017
Messages
10
Location
Montgomery, Tx
What conditions you paddle in will be the biggest factor.

Kevlar and rocks don't mix well. But Kevlar can be repaired while cheap plastic boats often cannot. You also need to keep in mind where you store it. Kevlar (or the resin) becomes brittle in the sun over time and needs to me covered somehow.

They are expensive but worth it. Just make sure to match the material of the boat with intended use.
 

Lawnboi

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Joined
Mar 2, 2012
Messages
3,649
Location
North Central Wi
I’d first look at if you will be portaging? If not I don’t see a reason for a Kevlar canoe.
Iv got a 16’4 old town penobscot. Paddles very well, isn’t too heavy for short portaging or getting it on the suv. It’s a tippier canoe, but cuts through the water well and also handles a load well. Iv done quite a bit of camping out of it, and 2 people with a kid in the middle would be fine. 4 people or 3 adults and you would need another boat.

I wanted Kevlar but am glad I didn’t gothat way. For general use this thing gets beaten pretty good and from what Iv been told it’s damn near impossible to sink one of these things.

Anyways that’s all Iv got. Iv useda bunch of cheap canoes, and was amazed in how easily the Penobscot paddles. Still good chunk of change but not a 3k Kevlar canoe. Also not afraid to run this thing up in some rocks.
 

Clovis

Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2012
Messages
62
Take it for what it is worth, because I don't own a kevlar canoe, but for what you describe, a big royalex canoe might be the ticket and a lot less expensive. I have a couple of old royalex Mad River canoes with wood gunwales (an Explorer and Revelation) I picked up on craigslist for a few hundred each and they are great. I can solo portage and solo paddle them (though it would be a lot of work to lug them on mile long portages) or load them up with a thousand pounds of people and gear. And they cleaned up really nice and the wood gunwales are classy. I live in the east and we may have more of a canoe culture/used market than out west, but there are always good deals on canoes on craigslist within a reasonable drive. Royalex is discontinued as a material but not because it didn't fit a need--it may be a bit heavier than kevlar but it is strong stuff, slips off the rocks and for my uses is light enough. Canoeing, particularly with the whole family, is likely to put some scratches and dings in the canoe and I just don't stress about it with the old royalex boats. I would for the kevlar. Both my canoes are 20-30 years old and they are in great shape. Don't be put off by the age, look at the condition and how the boat was stored. If you have a lot of portaging to do, then maybe the weight savings and other tradeoffs are worth the $$, but if not and you feel comfortable lifting a 70 lb canoe onto a rack and for short carries, they are a great option.
 

Vek

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2013
Messages
23
I know firsthand that a Clipper Tripper fiberglass will transport two people, camp and an entire 70" Alaska moose with about 4" of freeboard, at midnight, with no moon, across a still lake.

I own a 18'6" Wenonah fiberglass; the Tripper is my Dad's. The tripper is a better rig. More stable, lighter, faster. Best of all worlds. They're well regarded out here on the coast (they're made in lower mainland BC).

The Tripper is easily portaged and dealt with. Lots of options; ours is fiberglass.

Don't be scared of a scratched used one. Read up on repairing gelcoat scratches and fiberglass - no big deal. Should be able to get into a Tripper for less than a grand.

Be scared if the damage is structural.

For portaging any canoe for any distance,
  1. Tie two loops of rope around the portage yoke, each loop about 3" - 4" in diameter.
  2. Find a solid packframe with "horns"; the vertical tubes that stick up above the rest of the frame to hold the top frame hoop. Remove the hoop.
  3. Slip the rope loops over the pack horns
  4. ballast the back of the canoe so it's a bit rear-heavy, and use a rope tied to the bow to balance
  5. walk for miles with a canoe on your back...portaging this way is a revelation, and opens up a lot of possibilities.
 

KyleR1985

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
Messages
186
I know firsthand that a Clipper Tripper fiberglass will transport two people, camp and an entire 70" Alaska moose with about 4" of freeboard, at midnight, with no moon, across a still lake.

I own a 18'6" Wenonah fiberglass; the Tripper is my Dad's. The tripper is a better rig. More stable, lighter, faster. Best of all worlds. They're well regarded out here on the coast (they're made in lower mainland BC).

The Tripper is easily portaged and dealt with. Lots of options; ours is fiberglass.

Don't be scared of a scratched used one. Read up on repairing gelcoat scratches and fiberglass - no big deal. Should be able to get into a Tripper for less than a grand.

Be scared if the damage is structural.

For portaging any canoe for any distance,
  1. Tie two loops of rope around the portage yoke, each loop about 3" - 4" in diameter.
  2. Find a solid packframe with "horns"; the vertical tubes that stick up above the rest of the frame to hold the top frame hoop. Remove the hoop.
  3. Slip the rope loops over the pack horns
  4. ballast the back of the canoe so it's a bit rear-heavy, and use a rope tied to the bow to balance
  5. walk for miles with a canoe on your back...portaging this way is a revelation, and opens up a lot of possibilities.
pictures?

ive been messing around with balancing my canoe on load lifters without the portage bar.
 
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