Canoes: They aren't sluggish tubs by nature

Discussion in 'Paddling' started by friluftsliv, Sep 4, 2017.

  1. friluftsliv

    friluftsliv Tracker

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    I didn't want to gunk up another thread with myth-busting so I'll start a new thread. I'd been hearing more lately about how canoes are heavy, how they are sluggish, etc.

    Weight

    First, go here and just start looking around at the weights on those canoes. I'm not going to cherry pick any one of their many models. But you'll find one that's about 12 pounds, and boats in their teens and twenties of pounds are common there. If you go upmarket, you can get something nice with a gel coat that'll be in the 30's. Getting up into premium kayak territory there.

    If a canoe and kayak are about the same length and width and made from similar layups, the canoe is always going to be lighter because it doesn't have a deck. There's more material in the kayak.

    Plenty of canoes out there are really conveniently light weight. If your entire worldview is shaped by the rental fleet of Old Town Discoveries or your grandpa's Grumman, I can't blame you for thinking that all canoes are tubs. But there's a much bigger world out there.

    [​IMG]

    Maneuverability

    As for maneuverability... random YouTube example of open boat domination.



    /rant
     
  2. Walking Crow

    Walking Crow Scout

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    Hope there wasn't a big gust of wind just after that picture was taken!

    Some of us from the old days may remember Harry Roberts and his work with Sawyer canoe. I doubt he coined the term "river pig," but the ease with which Sawyer's solo boats could move through the water was "enlightening" for the time. Dave Yost designed for them (and several others). Roberts favored the "hit and switch" of the marathon racers while Mike Galt and Pat Moore (I think I've got that right) were champions of the "freestyle" (more like the style shown in the op's video).

    Then and now, canoes of that class, light, fast, maneuverable, are expensive, but so much fun to paddle. I've still got a Mad River Compatriot solo. It is a scaled down Malecite. It was more fun to paddle when I weighed 140. (Don't ask...at least I don't sink it!). There are still some good builders out there. I'd guess Wenonah is probably the biggest but several smaller builders, like the one the op linked to build craft that are, I'm sure, a joy to paddle.

    And just for the record, do some research on Bill Mason, a Canadian who is no longer with us. If you can find his video, Water Walker, you will see what an old school canoe can do, and hear the words of a master woodsman as well.
     
  3. TheWhiteWoodsman

    TheWhiteWoodsman Scout

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    Proper paddling technique goes a long way to making canoes as responsive as people hope. Unfortunately it can take some practice and kayaks are easier to "pick up" in that regard.
     
  4. friluftsliv

    friluftsliv Tracker

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    Kayakers are off to a good start sitting on the floor and using foot braces. They have a low center of gravity and can use their feet/hips to good effect to control the boat. They have no choice.

    If you're in a canoe and never leave your high perch, never break from the crude hit-n-switch paddling of a child, you're never going to unlock your boat's potential. Get your knees down on the floor. Get your butt leaning on the edge of the seat. Lean that canoe over until the gunwale is almost in the water. Now try again. And in this position, your paddle only works on one side (easily, anyway) so you'd better learn some basic and intermediate strokes if you want to get anywhere intentionally. Even grandpa's tub may have some pleasant surprises in store for you.
     
  5. lone_woodsman

    lone_woodsman Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    I'll take a canoe over a kayak any day. I have two and yes they are tubs ( old town saranac and a mad river ) both 14ft. I paddle the mad river solo all the time, and while I'm not as fast as the yak folk I'm still pretty nimble. And if I can ever get my hands on a lightweight canoe I'm sure I could keep up. IMO canoes are the way to go.
     
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  6. friluftsliv

    friluftsliv Tracker

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    There are times when I think a kayak might be better. It wasn't my intent with this thread to slam kayaks. But rather to expand worldview around the capabilities of canoes. They are too easily dismissed by some, but based on a limited exposure.
     
  7. lone_woodsman

    lone_woodsman Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Oh I'm by no means putting down anyone who chooses a yak over a canoe. My wife and daughter love their kayaks, I just like a canoe better. I like how I can pack my gear in the canoe and the space I have to move around and change positions. In a kayak you only have one way to sit in it, for some that is no problem. But I have back issues so during long paddles it's nice to be able to change from one position to another when I start to get a little stiff or sore. So yeah to each their own, hike your own hike and paddle your own paddle.
     
  8. Moe M.

    Moe M. Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Try a Kayak once you get over sixty, have arthritis in your knees, back, and shoulders, and start loosing some of your upper body strength, then you'll come to appreciate canoes allot more.
    I'm sure I'd have no trouble getting into a 'Yak, but you'd have to tip it upside down to get me out of it o_O, and then I'm not sure if I could walk for a few minutes until the blood got flowing again.
    My canoes allow me to get back on the water where as a Kayak would be out of the question.
     
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  9. Moe M.

    Moe M. Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    What brand of canoes are those being held up by those young ladies in the opening post ?
     
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  10. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    Those are Souris River. There are several other brands that make them just as light - Millbrook, Swift, Wenonah, Hemlock, and others.
     
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  11. friluftsliv

    friluftsliv Tracker

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  12. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    I saw the same comment, but also didn't have time or feel the need to respond to it there. IMO. Coleman and Pelican brands have done more damage to the general perception of canoes and canoeing than any other thing or event. When I read references to canoes as pigs on the water, those are what immediately come to mind. There are a few other examples out there, but these are the most common.

    What people often fail to realize when comparing canoes and kayaks is that what makes the boat handle in a particular way is how it is shaped below and just above the waterline. Speed, glide, stability and maneuverability are all dependent on that below waterline shape. Stability and maneuverability also rely on the hull's shape just above the waterline.
    Canoes and kayaks of similar size can also have similar shapes giving similar performance. There are advantages to either that have nothing to do with performance of the hull itself on the water. The biggest real difference between the two is the kayak's deck. The deck of the kayak allows a low profile that is less effected by wind without taking on water as easily - but it comes with unavoidable disadvantages that may or may not matter to an individual.

    The biggest disadvantage to the canoe, IMO, is the learning curve as compared to a kayak. Or more specifically - the biggest disadvantage to the single blade, that is. The accommodation to the single blade (not to mention multiple different paddles and a pole, all in one canoe) is one of the big advantages to the canoe - but realizing that takes far more time and practice than it takes to get around adequately with a double blade.

    The above quote, while innocent enough, was stated in ignorance. Likely, the writer is relying on personal experience and would more accurately say that Kayaks he tried made canoes he tried seem like rowboats. That would reflect the experience of a lot of people - based on the number of Coleman and other cheap inferior canoes I see for sale on CL.

    After deciding on your needs, based on where, why, and how you will paddle - the key to knowing if a particular boat will please you (if you care at all about performance) is to learn about how a hull interacts with water, and pay attention to boat bottoms.
     
  13. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    Note that in this video, the paddler is in a tandem canoe with little or no rocker. The exaggerated boat lean helps, but isn't needed as much with a shorter canoe or one with more rocker. For instance, my whitewater solo can spin 360° with one mild stroke of the paddle, with no lean at all. It may appear to the uninitiated that the boat in the video is just being blown aimlessly around by the wind, but rest assured - that paddler is in complete control of the boat, and it is going only where he wants it to. Looks almost effortless, doesn't it? With less or no edging of the boat, it changes from highly maneuverable to straight-tracking and fast, in and instant. If that boat is made in a modern lightweight and stiff composite layup, it can weigh about 50 lbs or less. Like a rowboat? Hardly.

     
  14. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    ....And this should be about where someone chimes in and points out that some rowboats are very lightweight, fast, and highly maneuverable. ;)


     
  15. Griffith

    Griffith just some guy Supporter Bushclass I

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    Gremlin (Grumman), all the way!!! Those boats could take anything you could throw at them... Aside from gross incompetence in rapids. And at a cool 85lb., one gets a darn good workout of a decent portage.
     
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  16. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    Grumman and other aluminum canoes have some limitations to design due to how they are built, but they can be fine canoes - especially for anyone who lacks covered storage space.
     
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  17. Griffith

    Griffith just some guy Supporter Bushclass I

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    I really liked them for their durability. I don't own one, but I used them extensively in Manitoba for work. I have an Old Town Disco.
     
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  18. Riverpirate

    Riverpirate Supporter Supporter

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    Not witha Sit on top kayak.
     
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  19. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    Ah...but the weight......
     
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  20. Moe M.

    Moe M. Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    LOL, I think you missed my point.
     
  21. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    He'll get it.....eventually. We all do.

    I have a few friends who are either older than me or otherwise less.....resilient.....and are still trying to get along with their kayaks - not all of them sit-ins - with varying levels of difficulty. I really don't mind helping them stand up at the end of a couple hours paddling. ;)
     
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  22. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    And that brings another point to mind. With some of these guys, kayaking is all they've ever done with paddles. It's a little late in the game for them to get used to canoe tricks (although, not too late, IMO). They tend to stick to what they know at this point, even it if hurts. It's a little sad to watch, when they could be extending their time on the water so easily if they had acquired the skill. And it's likewise painful to watch the guys who only have a tandem canoe battling the wind where it was sure to be a problem.

    So - my suggestion to those who've only done one or the other is to take advantage of every opportunity to learn how to use various designs of both well.....because there are times when one or the other is clearly better.
     
  23. hunter63

    hunter63 Bushmaster

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    I guess it depends what your canoe is used for.
    Comparing a Grumman to a light weight composite, is a comparing a sports car to pick up truck.

    I need a pick up....
     
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  24. Moe M.

    Moe M. Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    That's it, you got it. :dblthumb:
     
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  25. Riverpirate

    Riverpirate Supporter Supporter

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    I have kayaks and canoes and rep them both. I was mostly aiming at the comfort regarding sit on tops. Some of my canes weigh as much as my kayaks.
     
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  26. Bad Little Falls

    Bad Little Falls Guide

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    Go row boats! Still trying to rig up my Swift with a set of oars. The incorporated gunwales have me befuddled, can't just drill and bolt through them.
     
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  27. friluftsliv

    friluftsliv Tracker

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    Talk to the guys at Hornbeck. They have a carbon outrigger for oars that you may be able to bond to your snakeskin gunwales.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  28. OutnBacker

    OutnBacker Scout

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    As I see it, the only problem with going "up market" is that it's up market. It's the same with bicycles. Those that can afford them will buy them, but for - I think - most of us, there is the huge down market of used canoes. That's where I shop. I had a line on an older Old Town Canadienne in kevlar once, but got there too late. That would have been sweet.

    A little dance number from the Grumman Academy... while seated, no less.
     
  29. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    Proving once again, that it's the Indian, not the arrow. One doesn't need the latest high-performance canoe to make one dance.
     
  30. Kmcmichael

    Kmcmichael Scout

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    I worked weekends at a livery on the Edisto river. I liked guiding kayakers because of the short learning curve. I never liked them myself. The performance of a boat depends on the part that is under water, other than wind effect.

    I practiced freestyle for a few years, but to consider hit and switch paddling childish is not correct. There is a lot more to it than making the boat go straight. It is all about glide and keeping the boat level. If you are trying to get across a wide expanse of water in a hurry, sit and switch is faster.

    I remember Pat Moore and have played dead carp polo with him in some of his pedestal boats. I have one of his paddles.

    I despise double bladed paddles and having to sit in one position hurts my back so kayaks are not for me.
     
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  31. tabasco_joe

    tabasco_joe Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Recently I bought a solo composite light weight canoe. Mainly because I have problems lifting the heavier canoes/kayaks onto my truck roof solo. When I got the boat onto the water it really opened my eyes. Outperforms my kayaks on the local lakes. It's so fun I want to get back and learn various paddling techniques.
     
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  32. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    I didn't think the OP was calling hit & switch childish. I thought he was referring to the crude attempts of a child at hit & switch - which is all some people ever do in a canoe. H&S is definitely the way to go for speed, but proper technique wasn't what I thought the OP had in mind.
     
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  33. Kmcmichael

    Kmcmichael Scout

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    Yes after rereading his post, I see what you mean. But, I do remember getting in an argument with a fellow guide that was a more accomplished freestyle practitioner than I regarding hit and switch. That conversation has stuck with me.
     
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  34. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I own boat built by Galt called an Egret and it's a nice boat. Like Bill Mason Mike G. is no longer with us too. Man I'm getting old; I've paddled with them and Roberts, Kurger, Yost, Cliff Jacobson et al.
     
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  35. Walking Crow

    Walking Crow Scout

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    ww, you should have enough material to write a book! What a cast of characters! Thinking back to the stories by them and about them...it's enough to make me want to dig out my copies of Wilderness Camping magazine from a bygone era...
     
  36. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    They were all at a couple of group meetings, the only two i knew well at all were Galt and his girlfriend Marylou and Cliff who was a much better writer than paddler :D The rest were same water same day kind of paddles. Kurger was almost twice my age and I could not keep pace with him, and I was an animal then.
     
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  37. Pablo

    Pablo Guide

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    heh. My wood/canvas Chestnut Pal replica is anything but sluggish... a more beautiful, graceful craft has never been built...:)
     
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  38. gila_dog

    gila_dog Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I'm glad to see that using a canoe as a rowboat is getting some mention here. I don't see why it isn't more popular. A canoe really makes a great rowboat. I've been using my Old Town Saranac that way for a couple of years now. I paddle it with one paddle, the normal way, when I'm close to shore and want to be sneaky while fishing or when beaching it and coming ashore. But to get clear across the lake quickly, especially when there's some unfavorable wind, it's great to get the oars in the water and start putting some power into my propulsion. I row it backwards (the traditional way) for power, and forwards (drift boat style) for maneuverability. There's no comparison between using the oars and a single paddle when fighting the wind. Using both arms and those long oars, really makes a big difference. A kayak would probably be better in the wind, but where do my wife and dog ride? I've never had a race with a kayak while rowing my canoe, but I have outrun some aluminum fishing boats with electric motors who were trying to push into the wind.

    canoe at Bill Evans lake.jpg

    Lia,Jessie,canoe.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017
  39. Newtown Mark

    Newtown Mark Supporter Supporter

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    Different strokes for different folks. Just get on the water and go.
     
  40. L.V

    L.V Guide Bushclass I

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    I would personally hesitate to call one direction a traditional and another something else. It would kind of like saying that something like J-correction motion in paddling isn't traditional.
    Both rowing directions are used traditionally (tradition is not the so called rowing as is known in olympics) and both are needed for skill full handling of row boat as is all the steering draws and pulls and the combinations you can get.

    PS. Of course it might be that I don't get some nuances of the sentence I did quote. :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2017
  41. Park Swan

    Park Swan Maker Vendor

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    Just saw this thread, and I learned a ton! This is awesome. My family had one of those sluggish tubs growing up, as well as a fast and maneuverable kayak, so I didn't know anything about the possibility of these high performance canoes :eek:
    Thanks to everyone in this thread for educating me!
     
  42. Bushin in Az

    Bushin in Az Tracker

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    Hey Gila,

    Not to off track the thread but how do you like the old town saranac. Looking to get one for me and my wife for Christmas.

    Also, to not fully hijack the thread I looked into getting two kayaks vs a canoe recently and decided a canoe because of the load capacity, people capacity, and there just seems to be something more traditional with a canoe. Hoping to purchase one by Chrismas.
     
  43. gila_dog

    gila_dog Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    @Bushin in Az the OT Saranac is my first canoe, so I'm no expert. What I will tell you is that once I have it on the water I really like it. But it's sure heavy (85 lb) and that's a pretty serious issue since I have to hoist it up on my truck's camper shell by myself. I've learned to do it, but it's never easy. We got that canoe because we weren't sure if canoeing was our thing, and it was cheap. I know now that we really enjoy having the canoe when we travel. Once it's up on the truck it's no trouble at all, and it's really nice to have a boat to fish out of and explore with. I've used a blow up kayak on a major river trip, and the only good thing I can say about it is that it can be deflated and stored in a smaller place. And for serious white water, it's a lot better than a canoe. Other than that I like the canoe a lot better. It's a drier ride, I can haul the dog and another person, and I can move around in it while fishing, which I couldn't do in the kayak. So I'm looking into a Wenona Kingfisher canoe next spring. That canoe is 40% lighter, and 2 ft longer, but a lot more expensive.
     
  44. alukban

    alukban Guide

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    For me...

    sea/saltwater = kayak
    inland/freshwater = canoe
     
  45. Fly Rod

    Fly Rod Tinder Gatherer

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    I believe , if it wasn’t so hard to purchase or paddle a light weight canoe in the south they may have a chance to catch on . The Kayaks have taken over the market here. I don’t know of a shop that Stocks a light weight canoe within a hundred miles of my home. I tried to find one to paddle before I purchased , with no luck. I finally ordered one from NH. I have owned and fly fished from a canoe most of my life. Maybe these companies need to look at this market. As said in other replies , most people dont know of the light weight canoes, they think of them as barges.
     
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  46. keviincoffey

    keviincoffey Tracker

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    I prefer the canoe to the kayak as well. But I feel like every boat has it's purpose.

    Water Walker is free to stream on the National Film Board of Canada's website for those interested. Great film. https://www.nfb.ca/directors/bill-mason494958/
     
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  47. NJStricker

    NJStricker Supporter Supporter

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    There's canoes and there's canoes. Like you pointed out, many are used to the big heavy aluminum or Royalex/composite canoes.

    But materials aside, a big 17' canoe with a wide flat bottom meant for paddling the family on the lake is going to handle a lot differently than a 14' solo canoe with round bottom and plenty of rocker designed for whitewater.
     
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  48. Buffalo Woodsman

    Buffalo Woodsman Supporter Supporter

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    Enjoyed reading this thread. When I was a kid I used to always want to rent kayaks rather than paddle with my dad in our canoe. As I have grown I have come to love the canoe for its functionality (weight, gear space, portage-ability) but also is beauty and grace. I can't think of a more aesthetically pleasing form than a canoe.
     
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  49. Bushin in Az

    Bushin in Az Tracker

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    Thanks for the reply. I'm looking to get the 160 and for the price and how often it will be used thinking the saranac is a winner. Do you have the 146 or the 160?

     

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