Looking for an inexpensive solo canoe for longer trips

Discussion in 'Paddling' started by TriChrome, Apr 4, 2011.

  1. TriChrome

    TriChrome Tracker

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    I currently have a Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 Kayak. It's great for the little rivers in the NJ Pine Barrens I love to go on, but as I found out last summer on a ~35 mile trip (Long Lake to Tupper lake in the Adirondacks), the kayak just wasn't meant for trips like that. It could still track straight, and turn OK, but the problem was with it's weight capacity, and speed.

    I weigh 290 pounds, and even with the kayak loaded under it's 350 pound weight limit (which they changed to 325 pounds in later models), the rear was almost underwater whenever I paddled fast. My speed barely topped 2.5 MPH, and even the old 2-person aluminum canoes literally loaded to the brim with gear were passing me left and right. This made the 2-day trip last an entire extra day (which thankfully I packed extra food for).

    I would love to stick to a Kayak similar to what I already have, but even the 16'+ 'expedition' kayaks still only have a weight limit of around 325 pounds (and seem to be much thinner than my kayak...so I might not fit comfortably in them), and this weight limit isn't going to do it when I want to do a week long, 100-mile trip (trying to do the Allagash River in upstate Maine this summer or next, which does have Class I-III whitewater, but normally I will be on much calmer water on the other trips I want to do).

    Can anybody recommend a solo canoe, under $1200? I want to be able to still sit low like in my kayak, and use a kayak paddle as well (my body simply can't handle kneeling, and not having back support for 8 hours a day of paddling, and I simply just really like having a low center of gravity, and a comfy backrest like my kayak has now). ...I know the sitting low and having a backrest may rule out a lot of canoe's, but I've seen many manufacturers offer optional seating systems for their canoes that meet these requirements.

    Any suggestions? Thank you.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2011
  2. The Warning

    The Warning Scout

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  3. mongo1958

    mongo1958 Supporter Supporter

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    This is supposed to be a good boat. I bought a yellowstone tandum and made it solo. If this was around I would have bought it. The yellowstone solo is another option if you are average size. If you are thinking kevlar, add at least another grand. Some models are fiberglass, which is heavier than kevlar but still pretty good in a solo boat. Good luck

    http://www.paddling.net/Reviews/showReviews.html?prod=2347
     
  4. mongo1958

    mongo1958 Supporter Supporter

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  5. solocanoe

    solocanoe Bushmaster

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    +1 on the OT pack. I've raved on here about it, paddling.net, solotripping.com and ll bean's site. lol...I like it. a lot. :)

    BTW, I'm 6'4", and I dunno... "closer to 300 than 250" on any given day...and I usually have a 40ish pound bag on my solo trips.

    On hunting trips, I have an 80 lb lab and 2 huge bags of decoys, camo netting...maybe even my son... you get the idea...it easily handles 500-600 pounds and is rated for more.

    It's not for everyone - I'd paddle one first if I was you...and it's not cheap - but it's a great all around boat.

    also...since you like the pungo...don't forget the "double sit in's" ...one's like the OT Loon...basically a "2 person sit in kayak" lots of weight capability...if you like the Kayak shape more than the canoe.

    good luck - tell us what you get! (we love pics too! :D)
     
  6. TriChrome

    TriChrome Tracker

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    I think my biggest problem is going to be experiencing (testing out) kayaks like the two that have been mentioned with the seating system I want. I have a feeling I'm just not going to get the true paddling experience of canoe's that only have the bench for a seat; and I doubt the dealer is going to let me rip the seat out and install an aftermarket one (even if the aftermarket seat is offered by the same manufacturer).

    I was almost looking for peoples experiences with using a lowered seat with backrest, and using a kayak paddle in a canoe (and I'm talking about proper seats, not epoxing a beach chair to their canoe which believe it or not a number of comments from the reviews talk about)...or even better yet suggestions of canoe models like the Wenonah Fusion 13' (which has a lowered seat, with backrest from the factory), and/or peoples experiences with boats like those



    In regards to the OT Pack canoe, many people have trouble keeping it straight, but this problem is relieved to some degree when using a double kayak-style paddle (which I will be using)....and others have mentioned a problem with it's stability, which is helped by lowering the seat (which I would also do) for a lower center of gravity; so it's definitely on my list to test out when I get down to the Jersey Paddler shop in NJ.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2011
  7. mongo1958

    mongo1958 Supporter Supporter

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    You can always put the seat where and how low you want in a canoe. I have both and if I could only have one, I would choose a canoe - much more versatile.
     
  8. mjh

    mjh Supporter Supporter

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  9. solocanoe

    solocanoe Bushmaster

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    Well, I can help a BIT more, TC.

    The OT Pack that I have...I lowered the seat almost immediately when I got it. Changed it 1 million percent for me. I used 6" SS bolts and nuts I got from Lowes and copper tubing for spacers. This was pretty much what I was recommended to do on a couple of sites.

    You can see what I did in the pic below...I used the full length of the bolt - 6" on the back and 4 1/2" on the front and used the existing holes in the gunnel. VERY easy to do...and change how you want...just buy a few feet of the copper tubing for spacer changes, and use the same nuts/bolts. I wanted a bit of 'rise to my thighs' to make it more comfy for me. I love it - very much like the seat I used to have in my WS tarpon.

    I use the LL Bean "sit backer" - which is really just the GCI sit backer...sold under the LL bean name...but it's awesome. The seat stays on all the time, even portages...I don't mind it at all. SUPER comfy with the high back and I can adjust it to lay as far back as I want if I'm sitting in a quiet cove relaxing...then pull the straps tight..sit up...and I'm off.

    I use the double blade 9ft kayak paddle 99% of the time. Sorry, I don't have a pic of it...but it's the "wave" model. This is a recent pic of the boat and seat though:

    [​IMG]

    lowering the seat = WONDERFUL mod for me...and I can change it back within 2 mins to "stock" anytime I want to.
     
  10. TriChrome

    TriChrome Tracker

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    Solocanoe, thanks for the picture. I called up my local store, and they have the Pack Angler in stock which has the lower seat with backrest already installed (although I can buy the Pack, and the seat separate and save some money since I don't need the Angler's anchor). Unfortunately they won't let me test ride it until next month... so my research continues.

    Anybody had experience with the Wenonah Fusion? That seems like another contended (and to be honest all that's fit my requirements so far).
     
  11. solocanoe

    solocanoe Bushmaster

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    TriChrome -
    you may like the "pack angler seat" I hated it. Ordered it directly from OT - they blew me away when they accepted my call to return it...AND paid for the return shipping. FULL refund of all charges...they really did me right on that. The seat was not comfy for me at all...and the back wasn't nearly tall enough.

    On the Fusion - I emailed them. got a nice reply that I am too heavy for that boat with my gear and intended useage. At least they 'strongly recommended' that I look at their 16' offerings. They got their point across on why they don't post weight limits to me (even though I disagree) but hey, it's their deal and they make great canoes....I just have no desire to paddle a 16 ft boat by myself. I'd send them an email - they are wonderful to respond directly to your questions. :)
     
  12. VaughnT

    VaughnT Banned Member Banned

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    As a fellow "large" paddler, I'll say that all of my research on the various canoeing forums seemed to indicate that there is a tremendous difference in how a canoe handles at various weight points. The lower it sits in the water, the harder it's going to be to handle. And the shorter the canoe, the lower it will have to sit in the water when loaded to the max.

    I wanted a canoe that could handle me solo on a day jaunt, but also loaded with a week's worth of food and equipment if I ever decided to head out for a long "expedition". Figure on at least 400# of paddler and gear.

    Nobody recommended anything shorter than 15' because of the handling characteristics of a heavily loaded canoe would be detrimental to the enjoyment of the experience. Paddling a bathtub is hard work even on a nice day trip!

    I waited and watched fleabay and cragslist, and eventually landed a very nice, used, Bell Morningstar for only six bills. I had to replace the grab handles and I installed a bench seat amidships, and it's been a blast. I need to work some more on the seat's positioning, but that's small potatoes.

    As for handling, it's a dream. If there's one thing I've learned it's that some canoe companies make canoes for sitting in the yard, and some canoe companies make canoes for serious use. How Bell could make a 16'5" royalex canoe that is so stable and easy to handle... Turns on a dime and is easy to portage. All I know is that I'm thoroughly satisfied and wouldn't dream of going back to the canoes of my childhood!

    Don't get scared off because of the length if you're a heavy paddler. That extra hull will make paddling a lot more enjoyable.
     

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