used solo canoe?

Discussion in 'Paddling' started by chansta, Jun 24, 2019.

  1. chansta

    chansta keeper of the flame Supporter

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    After comparing the paddling experience between my kayak and a solo canoe, I much prefer paddling and fishing from a canoe. However, they're super expensive. Is there a reputable place I can look for used boats? I can't pay a grand for one unless I spend like a year saving and that's too long to wait :)
     
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  2. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    WTB add right here on BCUSA might be a good idea. Locally we have Craig’s list you never know what will show up on there. There is a web forum called C-boats that has a very extensive buy and sell section, but it’s kind of a whitewater decked canoe board, but you never know what people have in their garages that they want to part with to fund the next boat.
     
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  3. TomC

    TomC Supporter Supporter

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  4. chansta

    chansta keeper of the flame Supporter

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    I'd also like to know which materials I should be looking for within the budget of used up to 700. What's heavy, what's loud, etc. What tracks well. This would be for open/flat water and nothing above class 2. I'm not that experienced so I may decide to mini portage rock fields if there are too many white caps. I found this on CL... https://lynchburg.craigslist.org/boa/d/lynchburg-oldtown-guide-canoe/6918270044.html

    It seems like a pretty big canoe but old town's a good brand... not sure how much harder it would be to steer this boat compared to a solo.
     
  5. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    That Guide is priced low, but realize that the seller has employed the common trick of photographing it wet. It won't be that pretty in real life. But the price is good, even at that. More importantly, that is a tandem, and while it isn't too hard to solo a tandem, if any wind comes up, it can be more than a handful.

    A lot of people have begun their solo career in the OT Pack and its similar boats in the heavier poly layup. They make good fishing platforms and are stable on flat water, but slow. They are also probably the most common solo canoes on the used market. I personally wouldn't choose one for anything over class 1, and I wouldn't want one if I wanted to cover much distance - but for just getting to the nearby fishing hole, they can be just fine. The royalex Pack is more desireable than the Discovery models, mostly for the lighter weight.

    Speaking of royalex, don't fall for the claims of indestructibility and especially abrasion resistance. Royalex is more susceptible to abrasion damage than the heavier plastics, and also fiberglass. Its primary advantage over fiberglass and kevlar is that a royalex hull that has been wrapped around a rock can often be pounded pretty much back into its original shape, where a glass or kevlar canoe might be irreparably destroyed. Advantage of fiberglass is that the canoe can be made with finer ends than any of the simple plastics, and the hull can have shapes that allow for higher performance. Same goes for kevlar, but without some other material in the composite (very often, fiberglass) it isn't very rigid.

    My preference without getting expensive is for fiberglass hulls in class 2 or less, but good fiberglass solos can be kind of rare. There seem to be more good royalex solos on the used market than fiberglass, and if not abused much, they can last a long time.

    For someone new to the higher performance solo canoes, one of the better ones I can recommend is the Mohawk Solo 14. That boat is easy to get comfortable in, stability wise, and yet is reasonably fast and maneuverable. They were all made of royalex, and weigh less than 50 lbs, IIRC. I have seen one used on class 2, and it did fine except on the really big waves where it took on a lot of water - yet didn't lose control and was bailed on the move in the pool below. I have paddled it myself on moving class 1 and flat water, and consider it a good and non-threatening performer.

    Mad river made a Liberty model in FG and kev, and its a great little solo for small persons (<150 lbs). They also made the Courier, Guide, and Freedom solo, which were all pretty much the same boat. I've paddled the Guide and Freedom Solo (own a Guide), and consider them some of the best all-around solos that can be had used and in excellent shape in the $350-$600 range. The Courier and Guide were made on fiberglass and royalex, and the Freedom Solo was made only in royalex. I've had my Guide down some lower class 3, but consider it a very reliable class 2 canoe - while still being a decent flat water boat (if you have a decent forward stroke).
     
  6. Scotchmon

    Scotchmon Supporter Supporter

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    Paddling.com/classifieds.
    I’ve sold and bought from that site.
    Good deals can be found. My latest find was an Old Town Canadienne in beautiful condition, and right here in town, too!!
     
  7. TomC

    TomC Supporter Supporter

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    If Mad River canoes tickle your fancy also keep a lookout for Vermont Canoe and Kayak. When Confluence sucked up Mad River and moved them south, those that remained in Waitsfield formed Vermont Canoe. Sadly, Hurricane Irene proved too much to recover afterwards. Jim Henry had some new models in the works that never saw life.

    See their website on the wayback: https://web.archive.org/web/20100623060951/http://www.vermontcanoe.com/default.aspx

    I think the Sokoki would provide a better fishing platform, a 14 foot tandem. Also consider the Tupper, a 13? foot packboat. Even the 16 foot tandem Encore, which I have, is a pleasure to solo. The solo Indy is a similar hull.
     
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  8. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushclass I

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    This isn't going to help you, but a buddy of mine picked up a completely covered with moss aluminum canoe for $20... cleaned it off, and it is 100% perfect... nothing wrong with it... just sat on a pair of saw horses in a dude's yard for too long, and when he passed, his kids didn't know what they had. Guess I'm just saying the gems are out there.
     
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  9. Rigderunner

    Rigderunner Tracker

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    If you wanna drive a little ways there was an old Town solo sportsman canoe in the Knoxville TN area about a week ago on Craigslist. Not sure if it's still there
     
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  10. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    Had to run before I could mention a few things...

    I haven't had the opportunity to try one, but the Old Town NEXT looks to me like a pretty nice flatwater solo, although heavy for its size. They're starting to turn up once in a great while on CL.

    Some tandems do make decent solos, if you aren't too small. The OT Penobscot is one. Fast, but takes some effort to turn it solo. A 14' tandem can be a good option as solo, especially for fishing. OT had the Osprey, which I see on CL from time to time. Wenonah still makes the Fisherman in composites, and did make it in royalex. Both of those are short enough and low enough that they aren't much trouble in a little wind. They are wide to make up for lack of length, so they take a little more effort to move than a real solo, but they are both also very stable. Then there is the Wenonah Solo Plus, which is also still made in composites.

    Tracking is more a function of the paddler than the boat. While some solo canoes track pretty hard (like my Dagger Sojourn), others that don't can still be made to go straight easily with decent technique. For instance, the Mad River Guide and Freedom Solo have been accused of bad tracking by unskilled paddlers, but I have no problem making one go straight when I want to - and I am not an expert. At any rate, there is no crime in using a kayak paddle in a solo canoe, and that can make up for any lack of tracking or skill while climbing the learning curve - or indefinitely, FTM.
     
  11. Bad Little Falls

    Bad Little Falls Guide

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    You never know what will show up, keep looking and don't stop looking, if you find a boat grab it, you can always re sell it for a better fitting boat. This popped up for a couple Ben Franklins

     
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  12. Haggis

    Haggis Bushmaster

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    I wanted a solo canoe, but I’ve a large family,,, 4 generations all wanting to go along with Himself, Dad, Papaw...

    In the end, I felt selfish even looking at solo canoes, but I did need something lighter as I get on in years. So, I bought a 16’ Souris River tandem,,, not too much to carry, and it handles well enough with just me paddling, (whilst someone in the bow fish’s, takes photos, daydreams, etc.), but in 3 years, I’ve never had the opportunity to be paddling it truly solo.

    If I had it to do over, I’d still want a solo canoe, but I’d still buy a 16’ tandem...

    Lots of folk solo in tandem canoes, and have for many thousands of years,,, reckon they’ll keep doing it... it’s just generally an all around more useful canoe...
     
  13. Scotchmon

    Scotchmon Supporter Supporter

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    Sound advice here^^^^^.
    A tandem may be easier to find than a dedicated solo, too.
    Keep in mind that you’d most likely be paddling it from the bow position(backwards), so pay attention to thwart location(s), and look for bench rather than tractor style seats.
    A kneeling thwart could easily be added if needed.
    One can easily add ballast if needed to trim the boat.
     
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  14. NJStricker

    NJStricker Supporter Supporter

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    If you want solo, take a look at a used Mohawk. Actually, they're all used at this point since Royalex is no longer available and they aren't making canoes anymore. Anyway, I handled one daily for a job I had 20 years ago. Very light and maneuverable, especially if you get one of their whitewater canoes with a little more rocker.
     
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  15. PaPa K

    PaPa K Supporter Supporter

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    I picked up a Mohawk Solo 14 years back on CL and it has been a great boat. Handles well, fairly light and I use it for fishing and exploring. A shame they no longer make them.
     
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  16. TD Bauer

    TD Bauer Scout

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    I too didn't want to spend thousands on a fancy new canoe. Last year I ditched my heavy 17 foot aluminum and bought an Old Town Guide 119. I have used it on a handful of solo wilderness trips so far and love it. Stable, durable, can haul me and my packs with ease, and only cost me around $600 new. I wrote several posts about it on my blog.

    Old-Town-Guide-Loaded-Up-300x205.jpg
     
  17. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    Truly, if you can have only one canoe, or it is your first canoe, it should be a tandem.......unless you live like a hermit.

    Another tandem that makes a fair solo is the Mad River Malecite. It's not rare, as MR has made them for many years and still does. I've found and bought two on CL, and seen a few go by since. The kevlar version weighs about 50-54 lbs, depending on trim. It's pretty common to find them with a center solo seat. I've paddled mine solo quite a bit, and while it takes a little more to get it up to speed and keep it there than my solo canoes, it is actually a faster hull. Same can be said about the Penobscot. If I were looking specifically for a tandem to use on non-technical class 2 and below, that I could solo at times, I would target those two boats. There may be better, but not much better, and not as common.

    Having said that...a kneeling thwart can be installed on virtually any tandem. Get the height and the angle right for you, and it can be as comfortable as a seat (assuming your knees aren't bad).
     
  18. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    I really wish someone would get that mold and produce it again in glass or T-formex. I just know I could get more than a few paddlers excited about solo canoes with that model. And, IMO, there is nothing as graceful and pleasant as a good solo canoe.
     
  19. popedandy

    popedandy Scout

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    If you are looking at tandems I would suggest looking at 15' or 16' boats. You can solo longer boats, but that is my preference. You could also consider installing a seat or kneeling thwart a bit behind the center carrying thwart. I find it easier to solo a tandem from that position, but bear in mind that it has been at least 15 years since I paddled a tandem on a regular basis. The folks who spend a lot of time in tandems might feel differently.

    As far as the weight of different materials is concerned, plastic is generally pretty heavy, but is the least expensive and seems to be pretty durable. Royalex is less heavy and is also durable, but since the material is no longer made a lot of sellers act as if there boats are made out of a rare gold alloy. Be careful not to overpay for a Royalex boat. I don't know enough about aluminum boats to comment on them, other than to say they will last forever and can be found for a relatively low price. Composite boats (fiberglass, kevlar, carbon fiber, etc.) are generally going to be lighter than the other materials, but that is assuming the boat was made within the last 20 years. Some of the older composite boats were fairly heavy.

    As far as brands to consider, Mohawk is an excellent budget brand, as others have mentioned, but the boats tend to perform well. Clipper, Wenonah, Bell, Souris River, and NovaCraft make good boats, but you'll have to keep a sharp eye out to find one in your price range.

    The main thing is to be patient. You already have a boat. It may not be exactly what you want, but it will get you out on the water until the right boat comes along.
     
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  20. popedandy

    popedandy Scout

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    I forgot to mention that some boats can come in either plastic or, if it is a few years old, Royalex as well. Some of them will also have a composite version. Just thought I'd mention that in case it affects your decision making.
     
  21. chansta

    chansta keeper of the flame Supporter

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    No issues with it feeling tippy? Lots of reviews state this.
     
  22. chansta

    chansta keeper of the flame Supporter

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    A friend is letting me borrow her canoe. It's a mad river 16. Made from heavy plastic. Took out out today. Tough to load on the car, but paddled just fine. The wind did horrible things to it, though:) Still managed to really enjoy myself and catch a decent smallie (long distance release). I LOVE the space.
    I guess it doesn't have to be a solo, it just has to be light enough to load. As far as tracking, I really prefer a canoe paddle unless I know it's going to be hardcore windy, but otherwise slight variations to the J can work just fine. Just have to hold the rudder in a tad longer.

    I think I want to learn skulling next.
     
  23. TD Bauer

    TD Bauer Scout

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    None for me. You sit low in it and it is pretty wide. I always add a little weight up front; if day tripping I will put a cooler up there... if going into the BWCA for several days I will put one of my packs up there. Having a little weight like that low in the canoe, any canoe, will add some stability. But to be honest, I find it to be a very stable canoe overall, especially with secondary stability.
     
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  24. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    The OT Guide 119 and similar canoes shouldn't feel tippy unless they're out of trim. If the paddler isn't close to the middle in the otherwise empty boat, that could be the whole problem. Same thing happens with bigger canoes to a lesser extent. The smaller canoes are more trim sensitive.
     
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  25. chansta

    chansta keeper of the flame Supporter

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    My father is trying to convince me that royalex is the ONLY way to go.
     
  26. chansta

    chansta keeper of the flame Supporter

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    As far as length, longer tracks better, correct? IOW a 12 ft will not track as easily or as well as a 16 foot?
     
  27. popedandy

    popedandy Scout

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    There is no direct relation between length and tracking. Hull design is a major factor. The paddler's skill level is another.

    Regarding your father's preference for Royalex, that's just his preference. It was a reasonable choice when it was beingused, but every material has its pros and cons.
     
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  28. Tak

    Tak Tinder Gatherer

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    I've had a fiberglass Mohawk solo for years, easy to paddle. Picked up a used Discovery 119 back in march. Moved the seat back about 10" and up 3". They have different seats, mine is a web. I always have something up front to even it out. Only thing I don't like about it is the raised keel on the bottom. For fishing I don't think I will find any thing better for the money.
     
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  29. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    Unless you are paddling in rivers that require rock dodging at speed, there is no advantage with royalex over fiberglass. Fiberglass is much more resistant to abrasion, and a good fg layup (not chpper gun) can even take some pretty hard blows in stride. A royalex canoe that has been wrapped around a rock or bridge footing can often be stomped back into usable shape, but royalex is actually more easily damaged by abrasion than pretty much any other modern hull material. Royalex canoes generally weigh about the same as fiberglass (again, excepting chopper gun layups), and more than hulls using kevlar or other advanced layups. Royalex had a price advantage at one time, but that is nearly nonexistent on the used market now, in relation to fiberglass or especially the 3 layer poly hulls. Fiberglass allows the maker to form more efficient hull shapes than royalex or other soft plastics.RRoyalex is lighter and holds its shape better than the other soft plastics.

    Width effects tracking more than length does. But especially short canoes (such as those 12' and under) often make up for missing bouyancy with extra width. That extra width causes paddlers to tend to add sweep to their strokes, and that translates to bad tracking. The popular way to deal with that is to use a double (kayak) paddle. The more skillful way is to develop a good forward stroke and a repertoire of thoughtless correction. Either way is legal and acceptable. ;) Whatever works for you - but skill with the single blade will get you through tighter spaces.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2019
  30. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    So, why royalex? I've had a lot of royalex canoes. I currently have three, and one royalite. They are all good designs that work well. A lot of good canoe designs were produced in royalex, and in significantly large numbers that still the majority of better canoes on the used market at bargain prices are royalex hulls.

    My primary swift water tandem is royalex because the odds of getting it wrapped on a rock someday are relatively high. My whitewater solo is royalex for the same reason. My solo river tripper is royalex mainly because I haven't ever found that same design for sale in fiberglass (people just don't give them up), and the price was right. My flatwater solo is royalite because, well, good used solo canoes are rare around here, and fast ones, rarer still. Had I found a comparable composite solo first, that is what I would have preferred.

    My flatwater tandem is kevlar, and I would not give it up for any plastic boat. My dedicated class 2 and under poling tandem is kev/glass, and I bought that specifically for the weight savings (40 lb).

    All of these layups have their advantages and disadvantages, but the only advantages of the heavier plastic layups are price (if you shop well) and abrasion resistance.
     
  31. Bad Little Falls

    Bad Little Falls Guide

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    Nova Crafts Tuff Stuff will take a literal beating, enough so it will still get you out of the deep woods in a bad wrap. I have seen an Old Town Tripper become two half boats, one half is still caught up in a pile of trash at the end of the rapid it wrecked in. Not my boat btw.
     
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  32. Bad Little Falls

    Bad Little Falls Guide

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    A good classic wrap. Once off the rock the bang it back out and its still a boat.
     
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  33. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    Tuff Stuff looks really good from here, but I have yet to see it in action or on the used market. I wouldn't be afraid to buy a hull in that material though. Could very well be what I replace my Prospector with when it gets too heavy for me to carry.
     
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  34. chansta

    chansta keeper of the flame Supporter

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    Width over length, got it. What are some general width parameters I should be looking for? What's too wide and what's more what I'm looking for? And you're right, I won't be doing any crazy white water. That's not my thing. I much prefer a nice quiet paddle down easy streams, reservoirs and lakes. Watching the cranes fly. Stopping to fish when I feel like it. Relaxation.
     
  35. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    About 30" is a good place to be with a solo canoe. If you're pretty tall, 32" can be better. If the canoe is much less than 13' long, it may need to be wider anyway, just for capacity. I like mine to be 30" or a couple inches less.
     
  36. chansta

    chansta keeper of the flame Supporter

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    Interesting. I see the old town discovery is under 12 ft and 32 inches wide. I'm 5 ft 8 and 200 lbs FWIW.
     
  37. chansta

    chansta keeper of the flame Supporter

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    ... I'm going to have a million questions, I'm sorry in advance. Is paddling from the center advisable only up to a certain length? I'm used to paddling from the bow in 14 to 16 footers so far.
     
  38. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    I paddle long tandems from just behind center too, but if the water's easy, it can be more efficient to paddle a camp-loaded tandem from the rear seat. Paddling from near center gives better control of the bow, and makes turning and other maneuvers easier.
     
  39. chansta

    chansta keeper of the flame Supporter

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    Ah, cool! I love learning this stuff. I honestly wonder if for my purposes something like the discovery series would be just fine. I'd be bringing just enough gear for myself, which would be a pack loaded max 30 lbs and fishing supplies. All of my gear total would weigh far less than 100 lbs.

    As far as the material, the mad river I'm borrowing is made of heavy plastic, and the gunnel doesn't like being tied down with straps. Seems to bend with the pressure.
     
  40. swissarmy67

    swissarmy67 Scout

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    I had an OT Pack and sold it.

    Plus side:

    light weight
    quiet
    reasonably stable
    good for fishing small waters

    Minus side:

    tracks poorly
    very tedious to try and get anywhere rapidly

    If I were to ever buy another solo canoe I'd go longer and narrower.
     
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  41. chansta

    chansta keeper of the flame Supporter

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    My Dad is lending me his old town royalex 16 foot camper for the summer. This will be the first time paddling it solo!
     
  42. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    I had a Camper early in my poling practice. Good starter while you get your legs under you. Of all the canoes I've had though, it was the most vulnerable to wind when lightly loaded. If you aren't hauling a camp, adding ballast will help. The Camper can haul a load.
     
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  43. chansta

    chansta keeper of the flame Supporter

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    Would you suggest paddling this one from the bow so I'm closer to center and placing weight in the front? I think this is a zero rocker boat with a very wide bottom.
     
  44. chansta

    chansta keeper of the flame Supporter

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    I'm starting to wonder if I'd still be perfectly happy with something like one of the cheaper discoveries and a kayak paddle.
     
  45. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    Yes. The Camper has zero rocker and is symmetrical, so paddling solo from the bow seat facing the stern seat is the way to go, if you don't want to install a kneeling thwart. You will probably still like to have some weight ahead of the yoke for trim. The bottom is wide, but only average width for its length. It is a flat bottom, so not best for rough water - but easy to get comfortable in otherwise.
     
  46. Bad Little Falls

    Bad Little Falls Guide

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    Check out what this fellow does with his Old Town Camper, not a white water boat? Its what you make of it.
     
  47. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    No, not ideal for whitewater, but you could do worse. It does turn easy for its length and lack of rocker, due to its flat bottom. A good paddler can compensate to some degree for its lack of secondary stability and tendency to conform to the surface. It's actually a pretty good river canoe for the novice, so long as you don't push the limits.
     
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