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Choosing a solo canoe

Choosing a solo canoe

When looking for a solo boat it's important to know what you want to do with it, as they are all suited to different types of paddling. Here we talk about how the features of a canoe affect its use. We've highlighted a few common models we often stock and included a spec comparison chart at the end of the post. 

Boats for pure fun

These boats are meant for recreational paddling, fishing, and day excursions and will generally be stable, short and maneuverable. Most can be paddled with a double blade to cut down on the need for steering strokes.

Generally on the shallow side (often 12-15" deep), these boats won't do well in big water or with a large load but they catch a lot less wind than a boat with more freeboard and won't blow around the lake as much. Another common feature is low, comfortable seats with back rests. Wider more stable models such as the Adirondack are perfect for fishing.

  • Wenonah Wee Lassie
  • Old Town Next
  • Esquif Echo
  • Esquif Adirondack (pictured below) 

Esquif Adirondack canoe

Boats for tripping

These canoes will have significantly more capacity than recreational solo boats. They'll be deeper (look for depths of 20" or more ideally) and many will have some flare at the bow to deflect bigger waves.

Some designs, like the Prospector and Caribou S, will have tumblehome - traditional rounded sides - which makes the canoe more stable as you load it. If you have a wood web or plank style seat you can also kneel on one side into the tumblehome bringing the ends of the boat up out of the water and shortening the keel line, making the canoe extremely maneuverable. 

  • Clipper Caribou S (pictured below)
  • Clipper Prospector 14
  • Clipper Escape 

Clipper Caribou S Heidi Seida

Boats for speed 

With long straight lines and very little rocker these canoes are built for efficiency. They'll track the straightest and require the least adjustments for steering, and the marathon (or "sit-and-switch") style of paddling works well with these sleek boats as they are usually narrow to accommodate a vertical stroke while seated.

The seat is often designed for sitting rather than kneeling, with a footbrace for more points of contact (and therefore control). Seats are mounted lower for stability, and some designs like the Clipper Solitude come with options for changing the seat height. Often these boats have an asymmetrical hull  (shallower depth in the stern) to catch less wind.

  • Clipper Solitude (pictured below)
  • Wenonah Prism 

Clipper Solitude

Boats for when you sometimes have a partner

There are some canoes that do well bridging the gap between solo and tandem: fun and small enough to handle alone, yet with seating and capacity for a team of paddlers. These may come as smaller tandem boats with a wood web or plank style bow seat that you can use for solo paddling. Paddling the boat backwards from the bow seat brings your weight closer to the middle of the canoe so it's easier to trim.

Or you might find a boat with a "solo seat" in the middle such as the Clipper Tripper S with its removable kneeling seat. These canoes are usually in the 15 -16' range for length which is enough for two people to trip in as long as they pack fairly light.

  • Clipper Escape
  • Clipper Tripper S (pictured below)

Clipper Tripper S on a saskatchewan lake

Length Beam  Depth (B/C/S)
Wee Lassie 10'6 10'6 27/23.5" 14.5/10/14.5"
Wee Lassie 12'6 12'6 27.5/24" 16/12/16"
Esquif Adirondack 12' 31.5" 13"
Old Town Next 13' 29" 11.5"
Esquif Echo 14' 32/30" 11.5"
Clipper Prospector 14 14' 29/29" 21/15/21"
Clipper Escape 14'6 35/34" 19/14/18"
Clipper Caribou S 15'3 27/30.6" 20/14/20"
Clipper Solitude 15'6 28/30" 16/13/14"
Wenonah Prism 16'6 26/30.75" 19/12.5/17"
Clipper Tripper S 16'6 33/31.5" 19/14/17"

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ebsadventure - August 13, 2022

Hi Dan,
You are on the right track with the Clipper Escape and the Clipper Scout. Both have flatter, wider hull bottoms than your Tripper did, so they will have lots of primary stability and feel very solid on the water. They both have fairly minimal rocker and will be relatively straight-tracking for their length. Unless you are a very large paddler, you will probably find the Escape easier to handle solo than you would the Scout. The Scout would handle more cargo or very large waves better than the Escape. Paddling tandem, the Scout’s extra length would make it a bit faster than the Escape. In the Ultralight Kevlar layup, the Escape is 44 lbs. and the Scout is 48 lbs.
If you are looking for something even lighter at 16’ or less, two other boats worth considering are the Wenonah Heron 15 and Aurora 16. In the ultralight aramid with gel bottom layup, they weigh 38 and 42 lbs., respectively. Please stop by the store or give us a call to discuss your requirements in detail.
-the Eb’s team

Dan - August 13, 2022

Just sold my clipper tripper and looking to downsize . Wanting to solo a decently stable and light canoe and looking at either the scout or escape in the clipper line up . Escape seems a bit more stable when reading up but both are very similar just a length difference and I like the shorter canoe for storage . Will need to hold two adults comfortably . Any tips please

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