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Choosing a solo canoe

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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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