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      Buying first canoe - anything I'm not considering?     
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senior member (53)senior membersenior member
01/24/2020 03:55PM
Hey all,

Have been going to the BWCA for a few years now (we're only in our mid-twenties so have many trips to look forward to) but finally for our trip last year accumulated all of our own gear, including a dehydrator so I can meal plan myself. So the only thing we needed to rent was a canoe.

Now for this year I've been considering making the final purchase of our own kevlar canoe. I've lined up a good deal on a Northwind 17 and just wanted to get some opinions on making this purchase in general and if there are any hidden expenses I'm not thinking of.

I know I'll need to pick up yoke pads, paddles, life jackets, a roof rack for transport on my sedan, and then the MN DNR registration fees every few years.

Thanks in advance for the help! I feel like I've covered the main things and have read a few other threads on the site about renting vs buying, but am sure something slipped my mind.
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member (38)member
01/24/2020 04:30PM
I think you have the big ones. I didn't factor in the roof rack for transport when I purchased my canoe. Maybe storage? I have a pulley system in the garage - not a big investment but could be something to keep in mind.
distinguished member(1446)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/24/2020 04:49PM
I have a NW 17 . It's a great canoe. With that benign said. Don't skimp on your paddles. Get good quality light weight paddles. They're the engine of the canoe. You can't beat a great rack system like a Yakima or Thule. Big initial investment but they last. BTW if you live in a state that doesn't require a canoe registration. MN won't make you get one.
distinguished member(4836)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
01/24/2020 05:44PM
Seems like you have a good list. That's about what I had to buy when we got our first canoe. But our canoe cost $50 and so the cost of the canoe was a small part of what we wound up spending.

I think it is great to buy, especially with a good deal, so you can outfit your canoe just the way you want it.
distinguished member(1503)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/24/2020 06:27PM
While you will be saving money on each trip you take, at some point you can sell your purchase and recoup some if not all of your initial expense on this canoe.

Also, if you take a tow on Lac La Croix, your canoe will be charged a fee to travel with you.
01/24/2020 08:36PM
Canoe seats, thwart packs.
01/24/2020 10:50PM
Well said about now that it is yours you can customize. The basic gear you have and seats, thwart bags and all sorts of add-ons will now be possible.
You will want to protect the shell with sunblock, ie. 303, and in time will want to sand it down and apply a new coat of epoxy or other material (or have someone do it for you).
A good investment. And welcome to
01/25/2020 02:43PM
Congrats on your decision to buy, you won't regret it.

If you can only buy one boat it's worth considering how you'll want to use it for the next few years. No single canoe does everything well.

If you plan on paddling rivers and rocky streams in addition to BWCA lake trips, a Royalex hull (or similar) with some moderate rocker is a good choice.

It will be heavier to portage and not as fast on flat water but it will give you plenty of volume, a very stable fishing platform and the flexibility to use it in just about any situation. I'm partial to prospectors but there are others.

If you think you'll stick to paddling lakes or rivers with minimal rapids, I think the kevlar NW is an excellent choice.
distinguished member(563)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/25/2020 08:07PM
If you don't want to (or can't) make the investment in a roof rack then foam blocks will work for transporting your canoe. You do have to have two people to get the canoe onto the car and you have to have the tie-downs going through the interior, but we used them for years until we bought a car with a roof rack. A roof rack is definitely easier but the foam blocks are far cheaper.

Have fun canoe shopping!
senior member (53)senior membersenior member
01/26/2020 02:18AM
Appreciate the responses. Sounds like I got the main things.

The canoe I'm looking at has seats and I have a thwart bag I've been using so am covered there. Might consider adding a portable depth finder since fishing is our main priority.

Any paddle suggestions? Seems like the bending branches are the popular option without going too high in price. I see Piragis has used Outfitting BB Special's ($80) and BB Explorer Plus' ($85) for sale. Is it worth looking at these or is there enough wear from a year of rental use that it's not worth the savings?

Have rented a few different canoes on our trips and enjoyed the NW 17 a lot. Bow paddler appreciates the room also. We rented a 65lb aluminum on a trip once and quickly decided we'd be sticking to kevlar for tripping. Definitely something to consider if we start paddling more streams in the future, though.

Still debating what I'm going to do for transport but leaning towards the roof rack. Think it'll be the better choice long-term and can use for ski's in the winter as well.

distinguished member(4836)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
01/26/2020 02:43PM
Bending branches is where we started and I still use my Bending Branches straight along with my Zaveral bent. The Piragis paddles might be slightly heavier duty and therefore heavier paddles for abuse by renters. You might not need that extra durability. Having looked through their paddle piles, some of them are great and sometimes there are some that are beat up more than I would want. If you do order from them call and talk to Adam or Drew in outfitting to see if what is available fits your needs. I've ordered a couple of used items from them and I've aways wound up talking to Drew and getting great stuff.
senior member (53)senior membersenior member
01/28/2020 11:05AM
Thanks Andy, I'll keep that in mind and reach out to Adam/Drew to see what they have. Found a good discount on a new BB Arrow that's cheaper than the used Piragis paddles so might pick one up - but they only have up to the length my bow paddler needs so I'll have to continue searching for myself.
distinguished member (227)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/28/2020 11:17AM
Now that you're getting your first canoe, you need to start planning for your second. N+1. (I have four currently, and a sea kayak.)
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