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Guest Paddler
02/19/2020 03:04PM
Is there such a thing as the worst canoe ever, one that you would never paddle in the BWCA or anywhere else?
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02/19/2020 03:16PM
No canoe is good at every paddling situation, so there can be a lot of "best" and a lot of "worst" canoes, depending upon the situation.

In the 80's, when I was poor and raising 2 kids, my Mom bought us a Coleman canoe. By my now more affluent standards, it would be a piece of crap today......But oh my God, we had wonderful times on our local waterways with that piece of crap. Great canoe, took a tremendous beating and never once failed me. Great adventures and great memories.

The worst canoe is one that never gets used. The best canoe is one that gets used all the time. That old Coleman was one of the best.
distinguished member(3673)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/19/2020 04:19PM
yes , the coleman scanoe , 98lbs and paddles like a cinder block. there's probably still green on the rocks up to Gogebic from 30 years ago LOL
member (37)member
02/19/2020 04:22PM
A Dolphin Chief. It was brought on the first ever BW trip. 18 feet long and 107 lbs. It's a monster and with high upsweeps on the end, it caught alot of wind.
02/19/2020 05:03PM
Any canoe that needs inflating.
distinguished member(1234)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/19/2020 05:16PM
We had a styrofoam flat bottom canoe that my dad got somewhere. It was pretty bad. Don't know if its true, but I was told that the Coleman canoe was design the way to it so they could nest into each other for transport.
distinguished member(1329)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/19/2020 06:07PM
Kevlar Mad River used outfitter canoe. No thwart behind the front seat to save expense. Dubbed "The Devil Canoe" it has seen a number of tip-overs due to snaky behavior. It no longer makes trips with our group.
distinguished member(670)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/19/2020 07:05PM
I don't know the brand, but the canoe was like paddling a bathtub. We had out of town relatives who wanted to go down the Wisconsin so we rented extra canoes from one of those outfitters along the river. It was SO slow and took a lot of effort to paddle. It was always the last canoe. Which probably wouldn't have been an issue, except we could see a storm coming, with lightening . Never using one of those tubs again.
distinguished member (125)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/19/2020 07:29PM
My first canoe that I bought somewhere around 40 years ago when I was 16 was a 12' American Fiber Lite. I bought it used, but I think they were sold at Sears. Chopped fiber glass painted to look like birch bark, wide, flat bottom, 3 keels and rock hard wood slat seats that were tough on even a 16 year old butt. Paddled like a tub compared to anything I've owned or paddled since. BUT, I paddled hundreds of miles in local salt marshes and streams, had as many as 4 of the neighborhood kids in it with me, paddled it on Long Island Sound and Buzzards Bay and even did some class III water on the Housatonic in CT in it with a high school buddy. It was a lousy canoe, but I had a ton of fun in it. To paraphrase a friend of mine, and apologies if it's offensive to anyone, bad canoes are like bad heck of a lot better than no canoe at all.
distinguished member (252)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/19/2020 09:27PM

I used to have the Grumman Solo (Aluminum) 12'9" canoe. Boy what a thing to behold! It was super shiny, short, very squatty, blazing hot in the sun and noisy. (Insert spouse joke here)

It was kind of cool though and very nostalgic. I imagined myself checking trap lines and carrying my gear in a wicker basket with a tumpline across the Quetico. Then I woke up from my dream 200 yards offshore and realized that it doesn't like to be paddled. OMG, I didn't think I was going to make it back to the landing! I've never been so worn out from paddling anything in my life. An hour in that canoe was like 10 miles in a tandem with your fattest buddy on the first day of a week long trip! Seriously...

But all jokes aside, it didn't paddle that great. I bought a motor mount and ran around in it with a 2 hp motor which made it fun and useful for fishing. People would check it out and ask questions because it's not something you ever see. I got rid of it after one year.

Not a tripping canoe unless you really need the exercise or hate yourself.

distinguished member(1400)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/20/2020 07:02AM
Coleman canoe had to be the worst canoe I have ever been in, although that birch bark Sears is a close second, BTW, I saw one with what looked like a shotgun hole in it, which it probably deserved.

I agree that inflatables are probably hands down the worst ... until I saw a guy take one out of the trunk of his Mustang and informed when asked that he keeps it in his bedroom closet. It floats, and if you want to get on the water on one of Mpls lakes in summer, I 'd rather have it than a Coleman .... or any other heavy crappy canoe. BWCA trip, no.
member (35)member
02/20/2020 08:22AM
Under any given circumstance a canoe can be the best and for the next the worst. I would never choose an inflatable for bwca but it is my canoe of choice in the Alaskan arctic. I float plane to the starting point and paddle to a village, deflate the canoe, load it on the mail plane and fly back. I could never do this with my Souris River. And neither of these would hold up well for our southern Appalachian streams. So it all depends on all the circumstance.
senior member (65)senior membersenior member
02/20/2020 12:40PM
The worst canoe I ever paddled in the BWCA was a 1990's Pelican. Made of Royalexe and even had a cooler in the center seat! It was a beast, but at least it made it all the way to Gebe and back! Sold it to buy an aluminum Grumman. Still a beast but stable and yeah, a bit lighter.
distinguished member (442)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/20/2020 12:59PM
As a kid, we had a triple keel Corecraft fiberglass behemoth. While it served our family well because we could put 2 dogs, 2 adults, and 3 little kids in it and it was stable, stable, stable. But I was glad I never had to carry it.

To me, paddling anything aluminum is torture...I can't stand the sound of water slapping on aluminum.

distinguished member(2853)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/20/2020 04:48PM
The first trip my son and I took was with our Coleman green monster. It was our first trip, what did we know, and it was great for fishing around home but did we learn a few things about it when it hit a windstorm on Ima Lake. We're both large guys and we had a lot of gear loaded in. Waves were scary high. This was a storm that came from no where and we were taken by surprise but we managed it well enough to get through the trip. We missed a hidden portage tucked behind large rocks into Hatchet Lake so had to turn it around in whitecaps and paddle with the wind for a while as we looked. A dicey paddle that day. The other canoes in the group were a Grumman and a Wenonah Champlain. Ours was a heavy beast and it oil canned like crazy but we made it - last as usual. Doing it over I would have rented a better canoe but when I look at it in the backyard today I shake my head and wonder what was I thinking. You know kevlar isn't perfect either. What I would rate the best canoe I've ever used (the Champlain) we struck a hidden sharp rock on our first day and punched a hole at the water line that we were able to fix with super duct tape. Never had that happen with any other canoe.
02/20/2020 07:19PM
The Colman was my least favorite... and anything over 70 lbs... stay away from big heavy fiberglass canoes... big curvy ends that catch wind. Lots of canoes are great but it’s pretty obvious. If in question try paddling and carrying your boat in question.
distinguished member(1078)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/21/2020 06:45AM
Anything over 80lbs and I'll probably complain about it.
distinguished member(2026)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/21/2020 01:05PM
I'd say the Coleman would be toward the bottom of my preferred list of tripping canoes, but every canoe is good for something! While it's never been to the BWCA with me (and never will), I still use my fine old Coleman for duck hunting. I've even managed to add to its already generous weight with several layers of camouflage paint. It can haul a ton of stuff and is stable in rough waters, even with my dog. I've even dragged it across a gravel parking lot fully loaded without a bit of concern - can't do that with carbon fiber or kevlar!
distinguished member(2215)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/21/2020 01:29PM
My cousin made an oak canoe that was over 100 pounds. He could barely move it. I think he only took it to a lake once.
distinguished member (479)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/21/2020 03:47PM
The coleman scanoe is one of the most hated/loved boats ever to grace the waves with its sheer ugliness, yet can you name one other canoe where you can paddle solo standing up from the stern seat with no added ballast? I once took mine on a November duck hunt on the St Croix backwaters, after a long dreadful day of fighting it against the current we left it on the shore then hiked back to the truck, it sat in the same spot near the train bridge in Osceola all that winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, the next winter I was snowmobiling past and pulled it back home with a rope, I figured for sure someone would lay claim to it, to no avail. That was 20 years ago, with too many other boats to choose from it is still my go to boat for drifting down a river with the dog and a fishing pole but I would take a milk carton boat the the BDub before carrying it.
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