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senior member (58)senior membersenior member
01/13/2021 06:56AM  
As I continue to plan and prepare for my late May solo trip from Mudro, I am looking at solo canoe and outfitter options for rental.

Brief History - My last two solos, I traveled in my 12' Perception kayak. I intentionally traveled in areas with minimal portages and purposely avoided anything with length to it (not to mention the logistics of packing). Why a kayak? Simply because this is what I currently own. I really need to purchase a solo canoe in the future, but it is not financially feasible at the moment, nor is it a popular topic with my wife. I have encouraged her to throw that 50lb thing on her shoulder and walk around the block, going up and down the curb and including some steps as well. But I have not succeeded:)

A few things I am thinking about in this regard:

Canoe Experience - My canoe paddling experience has been tandem paddling (stern) in a 17' Alumacraft or Grumman. I have NOT paddled a solo. I feel completely comfortable in a canoe and do prefer it over a kayak for wilderness travel (duh, right?). I'm going to assume that there will be a strong recommendation to get some solo paddling behind me prior to my trip. Anyone think otherwise? Yes, you can assume in framing the question the way I have, that I am looking for support to just go for it...

Solo Canoe Choices - I am 5'8" and 150lbs. I do NOT fish but prefer to travel and explore. What model/style do you suggest?

Paddle Style - With a lack of solo canoe experience, I'm thinking a kayak paddle might be the better option?

Travel and Outfitter Logistics - My plan is to travel the 6 hours to Ely, and another 45 min. to the entry point? The day of my entry. I would like to be on the water no later than 9:00am to get up to Fairy by an early afternoon hour. Since I don't have a setup to travel with a canoe, is it common practice for an outfitter to have the canoe waiting for me at the entry point? And when the trip is over to leave it there for them to pick up?

If all else fails (during the planning phase) I guess I will be shouldering my trusty kayak over the infamous portage(s) from Mudro to Fourtown. And I will sleep it off on the Canadian Shield:)

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01/13/2021 08:23AM  
While some solo paddling prior to your trip would be helpful, I don't think it's absolutely necessary given your experience paddling in a tandem and a kayak.

Canoe choice: You are my size - you won't need a big canoe. Wind is your enemy and a canoe that's too big will just be a sail. My experience is that something like a Souris River Quetico 16 set up as a solo is not a good choice for you. You won't be on really big water, but the water will be cold. I think a Northstar Northwind solo (or something similar) would be a good choice for you and they are readily available.

Paddle Style: I take a spare paddle, which is a good idea, especially solo. Take a double blade paddle and a straight shaft single blade. That gives you a spare and options. Attach the spare to the gunwales. You can leave it there when you portage.

Outfitter Logistics: The common practice is for you to pick up the canoe (and drop it off at the outfitter). Dropping it off/picking it up would probably be an extra expense. Most will have a way to put it on your car, but check with them for the details.

Other thoughts: You'll need to bring your own painters.

01/13/2021 08:33AM  
If I didn't fish I'd go with a Magic or Prism.
distinguished member(749)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/13/2021 08:42AM  
If you’re a kayaker, you won’t need any practice before heading into the BWCA. Your center of gravity will be a bit higher, but that’s about it. You may want to use a kayak paddle just because it will be more familiar, although, I wouldn’t recommend it if you’ll be traveling a lot of small creeks/rivers. Have a great trip and enjoy the portages, they are the key to solitude.

01/13/2021 09:15AM  
Validating the above comments. The tumblehome and narrow style of the Magic makes it closer to a kayak and is more friendly when using a double blade. I have paddled both and my knuckles took a beating in the Prism. A single blade for narrow spots is a great second paddle.
You will likely find once you adjust to the higher center of gravity and absence of seat and footrests for support you will go faster. To be thorough, trim is really important.
distinguished member(1794)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/13/2021 01:04PM  
You are an ideal canoeist! Smaller frame and weight. What a blessing.

Any solo canoe you step into will feel very squirrely initially. You need a half hour of paddling to understand how it behaves regardless of the model. The front of the canoe seems to be smack in your face. The cool thing about canoes with a lot of tumblehome is that as you lean then and think you're gonna flip, they just stop. They are very stable. You can lean them almost until water starts spilling over the gunwales.

I've been paddling solos for 20 years and have gone everywhere. My canoeing habits are my own, but I think paddling a double blade paddle is rather silly. Just my opinion. I was taught to paddle with a straight blade paddle. I did change to a bent shaft some time back and that is all I use.

You're gonna love it! I am part of my canoe and it is part of me.

Your outfitter will do anything you ask of them, for a fee. They do all sorts of crazy things for their customers and your request is not out of the norm. When I worked for an outfitter as a kid, I had to haul a keg of beer out to some campers.

distinguished member(1508)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/13/2021 01:07PM  
AmarilloJim: "If I didn't fish I'd go with a Magic or Prism."You can use a double blade paddle with these. Also consider a Northwind solo
distinguished member(7421)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
01/13/2021 02:18PM  
Yiu might consider pack canoes, for the more familiar low center of gravity. I'm not sure if outfitters in BWCAW area have them though. Only for flatwater use?
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01/13/2021 05:44PM  
Jw I forget where you said home was... But after ice off you wanna get a feel for a solo boat and you live near st Paul you can try my so cedar strip canoe just for the feel of it.
01/13/2021 05:48PM  
pswith5 makes a good point. Many of us are willing to let you try out one of our boats so where do you usually paddle (live to people who think about their land place)?
01/13/2021 06:27PM  
Agree with all above comments. Many will let you try their boat if you're nearby. Outfitter will often have pads and straps to let you haul boat to and from entry at no cost. They'll shuttle you and your gear and boat for a fee.

Magic is a nice boat...Advantage. Often an outfitter won't have all brands or models so if the only thing you're using an outfitter for is permit pickup and a around till you find the outfitter that rents what you want to paddle. If you're also using them for place to stay that night before and stuff then you have to weigh options.

Kayak paddle will be familiar, take a regular canoe paddle as spare and bungee it into the canoe.
distinguished member (127)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/13/2021 07:25PM  
On my first solo trip last fall, I rented a 15' Wenonah Royalex from Seagull Outfitters. Loved it. It was stable in the water and easy to portage. I used a canoe paddle.
distinguished member(747)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/13/2021 08:22PM  
As someone who has used a tandem canoe a lot and been in kayaks, you will not have difficulty transitioning to a solo. I was worried about it this year, but the first day in my solo I felt comfortable right away. I thought it would feel much tippier than it actually did.

I like bring a take apart kayak paddle and a straight shaft canoe paddle. I used the canoe paddle in quiet, smaller water areas and the kayak paddle on big lakes or windy crossings.

I have never rented a solo. When we rented a 3-person canoe this summer, the outfitter dropped it off at the nearby entry point. They didn't drop it off until we had arrived at the outfitter and checked in, paid, signed forms, etc. We paddled back to the outfitter at the end.

Have fun!
01/14/2021 08:26PM  
The outfitter will tie the canoe to your car and so you how to do it for the return trip. Ely to Mudro entry is not a high speed drive, so you will be fine.
You need to pick up your permit, etc. so do that at the outfitters as well.
I like Voyagers North Outfitters in Ely. Give them a call. Last I knew they opened at something like 5:30am. You can get a nice early start. They will recommend the right canoe for you.
senior member (58)senior membersenior member
01/15/2021 05:02PM  
THANK YOU ALL for the copious amount of information.

Thank you pswith5 for the invitation. I reside in Le Sueur County...

I'm definitely going to move forward with the solo canoe option. I will take a single blade and double blade. I look forward to paddling with a single blade and getting in a zone with the canoe. With outfitters open that early, that is great. The earlier I'm on the water, the better. I might have to come up a day early so I can get a head start in the morning of my entry. My expectations will be a slightly lower for getting from point A to point B, but who cares. Slow down and enjoy.

This will definitely impact on how I pack, and I may bring a few more things. Being late May, this will probably be extra layers. I don't need "the kitchen sink". I will still plan on double portaging.

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