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      Tandem vs 2 solo canoes     
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ManAndDog
member (35)member
 
03/04/2021 10:19AM  
Our group of 5 equally capable adults usually does one 3-person and one 2-person canoe. This year we are considering doing five 1-person canoes instead.

Is this a dumb idea? Is the workload close to the same per person on a solo canoe vs 2 people on a tandem canoe?
 
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billconner
distinguished member(7693)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
03/04/2021 10:38AM  
Not dumb. Just read an article on canoe builder Peter Hornbeck, and it talked about him advising couples to skip the tandem for two solos.

You might want to consider one tandem as easier if someone becomes injured.

More work. Effectively like three more portage loads, but doable. Mot often advised but might be perfect for your group. If renting canoes, I'm sure 5 solos are much more than a tandem and a triple.

And you can't have 5 canoes in a group. 3 solos and a tandem and trade off.
 
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(13685)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
03/04/2021 10:54AM  
You may not know this but the rules state 9 person 4 canoes.
 
03/04/2021 10:59AM  
Savage Voyageur: "You may not know this but the rules state 9 person 4 canoes. "

Yes, I was going to point that out too. Also 2 solos weigh more than one tandem as far as portaging. And it's important to get a solo of the proper size for the paddler and load. A very large person and a very small person in the same size canoe won't have anywhere near an equal workload.

But I do prefer to paddle my own canoe :).
 
ManAndDog
member (35)member
 
03/04/2021 10:59AM  
I forgot about this rule. Thank you for reminding me.

Looks like our option now is one 2-person and three 1-persons
 
ManAndDog
member (35)member
 
03/04/2021 11:13AM  
And I have a follow up question.

I've never done a solo canoe before and I have my large dog with me. Can me, my 120 lb dog and my pack fit in a solo canoe?
 
03/04/2021 11:35AM  
ManAndDog: "And I have a follow up question.


I've never done a solo canoe before and I have my large dog with me. Can me, my 120 lb dog and my pack fit in a solo canoe? "


Maybe...probably...depends on you and the solo model you choose.
How big are you, and how much gear will you carry?
 
ManAndDog
member (35)member
 
03/04/2021 11:38AM  
sns: "ManAndDog: "And I have a follow up question.



I've never done a solo canoe before and I have my large dog with me. Can me, my 120 lb dog and my pack fit in a solo canoe? "



Maybe...probably...depends on you and the solo model you choose.
How big are you, and how much gear will you carry?"


I'm 6ft 200 lbs and I'll just have my 65L Osprey pack. Do you have a solo model you would recommend?
 
HayRiverDrifter
distinguished member(753)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/04/2021 12:13PM  
I would highly recommend the option of taking a few solo boats. If you go that route, reevaluate your pack layout. One three man canoe is different that three solos obviously.

I love my solo mostly because it give me the option to head off alone for a few hours or a day.
 
billconner
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03/04/2021 01:08PM  
If you think some of you might eventually want to solo or group solo, great opportunity to try out three different solos along with a tandem, swapping positions. There is a lot to be said for the solo experience.
 
03/04/2021 01:47PM  
ManAndDog: "And I have a follow up question.


I've never done a solo canoe before and I have my large dog with me. Can me, my 120 lb dog and my pack fit in a solo canoe? "


I'm sure you can find one that will be appropriate for that. I don't know what will be available for you - check with the outfitter. A Northstar Northwind solo with 370 lbs. is at the 4" waterline according to Northstar website.
 
MidwestFirecraft
distinguished member(638)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/04/2021 01:55PM  
ManAndDog: "Is this a dumb idea? Is the workload close to the same per person on a solo canoe vs 2 people on a tandem canoe?
"


Not a dumb idea. If you have never paddled a solo canoe it is a whole different beast. I would not want my first time to be on a wilderness trip. You have to use different canoe strokes like the c stroke, etc. to keep any kind of a straight line. It is entirely different from paddling a tandem prospector backwards from the bow. If you know anyone that has a solo canoe I would highly suggest having the members of your group try it before committing to a multi day trip. Of course you can always use a kayak paddle.
 
Michwall2
distinguished member(1072)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/04/2021 04:07PM  
ManAndDog: "Our group of 5 equally capable adults usually does one 3-person and one 2-person canoe. This year we are considering doing five 1-person canoes instead.

Is this a dumb idea? Is the workload close to the same per person on a solo canoe vs 2 people on a tandem canoe?
"


Several questions:

Are you all relatively equally skilled paddlers? With that many solos, if one or two people cannot keep up or do not have the necessary skill/strength/stamina for paddling on a windy-ish day, will you all be stuck in camp?

Others may disagree, but, our experience has been that solos cannot maintain the same cruising speed that a tandem/triple can. Do your plans include shorter distances or longer paddling days?

Will the existence of one tandem and 3 solos create "solo envy"? What are your group dynamics like that way? Will you need to rotate through the tandem?

Just as a matter of safety, every canoe should have a set of maps. What is the feeling of the group about the member who gets "solo wanderlust" and leaves the group to explore? Are you willing to wait at the next portage for everyone to regroup or are you going to forge ahead and they will have to find you later?

Besides having 2 extra canoes to portage, it will take longer to clear the portage at both ends. Rarely is there room for 4 canoes to unload/load simultaneously. You will need to establish a routine to avoid causing backups at portages closer to entries. Remember, the 4 canoe/9 person rule applies to everyone at a portage end. Your party with 4 canoes could create gridlock.

 
dschult2
senior member (71)senior membersenior member
 
03/04/2021 07:01PM  
This had all been covered already so I'll be quick about it. Do it! I have two solo canoes and would much rather solo with somebody than be in a tandom with them. You get to trip with somebody but yet each feel like your on your own. As alluded to before because of the 4 boat rule get 3 solos and a tandem. Just switch off so everyone can try solo. Use a kayak paddle, no experience needed and will easily be able to keep up with the tandem. I trip with a dog always and for your weight, pack size, and your dogs weight will be right on the edge of whats comfortable in a dedicated solo. Without looking at specs I would say get the solo with the largest weight capacity as that will be the most stable. Worst case scenerio is if it doesn't work out you and your pup will be stuck in the tandem. I think you'll have a blast. If your going to rent 3 solos ID think about getting your reservation in quick.
 
03/04/2021 07:29PM  
My experience is that two strong paddlers in a tandem will outpace the solos. It can result in the solo paddlers getting tired. The tandem paddlers may have to wait occasionally. Its also better to fish with a buddy in a tandem. I like going solo, but I do it when I'm alone on the trip.
 
03/04/2021 07:53PM  
I would go with the more stable solo-like a Prism. Also I love a kayak which is much more efficient but you will get a little wet from drip-can wear rain pants be fine than.
Also what is your paddling skill levels and are you going on big water? Lot of things to check out.
 
03/04/2021 07:56PM  
MidwestFirecraft: "ManAndDog: "Is this a dumb idea? Is the workload close to the same per person on a solo canoe vs 2 people on a tandem canoe?
"



Not a dumb idea. If you have never paddled a solo canoe it is a whole different beast. I would not want my first time to be on a wilderness trip. You have to use different canoe strokes like the c stroke, etc. to keep any kind of a straight line. It is entirely different from paddling a tandem prospector backwards from the bow. If you know anyone that has a solo canoe I would highly suggest having the members of your group try it before committing to a multi day trip. Of course you can always use a kayak paddle."


agree
 
03/04/2021 08:07PM  
I am normally a Northstar guy, but I would concur with Pinetree on a Prism in your situation.
You could even consider Wenonah's Solo-Plus, giving extra room for Fido.
 
straighthairedcurly
distinguished member(885)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/04/2021 10:32PM  
I would not be a fan of the extra boat route. I like to have as few loads to carry across a portage as possible. I love my solo canoe for solo trips and the camaraderie of 2-3 person canoes for group trips. Seems silly to me to split up into so many boats, but sounds like some people prefer it.
 
KarlBAndersen1
distinguished member(1293)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/05/2021 06:10AM  
Mix it up some. Do a 3-man and 2 solos. Take turns. Or one tandem and three solos. That way everyone can break up whatever boredom they may encounter. Everyone can have a chance doing what they want.
 
03/05/2021 09:14AM  
Depending on your experience with solo canoes, you might want to do 2 tandems and one solo. This way you can rotate who gets the solo. Just saying that it might be better to dip your toes in the water instead of diving in head first.
 
Banksiana
distinguished member(2323)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/05/2021 09:33AM  
As for speed differences between solos and tandems- depends on the paddlers and the boats. Double bladed paddles are not necessarily faster- again it depends on the paddler and the boat (the physics of it say a a single blade wielded at the same cadence should be quicker- (more of the double blade energy is diverted into lateral motion (yaw) but switching sides is often problematic for casual paddlers resulting in a slower single bladed cadence- not to mention that most casual paddlers take a longer stroke than is efficient further reducing the advantage of the single blade). I've never had any difficulty outpacing tandems (including fast tandems such as a MNII) in my solo- but I paddle a fairly quick hull. Two solos will be slower on portages.

A Prism or a Northwind solo should be able to handle you and your dog but you will be loaded.
 
gymcoachdon
distinguished member(569)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/05/2021 10:40AM  
First thing:
My very first wilderness trip was solo entering Stuart River. Looking back now 6 years later, I had no idea what I was doing. I had paddled canoes maybe 3 times as a child, and then took a canoeing/kayaking class in college. That was probably the biggest help for me. I did fine, and had no problems handling the solo canoe. (I did borrow a Prism from a friend, and paddled it 2 days on a local lake before the trip.)
I don't think there is such a big learning curve to paddling a solo canoe. (and I took a kayak paddle, but much preferred the single.)
My son and I took a trip together in 2 solos, and it had advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages:
We could travel at our own pace (somewhat)
We could fish our own areas, at our pace, and choose our presentation style
If one of us wanted lunch or a nap, the other was in a canoe that was easy to control solo.

Disadvantages:
More trips across the portage (we probably could have single portaged, but at least could have carried the tandem canoe by itself on the portages)
Yokes need to be installed and removed at each portage
My son was not a strong paddler, and we had 2 days of headwinds to get out. His back was giving him fits by the end of the trip, and he had a couple tough days. He could have been lazy in the bow and let me do the work in a tandem.

We went with 2 solos because I own one, and was able to borrow another. We would have had to rent a tandem, so saved about $300.
 
outsidethebox
senior member (88)senior membersenior member
 
03/06/2021 07:43AM  
It sounds like such a nice idea. The issues that have been hinted at are much greater than you think. What you are talking about doing is operating under lowest-common-denominator conditions times 5. You may wish to pay for a psychiatrist to accompany you-to run a 5 hour therapy session at the end of each day. This is one disastrous trip waiting to happen.
 
Argo
distinguished member (191)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/06/2021 08:34AM  
gymcoachdon:
Disadvantages:
...
My son was not a strong paddler, and we had 2 days of headwinds to get out. His back was giving him fits by the end of the trip, and he had a couple tough days. He could have been lazy in the bow and let me do the work in a tandem.

"


Taking this a bit off topic but yours is an excellent point that I found out on a long-haul Quetico trip with my fourteen-year-old son last summer. The kid is over 6' tall and was 130 lbs soaking wet. No man muscles yet. I had this notion that his limitless energy doing all sorts of sporting activities at home would translate into him being a strong paddler. Instead, like your son, he fought back issues in the canoe. Fortunately these aren't the sort of chronic back issues us older folks get - just tired muscles that need a break from paddling.

The biggest downside to it was when he was laying back on a pack for a rest at the bow he missed seeing an enormous sturgeon leap out of the water in front of us in the channel south of Scripture Island on Sturgeon Lake. That was a once in a lifetime sighting.
 
moray
distinguished member (184)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/06/2021 09:21AM  
Our group of three all use solos. I like to fish more than my other partners so I can hop in my boat and fish when I want,especially early in the morning. We always use Prisms with the adjustable tractor seat. It makes balancing your load much easier. We all use kayak paddles. They are great for just cruising but you can really fly if you want to push it.
 
03/06/2021 07:24PM  
3Ball: "My experience is that two strong paddlers in a tandem will outpace the solos. It can result in the solo paddlers getting tired. The tandem paddlers may have to wait occasionally. Its also better to fish with a buddy in a tandem. I like going solo, but I do it when I'm alone on the trip."

Yes. I've had this happen paddling solo with another tandem and even when I started out early, I was always bringing up the rear and quite tired. Also have been in the tandem while 2 solos followed and we had to not only constantly wait up for them, but had to carry a lot of gear - cookware, fuel, food - that they couldn't making our paddle a little more difficult - esp on portages.

If you're carrying just your dog and your pack, I assume others are carrying your share of the food and fuel and gear as well.

 
03/06/2021 07:35PM  
I will say inexperienced solo travelers on windy days many will have trouble with crosswinds. A tandem canoe has much more control in bad conditions.
I will say with a kayak paddle I could keep up with 95% of tandem canoe people.
Also in a wind I would have a heck of a time paddling without a kayak paddle.

I have sat on the shore not very often, but much more when I solo due to winds and waves. A solo is a lot of fun tho.
 
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