BWCA Sawyer Summersong vs more modern hulls Boundary Waters Gear Forum
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gvsope15
member (16)member
 
05/07/2021 05:24PM  
I'm considering upgrading this summer or fall from a Sawyer Summersong to a more modern solo but am wondering whether it's worth it. I'm thinking I'll be looking for something like an Encounter, Prism, or another slightly larger, longer solo.

My question is how big of a difference there is between a more modern hull and something like the Summersong. How much progress has been made in the last 35 years in solo hull design?

I'm not that worried about weight. My main concerns are speed, stability, and seaworthiness. My Summersong is pretty fast, and I've found it paddles well in wind and waves, but I'd like to be able to take my dog with me. The Summersong is rock solid if I lower the seat to the floor, but then I feel like I may as well be kayaking. It's not horribly tippy with the seat at its highest, but I've been hesitant to try it with my dog.

Really, I'm wondering whether there's a noticeable difference between a modern solo canoe and an older classic, besides the weight. Is there something out there that will be more stable and match or beat the Summersong for speed?

Any suggestions on a model to keep an eye out for for a tall guy with a dog and four or five days worth of gear would be great.
 
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justpaddlin
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05/07/2021 09:24PM  
Interesting question and I'll be curious to hear what others say. In my limited experience the Summersong is surprisingly fast and exceptionally effortless...but not very stable compared to more recent solos. I've put a lot of miles on newer solos like Bell Merlin II, Swift Keewaydin 15 and Bell Magic including a dog. Kee15 is super stable but maybe not as fast as Summersong, Magic has good speed and stability but isn't quite as effortless as Summersong. Hemlock Peregrine has nice stability and capacity and fine speed and seaworthiness...Peregrine might be the best choice for you from the boats I've paddled...or the Magic. I'm not very familiar with Prism and Encounter since I've always leaned towards boats with some rocker.
 
jhb8426
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05/08/2021 12:10AM  
I'm not real familiar with the Sawyer Summersong as far as what years it was produced, but the Bell Merlin II and Magic are not particularly modern designs either, though the Magic is still in production. Nor are the Prism and Encounter particularly new. All four of the models mentioned as replacements are somewhat classic designs that have withstood the test of time and are considered good designs with ardent followers.
 
Speckled
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05/08/2021 07:30AM  
Limited knowledge here - but i'd guess there's not that much difference in hull design. The advancement has come in the materials and the process of manufacture.

Many of the boats today are still based on well known tried and true hull's with minor tweaks being made by the particular manufacturer.

I think finding a way to test paddle a few boats would be best.

 
gvsope15
member (16)member
 
05/08/2021 09:08AM  
Thanks for all the insight! Sounds like in general the paddling experience won’t be hugely different. It really comes down to whether I want to sacrifice some speed for the stability that would easily allow a dog who likes to shift around.

Test paddling sounds like the way to go!
 
sedges
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05/08/2021 09:10AM  
I believe both the Prism and Encounter pre-date the Summersong. They would not be more modern designs. I would consider the Northstar and Swift solos as more modern designs. The Summersong is a great boat and if you are comfortable with it I would not be in a hurry to move on. I would try out the Northwind solo for a boat more seaworthy in rough conditions. Spend a lot of time trying out other canoes. Its lots of fun.
 
gvsope15
member (16)member
 
05/08/2021 09:23AM  
sedges: "I believe both the Prism and Encounter pre-date the Summersong. They would not be more modern designs. I would consider the Northstar and Swift solos as more modern designs. The Summersong is a great boat and if you are comfortable with it I would not be in a hurry to move on. I would try out the Northwind solo for a boat more seaworthy in rough conditions. Spend a lot of time trying out other canoes. Its lots of fun."

Interesting! Not sure why I assumed the Prism and Encounter were newer except that they're still in production.

I'll have to check out the Northwind Solo. Sounds like what I'm aiming for, and 26.5" at the gunwales, it might give my knees a bit more room when I sit cross-legged.
 
kona
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05/08/2021 09:45AM  
Seems like a different hull could be better suited to your needs (travel with dog) and comfort (stability).

Small differences in canoe specs usually make a big difference in handling and performance, especially for solo boats. Good luck with the search, try a few before you buy.

I haven’t paddled the summer song, would love to though. Compared to the Autumn Mist, the larger of the design pair, summersong has a reputation of being a bit more efficient, responsive, and suited to smaller overall loads. A desirable boat, you should have no trouble moving it along for sale or trade.



 
Walt47
 
05/08/2021 09:57PM  
How big is your dog and how docile in a canoe ? I have a Summersong but have not tried my dog in it yet. She is a 3 year old 38 pound Vizsla and is pretty active. She has done ok with me paddling solo in my Kevlar Explorer and I am going to try her in my solo Northstar Phoenix this year. If we survive that dry maybe the Summersong! She likes to put her front paws on the gunwales or bow deck and sometimes stands up on the bow seat of the Explorer. I am hoping that she will continue to mellow out so that I can feel comfortable taking her in a classic and modern solo canoe. I suspect that she could flip us if she decided to jump out suddenly and I missed my brace. The Phoenix definitely has more initial stability than the Song in my opinion.
 
justpaddlin
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05/09/2021 12:36PM  
I agree that the Northstar Northwind Solo would be a great boat to test paddle as a reference point. I think the progress it offers is that it's about as fast as a Summersong while it is much more stable and seaworthy with friendly maneuverability...and it has high capacity. Great dog boat. I think some of the newer designs like the NW Solo just offer more comfort and versatility.
 
gvsope15
member (16)member
 
05/09/2021 01:01PM  
kona: "Seems like a different hull could be better suited to your needs (travel with dog) and comfort (stability).

Small differences in canoe specs usually make a big difference in handling and performance, especially for solo boats. Good luck with the search, try a few before you buy.

I haven’t paddled the summer song, would love to though. Compared to the Autumn Mist, the larger of the design pair, summersong has a reputation of being a bit more efficient, responsive, and suited to smaller overall loads. A desirable boat, you should have no trouble moving it along for sale or trade.




"


This thread now has me thinking that it's more about the dog and stability than it is about changes in hulls over time. I appreciate the advice. I haven't had a lot of chances to paddle different solo canoes.

I'll vouch that the Summersong is efficient and responsive though. As far as loads, I've used mine for a lot of day paddling but only one weekend trip, but I packed a weekend's worth of gear and about five gallons of water with no problem.
 
gvsope15
member (16)member
 
05/09/2021 01:06PM  
Walt47: "How big is your dog and how docile in a canoe ? I have a Summersong but have not tried my dog in it yet. She is a 3 year old 38 pound Vizsla and is pretty active. She has done ok with me paddling solo in my Kevlar Explorer and I am going to try her in my solo Northstar Phoenix this year. If we survive that dry maybe the Summersong! She likes to put her front paws on the gunwales or bow deck and sometimes stands up on the bow seat of the Explorer. I am hoping that she will continue to mellow out so that I can feel comfortable taking her in a classic and modern solo canoe. I suspect that she could flip us if she decided to jump out suddenly and I missed my brace. The Phoenix definitely has more initial stability than the Song in my opinion.
"


Nice, another Summersong owner! My dog is a 45 pound Australian Shepherd mix. He's relatively well-behaved in the canoe but does like to switch back and forth from one side to another pretty quickly when he sees people or animals on shore. I also have a border collie who's about the same weight. I'm hoping eventually I can take him with me, but right now he thinks the canoe is a swim platform.

I think my Aussie would be okay if I put the seat on the lowest setting, but I don't really like paddling like that. I've heard Vizslas are busy dogs! I'd be curious about how it goes with the Summersong.

Good to know about the Phoenix! I may have to take a look at them too.
 
gvsope15
member (16)member
 
05/09/2021 01:14PM  
justpaddlin: "I agree that the Northstar Northwind Solo would be a great boat to test paddle as a reference point. I think the progress it offers is that it's about as fast as a Summersong while it is much more stable and seaworthy with friendly maneuverability...and it has high capacity. Great dog boat. I think some of the newer designs like the NW Solo just offer more comfort and versatility."

Nice, sounds exactly like what I'm looking for. I'll have to check it out sometime this summer.
 
tumblehome
distinguished member(2049)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/09/2021 04:40PM  
Buying a canoe is like buying a car. Lots of choices, lots of differences.
Test drive first when you can.

I've built hundreds of canoes in my life. Both old and new styles.
I can say that many of the oldest canoe designs are as good or better than some new designs.
I am more interested in the hull below the waterline than anything.
A lot above it is important too but a gorgeous hull above the water that paddles like a bathtub ain't my cup of tea.
Tom
 
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