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03/21/2024 01:54PM  
I recently ordered a Northstar Phoenix in IXP and love everything about the canoe, but there was one aspect I hadn't consider when I was looking over add-ons/features - the color.

The bare IXP gray looks really cool, but it also seems like just the right shade of gray that it will blend in with the surface of the lake pretty well. Granted I won't be paddling around motorboat traffic as much as backwaters and wilderness, but it's still a concern. Any ideas or things other people have done to make themselves more visible in a canoe?

I was thinking about painting a portion of the ends (similar to how Grey Duck canoes finish theirs), or maybe adding a length of red decal tape along the length of the canoe, something along those lines.

Now I wish I would have paid a bit extra to have the boat pigmented/colored red, yellow, green, etc. Some will probably say I'm overthinking it, but knowing how many people like to booze and cruise on some of the lakes I paddle from time-to-time, I'd rather be as visible as I can be.
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03/21/2024 02:33PM  
Consider a track-mounted safety flag which kayak anglers often use when out on the ocean or big water. You could probably find/modify a setup that lets you clamp it on instead so you don't have to drill into your gunwales or thwarts.

Congrats on the Phoenix, by the way!
distinguished member (399)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
03/21/2024 03:01PM  
Check out Seasucker, they have all sorts of marine mounting solutions that you could use to set up a flag or a light that do not require any modification to your canoe, and I can personally attest to the strength of their suction cups. If this were me, I'd go with one of their medium straps and one of those off-road buggy flags that people use in the desert (whip flag?). You can easily take it off and store in the canoe when you dont need it.


The alternative would be high-vis tape to break up the grey, I find that orange sticks out more than the yellow when on the water but that could just be me, I dont know if there's any science around that. I see more orange buoys than I do yellow.

With that said, I dont know that bright colors really solve the problem. These solo canoes are extremely low profile and even on a slightly choppy day with some rollers, half the time your boat is dipping out of sight, add that to the fact that boats are always nose up to some extent and 99% of boaters are mostly idiots the second they get behind the wheel. The flag at least places a bright object high enough above the waterline that it can be seen. A light on a rod is useful really only at dusk or night and I personally I wouldn't be out in a solo canoe on lake with boats at that time.
03/21/2024 03:54PM  
Have you thought about adding visibility to your paddle or your PFD? Some orange on your paddle shaft might catch people's attention due to it moving around. For your PFD, some bright patches or some strips of color or reflective material around the shoulders could help due to the height.
senior member (85)senior membersenior member
03/21/2024 10:51PM  
A bunch of Roman Candles and a big Hunter Orange Hat?
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03/22/2024 07:31AM  

When I spot a canoeist on the lake at a distance, most of the time it is the flash of reflection off the paddle and the movement of the paddle that catches my eye first. Next is the height of the canoeist themselves. No matter the color of the canoe, it usually looks like a black line on the water, unless it is kevlar and is backlit. Then the canoe color really sticks out.

I share your concern about being visible to motorboats, especially on lakes that a person in a canoe is a rarity, basically any lakes outside of the BWCA. I wear a pale, white, brimmed hat, and a high visibility PDF in orange. Sometimes if I am questioning if a motorboat has spotted me, I will exaggerate my paddle movements, sometimes actually raising it above my head and waving it around, much like a Tusken raider.
distinguished member(554)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
03/23/2024 06:56AM  
Just adding a couple ideas...

My fingerless paddling gloves are safety green and I think they add quite a bit of visibility due to the constant movement. I like the padded Bontrager bicycling gloves.

One easy way to add visibility to your boat would be to just buy a couple of high visibility pool noodles and cut them in half and put two lengths on your bow and two on your stern. Pool noodles are typically hollow and I think some come with a slit (or just use a utility knife)...the hole in the center is usually about one inch diameter and will clamp onto the gunwale.

I agree with the blaze orange hat. I wear one if I think there's a good chance of being near hunters. Safety green might be better if you don't want folks assuming that you are a hunter.

You sound like a good candidate for an air horn too!
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03/23/2024 07:55AM  
SouthernKevlar: "A bunch of Roman Candles and a big Hunter Orange Hat?"

I wear the latter and a bright PFD when paddling my kayak on Gitche Gumee. Not much traffic out there, however, in the months with an “r.” :-)

Can’t stay to chat. Gotta go throw the boat onto my truck rack. There is a very handy calm today before the storm!
distinguished member (113)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
03/25/2024 08:53AM  
When I got my solo canoe I also bought a nice yellow vest for visibility. My double blade paddle also has orange blades. All our canoes have a red fleece flag ziptied to the the stern as a precaution when hanging off the end of the trailer. I never remove the the flags. Lots of ways to increase visibility.
03/28/2024 03:32PM  
bwcamjh: "Lots of ways to increase visibility."

Sometimes less is more though. For example, up at my parent's retirement cabin, there is a guy that goes out out on the lake every year during the 4th of July weekend wearing only a pink speedo. No matter how hard you try, you can't miss him. Just ask around, everyone knows exactly what color the speedo is.
distinguished member (405)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
03/29/2024 11:50PM  
Get yourself an inexpensive bike flasher (red or amber). I clip it to the back of my baseball cap if I going be on a lake with powerboat traffic.
Savage Voyageur
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03/30/2024 03:13PM  
This is what you want for more visibility, night or day. Yakattack
03/31/2024 11:38AM  
I would recommend adding strips of highly reflective tape to your paddles. I used SOLAS Marine Reflective Tape on my kayak paddles when I paddled the Mississippi River 2,420 miles from Lake Itasca to the Gulf. It’s rated the most visible of all tapes. Some paddlers will put reflective tape on their canoes but I was told by the Coast Guard that it is best to put in your paddles as they are a bit higher above the waterline and are in constant motion so they are easier seen.

I was told silver/white and yellow to be the most visible from afar.

A bright colored PFD and Hat can add to your visibility.


04/01/2024 08:22AM  
Thanks all for the suggestions! I like the idea of using the reflective tape and the addition of a lighted flag for low light conditions. My lifejacket is pretty visible already so I think I'm covered there. I hadn't thought about adding reflective/high viz colors the the paddle but that makes a lot of sense.
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