BWCA Solo canoe for moving water & BWCA? Boundary Waters Gear Forum
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GunnyJC
member (20)member
  
04/02/2024 11:24AM  
I am originally from Minnesota and most of my family still lives there, but I have been living in eastern Tennessee near Knoxville for 23 years now. I have been an avid whitewater kayaker for quite awhile, but at age 61, I am starting to slow down and smell the roses a bit more so to speak. Many of my friends are taking multi-day trips on easy moving water typically nothing over Class I-II and they go all over the USA, mostly sticking to the Southeast area for weekend to week-long trips. Pretty much all of them paddle solo, even when their significant others are along on the trip.

I am considering buying a used solo canoe so that I can join them on their adventures, but I would also like for it to perform reasonably well on annual family trips to the BWCA where portaging is typical. FYI, I also own an inflatable cataraft for when we are on overnight trips with significant whitewater, but that thing is a slug if the water isn't moving much. I also love to fish so it is another factor to consider.
 
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04/02/2024 11:59AM  
GunnyJC: "I am originally from Minnesota and most of my family still lives there, but I have been living in eastern Tennessee near Knoxville for 23 years now. I have been an avid whitewater kayaker for quite awhile, but at age 61 I am starting to slow down and smell the roses a bit more so to speak. Many of my friends are taking multi-day trips on easy moving water typically nothing over class I - II and they go all over the USA but mostly stick to the Southeast area for weekend to week-long trips. Pretty much all of them paddle solo, even when their significant others are along on the trip. I am considering buying a used solo canoe so that I can join them on their adventures, but I would also like for it to perform reasonably well on annual family trips to the BWCA where portaging is typical. FYI, I also own an inflatable cataraft for when we are on overnight trips with significant whitewater, but that thing is a slug if the water isn't moving much. I also love to fish so it is another factor to consider. "


Do you want a pure solo canoe or something you can use as a tandem also?
A pure solo for individual use I love my prism on Quetico trips etc.
I don't think a hybrid that you can use as a tandem will perform even close to a solo canoe when used alone.
 
GunnyJC
member (20)member
  
04/02/2024 12:03PM  
Pinetree: "Do you want a pure solo canoe or something you can use as a tandem also?
A pure solo for individual use I love my prism on Quetico trips etc.
I don't think a hybrid that you can use as a tandem will perform even close to a solo canoe when used alone."


I am looking for a pure solo boat that will perform well on meandering rivers that may include some easy whitewater (class I -II) and also perform reasonably well on BWCA trips...also solo. While I would love the lightweight of a composite canoe I don't think that is a reasonable choice due to the rocky nature of the rivers here. If it helps, I am 5'7" and weigh 170 lbs.
 
04/02/2024 02:56PM  
Look into a Northstar Phoenix
 
Z4K
distinguished member (407)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/02/2024 03:12PM  
Buy two! Start with a river boat that's not a total banana. You haven't mentioned materials, would you consider a heavier "expedition" composite layup or are you stuck on royalex? At least a royalex solo is going to be lighter than a royalex tandem. Do you have a strong preference for paddling on one side over the other? Do you plan on using a single or double bladed paddle? Do you sit or kneel? Many solos that perform well in moving water will have better speed and tracking when heeled.

So much to think about when buying a canoe, when all that really matters is whether it floats!
 
billconner
distinguished member(8597)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
  
04/02/2024 04:40PM  
If really concerned about hitting rocks, look at the Esquif Echo. I'm a flat water paddler, but I test paddled it and found it very comfortable. Its tformax. And at Canoecopi they were discussing a new lighter tformax. Current model is around 45 pounds. They estimated the newer tformax would lower that to 37 to 39 pounds.

I'm considering it for northern forest canoe trail.
 
SouthernKevlar
senior member (84)senior membersenior member
  
04/02/2024 05:11PM  
Blatz: "Look into a Northstar Phoenix "

I second the Northstar Phoenix. It handles nicely and can carry a good solo load.
 
TCJET
member (7)member
  
04/03/2024 07:53AM  
I'll add my 2 cents on the phoenix. It's a great boat. If I could only own one boat it would be the phoenix. But it isn't as great on flat water as it is on rivers. Another thing to consider would be the northstar northwind solo in IXP. The NW will be a much better boat to paddle on the BWCA trips but will still have maneuverability in the river. The IXP layup can take an absolute beating and while not the lightest of the light, would still reasonably easy to portage. There just so happens to be one of these for sale on North American Canoe Trader for $2,000 in Ames, IA as I type this.
 
04/03/2024 07:58AM  
Another vote for an ixp Phoenix. I just went through a similar search but also considering paddling on the big lake and decided on a Phoenix. If you know your going to focus more on either the still or moving water there are probably better choices but if you want an even split I think the Phoenix is a good choice or something similar like some of the prospector 14s out there.
 
AlexanderSupertramp
distinguished member (349)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/03/2024 08:30AM  
Northstar Phoenix IXP... BUT you can also get a NW Solo in IXP and that's a slightly bigger boat with a little more room for cargo, which is why I opted for the NW Solo.
 
04/03/2024 09:03AM  
AlexanderSupertramp: "Northstar Phoenix IXP... BUT you can also get a NW Solo in IXP and that's a slightly bigger boat with a little more room for cargo, which is why I opted for the NW Solo."
Northstar has some really good videos online where Bear explains the pros and cons of different hull shapes and materials.
 
04/03/2024 01:04PM  
I use a Northwind solo. It doesn't mean I'm not looking to upgrade to a tougher layup or even the B17 for farther north trips with a partner, but for now I can manage with that.
 
04/03/2024 01:20PM  
Hemlock Canoe SRT

srt

Any of the boats mentioned so far are going to be rare finds as used boats, Keep looking and be patent and they do come up. You may have to travel a good distance to get one.
 
04/03/2024 06:57PM  
One thing to consider if you're going to be bouncing off of rocks a lot is whether or not you want gel coat. While it helps protect your hull you may not want to spend the time repairing cracks. I moved away from gel coat options for this reason. I live right by a river that gets pretty bony and I paddle it often and got sick of repairing gel coat.

I haven't beat around the IXP on my Phoenix enough to make a determination yet, but for sure royalex holds up much better if you're willing to deal with the weight. You could probably pick up a Wenonah Wilderness in RX or t-formex for a good price and it handles rapids surprisingly well. You could probably get it new for about the same price as most composites go used as well.
 
chessie
distinguished member (347)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/06/2024 01:08PM  
I have a Bell Wildfire, which I got just for the reasons you mentioned (many years ago). I have done whitewater and BW tripping. It's light, and handles well. There are trade off's to getting one boat for both applications; I like to say it gets a C+ in everything. For example, if I am canoe-camping with folks in a tandem, I can't keep up too well. The rocker makes for good river canoeing, but doesn't track as well on lakes/flat water. I have used it on solo trips, including w/ a large dog. I love that boat. If you can't find a used one, I'd check and see what the Northstar equivalent is of the Bell Wildfire. One cautionary note: the seat is low and slightly canted forward. You sit w/ your bum on the seat and your legs under you, so kind of kneeling. As I age and my knees are getting trashed, this gets more challenging.
 
Canoedad89
senior member (57)senior membersenior member
  
04/06/2024 08:18PM  
GunnyJC: "Many of my friends are taking multi-day trips on easy moving water typically nothing over Class I-II and they go all over the USA, mostly sticking to the Southeast area for weekend to week-long trips. "


What canoes are your friends paddling? Will they let you test paddle them? Seems like a simple matter of getting the same and making it work for the occasional BWCA trip.

 
GunnyJC
member (20)member
  
04/08/2024 08:34AM  
Lots of great comments above and thankful for the time that was put in to them. I have been doing a fair amount of reading since I made the initial post and have a clearer picture now. Part of that picture is trying to stay under $1200 if possible, but willing to go up a few hundred if the right canoe were to come along. $2000 would be the absolute maximum and that would be a HUGE stretch.

Something like the Phoenix or Northwind Solo in IXP looks like the perfect boat, but they are quite likely out of my price range anyways. I guess I can always dream!

It looks like most people are multi-day river tripping in this area (southeastern USA) on slower meandering rivers consisting of mostly moving flat water up to the occasional easy class II. They are paddling solo canoes in 14 to 16 foot lengths such as the Wenonah Argosy, Nova Craft Prospector 15, Bell Yellowstone, Silverbirch Firefly (too heavy imo), etc.

I think it will help to know that I am 61 yes old, weigh 170 and am 5' 7" tall and starting to step back from whitewater kayaking although I still enjoy paddling easier class II - III rivers. I would likely kneel in faster waters, but would prefer to sit when fishing and would alternate otherwise.

As a beginner solo canoeist that is planning to stay on easier water with the intention of fishing from it on both rivers and smaller lakes, I think I want some decent primary stability with enough maneuverability to navigate the type of rivers I mentioned above, yet stay under or close to 50 lbs if i can for ease of loading/unloading/portaging. I know there will be some scraping here and there in the shallow rocky shoals commonly found in this area, but major impacts are unlikely or at least uncommon.

Hope that helps to clarify things a bit. What layups would be appropriate beyond royalex, tuff stuff, tuff weave, IXP, T-formex? I see others talking about blacklight, white gold, expedition kevlar, etc.

Thanks in advance for any insights or even better yet, links to canoes for sale that fit the bill that are within a day's drive of Knoxville, TN. I am also headed to Minnesota mid-May.
 
justpaddlin
distinguished member(542)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/08/2024 10:29AM  
Good for you for doing your homework and making your intended usage and the weight the boat needs to carry clear.

My main comment to you is to be open to composite boats. You seem to be assuming that they are delicate. Outfitters use lightweight Kevlar boats for rentals (Swift Kevlar Fusion or Northstar Starlight) and those boats take way more abuse than yours will. I'm rougher on my boats than you plan to be and I don't own a Royalex or T-former or IXP boat because I don't want to deal with the weight and I don't need whitewater capability.

There are a lot of boats that will work just fine for you and with some shopping you'll find one. I'd suggest that you ask about specific boats you find rather than ask folks to list models since there are dozens of models that would be great for you. I'll take a look online. Your area is decent for shopping and if nothing turns up quickly your upcoming trip to Minnesota should be very promising since you'll pass through great areas for shopping besides Minnesota. If you want to pass through SW Michigan you're welcome to try a couple of my solos if you like. I'd be curious to see how you like my Swift Keewaydin 15...it's got quite a bit of stability and even though it's lake oriented it's got plenty of maneuverability for anything but fast current. I'd also be curious about your reaction to a Northstar Trillium. It's a hot (super efficient) boat that you would fit perfectly and it's quite stable for a lower volume boat. If you could test paddle boats like Trillium, NW Solo, and Phoenix at a dealer and decide what you like then it would be easier to recommend the right used boat for you.

Have you paddled your friend's Argosy? That boat has good primary stability so it would be good to know if it feels OK to you or not.

 
04/08/2024 12:17PM  
A prospector 15 outfitted solo sounds like it would fit your needs well but they're going to be a bit heavier at the price point your looking you're probably going to be looking at royalex/t-formex. I love soloing my p15 on rivers. Very seaworthy and stable for fishing. It becomes difficult on lakes when there's wind though.
 
04/08/2024 02:37PM  
Since you asked for listing and you said you would be in Minnesota in May I thought I'd also mention that Hayward Outfitters in Wisconsin sells Wenonah factory blems for very reasonable prices. They happen to have a prospector 15 and the wilderness I mentioned in an earlier post both for under 2k new in t-formex: Hayward Outfitters Wenonah Canoes
If they happen to get a blem wilderness in t-formex I'd imagine it'll have a price that's hard to pass up.

I actually purchased my prospector 15 t-formex there as a blem for less than $1k and the guy who I bought it from was great to work with.
 
GunnyJC
member (20)member
  
04/10/2024 10:39AM  
Really appreciate the additional information guys. The more I read the more I am coming to grips with where the market is on the canoes that I am most interested in such as a Prospector 14 (several brands), a Phoenix or similar. I am really liking what i have learned of the Swift P14 and the Northwind Phoenix alot. The Clipper Prospector 14 looks interesting as well and I am also very interested in seeing some real reviews for the Nova Craft Prospector 14 that is new this year.

I really like the option to use a kayak paddle in more open water that these smaller prospector style solo canoes offer.

Does anyone have firsthand experiences paddling the new NC P14 yet? None of these boats are inexpensive, but I have learned to save my pennies and buy what I want the first time around. It might be awhile, but that's OK, just gives me more time to shop around. That blue steel layup...mmm!
 
tomo
distinguished member (212)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/10/2024 12:59PM  
Swift Osprey is a good all around canoe. Perhaps something on the used market. I like my SRT, but they're hard to find and the initial stability isn't great. Heard a lot of good things about the Phoenix.
 
timf1981
distinguished member (110)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/16/2024 03:09AM  
Pinetree: "
GunnyJC: "I am originally from Minnesota and most of my family still lives there, but I have been living in eastern Tennessee near Knoxville for 23 years now. I have been an avid whitewater kayaker for quite awhile, but at age 61 I am starting to slow down and smell the roses a bit more so to speak. Many of my friends are taking multi-day trips on easy moving water typically nothing over class I - II and they go all over the USA but mostly stick to the Southeast area for weekend to week-long trips. Pretty much all of them paddle solo, even when their significant others are along on the trip. I am considering buying a used solo canoe so that I can join them on their adventures, but I would also like for it to perform reasonably well on annual family trips to the BWCA where portaging is typical. FYI, I also own an inflatable cataraft for when we are on overnight trips with significant whitewater, but that thing is a slug if the water isn't moving much. I also love to fish so it is another factor to consider. "



Do you want a pure solo canoe or something you can use as a tandem also?
A pure solo for individual use I love my prism on Quetico trips etc.
I don't think a hybrid that you can use as a tandem will perform even close to a solo canoe when used alone."


With good recommendations from Piragis outfitters i purchased the Prism last year. After paddling from Hook island to
Cache Bay rangers station.I was more than willing to trade it on the spot for my mn3 taht i have done 5 solo trips in. In 4 days i never removed my butt from the seat pf the prism to reach for something or shift gear. Only to get out.

I purcahsed a damaged mn2 to convert to a solo for htis year. Hopefully fast and stable and room for too much gear
 
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