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      First Solo BW trip help     

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griz81
member (24)member
 
01/25/2015 01:00AM   (Thread Older Than 3 Years)
So I am planning my first BW solo trip and am having trouble deciding the following:
Prism or Magic - or a Wilderness if anyone knows where to rent one.
Entry 30 Lake One or Entry 14 or 16

Background - I have solo backpacked and solo tripped in a boat (Voyagers National Park)
Currently I own and trip with a Spirit II and have done a few BW trips and am quite comfortable in the wilderness and on the water.
The only solo canoe I have paddled was a Wenonah Fusion I believe - I paddled from St.Cloud to Clearwater in one hell of a thunderstorm. I should have cancelled the trip but the outfitter thought there was a break in the weather and all would be well. I lived it wasnt pleasant but I gained experience and confidence so all is forgiven.
Thanks for your help. TJ
 
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01/25/2015 09:01AM  
Obviously either one will work, but I have personally preferred the Magic. I have not paddled a Wilderness, but have used a Bell Rockstar and liked it.

Piragis in Ely (see outfitters/guides tab on the left) rents both the Magic and Prism, as well as several other solo canoes I have no experience with. You can check the other outfitters listed to see what they offer as rentals.
 
OldGreyGoose
distinguished member(1726)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/28/2015 10:40AM  
Have not paddled the Magic, but would prefer the Wenonah Encounter 17 over the Prism. The Encounter is bombproof! (Souris River Tranquility is a close second to the Encounter, IMO, but probably not as available on the US side of the border.) --Goose
 
01/28/2015 11:56AM  

Wow griz81, you're going to get a real variation of opinions on the boats you've asked about. There is no right or wrong answer, but personal preferences really affect the opinions you'll get to your inquiry about solo canoes.

Of the three you've mentioned, it's hard to go wrong with any of them and they're all well suited to "Canoe Country" tripping.

A few things to consider first; do you prefer a bent shaft paddle or a straight shaft paddle? If you prefer using a straight shaft paddle, I'm assuming you use more "traditional" corrective strokes, (i.e., j-strokes, c-strokes/sweeps, etc.), or do you intend to use a double-paddle, (i.e., a kayak paddle)?

Also, what's your height, body weight, are you a minimalist or do you bring the kitchen sink and maybe a dog?

For an average sized paddler with average gear, the Magic, Prism or the Wilderness will work great. If you prefer to kneel and/or use a straight shaft paddle and j-stroke, the Wilderness is better suited for that than the Magic and Prism.

The Magic and Prism are more sit and switch style solo canoes paddled with a bent shaft paddle. If you're using a kayak paddle, then it's somewhat of a moot point.

Also, the Wilderness is generally outfitted with a web seat, which facilitates kneeling better than the Prism's sliding tractor seat. That not to say you can't use a straight shaft paddle in the Magic or a Prism, but the Magic and Prism are more geared to sit and switch paddling, despite the Magic having a cane seat.

The Wilderness @ 15' 4" has about 1.25" of rocker, and is shorter than the Magic @ 16' and the Prism @ 16' 6", so the Wilderness will be less reluctant to turn than a Prism or Magic. The Magic and Prism track better than the Wilderness, due to a straighter keel line and less of rocker. Actually the Prism has practically no rocker, whereas the Magic has differential rocker of 1.25" bow and .75" stern. Given the route you have planned, precise turns are probably not a major concern though.

If you're the size of a UW-Madison Badger Offensive Lineman, and/or you pack heavy, or travel with a big dog, OGG's suggestion of the Encounter is viable. As good as the Encounter is, (i.e., stable, seaworthy, fantastic load capacity, etc.), it's a lot of canoe for a small to average size paddler with average to light gear. The Encounter's depth and volume can be greatly affected by wind, especially if you're not trimmed properly and/or you're lightly loaded.

That's not to say a smaller person can't paddle an Encounter @ 17', but it's more solo canoe than many solo trippers need IMHO. I know because I own an Encounter, as well as several other solo canoes. It's great for me @ 210-pounds, my 90-pound Golden Retriever, and all the gear I tend to haul.

That being said, I still prefer my Wenonah Voyager @ 17' 6" for "Canoe Country" travel. The Voyager is also a lot of canoe at 17' 6", and the hull is more lively than some paddlers prefer, but I love it. (pictured below) It's not just a longer Prism either. Additionally, I don't like to kneel unless I really need to and I use a bent shaft Zaveral carbon fiber paddle and/or a Werner Carbon Fiber kayak paddle.

Although I don't own a Magic, (mainly because I have several other solo canoes that compare closely to it), such as a Sawyer Shockwave and a Sawyer SummerSong. The Magic would be my choice of the three you mentioned. I've put a few miles on a Bell Magic and I personally think it's very user friendly, seaworthy, and just an all-around fantastic solo tripping canoe. That said, I personally can't justify owning one with so many other solo canoes "in the barn".

The Magic is very stable in my opinion, but many paddlers feel the Prism, and especially the Wilderness, have less "wiggle" than the Magic. But as often discussed on these forums, hull stability is somewhat relative to the user.

Finally, OGG suggested the Souris River Tranquility. Unlike the other aforementioned canoes, I have not paddled a SR Tranquility, but I don't think I want to. Although I understand it's stable and seaworthy, reliable sources and knowledgeable paddlers that prefer the longer, leaner solo canoes that I prefer, tell me it's a "dog".

Now if Bill Conner is reading this, he will come to the defense of the Tranquility, because it's a solo canoe he really likes, which is all well and good. Bill will also tell you that it's not a race and what's the hurry? Although that may all be true, once you paddle a solo canoe like the Magic, Prism, Wenonah Advantage, Wenonah Voyager, etc., you can become jaded as I am.

I also prefer a canoe with a livelier hull, and overly stable canoes just seem boring to me. But that's me. In-order to be objective about the "Tranq" though, I'd like to paddle one if I have the opportunity. In doing so, I'll able to draw my own conclusions. But from what I hear, it doesn't sound like my type of solo canoe.

Nevertheless, if you have the chance, try them all and decide which one feels best to you, or which solo canoe brings the biggest smile your face. At the end of the day, they're all fun and they will all allow you to travel in style through the BWCAW.

Just my two cents worth.

Hans Solo

 
griz81
member (24)member
 
01/29/2015 10:30PM  
Hey Thanks for all the feedback. I finally think I have a plan together, I ended up deciding on the Prism after all. I am 5'11" and about 185. I am planing on packing light, not ultralight but possibly light enough to single portage all the shorter ones. I am a sit and switch paddler and prefer a bent shaft paddle. So the prism may work well for me or I may hate it. I will give it a 7 day test and see what happens. As far as my solo goes, I reserved #16 for my tandem trip in June and my brother wants to take the kids to Lake one at the end of July so... I decided to do a loop I had been looking at for a while.

I will enter at Sawbill on July 1 and head down the Louse river to Malberg then return thru the Lady Lakes. I am planning on 7 days so I can fish and sight see. Hopefully the prism isn't too tough for me to turn on the river. My back up plan if I decide differently would be to go up thru Cherokee to Tuscarora back to Cherokee thru maybe Frost.
My brother thinks I am nuts - but to be honest most of my family think I am. They think it is crazy that I go backpacking and camping in the woods all alone. They always ask dont you get lonely? I just tell them no the voices keep me occupied!
Thanks for all the advice and for sharing your knowledge and experiences with the rest of us.
 
gnegard
distinguished member (143)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/31/2015 10:22AM  
Once you go and experience it, most likely you will want to go again and never look back. There is something about the solo trips that a person just can't explain, but its being their in the wilderness, enjoying nature, and relying upon yourself.

I love people, but for me, the experience of being out there by myself, just grips me and I can't wait until my next trip. I'm getting to the point that weight on my trips are beginning to be a factor, so, even though it's 3-4 months until open water, I'm looking at a solo tent to drop a few pounds in the pack. I'm also one that loves to cook on the trip, take everything I want, but now, I may change some of those habits, and go with lighter, faster cooking foods.

So, what I'm trying to say, is; when solo you only have to worry about yourself, and what you want to do, or how you want to do it. Good luck!
Paddleman
 
bwcasolo
distinguished member(1958)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/31/2015 12:36PM  
quote griz81: "Hey Thanks for all the feedback. I finally think I have a plan together, I ended up deciding on the Prism after all. I am 5'11" and about 185. I am planing on packing light, not ultralight but possibly light enough to single portage all the shorter ones. I am a sit and switch paddler and prefer a bent shaft paddle. So the prism may work well for me or I may hate it. I will give it a 7 day test and see what happens. As far as my solo goes, I reserved #16 for my tandem trip in June and my brother wants to take the kids to Lake one at the end of July so... I decided to do a loop I had been looking at for a while.


I will enter at Sawbill on July 1 and head down the Louse river to Malberg then return thru the Lady Lakes. I am planning on 7 days so I can fish and sight see. Hopefully the prism isn't too tough for me to turn on the river. My back up plan if I decide differently would be to go up thru Cherokee to Tuscarora back to Cherokee thru maybe Frost.
My brother thinks I am nuts - but to be honest most of my family think I am. They think it is crazy that I go backpacking and camping in the woods all alone. They always ask dont you get lonely? I just tell them no the voices keep me occupied!
Thanks for all the advice and for sharing your knowledge and experiences with the rest of us. "

all great advice. I paddled them all before deciding on the prism. I took out the tractor seat and have a web seat. I can kneel if I want. I do not need to move the seat much for trim as I do it with my packs. as hans said, the prism had less wobble than the magic.
that was my experience as well.
one thing to note the prism handles the best for me- fishing without packs.
I am a souris river fan and have yet to paddle a tranquility-that day is coming, enjoy your first solo!

 
drrick
distinguished member(552)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/01/2015 06:22PM  
Is the Prism or Wilderness better suited for fishing solo? Or is there no significant difference? Rick
 
02/01/2015 07:00PM  
The perfect solution is obvious to me; take 2 trips. One with a Prism out of 30, and one with a Magic out of 14 or 16. Then report back. Done and done.
 
OldGreyGoose
distinguished member(1726)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/02/2015 10:37AM  
Hans, I know this isn't a solo canoe debate thread, but calling the SR Tranquility "a dog" without having actually paddled it is unworthy of it, and of you. --Goose
 
02/02/2015 11:37AM  
quote drrick: "Is the Prism or Wilderness better suited for fishing solo? Or is there no significant difference? Rick"

Either will work fine. Both are quite stable for solo canoes, Wilderness just a bit roomier at the seating position.

Hans pretty much summed it up (he's as tall as his posts are long), personal preference. Most experienced solo paddlers develop strong style choices. Solos are the sportscar of the canoe world, much more focused on individual taste than tandems.

butthead
 
02/05/2015 09:32AM  

quote OldGreyGoose: "Hans, I know this isn't a solo canoe debate thread, but calling the SR Tranquility "a dog" without having actually paddled it is unworthy of it, and of you. --Goose"

With all due respect Goose, you're taking my comments about the Souris River Tranquility out of context. I clearly stated the following;

"reliable sources and knowledgeable paddlers that prefer the longer, leaner solo canoes that I prefer, tell me it's a "dog"."

I also went on to say in the same reply; "In-order to be objective about the "Tranq" though, I'd like to paddle one if I have the opportunity. In doing so, I'll able to draw my own conclusions."

I myself did not personally call the Tranquility a "dog". I clearly stated that the term, or other similar descriptions, were implied by other paddlers that had first hand experience with the Tranquility. Actually, another notable bwca.com member DID use that exact term with regards to the SR Tranquility, and that's why I used it.

If it were only the opinion of one user or anonymous hearsay, I would not made that comment in my previous response. That said, I've heard similar comments from other paddlers, some of which are not contributors to this site. Other comments I've heard about the Tranquility, and some other brands and models of canoes in general, have been far more harsh.

I do not personally profit or benefit by the choices made by members of this website with regards to canoes or gear based on my replies. Like most everyone else on bwca.com, I enjoy reading, writing, and sharing what I've learned over the years with subjects relevant to canoe-tripping, or other subjects discussed on this site.

As much as I enjoy and appreciate bwca.com, I also have other resources and personal contacts that provide me with information related to most every aspect of canoeing, kayaking, camping, etcetera. Some of my information is gathered from friends and associates that are very involved in paddle-sports and in the paddle sports business.

In other words, my posts and replies are based on personal experience or reliable information I've compiled from other sources. Then again, I realize opinions can be somewhat subjective and often very personal depending on a person's experiences.

Hans Solo
 
OldGreyGoose
distinguished member(1726)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/05/2015 11:16AM  
Hans: OK, I get it now. (Phew!) --Goose
 
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