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Stick in Mud

Canoe or kayak...I can't decide!

26 posts in this topic

Hello all,

I've been trying to decide whether I want to invest in a canoe (the one person variety) or a kayak. I am a pretty avid outdoorsmen--I spend five or six days a week on the water in the summer--and I take quite a few canoe trips down rivers in the northeast part of the state or in the BWCA.

I'm thinking about going solo, however, but I've got zero experience in one-man canoes or kayaks, and I don't know anyone with experience, so I'm floundering about on the web without any of the best type of information--personal experience.

What I'd do with the boat: short, day-long fishing trips to my home water, the Mississippi (where I'd be paddling upstream and down); paddling and fishing the lakes around home; a few camping trips floating down rivers in the northeast part of the state; a trip or two to Quetico, Wabikimi, or the BWCA.

Essentially, it'll get used the most for fishing, but I will also be portaging with it. Oh, I'm pretty heavy (240 lbs) and I'm not particularly concerned about the weight of the kayak/canoe--I'm pretty buff. grin

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Carl

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I have been thinking about this myself. I have a kayak, sit on top variety. It is nice for fishing out of.

Plus of kayak,

-very stable, some rapids in rivers no problem

My concerns about kayak in BWCA,

-would it be slower than a solo canoe?

-I don't think I could haul as much gear for camping/fishing trip

I have been thinking about renting a solo canoe to give it a try this summer.

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If your going to be doing any portaging in the BW avoid kayaks. I made the mistake of taking a kayak instead of a solo canoe on a 9 BW and Quetico trip. Huge mistake. Kayaks are a night mare to portage.

I'd check out the Wenonah Solo Prism. I rented one once for a 5 day BW trip. It was an awesome boat. Very stable, plenty of gear space and easy to portage. I'd loved how fast it is, it doesn't take much to really get the Solo Prism cruising. Its a very fast canoe.

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I've read that it's difficult to paddle upstream in a one-man canoe, or at least it's much more difficult than in a kayak. Any truth to this?

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I bought a canoe a few years ago and regret it. I wish now that I had bought a kayak. I only use it for day trips, not longer multi-day trips.

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Funny you say that carmike. The trip I took the Prism on we had to paddle up stream past some rapids and I found it was very easy. I'd rather solo paddle a canoe up rapids then a a two man canoe.

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I can't speak from experience about kayaks, never paddled one. Mainly since I take trips to the BWCA and I just can't imagine trying to get my gear into the kayak and then back out in a fairly timely manner for portaging. If someone feels the need to correct me, please do. That being said. There is no reason you can't use a kayak paddle in a solo canoe. I use one for my canoeing. I know, not as romantic as using a regular wooden canoe paddle but it sure keeps you tracking staighter.

If you aren't sure about which to buy, try renting for a trip and make your decision based on your own personal experience.

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I go back and forth on this all the time. A good SOT kayak can be rigged a lot better for fishing, catches the wind less, paddles upstream better.

But..

You can fit so much more in the canoe, theyre lighter, and a good solo hull is probably just as good (if not better) than some of those SOTs. A big plus, is the seating is generally a little more comfortable position, and you get up a little higher.

Either one will get you out on the water. It really depends on what you will be doing the most with it, and whether you really want to customize it.

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What are the differences in customization between the two?

And thank you all for your advice...I suppose at this point I'm leaning towards the canoe, but the jury is still out.

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You can add RAM mounts, do a real Fish finder install, and add accessories a lot easier to the molded hull than you can with a canoe.

Do a little research on the internet. There are a lot of kayak fishing websites out there. You can see what I mean.

The canoe, in general, is more versitile; but lacks some really great customization options. Perhaps look at a hybrid model like a native water craft ultimate.

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Everyone said it already, but if your going to portage at all, a canoe is the way to go. Its not that portaging a kayak cant be done but its not as smooth sailing as a canoe is. The gear factor is a big issue too, just too difficult to manage efficiently in a 'yak. When in a solo canoe the kayak paddle is wonderfull. It doesnt look as cool as using a canoe paddle, but it works awesome.

If your doing trips without portages 99% of the time with a occasional long trip, maybe renting a one man canoe just for that trip would be the way to go. Depending on what you get a canoe may not be as durable as a kayak is for daily excursions too. Kayaks are really nice for fishing and scooting around a lake or river for the day. Like everyone said they can be accesorized very nicely.

I guess i would weigh it out. How many portages are done would be the deciding factor. If your going to be using it for trips that would have portages say twice a month, get a canoe. Otherwise get a kayak and rent a solo canoe if its a twice a season kind of trip.

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Thanks for the advice, deadeye...I thought about just renting them, but the prices I found online ($25-$35 a day) seem to make buying a better deal...two five day trips a year means I'll have the sucker paid for in a few years.

I'm beginning to lean towards the canoe...if only because it seems to be more versatile. However, I am NOT leaning towards kevlar because, as a teacher, I have the time to use it in the summer but not the funds to buy it! grin I'm looking at the Old Town Pack and Discovery...but I'm not particularly attached to any brand. Are there significant differences between the solo canoes of different brands???

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Those are good points. I would stay away from the kevlar too, especially if its going to be used that much. I love kevlar especially on a long trip. However, its just not as durable in the long run. At the outfitter I worked for in ely they pretty much replaced them every couple years because they just dont take the abuse royalex or aluminum does. The solo ones are really nice because they are so small that the weight is not there like a big one, even with royalex.

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Yeah, the Old Town Pack weighs about 33 lbs...and the Discovery is just 10 more pounds. After hauling around aluminum behemoths for years, I am not particularly worried about weight.

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I hear ya on that, it would be nice to handle 33 lbs vs the 55 my grumman weighs. I probably should have gotten a solo myself but once in a while someone wants to go with. Most of the time you will see me out there by myself in a 17' canoe workin hard. Good exercise so I shouldnt complain too much though. I love being in the canoe, its such a good way to go. You really get to see a lot of stuff that would be flying by with a motor boat.

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I, too, have spent quite a bit of time solo paddling my big old aluminum one. I started to get the hang of it last year, but whenever I tried to go fast, I'd end up spinning in circles. Kind of embarrassing, I must say. It's time for the solo, especially so I can go up to the BWCA without any of my annoying friends. grin

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Yeah, the Royalex canoes are very durable and are much more economical.

Personally, I am really looking for a Wenonah vegabond. Theyre are outstanding solo canoes. About 14 feet long, nice and stable, track well, but is still nice and manuverable for rivers.

I fish the SE MN rivers a lot, but also like to get out on the lakes here in the metro. This boat works well for that. I borrow a buddy of mine's a bit, and I think I need to find one before I wear out my welcome to it.

Good luck, but there are a lot of options and choices out there for you to choose from.

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I, too, have spent quite a bit of time solo paddling my big old aluminum one. I started to get the hang of it last year, but whenever I tried to go fast, I'd end up spinning in circles. grin

J - stroke. Its not the fastest at first glance but it keeps you straight, which is faster. You can vary it a bit to suit your conditions.

I always wanted to try a kayak and finally did last year on the Root River. Yes, it can be quick and it is easier to go upstream, but can you say "3 hour abs?". grin

It was the most uncomfortable ride I have ever had. Didn't mind the crunch type exercise but my back and butt got sore too. Also, I prefer to tuck my legs under my canoe seat sometimes. No chance of doing that in a kayak.

Along with the other reasons mentioned, get the canoe for all around use. You'll be happier at the end of the day - literally.

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Yeah, I'll look at a nicer canoe in a decade or so. I've always intended to get a nicer one than my aluminum, but the aluminum does just fine and the portages aren't so long that I can't make it with the extra weight. It's just hard for me to justify the extra cash. Now if I had the cash, I'd be the first guy you see in a fancy canoe. Maybe one day. grin

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Yeah, I j-stroke, but I'm not a patient j-stroker, so I end up abandoning it for other, more exciting (if significantly less efficient) paddling.

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Thats where the kayak paddle would work sweet with a solo. Definitly a lot faster and efficient.

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I've always taken a prism with a kayak paddle in the bw. Almost effortless paddling and hi speed to boot. The bell magics that my buddies have taken are also nice boats. Don't leave without the kayak paddle. Took the gps with and found 4 mph was a cruising speed for the prism with the kayak paddle. good luck

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I have a Old Towne Guide 147 which is about 14' in length. I usually have my daughter along but occasionally use it on my own as well. The nice part about the canoe is there is quite a bit of storage as well as leg room... I have often thought about the idea of using a kayak paddle which would make paddling less cumbersome and effortless than the tradional canoe paddles. It would also speed up paddling. I just might have to try that this summer...

Anyway good luck in your search and I hope that you enjoy no matter what your decision is...

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thanks for the well wishes, Honda...and right now I could be paddling an inner tube and happy! grin

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The only thing that's suprised me when I've used a kayak paddle in my solo canoe, is that I tire so much more quickly than I would using a bent shaft paddle. The muscles are more accustomed towards using a canoe paddle vs a kayak paddle. Hopefully that will change with more double bladed usage.

One other thing about using a kayak paddle, be prepared to get wet, drip rings or not.

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