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Thread: Help me choose a canoe

  1. #1

    Default Help me choose a canoe

    I'm kind of new to canoe camping, but I loved it from the start, and after a couple of weekend trips I'm preparing for week long trips next year. I'm saving up for a new canoe, and I have a couple in mind. I thought 15ft would be about the right size for me, since I'll paddle alone 99% of the time. It's important that they don't require a lot of maintenance, I can portade them on my own, and that they're durable and will last a long time. I'll mostly be paddling on lakes, but I want to have a descent performance on rivers too.

    The one Ive been looking at are:
    Esker Wood Prospector 16 (cedarstrip canoe)
    Nova Craft Prospector 15 SP3 (plastic)
    Mad River Explorer 14 TT (plastic)
    Grunman G1540 (aluminum)
    Hou 15 (plastic)
    Bergans Ally 15 DR (foldable)

    could anyone help me in this canoe djungle? What are the pros and cons on these canoes. Which ones have the best secondary stability(?), how is the quality (I've read something about oil canning on Mad River)?
    Last edited by Smalandoutdoor; 11th-November-2017 at 11:38 AM.

  2. #2
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    Hello and Welcome!


    Quite difficult to advise with such a diverse selection, but sounds like you want an all-rounder.


    Esker cedarstrip. Don't know these at all, but as you say you don't want much maintenance, I'd say don't get a wooden canoe.

    NC P15 SP3. Really good canoe, last forever, handle well. They are, though rather heavy for solo portaging.

    MR Explorer TT. As strong and as heavy as above, but in my opinion not as good to paddle.

    Grumman. I don't really know much about this, but I'm not a fan of aluminium. Cold in winter, hot in summer, noisy, stick to rocks.

    Hou 15. The Hou Prospector is quite good, though personally I think the NC SP3 handles better, I think the Hou Prospector is slightly lighter.

    Bergans Ally 15DR. Very different choice to the above. I have one of these, and it is an amazingly capable canoe for being a folder. My review is here. I must say I am very impressed by what it can do, and is lovely and light for carrying too. You do, though, have to take a little care over them to avoid damage, mostly off the water. They're also slower than other canoes, though its moving water performance is excellent. If you did pin on a river, though, it will be potentially catastrophic. I do love mine, but it only really comes into its own on travels abroad, where the folding nature and lightweight helps, like our Sweden trips to Rogen and Glaskogen. Day to day, I use my Royalex Bell Prospector 16, light enough to portage solo, tough enough for whitewater.

    All will be more than stable enough for you.


    OK, that's a bit about those. I don't know your budget, but given the fact you have a Cedarstrip and an Ally in the mix, presume its not too limited. I'd therefore actually advise you to consider something like a Novacraft Pal (or perhaps Prospector) in Tuffstuff if you can stretch to it. The Pal is a great lake boat, and nice and light in this newish material. The Prospector a bit slower on the flat stuff, but a better river boat.

    The other option would be to look for secondhand Royalex canoes, lighter than the plastic SP3/TT above, but almost as durable. The fabric is no longer made, though a similar one called T-Formex is starting to become available now.


    If you can, try some out.
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

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    I don't have much experience at all of different canoes but I have an NC Pal in Tuffstuff. It takes everything I need for day trips and longer and is very light. I can get it on and off the top of a Disco 4 easily and is very light for portage. I too am essentially a solo paddler but it easily takes two and would be fine for longer than single day trips so long as you don't neeed a fridge and the kithchen sink.
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    I agree with everything Mal said.

    Except I think aluminium canoes look nice.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    I do love mine, but it only really comes into its own on travels abroad, where the folding nature and lightweight helps, like our Sweden trips to Rogen and Glaskogen.
    Mal, have you been to Sweden this year? I never knew...

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    The answer to your question is to get out and try as many different canoes as you possibly can before making your decision as to what suits you. I've used my 13'4" Mobile Adventure Minuet on a 4* assessment and a number of multi day expeds, also my 16' Mad River Explorer TT solo on a 4 day exped ... both were loaded to the gills ... were either ideal, probably not, but they both suited me at the time.
    Last edited by Potty Paddler; 11th-November-2017 at 09:06 PM.
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    for lakes and easy rivers forget plastic and go fibreglass every time
    smoother,faster,lighter, just as durable for the use you describe and importantly much much cheaper
    look at apache ( other makes available)
    nature is m X-box

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    I was about to say the same as Andym - I use and enjoy a mega outlander 16 for exactly what you describe, and know some Apache 16 owners who do the same. I also have an Apache 15 (new model), but this is slower and has more sail area - better suited to rivers.
    If you're in South Yorkshire at any point you'd be welcome to a test paddle

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smalandoutdoor View Post
    I'm kind of new to canoe camping, .....
    Welcome.
    Small point - whereabouts are you? - most folks on this site are UK based and have very UK-centric viewpoint.

    There are some people here who are based in continental europe and a few more in the americas - knowing which country you are based in will help avoid silly errors.
    This post may vanish at any moment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crow View Post
    I agree with everything Mal said.

    Except I think aluminium canoes look nice.
    I agree with everything Crow said.

    There is something undeniably cool about Grumman canoes even if material advances have left them behind somewhat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by firedfromthecircus View Post
    There is something undeniably cool about Grumman canoes...
    I deny that they are cool - they're awful! I guess if you have one on the roof of your Airstream it might look cool, but for actual use as a canoe? Noooooo.
    I'm at that difficult age... somewhere between birth and death.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Duck Feet View Post
    I deny that they are cool - they're awful! I guess if you have one on the roof of your Airstream it might look cool, but for actual use as a canoe? Noooooo.
    MAybe, but remember they are the only canoe you can put over a fire and turn into a bath.
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

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    ^^^ Now that's a good idea!
    I'm at that difficult age... somewhere between birth and death.

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    ^^^^^Or a COOKING POT!

  14. Default

    Thanks for the extensive reply.
    I really love the looks of the cedar strip canoe, but I guess I'll hate it if it means a lot of maintenance to keep it that way.
    In retrospect I don't know why I added all those heavy canoes on my list, but I guess it's mostly a price issue.
    I have an old used beat up fiberglass canoe, that weighs a ton and doesn't have a center yoke, and I would want a lighter canoe and a center yoke to be able to get it on the roof of my car without killing myself . But I still want a durable canoe that'll last me a long time without maintenance. I was pretty set on getting an aluminum canoe, but everywhere I turn it seems like canoe enthusiasts loathe them, and I don't what to regret my purchase.
    The reason I had the Bergans Ally on list was because of the price (~1000), the weight and the size when stowed away and when transporting it. I've seen Lars Monsen abuse them a lot, but I've also heard that they're hard keep on course on lakes with a bit of wind.

    My budget was around 1500, but maybe I should save up a little more and try to get a Kevlar or Royalex canoe. They're hard to come by used here in Sweden though (they're hard to find new too)

  15. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DougR View Post
    Welcome.
    Small point - whereabouts are you? - most folks on this site are UK based and have very UK-centric viewpoint.

    There are some people here who are based in continental europe and a few more in the americas - knowing which country you are based in will help avoid silly errors.
    I'm in Sweden, but this seemed to be the most active paddling forum around, which was why I posted here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smalandoutdoor View Post
    I'm in Sweden, but this seemed to be the most active paddling forum around, which was why I posted here.
    Hadn't realised that, though should have from the name. I'd be thinking ahead then, if you can stretch, and definitely pick something light enough to solo portage. Your beautiful country is full of some fantastic routes where portages will get you away from everyone.

    I still wouldn't write off the Ally, they do a stillwater version as well as the DR "Downriver" ones an these should be better on lakes. There must be a reason why so many Norwegians buy them, and they're designed in Scandinavia, for Scandinavian conditions.

    That Tuffstuff Pal/Prospector would be excellent.
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

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    Talking of aluminium canoes, our canoe club has a Swedish made Linder canoe, pretty sure it's the shorter model and I have to say, it's very nice to paddle. I found it to track well but also to carve through the water to either side once a turn was initiated in a way no other canoe I've paddled has. This made it very efficient and fast to paddle and makes me look much better than I am. Their lightweight 15ft model weighs in at a clainmed 28kg.

    One glaring omission is the lack of a proper carrying yoke.

    My main downside with our club one is the ridged aluminium gunwale construction which would destroy any wooden paddle (or finger) you were imprudent enough to pry off it but I see the newer ones have a plastic covering. This leaves you with the usual downsides of aluminium: noise, temperature and tendancy to stick to rocks. There again, it's probably top of the list for durability.

    If cost it prohibative, I would imagine there will be plenty for sale second hand at this time of year as companies replace their rental fleets.

    Worth a paddle in one in any case.
    "I'm not getting in a boat which is DESIGNED to go upside down."

  18. Default

    Yeah, the Bergans Ally might be the one I choose. Especially since it’ll take up the least space in our already cramped home. I’ve thought about the Linder 465L, but it’s almost the same size as the Grumman. The Grumman looks better and, from what I’ve heard, is better constructed.

  19. #19

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    Ally canoes? Never again!

    I too have been to Femund / Roa / Rogan (nice blogg btw Mal). I understand the benefits of robustness, particularly when hiring out, but don't ever want to see another Linder, or the Roa portages / boulder fields, again!

    Only (half) joking
    R

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Keywood View Post
    Ally canoes? Never again!

    I too have been to Femund / Roa / Rogan (nice blogg btw Mal). I understand the benefits of robustness, particularly when hiring out, but don't ever want to see another Linder, or the Roa portages / boulder fields, again!

    Only (half) joking
    R
    Cheers Rob, but you must have been insane to portage those things in that terrain! Or is that what all the reindeer are for? I assume you mean ally for aluminium in this case, not Ally from Bergans...
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  21. #21

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    Yep, aluminium, 90lb Linder. Bit of a misjudgement really - we packed everything for 2 weeks paddling in the car except a canoe and drove to Femund Canoe Camp to pick up a hire one. We'd done long portages in Canada but didn't realise the error of our ways (weight and terrain) until we got to the other end of Femund and started the portage upriver. Yes, we were going upstream! The plan was to get to Rogen and return but we stopped short and relaxed. Another problem was catching fish, which we usually rely on for food, but we failed miserably at that as well! Coming back was easier but waking up to snow at the top of Femund added to the adventure. Looking back there's some great memories, and probably some of the nicest photo's from any of our trips, but at the time we said never again, this is not a holiday!



    Sorry to go off topic,


    R

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    I still wouldn't write off the Ally.... There must be a reason why so many Norwegians buy them...
    Yes, because most of them are completely bonkers! At least the ONE Norwegian I know is bonkers, but reckons he's normal, for a Norwegian, so I reckon they all must be.

    I'll get my coat...
    I'm at that difficult age... somewhere between birth and death.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Duck Feet View Post
    Yes, because most of them are completely bonkers! At least the ONE Norwegian I know is bonkers, but reckons he's normal, for a Norwegian, so I reckon they all must be.

    I'll get my coat...
    Your oppinion is accurate.

    I know quite a few Norwegians and they are all batshit mental. They consider brown cheese cooked in a pressure vessel served with anaerobically decomposed shark meat washed down with a sizeable glass of homemade illicit spirit smuggled onto then off a ship which crossed the equator to be an accurate representation of their national cuisine.

    It's because they spike the sauna water with aquavit.
    "I'm not getting in a boat which is DESIGNED to go upside down."

  24. #24
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    I'd just slightly disagree that maintenance for a cedar strip canoe is excessive, provided you keep it out of the frost. Mine is 15 years old now and if I gave it a coat of varnish (I've only ever touched it up) it would look like new. However, if you want to bounce down rocky rivers, you'd probably better avoid one.

  25. #25

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    Hi,

    The Esker Wood Prospector 16 (cedarstrip canoe) is a favourite of mine, i'd go for that one!

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