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Canoe Basics: What Canoe Should I Get For My Canoe Trip?

Here are my recommendations for a canoe that can be used for fishing and camping:

  1. Your canoe should be light: 70 pounds or less - you may be lifting this canoe (alone) on to your car top, or carrying it (alone) on portages as far as 1 mile or more!
  2. The canoe should be stable - you should test out a friends canoe of the model you are interested in if possible. I would recommend a width of about 36". The wider the better - however, if your canoe is 40" or more you may have problems loading it on top of a small car.
  3. The canoe should be roomy enough to accommodate gear and two people.

Other Guidelines and Recommendations

  • If you are going to be using this canoe strictly for lakes and fishing, I would recommend an inexpensive (about $750), 17' lightweight Alumacraft® Canoe.  The current models that match what I own are the 17' QT-17CL Quetico at 61 pounds or the 17' QTC Quetico at 69 pounds. These are easy to portage (compared to some very heavy poly-type canoes), and less expensive than other canoes this light.  These are also very stable compared to some other canoes. This canoe has a keel at the bottom for strength and added stability, but the keel may hang up on rocks in whitewater situations. I just don't use mine for other than occasional whitewater situations. If you want more information, find an alumacraft dealer near you.  You can locate a dealer at the Alumacraft website.
  • If you are going to use your canoe for whitewater type trips as well as lakes and you are willing to spend a little more money, I would recommend looking at an Old Town® recreational canoe. This canoe does not have a keel at the bottom, hence it will not hang up on rocks as much in river running.  Also note the built in carrying yoke for portages. The 16-ft model is comparable in weight to the lightweight aluminum models mentioned above. I have not tried this canoe, but with its light weight, wide width, and design, it seems like it would be a good stable all-purpose canoe.
  • If you want a durable economical canoe that can be used in all types of canoe trips, look into the Coleman  Odyssey The drawback however is its weight at 87 pounds.  If you have to have to portage a canoe this heavy 1+ miles (as I have) you may not like it!  Otherwise it is a good all around canoe at a good price.
  • There are other sleeker faster (and narrower) canoes however they may be more tippy.  If you don't want an unexpected swim during your fishing trip, I would, above all things, make sure the canoe is fairly stable on flat water (lakes).
  • Another option as an "extra" canoe that stores in your trunk?  Perhaps an inflatable boat or a foldable canoe that fits into a 4" by 48" by 14" carrying bag. I don't have personal experience with these fairly new products, but they seem like they would be a nice addition for a cabin or lake since they could be stored for the season in a small cabinet. 

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