If I could figure out a way to bring only as much as my kayak could carry, and the boat was light enough, I would go with a kayak. Our group of five had 2 canoes and a kayak. The kayak was much more fun. It had a clamp on yoke that wasn't great but worked. We shoved two good sized Seal paks in the ends (no storage compartments), which was pretty good, but you can forget putting a Duluth pak in one. I noticed Malibu boats has a sit in with an open end, which might work. Maybe you should get a canoe and a kayak.
Welcome to the board. I will echo what a lot of people say here and reiterate that you should try several canoes or kayaks out before you buy. You will gain a lot of knowledge by using different canoes or even one canoe several times.
Just leaping in and buying something is a mistake in my opinion. By renting or borrowing you get to see what you like and dislike about a kayak or canoe.
OK I'm gonna be a lone dissenting voice and say, if you find a local canoe that's in your budget and it floats, it's OK to buy it and try it out on your local rivers/hunting land, etc. If you didn't pay much you can probably re-sell it for similar price next year if you find it sitting in your back yard for that time. I owned (still own) the most awful canoe made (Coleman plastic ramx) for years before being in a position for an upgrade and being able to consider other models and materials. It still got me out on the water in the meantime.
Around here, there are LOTS of canoes that were purchased cheaply and painted for hunting and maybe used for little else. Not pretty to look at, not heaven to paddle, but for an INTRO boat, I think that's OK. Not everyone is an expert from day one and putting $200 into something to see if it's really where you want to spend your free time and money is better than renting for more than that and using something 3 days. At least IMHO.
When you get ready to spend more money, or if you can already afford that or prefer to jump in at the high end of things... then YES, consider renting as one way to get experience with a boat model. Demo days, wing nights, and "friends-with-boats" are all other good ways to "try before you buy".
I agree with everyone that said get experience in both. If your wife fell in love with kayaking, it doesn't mean she'll take keenly to canoeing. They are different "rides," different strokes, etc.
As mentioned with a solo canoe you can go the route of a single blade, but it will need to be longer than the kayak paddle the fits since you're up higher. Also, being up higher you'll feel tippier than a kayak and the canoe catches more wind.
With a tandem canoe you will need single blades and learn the strokes.
If you go with kayaks and the BWCA is a goal you still have options. One is to rent a canoe when up there. Or two, go ahead and bring the kayaks. I've use one for a short low portage trip, and have seen others use it on longer trips where they kept the portages to a minimum, like the long lakes along the border (Gunflint, Rose, etc.). You'll need to pull your stuff out of the nooks and crannies and put them into another pack or tie onto a portage frame to portage them.
Also, where did wife kayak and what type of kayak did she use? The shorter and proportionally wider kayaks for rivers and streams, or recreational use, aren't good for longer tripping.
In short, as the people above are saying, try them out and get what you will use the most in Indiana, then see what you need to do to do a BWCA trip.
Wow, thanks for the info gang! That REALLY helps! Especially the info about the Fort Wayne Paddlers. I am only about 1/2 hour from Fort Wayne, so I will definitely check that out. Thanks again!
Look at a pack canoe like the Wenonah Fusion. If you want to both solo but use a double blade pack canoes are the way to go.
The Midwest is slow to catch on this long time Adirondack design.
Unfortunately most are most accessible only in the Northeast from Placid Boatworks, Hornbeck Boats, Hemlock Canoe and Vermont Canoe.
The attraction is that they are light (under 30 lbs) are solos that are double bladed and are open and you can wear a pack and the boat at the same time.
Ideal for day trips including fishing.
If you can wait the Placids and Hemlock pack canoes will be at the Western Pennsylvania Solo Canoe Rendezvous early next June. Its only Ohio in the way.. a pretty short drive to paddle a lot of solo canoes including pack canoes.
Jameson, since you're in NE Indiana, you have a very nice resource close at hand with the Ft Wayne Paddlers. I've paddled with them a couple of times and in fact recently returned from a week in Georgian Bay with a group that included their leader, Jay. They are an active paddling group that does a variety of trips with a variety of boats (and some biking and skiing thrown in as well).
You'll find that for local waters, a kayak may be the most versatile option for you. Best to get 2 kayaks though, a tandem has earned the nickname of "divorce boat". For BWCA or hunting use, you'll want a canoe. Thankfully, the outfitters rent them so you don't need to buy one up front.
Check out the Ft Wayne group and ask around. There's a good chance you can pick up a deal on a local boat for sale. They'll know all the local shops, and the best places to paddle, and Jay's even inviting all members to a cookout next Saturday (1st). He's got a few boats that he's built, and it'd be worth going just to admire the woodwork. Great guy, and friendly group.
Definitely rent before buying anything.
Come to wingnight. There will be 60 plus people there with so much advice and wisdom, you will walk away knowing exactly what you should focus on!
Oh and there will be a lot of canoes there!
I would suggest you find a shop or outfitter that has demo days or will allow you to try out several different canoes. Try lots of different ones to figure out what suits you best. and if you want to buy a used canoe, you might want to talk to an outfitter or ten. lots and lots of outfitter canoes so on sale at the end of the month. many are refinished so that they look almost new.
try lots of boats before you buy. its a big purchase if you buy kevlar. I would suggest allowing an outfitter to provide all gear for a couple of trips to try out different canoes for an extended period of time prior to purchasing. a few hours in a boat can tell you a lot, but a week can tell you even more.
I'll weigh in, echo some advice and offer a research tool.
The BWCA is canoe country - kayaks can work but as noted portages are harder (a lot harder) and stowing gear is a hassle. Time saved on the water is lost on portages. In the Q a few years ago I came across a father in a Kayak and his two teenagers in a canoe. ALL gear was in the canoe and the father was cursing the day he even thought of using a Kayak up there.
Canoe length is a factor - all is a trade-off. I like 18' and longer canoes because they have great capacity, can handle rough water and have great tracking and glide. I hate these same long canoes on tight portages and small streams.
A good place to get a pretty objective picture of canoe design and materials is the Wenonah website.
Wenonah Resources link
Usual disclaimers etc.
Welcome to the smorgasbord, my advise would be to try a bit of everything. Then start narrowing down your choices. Rental opportunities abound. So do opinions. Rent, borrow, beg, for a few times to get a feel for the sport and to discover what you will want from it!
Thanks everyone for the input. This really helps! My wife is the type that would indeed enjoy a wilderness camping experience like the BWCA. We've talked about going before and will make it happen one day, hopefully soon.
I'm not just wanting a kayak/canoe for the BWCA trip, as we have quite a few nice rivers that are floatable here in northeastern Indiana. I enjoy bowhunting with my longbow and have also always wanted to use a canoe to float in on some of the local public land, to hunt away from the crowds. So, since having to bring out a deer might be an issue, maybe a kayak is out of the question and I should lean towards a canoe.
In that case, what are some good places to buy a nice, but used quality canoe? 16' or bigger, right? Any brands/styles I should stay away from?
Thanks again for all of the help. I'm sure these questions have been asked before and I appreciate your patience!!
I strongly advise using an outfitter for your first trip and renting a 17' or so kevlar canoe and use their assistance in planning. Kayaking and wilderness canoe trips seem very different to me and you should experience the canoe trip without long term commitments before gearing up, IMHO.
Oh. And welcome to the community!
You mentioned the BWCA as "a" goal. Is it your primary goal? Your wife likes Kayaks after spending a couple days testing it out. Does that also mean she'll enjoy camping multiple night in the wilderness? That is a big leap.
If she like the kayak and has given the green light on that, then I'd leap through that open window. Paddling takes many forms; floats down one of our many rivers, north shore/lake superior trips, day trips on a local lake. You can do all of these, BWCA included, by renting a boat until you settle on your preferred/primary use.
Take a look at Midwest Mountaineering, REI, or other local kayak/canoe retailer's sites. They offer demo days where you can go to a lake to try different boats, and the staff are good at helping you to get a boat that meets your intended use.
The flip side is I by your boat at half-price after it sits in your garage for 2 years :)
It's a hard decision, with no perfect answer. I think you need to try a few things out before deciding what to buy. Here are some things to consider:
- tandem kayaks ARE hard to paddle in my opinion, harder than paddling with another person in a canoe. I'd rather have a solo kayak and a tandem canoe, but that's me.
- kayaks have their space and portaging issues, but some people overcome those and still enjoy wilderness tripping in kayaks
- where will you use the craft most? locally where tripping doesn't matter as much? or for camping trips?
- length IMHO isn't as important as weight and model. I have shorter canoes that work well for me and can do a week long trip fine. (15-16') Happens to be what the model at the right price and the right weight was at the time.
- YES to used. Significant savings and not much impact on functional use.
- Should be able to find a ~60 pound royalex canoe that's good for BWCA and local lakes for about ~$600 as ONE example of an option. I got my cheapo plastic kayaks for $120 each and my cheapo Coleman plastic canoe for $200. The Coleman has been to the BW many times, but it's TOO heavy! The plastic cheapos were WELL worth their money and got me out on the water a lot before I was able to afford anything else.
If you plan on going to the BWCA you should look hard at getting a 17' or longer canoe. A tandem canoe this length will hold all you need for a weekend or multiweek trip. Kayaks are limited in the amount of gear they can stow and you will find them a hassle at the portages - and you will probably do a few of those.
Look for a canoe that will track well across lakes and be fairly maneuverable on the rivers and creeks. This will mean something with a little rocker at the ends and no keel (unless you get an aluminum canoe in which case it will probably have a keel). Aluminum canoes are reasonably priced but can be kind of heavy. On the other hand they are very tough. Kevlar canoes are light weight but may be expensive even for a used one.
Try a few out to see what you like and let us know what you think. Good luck.
Congrats on your wife's discovery! Messing around in boats is fun!
You have some decisions to make....most of which revolve around what your intentions are in using your "boats".
Kayaks are great if you are going out on a day trip. Canoes are great if you are going on a paddling/camping trip.
Many beginners like kayaks. They are easy to paddle, you don't have to learn a bunch of different strokes, they feel stable because you are sitting below the water line. They are less affected by wind.
Kayaks can be a liability if you are contemplating using them for transporting camping equipment. They don't hold much. They are also more difficult to lug over a portage.
Most kayaks are also "solo" boats. As Kevin Callan (well known canoe author and humorist) says, kayaker's are "canoeists who don't get along with their paddling partners."
However, nothing beats trying out different boats.
Hi there! I'm new to the forum, so bare with me if these questions have been asked a bunch already. Over the weekend, my wife and her sister did some kayaking and my wife loved it. I've been wanting to buy a canoe or kayak for years and eventually get up to the BWCA. Well, now my wife has experienced kayaking and has given the green light for us to get into this new hobby together. I'm excited and think it'll be a fun hobbby for the two of us to share, but I'm a bit overwhelmed on where to start.
For starters, I don't know if I should buy a kayak or a canoe. Do I get a tandem or two solos (if I go with a kayak)? Most importantly (right now), where do I look for kayaks or canoes that would work nicely for a BWCA trip, be very stable and yet not break the bank? We don't have a lot of money to spend on a kayak/canoe so maybe I need to keep my eyes opened for a good used one?
Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for the help!