Updated on: January 14, 2024
Nothing beats getting outdoors and losing yourself out on the water. Some days you just need to do that solo as well to get the best health benefit. So let’s talk about solo canoes.
The best solo canoe means you can stretch out the paddle at your own pace. Go where you want without discussion with a co-pilot. And most importantly, find that blissful peace and tranquillity that is so important for mindfulness and wellbeing. Because after all, nothing is more therapeutic than being out on peaceful waters.
But what makes a solo canoe great? And how do you know which are the best to choose from? We are here to help. From a rundown of the best solo canoes on the market to extra gear you could add to make your experience better, we have got you covered.
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First things first, we are going to answer the initial question you are probably asking – what are solo canoes? Aren’t they all just simply, canoes?
Just like kayaks (and to a certain extent stand-up paddle boards), canoes can come in ‘tandem’ sizes as well as being designed for individual paddlers. Typically, solo canoes are under 15 feet in length. This allows them to be more maneuverable for a solo paddler to handle. In these designs, turning and maneuverability are prioritized over tracking.
Sleek, agile, and yet utterly traditional. This Old Town canoe ticks all the boxes in our opinion. There is plenty of space to store gear onboard for an epic adventure while also being lightweight enough to venture into the smallest of spaces.Check Latest Price
Buying a solo canoe can be challenging if you do not know what to look for. A canoe is an extension of the paddler's body, so, therefore, is a highly personal choice. And do not go assuming a solo canoe is simply a scaled-down version of a tandem option. The weight balance and design are often carefully crafted to suit a single paddler.
Here are a few tips to help you on the way to owning and becoming a solo canoeist!
What are you hoping to do with your solo canoe? Are you planning on fishing, heading out for flat water camping trips, or perhaps the ocean is calling you? The intended use will affect the length and size needed in the canoe.
If you are hoping to take on choppier waters and whitewater conditions, perhaps you should be considering a sit-inside kayak instead of a canoe. Due to the open top, a canoe is best suited for calm, flat waters that will not be splashing up inside.
Solo canoes can range between 10-16 feet in length.
The shorter they are, the easier they are to turn and maneuver. Longer canoes are more desirable for long-distance paddling as you can build up more speed and they generally have better tracking.
If you are planning an expedition and need to carry lots of gear with you, a 14-foot solo canoe is a perfect length.
Overall, there are 5 types of materials that are commonly used when building canoes:
The material affects performance, durability, weight, aesthetics, and price. So it is no small matter to consider!
Traditionally, canoes are made out of wood and are handcrafted. They are long-lasting and look great, but they do come with a higher price tag. Composites, such as fiberglass and carbon, introduce the desirable lightweight factor that solo canoeists will be chasing.
Other materials, like plastics and reinforced PVC, can be a good choice for those on a tighter budget. As technology has advanced, so has the performance and durability of these solo canoes.
Paddling solo means you have total control over the canoe. This means you choose where you go and how fast you get there. Therefore, you need to ensure the canoe is easy to handle and control as a solo paddler.
Handling and control are directly impacted by the size and hull design of the canoe. The shorter the canoe, the easier it is to handle and turn.
Good solo control also comes from a good position within the canoe. As a solo paddler, you need the bench seat to be as central as possible for the most amount of control. You will need to alternate the side you paddle on to maintain a straight-line trajectory if you are only paddling with one paddle.
Are you looking for the best solo canoe? We’ve done the research and compiled some quick-fire solo canoe reviews to help you find your next vessel!
This Old Town canoe is by far one of the best options available for solo paddlers that ticks all the boxes. It combines the simplicity of traditional design with agile, sleek handling found in a kayak. Being under 12 feet means it is nimble to navigate hard-to-reach spaces, but it can also still build up a good amount of speed when paddling.
This thoughtful design allows you to keep fishing gear close to your hand while giving you maximum comfort. The hull is spacious, the seat is fully adjustable and comfortable, and you even have padded armrests to lean on.
It is no wonder why we have chosen this canoe as our best overall solo canoe! The Old Town Discovery Solo Canoe is a fantastic piece of equipment for any water lover. It is also highly affordable when looking at purchasing a canoe.
A timeless classic. The Columbia Canoe 12 from Wooden Boat USA is a work of art! This canoe is handcrafted out of cedar wood and encapsulated in fiberglass resin to give you the best of the best results. With over 400 hours of work going into this canoe, it is no wonder why the price tag is so high!
The minimal rocker is paired with a cutting-shaped bow, making it plane across flat water like a dream.
If the budget does not matter, then why not go for both style and function? Wooden Boat USA’s Columbia Canoe 12 really is something special.
Highly unique and extremely cool, the DUTUI Transparent Canoe is truly one of a kind! As the name suggests, this canoe is completely see-through so you can see what you are paddling over. We have to say, this would be an epic canoe to have when exploring the reefs around the Florida Keys or even further afield in the Tropics!
Even though the canoe is transparent, it is still durable and able to withstand adventures. The design is wide which gives great stability and an enormous carrying capacity (large enough that you could even take a passenger onboard). However, this does make it less maneuverable in choppy waters.
If you are keen to explore clear waters and see what you are paddling over, then there is no better canoe than the DUTUI Transparent Canoe!
With elegant curves and beautiful design, the Esquif Canoes Echo model brings a wonderfully modern take onto the water. This solo canoe is best suited for intermediate paddlers looking for a touring vessel. It has been specially crafted to cut through waters with speed and precision.
This canoe can take you through tranquil and still waters one day and down class II rivers the next. It is a fantastic canoe to consider.
If you have the skill and technique down, why not consider this beautiful piece of craftsmanship? You can switch between seated and kneeling positions comfortably throughout your session as well.
Nova Craft’s Canoe Trapper certainly looks the part! This traditional recreational canoe is ideal for solo paddling. When ordering this canoe, you have several options on material and color, meaning you can get a truly unique vessel to call your own!
This canoe is great for the modern canoeist that is after both primary and secondary stability with no compromise on speed. It is good for improving your “J” stroke and can also be used with a double-bladed paddle.
From cruising to fishing, the Trapper from Nova Craft Canoes is suitable for it all! There is plenty of space for you to pack all the gear you need for an epic trip.
Once you have got your perfect solo canoe sorted, you can start thinking about all the other gear you need for your adventure. Of course, you need all the standard gear for canoeing. But you may want to add in some extra things you may not normally carry:
The choice of paddle type is personal and depends on what kind of paddling you want to do.
Single-blade paddles are often preferred for smaller and more precise movements. However, a double-bladed paddle offers good ergonomics in each stroke and you can get more speed. It is common to see solo canoes being propelled with double-blade paddles, especially for recreational paddling styles.
Double blade paddles are a good option for smaller paddlers to keep up with, and even outrun, skilled single blade users. Beginners to canoeing can also easily keep a straight course with a double-blade paddle.
Canoeing solo is a wonderful experience. However, there are safety concerns that are deemed higher risk when being out on the water alone. To combat these, we recommend following these top tips for safe solo canoe paddling!
The best solo canoes are typically between 10 feet and 14 feet. This shorter length ensures the canoe is lightweight and easy to maneuver – this can however mean a compromise on speed. Longer boats generally go faster on the water.
When looking to buy a solo canoe, you need to consider the dimensions of the boat as well as the material it is made from. Ideally, you want something that is lightweight and easy to manage by yourself, both in and out of the water. Before you start browning solo canoes, you need to determine what paddling style you will be getting into as this will affect the shape of the canoe hull.
Many people opt for a double-blade paddle to make solo canoe paddling easier. This means you can paddle both sides of the canoe without having to switch the paddle over, keeping straighter tracking and maintaining speed. You also need to consider where in the boat you are sitting/kneeling in order to keep an even weight distribution and balance in the canoe.
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