Wandering Around Out There With A Canoe On My Head

(No Seriously,) My New Canoe

smiling man poses with his new canoe

by Preston
June 20, 2012

I suppose I should stop teasing everyone about my new canoe and get on with the big reveal. The Portageur’s New Ride contest has been a blast, with the winner contacted yesterday. So with no more excuses and out of funny ideas, may I present to you, my new canoe:

First off, congrats to Eric J from Eden Mills who has won the contest. His name was drawn from several others who guessed two elements correctly. What I chose was a Superior Blue/Champagne Swift Osprey, made in Kevlar Fusion. Needless to say, and as you can see by the grinning Portageur above, I’m very happy with my choices.

The Blue/Champagne colour looks great.


But that’s not all. I’ll post a bit more about some of the other features of this canoe a bit later, but I also wanted to make sure to include the Carbon Fiber gunnels. (Quite a few people included this as part of their guess. Each received bonus points. A million in fact, but sadly the draw wasn’t based on these points.) I love this feature. It makes the boat lighter, but at the same time they’re very strong and durable. The best thing about this feature though, is that they are integrated in the canoe’s construction, without the tiny little gap above the hull that you’d get with wood or aluminum. I don’t know why, but every now and then I’ll catch a little piece of my finger on the gunnels, or a nail. Ouch. If you’ve heard a swear word carry over a lake, that might have been me doing this. It happens rarely, and I’m sure if I had strict paddling form – always – this wouldn’t be an issue, but it still surprises me that they don’t put this selling feature in the brochure.

Nancy looks great and fits quite comfortably in the Osprey


So why Kevlar instead of Carbon Fiber? Well, while the carbon is pretty tough, knowing how well I treat my gear, and the places I’m hoping to take this canoe, I figured the smarter idea was to go with a little extra protection. I really, really thought about the new Flax Fusion, as I really like the idea of it being a little more environmentally responsible, but ultimately decided against it, again, for the extra durability. If I had more space and money to have multiple canoes, the other would be in Flax Fusion.

Nancy, my hood ornament, is an optional feature of the Osprey


Why the Osprey? I know what you’re thinking, it was the coolest named model. Yes, I do like that. However, I decided that for my purchase to be the best fit, I wanted to get a solo canoe. I’m often the odd man out when canoeing in pairs, and often travel alone. When that’s not the case, and it’s convenient, I’ll just rent a tandem for other trips. A pack canoe seemed like a neat idea, especially when using two blades. I’d be able to keep up to tandems without too much trouble. But I feel more comfortable in a (real) canoe, with the control of using a nice long (single-bladed) paddle. That said, I originally was going to get a Shearwater. I’ve rented them often and love how they track, and of course the extra space would have been nice. What moved me away though was when Scott from Swift had mentioned that with the Osprey, you had the option of a “Combi” seat, which allows you to switch your traditional seat with a kayak seat, in essence giving you the advantages of a pseudo-kayak, with the storage space and portagability of a canoe. You can also do this with the new Keewaydin model. Lots of people like that model, but after testing both, I just felt better with the Osprey. (Not exactly scientific, but ultimately the most important factor in choosing a canoe.)

The Osprey at rest after a windy paddle on Opeongo

Why Blue? Haven’t you seen the pictures? It’s gorgeous. It has to be the slickest look on a canoe I’ve ever seen. It also makes it go faster, and move over the water much better. (Again, no science behind that, but it does.) Sadly, I knew I was going to scratch the paint and ruin that “brand new” look eventually, but I really didn’t think it would happen so soon. Not being able to wait, I picked up the canoe in Gravenhurst and went straight to Opeongo Lake. It was windy, and taking-out was a little rough on a rocky shore (where I stayed over night, staring at the sun setting over my pretty new canoe). So I got a few little, tiny, imperceptible-to-anyone-but-its-owner sized scratches. I thought about it very little though, laughing it off. Best to get that out of the way I thought. But then, when I was putting the canoe back on the car at the end of my little weekend test drive, on a windy day, I found out just how light the canoe is. A brink wind came up suddenly and blew the canoe off the roof, hitting a pole on the way down. No damage done though. Just a nice big scratch to remind me to be more careful.

Super light, the Osprey got scratched a bit, but the Blue colour still looks great.


I hope you guys had fun, and I apologize for all the teasing here and on facebook. I also apologize at gloating over my super-fancy, pretty, awesome handling, best canoe in the world. For the next post, I’ll show you some of the fancy features of the canoe, and I have a little surprise sent to me by the Swift Canoe & Kayak staff.

Oh also, I’m not really sorry, at all. I do apologize for that, though.


  • I’d love to be looking toward a Swift eventually, but here, even in northern Missouri, I’ll drag and get hung up on big rocks and underwater stumps, and my Royalex just seems to survive it all just fine. The light weight looks wonderful, but I’d hate to spend all my time worried about tearing up my canoe.

  • I thought that it was going to be an Osprey. Awesome boat. I came within a hairs width of buying one of those back in the mid 90’s. I only had enough cash to buy a boat or a computer and I sadly went with the computer… 🙂

    David J.

  • @Missourimule – I hear you. In those conditions it’s best to go durable. How’s the canoeing in Missouri?

    @David Johnson – Yeah, we sometimes have to make difficult choices. It makes me glad to think that the canoe won’t be obsolete in 6 months. (Then again, without a computer I wouldn’t have been able to buy a canoe in the first place.)

  • Great Choice! The blue looks really nice! I’m a proud owner of a burgundy 2001 Swift Winisk which works well in the wind and is quick. Also an old solo Wenonah Prism, similar to the swift pack canoes with a wooden kayak paddle. I agree with the fact that the Osprey is more of a real canoe compared to the pack because in my opinion I have more control with a regular canoe paddle than a kayak type paddle but i find I can get to greater speeds with the kayak paddle. Have fun with your new canoe 🙂

  • I’m late to the comments game here – but I have a question about Swift Solo boats and portaging (which I see you feel is preferable to padling – a debate for another time…).
    I recently purchased a well-loved, new-to-me Swift Shearwater (’98, Exped Kevlar, I think). I am a solo paddler by necessity. Thus, a solo boat seemed most practical. Plus, the price was in my range.
    I’m used to portaging rental Kipawas. So, this Shearwater is a wee bit heavier than I was prepared to lift and flip. Time to grow some more muscles, I think. My real problem – and the point of my question – is how to deal with the removable yoke. It doesn’t feel secure and those big bolt/screws seem to be awkwardly placed. I’m constantly afraid that I’m going to catch my shoulder on one during the flip. So much so that I can’t seem to do it smoothly. I have two yokes – standard and deep – and struggle with both/either. I’m hopeful that you might have suggestions on secure portage of a Swift solo. I’ve not been able to find a solution to those fasteners.

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