Wandering Around Out There With A Canoe On My Head

Why I Bought a Canoe

Nancy the dog stand in front of a canoe on a trail

by Preston
June 1, 2012

The guesses are rolling in the Portageur’s New Ride contest. What’s amazing is how different they’ve all been. While none have been completely right, none have been completely wrong either. To recap, I’m giving away a prize pack to help celebrate my new canoe purchase where I’m asking people to guess what I bought. (Details and rules can be found here.) So far it’s been a lot of fun, but as promised, it’s time I offer up a little hint to make things a bit easier by explaining my decision process. (What’s truly amazing is that Fiona from Badger Paddles hasn’t entered with a pseudonym.)

But first, here’s a reminder of what’s up for grabs:

These are a few of my favourite things
  • Portageur hat – stylish and comfortable
  • Portageur t-shirt – the very one worn by all the cool kids
  • Portageur decal – so far has the highest demand for sales (maybe I should start selling them).
  • GSI Personal Java Press – for better made coffee at camp (review)
  • GSI Javagrind – the back-country barista’s must have item  (review)

To win, simply send an email to contest@portageur.ca with your guess of the Model, Material and Colour(s) I chose for my new boat. Again, more details, rules and such can be found here, but your best resource is checkout out the possible choices over at the Swift Canoe and Kayak website.

As I mentioned, I don’t go around buying canoes all the time. I do dream of a day when I have a rack of them, each with it’s own purpose and one for every need. I’ll get one in every colour too. (Sigh.) Until that time, I need to make the most of my purchase. Normally, I just rent canoes for trips. This is practical for most people who only paddle a few times a year (or like me don’t have a lot of storage space). Specifically for me it also offers a chance to get information on outfitters, as I like to keep in touch with the process of renting canoes and equipment. And I plan to continue to do this for most trips. More often than not, it’s the convenient option because when dealing with a local outfitter you don’t have to transport a canoe very far – or at all. You also have several options available to you, like a bigger boat, 3 seats, a solo canoe or even try out the super-light material that might have made buying a canoe prohibitive. You also get a chance to try out different types of canoes, depending on the outfitter. Many won’t accept specific requests, but each tend to buy various models from different companies, and you’ll get a feel for each type. After a while you’ll get a sense of what you like in a canoe, having tested everything about it including carrying it over portages and travelling longer distances. For example, when I wanted to try out a pack canoe, I reserved one from Algonquin Outfitters. (Tip: Just make sure you reserve one well in advance of your trip, and make it very clear you want a pack canoe.)


And now for the hints….

So why did I decide to buy a new canoe? There are two main reasons. First, my current canoe is on it’s last legs, and I haven’t brought it on a trip with me for quite a while now. Even though I rent more canoes for most of my trips, I still want to be able to pick up and go canoeing on a whim, and I’d like to have something available for me to go to the places where outfitters aren’t as close or convenient. (I know, this wasn’t much of a hint, was it.)


More importantly, I need something I can go solo canoeing better. I do a lot of canoeing on my own, either because I’m off by myself somewhere or when there are an odd number of paddlers in the group. My current canoe (17.5′ Swift Keewaydin) can pack a lot of gear, and is very comfortable, but unless I weigh it down significantly, it’s a big sail. When it was first loaned to me, I was warned that it wouldn’t do well in the wind and Steve, it’s owner, worried the whole time I was gone. You learn some tricks pretty quickly when a slight breeze turns you sideways A brisk wind, well that can be downright exhausting when it spins you around and sends across the lake. So I need something that will track well when I’m off on my own, knowing I don’t have another paddler or as much gear to weigh me down. (Obvious hint: I didn’t buy a canoe for it’s size or capacity.) Question is, whether I decided to get the versatility of two seats or the more singular purpose (and seat I suppose) of a solo canoe – or possibly a pack canoe so I can, on occasion, use a double bladed paddle and play with my kayaker friends. Hmm….

Tips on going solo in a tandem canoe


As far as my choice in material, I’ll make it a little easier for you here. I want something light. I’m a wimp, I suppose, but a light canoe allows me to go on longer portages and travel over greater distances. I will tell you that I didn’t go heavier than the Kevlar Fusion. (I rarely do rapids either, so no need for Royalex. When I do rapids, I’ll definitely rent.) The real question here is whether or not I wanted to sacrifice a bit of durability for the even lighter Carbon Fusion, or whether I wanted to get more environmentally responsible and try out the new Flax Fusion. I do really like that last idea, but then again, I am notoriously bad to my gear. My policy is if I still own it, I recommend it completely as it can take a beating. Hmm….

The lovely Portageur decal, and how nice it looks on a canoe. Photo and canoe courtesy of Badger Paddles … for those who dig the water.


Colours. Yep, they’re are a lot of choices, and this might not be as much help as you’d like. I do like the brown seen on the flax fusion models, but I also really like the look that their two tone colours have. But there is one very, very important factor in my decision for colour(s) for how and where I plan on canoeing: What was that? Safety, like a bright colour that can make it better to spot? Um… yes. Yes that’s an important factor, sure. I should do that. But you know what’s even more important: the colour has to match the Portageur.ca logo, because I plan on slapping on one of those decals. (I really hope this doesn’t become some kind of ironic foreshadowing. I can’t imagine regretting my decision even when I’m trying to wave down a rescue plane. I’m also sure the first thing the search and rescue guys will say when they come for my body is how nice that logo matches the canoe.) Then again, maybe I should get the brightest colour that matches the logo. Hmm….

So there you have it. Take a guess and get some cool, practical and coffee friendly swag.  These are the elements that I have been agonizing over the last year trying to decide on what I want in a canoe. Okay, perhaps the agony was really on those around me that had to hear about it. Thanks so much to my patient, patient friends and family. (Remember, it’s over now. You can stop letting my calls go to voicemail.)


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