What is the best solo canoe for portage trips?


New member
If you’re going solo you absolutely need a canoe that can take a beating and that you’re not afraid will get punctured or split easily. So far I’ve made 8 solo tours far, far from civilization, every time in a Royalex. It is a little heavier than fiberglass but will take you to hell and back. You’ll thank me when you’re pulling your canoe (solo canoe at canoesurfer.net) over beaver dams and don’t get a spear through your hull.
What is the best solo canoe for portage trips?


I cant say if it best or not, but I would look on Sportspal canoes: https://www.meyersboat.com/sportspal/

it's made from aluminum which bents on impact and hard to puncture
it comparatively light weight - can be carried by one person
it's very stable - almost impossible to capsize it
it's floating - even if it's capsized it won't sink
it's wide and can carry lot of stuff
it comes with attachment for a trolling motor
it comes with rowboat paddle attachments.
it's not as fast as narrower canoes
aluminum is quite thin
it's not very agile comparing to narrower canoes
aluminum is hard to repair if punctured

I have 16' Sportspal for probably 8 years now, maybe more - it has few dents and scratches but it's still going strong. And I didn't manage to puncture it so far. I still think it's a possibility though if you hit really sharp pointed rock on full speed so I carry repair kit just in case. I have a lot of trust in this canoe, but I would be nervous using it in white water. I paddle on lakes and small slow creeks between lakes. Portages never been an issue, I can carry canoe alone - it's not the lightest one but still can be carried by one person. If I travel alone a lot I would probably buy shorter version of canoe - 14" and maybe even 12'. Really depends of how much stuff you carry.


Expedition Leader
Light and durable lots of options and price ranges. Plastic ones are tough and easily patched but are kinda lousy regarding weight. Weight can be a really big negative if your having to haul/drag it between wet spots.

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I've always been a fan of Bell Canoes, they are now Northstar Canoes. They have several options available for solo paddlers. I've owned a Bell Northwind tandem for the last 13 years, it's been a great canoe. I might consider a new Northstar Northwind Solo if I was in the market for a solo canoe right now, they weigh between 27lbs and 42 lbs depending on which material option you choose. A friend has an older Bell Wildfire solo canoe that I would love to own, it paddles beautifully.


Expedition Leader
Just as a side note in the composites biz a well made aluminum hull is nearly identical to a “engineered “ composite hulls regarding strength vs weight. The key word here is “engineered”. Meaning it has cored areas for added strength and fiber / cloth materials used in a specific manner to achieve specific strength characteristics. Most composite canoes are built this way but not all. Lots of fantastic hulls out there covering a wide price range and age. They are very individual in how they fit/paddle which is probably more important. Nothing worse than not liking the way a hull fits you or paddles after you dropped $ on it.
Go paddle a bunch of hulls you’ll have your favorites and your “I really didn’t like it list”
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Expedition Leader
I agree with calicamper- you need to paddle at least a couple of different deigns and figure what work for your needs, style, etc.

Back when I started paddling in the '70s everyone was still using Grumman canoes, even for running white water. Shove some truck inner tubes under the seats and inflate them, put a piece of foam under your knees and have at it. Patching them was pretty simple actually; a bottle of rubber cement and a piece of inner tube would get you down the river till you could get it welded. These days you could just carry a couple of the brazing rods and a torch end for your propane bottle and fix it that way (you need a torch to properly patch polyethylene hulls as well); a strip of Flexseal would probably get you down the river though. In college in the eighties I ran my Coleman 15' down sections 3 and 4 of the Chattooga, and I definitely wasn't the only one who did that. Way less than ideal, especially by today's standards, but hey, run what ya got. I had an early Perception Dancer then a Corsica (kayaks; rotomolded boats were developed by a Clemson grad) that were obviously much better suited to the task but hey, it was fun back then.

That said, I think one of the best solo tripping canoes made was the Old Town Penobscot 15. Under fifty pounds, durable, paddled best with some weight in it and good secondary stability. I've got one but it needs some work. I haven't paddled canoes in while so no idea what the current favorites are.

ETA- https://www.oldtowncanoe.com/blog/article/canoe-kayak-repair-guide
I would research the various builders In the US and Canada for a boat that fits your paddling and touring style, and one that you’re willing to drag or carry over rough terrain. A skin coat Kevlar layup with some extra resin on the bottom might be an option, or maybe a light Kevlar w/gel coat.


New member
I agree, checkout Northstar canoes. They have a IXP material that is tough. There was a video last year where they were beating the hull with a hammer and no damage occurred.
i have a Northstar Magic with carbon fiber and that’s been a great canoe for me and my dog.


Well-known member
I think the old town next would be my choice on a solo conoe but I come from a kayaking background. Osagian makes nice conoes that are built for ozark steams aka shallow and rocky they sre aluminum and have bulges on the sides for stability.


Well-known member
The OP hasn't been seen here since April Fools' Day 2020, which is when the OP became a member and posted this thread. :unsure:

I think many of us are enjoying this thread, and I hope people continue to post thoughts, ideas, and suggestions. :)