Canoes / kayaks - family recommendations?

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Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
Long story but my family is potentially up for canoeing. So I'm wondering what's best to get?

I'm an experienced whitewater kayaker and can turn my hand to canoes just not on my own on proper whitewater. My partner isn't too keen on water unless it's flat water such as canals, lakes (we're not far from the lake ) or easy rivers. My son is 6.5 years old and is kind of the reason I thinking of canoeing again. He is a strong swimmer for his age, strongest underwater surprisingly.

Currently I've got an ancient perception dancer clone due to be passed on to beavers / cubs / scouts if they want it. I've got a newer boat that's a dagger rpm clone that's probably 15 years old. I've been out of kayaking seriously for 10 years. Typically grade 4/5 whitewater rivers. I'm thinking that these two boats might be best donated to scouts and we start again with new boats.

So what would you get for flat water, occasional use for a family of two adults and one young child? Any recommendations much appreciated since my boat knowledge is out of date. There seems to be more sit on tops than in my day.


Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
One more thing. My son joined beavers a few months back. As a result of taking him there each week I managed to get myself offered as a skills assistant for canoeing. Well after the last stage of vetting and training / approval. That's probably the reason we're considering canoeing.

I guess i might be best keeping the newer kayak as it might be a better option to teach from. Especially as I'm thinking a 2 man sit on top or kayak for me and son with a solo for my partner or a canoe that can take all of us.

Forgot to mention we've got a border terrier. Might be good to take her as well but she's not a water dog.


Dec 3, 2005
Go for a canoe, Winona prospector is ideal, had one for years. The thing is stable and plenty of space, it will take two adults, camping gear and a springer spaniel.

Keep the kayak, if you wife likes flat water and is less likely to take a dunk in a canoe, just troll the web for the best deal.

Duggie Bravo

Jul 27, 2013
Two things:
If you are introducing kayaking to scouts there are grants available to get the equipment and I would look to include instructor/adult size boats in that, modern boats are so much easier to handle than older ones.
I looked at sit on tops, some of the bigger ones have a third seat, so all three of you could use one boat, but a 2 and a 1 give you the option to mix it up.
A canoe may be a better option if you are taking a dog, but it would be worth while paying the extra to get a light one.

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Jul 23, 2007
Central Scotland
15 foot canoes will take 2.5 people and some gear, probably enough for an couple of days if you travel light. 16fts could do 3 people and some more gear. I would shy away from a 16 foot canoe as a lot more work to paddle solo, it can be done, just more work. IMO people think they will be mainly doing multiday wilderness trips but end up predominantly doing daytrips, overnighters or weekends instead. Also how keen is your partner on doing this. Is it likely that you'll be going out with your partner for a few years, then they'll come along a little less, then rarely. At that point it'll be you and your son and then he will discover computer games/girls/beer and you'll be paddling solo. If this doesn't happen then one of the 3 of you will decide they want to paddle on their own so you'll need another boat. If you are only doing flat water, and will be pretty loaded, you don't need to go for a high performance boat, any of the prospectors/Old Town discos/Hous etc will do fine. If someone really gets a taste for it then they will want a new boat.

Don't overthink the boat choice, it'll drive you mad. Try and get a bit of a bargain and you will probably be able to sell it for almost the same price if it doesn't work out or you want to upgrade. I sold my 1st boat (15') for 100 more than I bought it for and that first boat taught me to canoe and took me down the spey as well as multiple family camping trips (was even 4 up in it at one point...)



Full Member
Apr 20, 2005
Coventry (and up trees)
Another one for a canoe. Kayaks are great for solo and experienced paddlers, but for nervous paddlers, they can be a bit daunting and doubles are are sure fire way to alot of silent treatment. A canoe is stable, cheaper than 3 kayaks, can carry camping kit and are good for relaxed, enjoyable paddling.
We bought a couple of sea kayaks last year, i love them (after several years away from it), but my good lady is more cautious and, with hindsite, i think a canoe would have been a better invesment.
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Jun 29, 2010
Near the fundy
16ft prospector design. Works well for adults and kids and ours works with the dog too. Works on flat water and some reasonable white water depending on skill set. Make would depend on cash and weight. Ours is old town prospector but that fit the intersection of price vs performance that year


Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
Mid Wales
Try and get to somewhere that demos them or allows you to try - there are so many different hull shapes, lengths, widths, and levels of fitting out that it's difficult to recommend one particular boat. It also depends on the 'size' of the people paddling if you'll excuse me getting personal. Two twenty stone blokes in a 15' with a weekends camping gear is going to be hitting the rocks more than advisable. Although, in theory, it's the hull displacement not the canoe length that determines the load.

I don't know where in Lancashire you are but Apache canoes are on the Wirral and frequently run demo days at various locations where you can try out the different sizes and materials. They are also a very friendly company that are happy to offer advice even if you're not buying. I bought a second hand Apache 15' and the company has been fantastic in answering questions about how to fit it out.


Jul 16, 2008
Sutton Coldfield
I too have an Apache canoe (14ft) and agree with Brock about how friendly they are. Stu answered any questions/queries I had whilst I was assembling mine (bought in kit form) and Mark has been on a couple of the same paddles as me and is also a lovely bloke.
If they are close enough go see them and try some out.


Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
McBride, BC
Canoe. Practical for loads. 16' max. Work boats in my youth (Chestnut 21' freighters are 5' wide).
Upside down on shore, the 16' has the makings of a very nice overnight shelter with a big tarp.

Your Apache Classic looks inviting.
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Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
For a family a 4 seat Canadian canoe is the right choice.

It's made for transportation of luggage. On flat water you can easily transport them all. It doesn't matter if they are paddling or sleeping...


Jun 29, 2014
I was in exactly the same position as you a few months back.

I got the white water thing out of my system when I was younger, so it made sense to get something the family (2 + 1/2) could use for fun, picnics and the odd overnighter on easy waters.

We ended up buying a 16 ft Nova Craft Pal open canoe, for the following reasons- it was about the right size, seemed to be suitable for our purposes, was not too heavy and came up at the right time and at the right price.

Do not underestimate the importance of weight. If you are going to struggle getting a canoe on and off the car/river/lake you will be limited how, when and where you can use it. Best if it is something you can handle on your own, particularly if you plan to go with just your youngster for company.

Our canoe is 29kg (manufacturers figures say less - dont trust them) and I would not want anything heavier. I can just about handle it on my own, I hope it will get easier with practice and the correct techniques. Neither my wife or my 12 yr old daughter are happy about having to carry one end of the canoe for any distance, even when it is empty. I have to take this into account when planning a trip.

We have done day trips and I have done over night camps with just my daughter, both without portages. These were great fun. I wouldnt attempt multi day trips or long trips with portages without some serious planning and a bit more experience.

I dont think you can go too far wrong with a 15/16 ft open canoe - just make sure you can lift it :)


Bushcrafter through and through
Nov 29, 2003
Neither my wife or my 12 yr old daughter are happy about having to carry one end of the canoe for any distance, even when it is empty. I have to take this into account when planning a trip.

Have you got a set of wheels for it? It's what my friend does with his then they go in the boat when we're on the water. He moves it about on his own and even would throw my old heavy SUP on top to save me carrying it.
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Feb 10, 2016
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Grumman Aluminium canoes are great to carry.
Was much lighter than the Coleman we bought after the Grumman was nicked.

Another plus was that is was fast. Nothing is more tiring and boring than a slow canoe.
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Oct 31, 2015
I have a novacraft prospector 16 in tuffstuff expedition, in my opinion it’s closest to the original prospector design and goes well on flat water, slow moving water and can handle grade 3 rapids with a good crew.
If using solo, bear in mind that paddling solo in windy conditions causes problems when going towards the wind, in bigger canoes, the secret is to sit more to the front (just past the middle towards the front doing the J stroke) to go forward, or load more weight in the front, some folk say big canoes are hard solo, I say knowledge is power
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Full Member
Jan 12, 2015
Paul_B did you find the sort of thing you were after?? I'm having to give up paddling due to past injuries and I have some boats that may fit your bill. I also have some extra gear that may work, but happy to discuss what you are looking for if you are still considering it. If you have things sorted then no worries, it would just be nice to know my boat will continue to do some good.


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Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
Oh, I should have posted. We had a rethink about it. We are in the middle of converting a van and with it being a swb and the fact we're putting a pop top roof in there's no practical way to transport a canoe or kayak. The van isn't long enough inside to carry it there.

As much as I want to take our son canoeing it's a bit difficult once we sell our car in a few months time.

In the future a suppose a trailer might work out but we're not going to have the cash for many extras after converting the van.

I know the feeling of wanting your boats to go to someone who'll appreciate them. I've got two old kayaks that are not worth much but gave me so many wonderful experiences and led to much feelings if camaraderie with kayaking mates. Imho whitewater kayaking results in a very high level of trust with the people you paddle with regularly. It's like climbing and other adventures sports. Friendships are amazing and ther things you see/ experience too.

Those kayaks I'm no longer using have stories attached to them. The dent in one part, the two welded cracks on the bottom or the big gouged on the side (a steep creek without enough water resulting in a pinball effect).

Thanks for your post.

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