Paddlers - boat advice

Hi, I’m new here, and despite having just won a round of Mornington Crescent, I don’t seem to be able to post in the non-cadet activity section, so I’ll ask here.

I’d love some advice on canoes - specifically 2 person, beginnery, that might one day maybe be able to take a dog or 2, for river (not a fast river, but quite shallow in parts) use. and I’d consider second hand… Where do you go for your boats??? and what extras would I need??? any other considerations? Advice would really be appreciated!

My biggest piece of advice is to join a local club and don’t buy anything till you have got some experience. A club will loan you gear and you will normally be able to have a go of other peoples boats when you are out. Only then get the credit card/cash out to purchase something.

I have seen it all too often of people buying paddling gear/boats when they start which in the end, either isn’t suitable or they find out they like a different paddling discipline… and i really mean all the time.

Its very much the wrong time of year as a beginner to go out by yourself without the proper kit and skills. Wait until clubs start opening and then go from there.


Surely not THE James_Blonde?

I bought my boat of a Facebook group, I can’t remember which but it was a good deal. I’d recommend that unless you’ve got money to burn.

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Largely agree with the above - try before you buy - however you can’t go too far wrong with a Prospector (Novacraft / Wenonah / Venture) type design for the kind of stuff you are talking about and they are quite capable of doing harder stuff as well as you progress.

One of the biggest points to choose from will be length - I’d suggest 15ft is absolutely fine for multi-uses. I’ve had 2 people and 4 days worth of gear in my 15ft boat comfortably. 16ft can be harder to control in the wind if paddling solo, and 14ft will be super nimble for solo use but too squished as soon as you want to do a multi day with another person.

Consider the materials they are made from too and how you are going to be getting it on / off your vehicle. Something like the Novacraft Prospector in SP3 is super heavy and difficult to car top on your own, whereas a second hand Royalex boat might cost you a packet (if you can find one) but will be much lighter and more robust on the river.

In terms of additional things - budget for buoyancy. Add bags or foam blocks to the bow & stern of the boat to make it easier to rescue should you capsize. Obvs, buoyancy aid etc.

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What i was thinking


Problem is , as far as I can see, there isn’t a local club :frowning: So trying / borrowing isn’t going to be easy. There is a local chap who does trips, and I think instructs, who I have half approached and probably would use, but it just doesn’t seem to be a thing here oddly, given the rather nice river on our doorstep!

Oh, don’t worry, I’m pretty sure I’d be a fair weather paddler! :smiley: I’m just prepping for the few days of summer I’m sure we’ll get in April. But you are right Intruder, which is why I was keen to consider used… but I am EXACTLY the person you describe! :smiling_imp: :joy:

I guess I’d just assumed they jumped from 14ft to 16ft - 16ft had been suggested, but will look for 15ft too then! It’s a good point about getting it on and off the vehicle - whilst I’d considered the car carrying it and the fact I’d need to get a roof rack, I hadn’t thought about how to get it on top of a landie! good point, well made! And solo paddling is, in my head at least, going to be more likely than 2 in the boat.

Redowling, have seen some with buoyancy already installed, wasn’t sure whether it was considered a must have or an optional, and whether having it pre-installed was more or less cost effective…? dry storage was the other thing I wondered about - I’m seeing me taking lots of expensive camera gear that I suspect wouldn’t like getting wet…

And pEp / AlexCorbin, You mean there are more James Blonde’s that are proven winners at Mornington Crescent and use excessive smileys and punctuation??? :hear_no_evil:


You need buoyancy in it, whether you get that pre-fitted (some shops will do it for extra) or you do it yourself (there are some good YouTube tutorials on it).

Buoyancy is more for when you capsize, any space with buoyancy blocks or airbags means it isn’t a space with water, and the associated weight. That makes it easier to rescue, and therefore safer for you and other you’re with.

I have a Silverbirch Broadland 15HL. I paid about £1k for it, but got 2 paddles and 2 PFDs thrown in, so not bad. It had a kneeling thwart and airbags alright, with lacing, but it needs some work that I’ll get around to one day maybe.

No dry bags are truly dry, so you need a combination. you can get some good barrels that work for expediting trips that you can then put a dry bag inside, with a dry bag inside that too and you’ll keep the worst of it out. Lomo do some good dry boxes and bags for reasonable prices up in Scotland and I think they’re great (as anyone who has seen me on the water will know…)

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I’d say it is. If you fall in, buoyancy will enable someone else to rescue your boat easier, or for you to self-rescue and bail/paddle to the side. Canoes fill with huge amounts of water and forces generated can be massive - buoyancy serves to try and reduce those as much as possible.

I suspect having it pre-installed is probably more cost effective, but it’s not hard to do yourself if you need to.

If you want something that is absolutely guaranteed to keep your camera dry then a Watershed bag is one of the few answers to this question - but they are pricey. A cheaper option is to double up on your roll-top drybags, but that may let a tiny bit in if submersed for a while.

All manufacturers seems to have slightly random lengths - do your research on models on their website and check the exact specs, but there are 15ft models available and they are a good compromise.

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I prefer air bags for buoyancy. And it’s one of those things where the benefit of paying more really pays off. The Palm and Endless River bags are cheap, and don’t last. I get mine from Tribal Bags on Facebook and they are amazing quality.

In terms of boats, you can’t go wrong with any form of prospector for two people, and still be able to paddle it solo. I picked up my Nova Craft for about £800 in Royalex with one scratch which cost me about £35 to fix.

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And also, in anything but perfect conditions, open boat paddling is much harder than it looks! If you haven’t already, go and do at least an intro course (old 2* level), either with a local instructor, through a local-ish club (would be worth travelling to do one), or at NACATC

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If solo is going to be your thing, then get yourself a kneeling thwart as well.


And a Tilley hat.


Just make sure those socks under your sandles are daz white when you wear the Tilley hat.

Without giving too much away, where in the uk are you based? There are a good number of kayakers/canoeists and instructors on this forum from all different parts of the UK who may be able to point you in the right direction.


I’d also say don’t be tempted by a Grumman just because of the name. Having paddled one, they’re cold, noisy, and uncomfortable (they are relatively light - but I don’t think this outweighs the negatives)



Hou make OK boats but they aren’t very arched. Any sort of moving water will flood you and you’ll sink.

Venture make good boats and I like the shape of them, good for the price too.

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If you are going to buy a venture, you may as well buy new. They seem to hold there value incredibly well and I’ve seen some utterly battered ones going for still significant chunks of money.


They do seem pretty bomb proof, which is why we bought them for cadet use.

They are quite heavy though, but we have 16s which does obviously contribute.

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Whilst they can be cold in 3/4 of the UK weather, they can also be incredibly and painfully hot in even the slightest amount of sunshine!!!

I once cooked an egg on one. Just coz.


Not trying to be funny, but how can an open boat not be cold, noisy or uncomfortable…??? I clearly have much to learn…! Venture do seem to be the ones cropping up, and you know, and orange or blue canoe could be appealing!

OK, we might have to draw a line at Tilley hats. I’ve moved on to Akubra, or Barmah at a push. It might not float, but they don’t vanish into thin air like Tilley’s do, and they’ve got rigid or wired peaks. Call me old fashioned, but I like a good rigid peak!

Without giving too much away, i’m in the upper Tweed valley, in the Scottish Borders, just off the A72 / A703. So moving but not what I’d call fast water. A few good lochs nearby too.

Because they are made of aluminium. So all boats can be cold or uncomfortable, they won’t all be noisy though (and arguably shouldn’t be if you’re doing it right) :wink:

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