OUTDOORS

Best Solo Canoe: A Review of 6 Great Solo Kayaks

Couple with kayaks
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

There are few ways that put you in tune with Mother Nature as much as canoeing. Allowing yourself to float adrift with only a paddle and the ebb and flow of a river to guide you while taking in the beauty of natural flora and fauna or while fishing is an unparalleled experience.

Once you’ve learned the ropes, arguably the best way to enjoy this activity is to go at it alone. To get the most out of your canoeing, you will want the best solo canoe.

Now, before making any haphazard purchase, it’s important to figure out what you want in a solo canoe. After all, it’s not just the quality of the experience that will vary with the canoe you use, your safety and potentially your life is going to be riding on that canoe.Here are a few of the considerations you will want to make as you decide on a solo canoe.

Figuring out solo canoes

Stability

One of the key features that you will want to check in a canoe is stability. The level of stability you will want to have in a canoe will usually correlate to your skill level. While stability is generally a good thing, the reason why you might want a less stable canoe is that it usually comes with a tradeoff.

kayak filled with stuff on a beach

Higher stability tends to come with a larger hull size. Wider canoes will have greater stability than those that are narrower.

The Bottom

Flat bottom canoes will immediately feel more stable. These types of canoes have great primary stability. They are easier to mount and will tend to rock less. However, it’s important to note that despite these traits, this can tip over. When it does it is very difficult to recover. Flat bottom canoes are also more susceptible to wind and wave.

On the other hand, rounded bottoms are very tippy. These will be difficult for newbies to the sport. However, they are very responsive. Also, despite the unstable feeling they provide, it is not that easy to tip one over. Try to do so intentionally and you will find that the canoe resists, this is a show of a canoe’s secondary stability.

Finding the right balance in terms of flat or roundness of your canoe’s bottom should greatly play into your choice.

Orange kayak on a beach

Weight

As with most other purchases, weight is a concern for canoeing. When thinking about weight, ease of transport is the top of mind. How easy or difficult it will be to load your canoe onto a truck is a legitimate concern. Canoes can be as light as 20lbs and as heavy as 100+lbs. The weight is largely contingent on the material construction.

You might think that a lighter canoe is automatically better, it isn’t. Lighter canoes will have less inertia when you paddle. Heavier canoes do not have this problem. Also, heavier canoes will be able to better cut through the water. Too heavy and the canoe may become unwieldy.

Maneuverability

You will want a canoe that maneuvers well especially if you find yourself going on rapids or winding streams. The ability to turn at a whim is also very handy should you find yourself going quickly towards a log or rock.

kayaks lined up on a beach

Note that shorter canoes tend to maneuver better. This is because there is less resistance to the change in direction you wish to apply. 14-15 feet is ideal for canoes that are going to be used in environments that require maneuverability.

You will also want a bit of a rocker. Canoes that have rounded bottoms and sides will feel less stable but are very much ideal for quick turns.

orange kayak with water reflection

Speed

Aside from the how fast you can get from point A to B, speed for canoes also measures the efficiency of every stroke. Faster canoes will get you farther for every stroke of the paddle.

Longer canoes are better for speed. Though this may come at the expense of maneuverability as there is more canoe to resist changes in direction. Longer canoes also have the added benefit of being able to carry more stuff.

The canoe’s width is also a factor to speed. Narrower and pointy canoes tend to be faster as there is less resistance as the canoe moves through the water.

Windage or height of a canoe is also a factor to speed. The higher portions of the canoe will resist the air and can provide added resistance if you are paddling against the wind. Though higher canoes are good for rapids as they are better suited to keeping water out.

kayak going fast

The shape of the sides of a canoe is also a factor influencing speed. Canoes that have straight sides are easier to paddle as you won’t have to extend very far to paddle. Canoes with a tumblehome (slightly bulkier curved sides) will require a paddler to reach further, this makes it a bit more difficult and can lessen speed.

Capacity

The capacity of a canoe factors in greatly if you have a heavy pack or are intending to do some fishing while you kayak, the boat’s capacity definitely comes into consideration. When fishing you will have to consider the weight of your gear and the catches you will make.

In addition to the canoe’s capacity (which is usually clearly stated early on), you will have to learn to compensate for the change in the way your kayak handles when it is fully loaded.

Those are only a few of the considerations you will want to make when figuring out which canoe is for you. That being said, we’ve assembled a few best sellers from Amazon to help you choose which one is right for you.

Reviews

Hobie Mirage Outback Kayak – 2018Hobie Mirage Outback Kayak – 2018

Length: 12ft 1 in

Width: 33 in

Height: 15 in

Capacity: 400lbs

Weight: 99lbs

Construction: Rotomodel Polyethylene

Description: The Hobie Mirage Outback is a balanced canoe that offers a complete package.  It provides a well-rounded experience with great levels of speed, maneuverability, comfort, and stability.

The Mirage comes with a Vantage CT seat that is very comfortable, a factor that shouldn’t be understated in your decision-making process if you intend to spend long hours over the water or if you have back issues. The seat provides an airy mesh and adjustable lumbar support too.

In terms of stability, the Mirage doesn’t disappoint. At 33 inches wide it is a highly stable canoe. A definite necessity if you intend to do some angling while out in the water. Though it may seem to be a bit tippy, it holds its own even if you have to stand on the canoe.

With regard to its speed and maneuverability, the Mirage Outback 2018 isn’t the best out there. Considering its shorter length the Mirage Outback isn’t the fastest canoe. But it isn’t a slouch either. The drive can easily get you on a 3.5-3.75mph speed without breaking a sweat. In terms of maneuverability, the canoe was engineered to take sharp turns without much issue. However, turn too fast and you may feel a tad bit uneasy.

The Hobie Mirage Outback delivers a solid all-around performance great for anyone looking for ways to enjoy the outdoors. If you’re in the market for a canoe for use while fishing it is definitely worth considering.

Check the price on Amazon

FeelFree Lure 11.5 Kayak w/ Sonar and Electronic PodFeelFree Lure 11.5 Kayak wSonar and Electronic Pod

Length: 11ft & 6 in

Width: 36 in

Weight: 74 lbs

Capacity: 425 lbs

Description: If the name doesn’t give it away, the FeelFree 11.5 Kayak is a kayak built specifically for anglers.  At just 6 inches under 12 ft in length, it is quite short. Speed is also not its strong point. But if your purpose on the water is a good day’s worth of fishing, speed isn’t going to be a primary concern.

The 36-inch wide hull provides a great deal of stability which is essential for anything you intend to use it for fishing, it provides a stable base for whether standing or sitting.

In terms of seating, the FeelFree doesn’t disappoint. Its Gravity Seat provides a highly adjustable height, up to 10 inches off the deck, allowing you to transition from rowing to fishing with ease. This allows you to remain seated while maintaining a good view of the surrounding area. The seat’s fabric is made of microfilament that provides great breathability and quick drying.

The relatively smaller dimensions and lighter weight make it easier to transport, this makes it easier to haul the kayak around as the need arises. It also comes with a Wheel in its keel. This makes transporting the kayak, especially through some rougher ground a breeze.

The console on the 11.5 provides a space for installation of fishfinders. Pretty much a must if you use this modern bit of gear to aid your fishing. When the console is removed, you will find a water-direct cavity for your fishfinder’s transponder. The wire ports are waterproof and allow for easy removable for quick storage.

Check the price on Amazon

2016 Old Town Angler Predator MX2016 Old Town Angler Predator MX

Length: 12 ft

Width: 34 in

Weight: 82 lbs

Max Load: 400lbs

Description: The Old Town Angler Predator  is a strong fishing canoe built for moving water conditions. The Predator MX’s shorter construction strongly suits it to freshwater fishing.

However, it is able to handle its own even in saltwater. Though it might not be a good idea to do long distance paddling at sea with it as its smaller size might leave you vulnerable to the sea’s tantrums. The Predator MX, being built for freshwater fishing is very maneuverable.  Tight turns around obstacles are no problem at all.

In terms of comfort, the Predator MX doesn’t disappoint as well. The Element seat is highly stable and very much comfortable. This is definitely a must if you intend to be out fishing for hours on end. The seat can be folded away for even more space while fishing. When the seat is folded up, your feet are on Old Town’s Exo-Ridge surface, which is a highly non-slip surface with scupper holes that will drain water that accumulates on the kayak.

One of its strongest points, however, is deck space. The Angler Predator MX does not have a center hatch. This provides anglers with ample space to work with. It can be used for catch and release setups that require quite a bit of working room to be able to quickly unhook any caught fish. It is also built with high gunwales to help in keeping fish from escaping.

The hull comes with a lifetime warranty. Definitely great for the added peace of mind it provides.

Check the price on Amazon

Ocean Kayak Tetra 10 Kayak – Sit-On-TopOcean Kayak Tetra 10 Kayak - Sit-On-Top

Length: 10ft & 8in

Width:  29 inches

Capacity: 275lbs

Weight:  51 lbs

Description: The Ocean Kayak Tetra 10 is a great lightweight saltwater kayak great for paddlers who want to enjoy the sea. Despite its name the Ocean Kayak Tetra 10 handles freshwater well enough. Its smaller dimensions allow it a degree of nimbleness that is difficult to accomplish for larger kayaks.

It features a straight profile hull. The lack of a rocker allows it to take on long tracking distances without much issue, great for long-distance straight paddling. Hull lines further enhance its tracking and provide a degree of stability in choppy waters. The overall construction of the kayak you to cover long distances at efficient rates. The construction should give it a bit of a disadvantage in handling tight turns, but the light weight helps compensate allowing for relatively easy changes in direction.

It is also quite comfortable as well. Its comfortable padded seat has a lot of cushioning and will dry quickly. The Support Track System makes use of two-foot pedals that are adjustable, accommodating various leg lengths. Its rear tank well provides sufficient storage for a dry bag and bungee cord webbing for your gear. Paddle keeper bungee on the sides will allow you to secure your paddles when you decide to take a breather or take photos of your trip.

Check the price on Amazon

Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14 KayakHobie Mirage Pro Angler 14 Kayak

Length: 13ft & 8in

Width: 38in

Height: 20in

Weight: 120.5lbs

Capacity: 600lbs

Description: The Hobie Mirage Pro Angler is a monster of an angling kayak. At its almost 14 ft length, it is among the taller of the angling kayaks. This length provides it the added benefit of speed. The mirage drive and glide technology of its pedal drive provide a decent level of speed without the need to use your hands to paddle. This makes it great for changing locations while working with your hands.

Its 38-inch diameter provides it with a high level of stability that will allow an angler sufficient balance to haul in bigger catches. It’s very easy on the water. Standing on the Mirage Pro Angler is no problem at all.

In terms of comfort, the kayak comes with Hobie’s Vantage Seating System. This allows a paddler to easily change the height of his or her seating position allowing for an optimal seated view of the surrounding area and any movement in the water. The seat is also very comfortable with generous cushioning and the breathable, quick-dry fabric.

An added benefit to anglers provided by the Mirage Pro Angler is the presence of multiple storage options. 4 rods can be stored horizontally and 2 rods can be stored vertically over in the rod holders. It comes with fishing rod storage, tackle storage options. You can also easily install a fish finder as sufficient space is allotted for it.

This is definitely a top of mind kayak for anglers.

Check the price on Amazon

Pelican Premium Kayak Strike 100X Angler Inflatable RaftPelican Premium Kayak Strike 100X Angler Inflatable Raft

Length: 10ft

Width: 30.5 inches

Weight: 53lbs

Capacity: 325lbs

Description: The Pelican Premium Kayak Strike is a mid-cost kayak that functions well as a fishing option. Pelican specifically built and marketed the Kayak Strike as an easy to use canoe for anglers and in that regard, it does not disappoint.

It comes with three rod holders that can accommodate fishing rods with a variety of grips. The kayak also provides ample space for a tackle and other gear. The adjustable foot paddles allow adjustments for varying space requirements of different body types.

In terms of handling, the Premium Kayak Strike can maneuver quite comfortably. It is fairly flat bottomed so it will feel fairly stable. It also manages to track a straight path through water fairly well. This tracking capability is greatly hampered by susceptibility to wind. So be wary.

In terms of efficiency and speed, it handles pretty well. It’s possible to cover large areas of water with relative ease on the Kayak Strike.

Pelican has also placed a limited lifetime warranty on the hull. Something that’s definitely worth a second look.

In terms of delivering a holistic cost-effective package, the Pelican Premium Kayak Strike delivers a good bang for your buck.

Check the price on Amazon

Paddle up!

Finally picking out a solo canoe isn’t that incredibly difficult. To narrow your choice down to the right one, you just need to consider your budget, needs, and intended use and you won’t go wrong. To get a better feel of the canoes before purchasing, you might want to test them out if you have a nearby outdoor sports shop.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.