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Home > Magazine > River > Light or Heavy: Best Canoe for Long Day Trip?

Light or Heavy: Best Canoe for Long Day Trip?
May 02, 2012

I'm wondering about what's a good canoe for a long day paddle.

Say you want to paddle 30-50 miles in a day.

With a pretty long lightweight canoe you'd be tempted to paddle with a faster stroke-rate and a bit more 'pop'. Such a boat would be fast. And it would glide an "x" amount per stroke.

Now consider a bit longer of a boat. And make it weigh a fair bit more, too. Then slow down the stroke rate. Sure, the boat would go slower. But would it carry farther? ...Don't hit each stroke very hard because it's hard to accelerate a heavy boat. Just keep it moving.

Say we're in moderately deep water.

Which boat is easier on you?

The lighter one would probably see you off the water sooner. But is that the whole equation?

With the longer, heavier boat maybe you can cut your stroke rate in half and use half as much 'umph' per stroke -- and still get good glide. So you're on the water a couple hours longer.

...Maybe the upshot would be that you're still LESS TIRED.

OK, maybe you'll have less joint stress, but maybe it's a simple matter of physics that you will have worked MORE. Or, who knows. If you finished in the same time, you'd definitely work more with the heavier boat. But because we're cool with some extra paddle-time AND because we're not accelerating the boat as much/often, due to the nice glide, MAYBE you work less?

Oh, here's maybe a big factor: how do Solo boats compare to Tandem? Adding another paddler just might be a game-changer. Momentum might not be a huge factor when Solo but it definitely is with Tandem. (Also true for bikers?) Your mass increases a LOT. Boat mass is less of a % of overall mass. Power doubles...

Wondering...

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