An Excellent Canoe for your Kit

Hector Santana
5 min readJul 28, 2023

With this heat, taking to the water is an excellent way to cool off and relax. I take my canoe and kayak to the lakes in Harriman, NY and in the Adirondacks. It's a lot of fun and my kids love it too. But what makes for a good canoe? Eh, it depends on who you ask.

Old Town is one of the best all-around canoes you can buy for the money.

But good canoes are not hard to come by since there are plenty of companies producing them. Great canoes are another matter. The best canoes are often handmade out of wood and are very expensive. Those canoes are like heirlooms that you pass on to your children. They require much more maintenance than plastic canoes and are often seen on high income lakefront properties.

Wooden canoes are also great because they have natural buoyancy attributed to their wood materials. They are carefully crafted by hand and come in any color or stain you want making them a beautiful addition to your outdoor kit. The average wood canoe comes in at about $4,000 but can go as high as $10,000 depending on materials and size. If you are in the market for that kind of canoe do your homework before you buy. Check out reviews and if possible, visit the builder so you can see the materials you may want for your canoe. Red cedar, cherry and ash are popular woods for building your canoe. Pay close attention to color as your choices may affect resale value if you ever decide to sell. Although few canoe connoisseurs would sell their custom canoes, just saying...

A canoe builder at Northwoods Canoes in Maine drills a hole on a custom-made canoe.

If you are like the rest of us, intent on making use of a more modest canoe you can look to several canoe companies that offer canoes in the $700 to $1800 price range. Certainly, more in line with recreational canoes in today's market. Most of those canoes are made of polyethylene plastic, thermoform, or fiberglass. All of these materials are rugged with polyethylene being the most durable. Whitewater kayaks are made of this stuff. Of course, you will have a choice between solo or tandem canoes, but for this article lets focus on tandem because most folks want company when they go canoeing.

Old Town has produced some of the best all-around canoes in the industry. Producing them in Maine since 1898, this company has the experience to put out a superior product, and they do. The Discovery models have made a lasting impression because they are affordable and extremely durable. This canoe is often seen in rivers, lakes and streams all over the world. The Old Town brand is well known to campers and river keepers all over America. They come with strong performances across the spectrum of outdoor activity. The Saranac Tandem canoe is a great performer and has taken me across many lakes and rivers in the New York region. These things are commonly found at camp stores like REI and Dicks Sporting Goods. They are known to sell for between $700 and $1200, depending on the model and color.

The Chestnut Prospector by Nova Craft Canoe is another all-around canoe that’s best in class. It’s durability and performance make it a first choice for the experienced and inexperienced canoe enthusiast alike. Its quality construction and attention to detail make this canoe a first-rate choice for your water excursions. At $1800 it is at the top of our price range, but truth be told, this thing outperforms other more expensive canoes. It can take a beating and still do its job, which is more than I can say for some of the others. Take a look at one and you be the judge. But where the hell will I store this thing?

The Chestnut Prospector is a workhorse of a canoe.

For those with space issues the Sea Eagle Inflatables company produces a line of inflatable canoes that get you out on the water for a great price. These canoes offer more options in terms of storage and versatility in terms of transporting your canoe without the hassles of tie-downs and straps outside of your car. At $2000, it is over the budget we allotted, but it is a great option to the more rigid models that require more space and handling. If you are limited on space this option will work for you.

This Sea Eagle Inflatables kayak is a great choice for those with limited storage space.

The Mad River Adventure 14 and 16 is another great canoe at an affordable price point. At $1200–$1400, it more than pays for itself over the years that you will own it. It is a favorite of paddling outfits all over the world and is very durable just like the Old Town and Chestnut Prospector. Yes, it only comes in two colors, my favorite is the red one. Not many choices but still, you will not be disappointed if you chose to go with a Mad River canoe for your excursion.

The Mad River Canoe Adventure Series is a great canoe at a great price. Photo: Patch

Of course, there are other canoes to consider but the overall consensus is that these canoes offer you the reliability and durability that will keep you on the water for years to come. Remember, proper care for your canoe is the best way to keep it going for decades. In other words, take care of your canoe and it will take care of you. Don’t know how to do that, look at the owner's manual or google canoe care for your model on the net. Whatever the case, if you feel the need to get on the water these canoes will ensure that you do it reliably and safely. So, get out there and have some fun and remember to stay frosty. Safe trails out there.

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Hector Santana

*Top Writer-Camping and Survival. I love to write about the great outdoors, survival and foreign policy. An avid outdoorsman and survival instructor.