Best Solo Canoe – Which Canoe is for You?

A solo canoe, as you probably already know, is a type of canoe with just one seat, designed for solo adventurers out on the sea or on lakes and canals. The canoe will likely have its seat at the very center of the canoe, and of course will be designed to carry the weight of one individual. Many models can be converted to tandem canoes, but in today’s reviews we’re looking at the best for a solo adventurer.

Choosing a solo canoe depends on the activity you want to use it for, as well as your own preferences and of course your build. There are a ton of water sports and activities which can involve a canoe, and this means different models are made with different uses in mind. You may well need a solo canoe for short trip, cruising, fishing, sport, and in many different water settings such as on a lake or river, from open calm lakes to whitewaters with choppy conditions. 

So, what makes a good Canoe? We’ve got a few different criteria for trying to decide the very best:

  • Durability. This almost goes without saying, you need something that is not going to get scuffed, scratched and even broken easily. Modern technology and materials mean that canoes can be tougher than ever.
  • Portable. Is it easily portable and relatively lightweight? Nobody wants to feel like they’re lugging a ferry out with them, a canoe should retain some flexibility and portability in spite of being durable and hard-wearing.
  • Speed. Not always top priority, but for some of us, a canoe that will cut through the water and help us travel at a fair speed will be a big plus point.
  • Comfort. Trust us, you’re going to want something that doesn’t get too sore after a long day sitting in it.
  • Storage. So many of the uses for a canoe, fishing or otherwise, require some sort of storage, which is something most of the models of solo canoe have on offer. Storage means how much weight they can carry as well as space. Nobody wants their cargo to sink the canoe!

We’ve explored some of the top options in the world of canoeing, which work perfectly for just one person. Canoes, as with a lot of different water sports equipment, are not cheap! It is well worth doing a bit of research up front to make sure that you are happy with the decision you make.

The following solo canoe reviews are based on our own experiences, and those of other consumers who have purchased the canoes and shared opinions.

The Grumman 12’9” Solo Canoe:

This is one of the best solo canoes that are very easy to control and it glides across the water with ease using a solitary or dual bladed paddle. It weighs under 50 lbs, but in spite of this it boasts a large carrying capacity of over 500 lbs, meaning it is a great choice for those who will be carrying equipment around with them (if you’re looking for a solo fishing canoe, this could be your answer). This canoe is described by the manufacturer as being as strong as nails, and it is hard to disagree. The clever craftsmanship and aluminum design mean that it remains tough whilst still being fast and maneuvrable. It is much lighter than many high capacity kayaks, at 48lbs. Though it is certainly not one of the cheapest canoes you will come across, it is worth your consideration. A quick look at other reviews of the Grumman will show how happy most of those who purchase are with their decision. Well worth the money if you have the budget.

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Discovery 119 Solo Canoe:

Into the realms of affordability now. This particular solo canoe is efficient, lightweight and constructed for years of use, even coming with a guarantee. It has a rigid design as well as comfy, long-lasting nylon seats. It is made for solo use and is suitable for use with a doubled blade paddle. It weighs around 49 lbs and reports of even large fishermen and canoe enthusiasts using it with no worries at all, so sturdiness is not a concern. For comfort, ease of use and value for money the Discovery 119 scores very highly and is worthy of recommendation.

The Classic Hornbeck:

Hornbeck are a manufacturer whose boats and canoes tend to be mostly used for fishing and birding. Their 12′ solo canoe is very responsive and quick, and feels slick when you are paddling. Although being described as a solo canoe here, this model can be used as a tandem and extra foam seats and backrest mean it can quickly be converted to a tandem canoe. One of the speediest canoes we’ve looked at. These are custom made, and don’t be shocked to see the price quickly mounting, these are certainly more of an expensive model of canoe, and are great for more advanced users, rather than beginners.

Wenonah Canak

The Wenonah Canak is really interesting, and has been described as a cross between kayak and canoe (hence being called a Canak). It has a large capacity and still offers portability and ease of use. It is one of the fastest of all canoes currently on the market and is designed to withstand heavy equipment and lots of cargo, as well as choppy weather conditions! It has slip on covers which keep the water out, so it comes with convenient dry storage, always good for those long days on the water and making it a great choice for campers who need to keep a lot dry.


The fact is that in spite of our guide, this isn’t going to be the easiest decision to make. The difference between the cheapest solo canoe and the most expensive is absolutely huge, and you need something to fit your budget as well as offer all the features you need. Inevitably, the kayak vs canoe debate is bound to come up, as people look at a kayak or inflatable kayak as an alternative. If you want portability, this could be wise, but if it is stability you’re looking for, canoes are hard to beat, especially if carrying cargo. Evaluating which features you need can go a long way to deciding what is the appropriate canoe for you!