Although canoeing can be an exciting, adventurous, and relaxing experience, it can be a pain transporting a canoe around to different lakes and vacation spots. There is, of course, a solution to this problem; finding a canoe that will be easy to transport.
- Grumman 129 Solo
- Wenonah Argosy
- Old Town Discovery 119
- Old Town NEXT
- Old Town Discovery 133
- Nova Craft Trapper 12
- Golden Hawk 10′ Traditional
- American Traders Princess Solo
- Placid Boatworks Spitfire
There’s a lot of factors that make a canoe easy to transport and even many things you can do to help with transport ease. Picking the right canoe can make the entire trip more worthwhile.
The 9 Best Small Canoes
|Grumman 129 Solo||12.9 ft||2||50 lbs||4.6/5|
|Wenonah Argosy||14.6 ft||1||46 lbs||4.3/5|
|Old Town Discovery 119||11.9 ft||1||49 lbs||4.2/5|
|Old Town Next||13 ft||2||59 lbs||4.2/5|
|Old Town Discovery 133||13.3 ft||2||78 lbs||4.3/5|
|Nova Craft Trapper 12||12 ft||2||29 lbs||4.5/5|
|Golden Hawk 10′ Traditional||10 ft||1||45 lbs||5/5|
|American Traders |
|11.9 ft||2||37 lbs||4.4/5|
|Placid Boatworks Spitfire||12 ft||1||18 lbs||4.8/5|
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1. Grumman – 129 Solo
Grumman canoes are usually made from aluminum and the 129 Solo is no exception. Because the 129 Solo is a short and narrow canoe it is easier to maneuver, on land and on water.
This canoe is great for first-time canoers and professionals alike. This canoe works well on calm lakes and busy streams. The Grumman 129 solo has a main beam than improves stability and reduces wind resistance. Because of this, the ride as smooth as can be.
The 129 Solo also comes with the option to choose between shallow or standard keels. Basically, this determines how well your canoe does in flat water and whitewater, respectively. The 129 has a rigid shell, a shallow arch, and tumblehome sides.
|2.4 feet||545 lbs||$ 1,160|
While this canoe is simply one of the best canoes that you can get if you are in the market for an easily transportable and small craft, there are some downsides. It can be a bit pricey. This is because it is high-quality and made out of aluminum. They can also be a little bit tricky to find.
2. Wenonah – Argosy
The Wenonah Argosy is made mainly from fiberglass composites. It is intended for solo explorations. One of the greatest things about this canoe is that it functions well on both rivers and streams. It’s nimble which enables the canoer to maneuver over cross-currents and eddy lines.
The Argosy also is designed to have added volume and depth, both of which helps this canoe handle rough water. This also means it can even be used for white water rafting! The keel allows for a lot of rockers which helps it to be so maneuverable.
The Argosy has a rigid shell and can also lean well in tight turns which helps keep it from capsizing. This canoe is more for intermediate and advanced canoers but is beautifully made.
You’ll find the craftsmanship is phenomenal! There are options to add premium detail, like wood trim. The Argosy is available in an ultra-lite version as well.
|2.5 feet||370 lbs||$ 2,299|
The downsides are something that are inevitable with a small, well-built canoe. Firstly, this canoe is only meant for one passenger. If you are trying to take a family trip or even a couples float, this is not the canoe for you. Secondly, this canoe is over $2,000. It’s quite the investment for a single rider.
3. Old Town – Discovery 119
The Discovery 119 is made mainly from three-layer Polyethylene. Although this canoe is compact, you’ll find that it is great fun to paddle. It is a tough canoe but is not too heavy.
The Discovery 119 has a shallow arch and straight sides. This makes the canoe agile, stable, and easy to maneuver and transport. It is a great canoe for exploring new territory.
This canoe is best for intermediate and advanced canoers because it can be used for rough waters. It can also be paddled with a regular canoe oar or a double-ended kayak paddle which can help make the canoe move faster.
Old Town is a very well-trusted brand, and this canoe, in particular, is loved by many.
|2.7 feet||500 lbs||$ 700.00|
While this canoe is fantastic, in both quality and price, it’s important to know that it’s not the best option for everyone. If you are a more casual or inexperienced canoer, the Discovery 199 may be too much to handle.
It’s also only meant for one passenger for those who need something slightly bigger.
4. Old Town – Next
The Next canoe is mainly made from three-layer Polyethylene and has been deemed the future of paddling and is made for the “next” generation of paddlers. It’s important to know that this boat is actually considered a canoe/kayak hybrid.
This canoe by Old Town has a flat bottom, tumblehome sides, and has a minimum rocker. What this means is that it helps the canoer paddle more easily while it also creates smoother and straighter tracking.
This canoe is designed for all canoers and can be used on any type of water. It can withstand heavy winds and glides swiftly through rough waters. This canoe can also be paddled with a double ended paddle and a regular canoe oar.
As the video says, it’s a great canoe for fishers as well.
|2.4 feet||450 lbs||$ 1,000|
While this canoe is fantastic, there are some drawbacks. It is not a “true” canoe since it is a hybrid. It might not be the true experience you are looking for. It’s also a bit heavy when compared to some other 13 ft canoes on the market.
5. Old Town – Discovery 133
The Discovery 133 is mainly made from three-layer Polyethylene and is a versatile sporting canoe with a lot of different and unique features. It can be a solo canoe or a tandem.
The Discovery 133 has a shallow arch and straight sides. It offers a variety of specs that creates a stronger, more flexible, and transportable boat. This canoe is different from other small canoes because it can hold a significant amount of weight.
This canoe is best used for fishing, hunting, and recreation. It is also equipped to hold a trolling motor and works well as a photographers workboat because it is created to be a stable boat.
|3.4 feet||800 lbs||$ 1,000|
Because this canoe is able to fit two passengers, it weighs more than the others on this list. This makes it a little harder to transport. Good thing is that if you do have two passengers, there are more people to carry the canoe, right?
6. Nova Craft – Trapper 12
The Trapper 12 is made mainly from Kevlar composites and was originally built in the early 1900s. It was made to paddle through small creeks and large lakes and is also small enough to make it through portage trails.
Not only does this canoe have great stability, but it also has great speed. It offers a lot of space and is good for week-long trips or expeditions. It offers a stable platform while simultaneously working well to travel in small places.
The Trapper 12 has a rigid shell, a shallow arch, and straight side shapes. It’s great for fishing and solo or tandem camping. This canoe is also great for beginners.
Nova Craft designed this canoe to be super light-weight, which makes it a great option for you.
|2.8 feet||490 lbs||$ 2,240|
This canoe does not do very well in the rougher water. So, if you are a thrill seeker, a different canoe on this list may be better for you.
7. Golden Hawk – 10′ Traditional (Smallest Canoe on our List)
The 10′ Traditional canoe is mostly made from fiberglass composites and is great for any canoeing activity. Whether you are wanting to fish, tour, hunt, or simply want to relax, this canoe can do it all.
The 10′ Traditional has a full contour hull which helps keep it stable and has a shallow arch and tumblehome sides, which make it easier to paddle and helps keep it from capsizing.
This canoe is better suited for intermediate and advanced canoers and it’s short length and light weight makes it incredibly easy to maneuver in and out of water.
|3.1 feet||450 lbs||$ 950.00|
It’s hard to find faults in this canoe. Golden Hawk is not as popular of a brand as Old Town or Grumman, so this gives some buyers pause. Additionally, some may find it hard to pay $950 on a canoe meant for one. If you can afford it though, it is worth the investment.
8. American Traders – Princess Solo
The Princess Solo canoe is mostly made from wood and is beautifully made. This canoe can be used on calm waters. Some buyers choose this canoe to hang up rather than use.
The Princess Solo canoe has a rigid shell, a shallow arch, and straight side shapes which creates a deep bow depth. When a canoe has a bow depth like this, it less affected by wind.
Because of the small size of the canoe, it can be paddled with a canoe oar or a double-ended kayak paddle. This canoe is great for beginners and advanced canoers a like.
|2.6 feet||450 lbs||$ 3,400|
Wood canoes like the Princess Solo are more expensive. That’s why this perfect-looking boat has such a large price tag. It is not designed for rough waters.
9. Placid Boatworks – Spitfire
The Spitfire is mainly made from carbon composites and is a seaworthy canoe. It is one of the lightest canoes on the market and is great for weekend solo trips and can be used with a double-ended kayak paddle.
The Spitfire has a rigid shell, a shallow arch, and tumblehome sides. It also comes with a bow rocker and a stern rocker which helps provide it with greater stability.
This canoe is easy enough to maneuver and transport for beginners but also is a great canoe for intermediate paddlers who are working to improve their skill.
|2.2 feet||325 lbs||$ 3,150|
This canoe is expensive, especially for one person. However, if you are a canoeing enthusiast, the Spitfire is a great investment. Just make sure you get your money’s worth.
What Makes a Canoe Easily Transportable
Usually, the two main reasons that a canoe is easily transportable are: the length and weight. The smaller and shorter the canoe, the less heavy it is. When a canoe is smaller, it is easier to pick up, tie down, and transport to wherever one is traveling.
Length and weight are huge determining factors, but they are not the only things. There are other factors that a small canoe has that help make them easier to transport to and from place to place.
Small canoes come with a variety of different designs, and features that help make small canoes so transportable and easy to use.
Length and Weight of Small Canoes
Small canoes usually range from 10 feet to 14 feet. Of course, there are outliers. Some small canoes can be as short as 8 feet to 9 feet. This short length makes them easier to transport because they can easily fit on top of a car or inside a truck.
Usually, long canoes are a pain to attach to the top of the car, and often require more work and even additional precautions have to be taken when driving with a long canoe on top of a car.
Small canoes are also easier to mount and carry as it is moved place to place.
Small canoes usually weigh about 40-50 pounds. Again outliers are possible. Small canoes can weigh anywhere from 20 pounds to 80 pounds. This plays a huge role in how transportable a canoe can be. A canoe that weighs less is easier to lift and maneuver. Small canoes can usually be carried around by one person with ease.
Materials also play a role in the transportability of canoes because it can affect the weight of the canoe. The material a canoe is normally made of not only affects its weight but the stability, durability, and maneuverability of the canoe.
Aluminum – Aluminum canoes were the standards for many decades but as technology has helped develop new materials it has lost its popularity. Aluminum canoes are best for recreational use. They are extremely durable and great for beginners.
Aluminum is lighter than wood but is heavier than most other materials which can make it a pain to transport.
Fiberglass Composite – Fiberglass composite canoes are light, rigid and strong. They are slicker and well made which helps them glide easily and quietly through the water. Boats from this material are also more easily repaired than other canoes.
Fiberglass composites are definitely on the lighter side of canoe materials. This helps with transportation but tends to make the canoe more expensive.
Polyethylene – Polyethylene is usually molded in three layers to help the material remain durable. They can take many hits because of their durability and are the most lightweight canoe material.
Polyethylene can become less rigid and lose their shape quite easily which make them harder to transport.
Kevlar composite – Kevlar composite canoes are made from Kevlar fabric which is also what most bulletproof vests are made from. They are about 20 percent lighter than Fiberglass canoes because the material helps trim off weight.
Kevlar is easy to repair, and is lightweight and is extremely durable which helps with transportation, although they are a little more expensive.
Wood – Wood canoes are beautiful pieces of art but are the heaviest canoe material. They are versatile canoes and have very high-performance records. They have to be maintained regularly and can be a bit fragile.
Because wood canoes are heavier and more expensive they usually aren’t great for transport but of course, there are always outliers.
Carbon composite – Carbon composites and usually mixed with graphite weigh less than Kevlar composites and are a very stiff material. This helps make the canoe faster and makes them very durable.
Although they are not lighter than plastic canoes they are reasonably lightweight which helps with easy transport.
Shape of the Canoe
There are 3 different designs that play a part to determine the shape of a canoe. Structure, Hull Shape, and Side Shape. All three designs play crucial roles in durability, maneuverability, stability, and transportability.
The shape of small canoes has specific requirements, like a rigid structure, a shallow arch hull shape, and tumblehome and straight sides.
Structure: Rigid – Rigid canoes are also known as hard shell canoes and are heavier compared to inflatable canoes and rubber canoes. The hard shell of the canoe creates a more durable boat. It also keeps the boat from being taken with rough winds and rough waters.
Although, inflatable canoes are extremely easy to transport. Because they are able to inflate and deflate they can be stored in the trunk of a car and a bag easily. They are very lightweight and easy to move around. However, are much easier to damage.
Hull Shape: Shallow Arch – The shallow arch is great for imperfect conditions. The shallow arch is great for rough waters, heavy winds, and strong currents. A shallow arch helps the boat track straight as it displaces water.
Hull Shape: Flat Arch – These are the canoes that are best for recreation and family canoers. Flat arch canoes usually provide greater stability and are easier to use because they are wider.
Side Shapes: Tumblehome – Tumblehome sides are made when the gunwales width is less than the width of the canoe.
Tumblehome sides make a canoe easier to paddle because the sides don’t reach out as far over as the gunwales.
Straight Sides – Straight sides are exactly what they are described as. They are straight and vertical from the hull up to the gunnel.
Rockers – Rockers are the curves of the hull in a canoe. It is how the curvature of the hull rises to the bow and the stern. The more rockers the canoe has the more maneuverable it will be.
Carrying handles – Carrying handles are exactly what they seem to be. Some canoes come with carrying handles that are either made into the sides of the canoe or attached to the sides of the canoe.
These handles make it easier to transport a canoe. If your canoe does not come with carrying handles you can buy some for around 10 to 15 dollars and add them yourself.
Gunwales – The gunwales are the section along the top of the canoe from stern to bow where the sides or the strip along the top of the canoe’s sides meet. The right gunwales will make for better transporting because they are easy to grip.
They can come in vinyl, which allows for more flexibility and prevents being damaged by hits. While they are less expensive than other Gunwales, they do add weight to the boat which can make the canoe a little harder to transport.
Gunwales also come in aluminum. These are usually standard because they are the lightest option. It helps shave off a lot of weight from the canoe and are usually maintenance free and long lasting.
Oar Locks – Oar locks can usually be clamped on to the sides of a canoe. They are inexpensive and can be bought online. Oar locks are able to hold oars in place while transporting a canoe and out on the water. Their price range is usually 25 to 50 dollars.
Foot Brace System- A foot brace on a canoe helps give you leverage as you paddle and strengths your paddle stroke. It also gives you something to rest your feet on. Most of them are adjustable and help you to better control the canoe.
They can be packed separately from the canoe which makes them easy to transport with the canoe. They usually cost about 35 to 50 dollars.
Keels – Keels are a projection below the hull, running from stern to bow. Keels add strength to the hull, protects it from damage, and helps the boat maintain straight movement. Canoes that are made aluminum and wood are usually the only ones that have keels.
They are positioned on the bottom of the boat and can actually be purchased online for as little as 5 dollars.
Ways to Make a Canoe More Transportable
Buying any of the features listed above or making sure that you purchase a canoe with some, if not all of those features, can make a canoe much more transportable.
Also, you can look up ways to help easily transport a canoe based on the vehicle that you have.
Some cars come with roof racks which make it easy to tie a canoe to the top of a car. For more information on this check out my other article right here on Outdoor Troop.
If your car does not have roof racks but you are serious about transporting canoes you can rent a small trailer or look for other options, like borrowing a truck from a friend, to transport a canoe.
Make sure that you take out everything you can if you want an easier time transporting your canoe.
When taking your canoe from the car/trailer to the water, make sure you use your legs so you don’t strain your back. To see the proper way to carry a canoe, watch this video.
Disadvantages of Easily Transportable Canoes
Although small canoes can be really great to transport, maneuver, and carry they aren’t always the best options for some people. Small canoes, although built to be as stable as they can be are not nearly as stable as longer canoes.
Additionally, because they are so short it’s not so easy to move around in them and they can capsize and tip over far more than longer canoes can.
Smaller canoes are also harder to control in heavy winds, bad weather, and rough water.
Small canoes can also not hold a lot of weight or people. They are definitely not the type of canoe you want if you are looking for a family boat or looking for a canoe to explore with.
Although most small canoes say they can be tandem, they usually work best when paddled solo and are not dog-friendly either. The small amount of space makes the canoer feel more cramped and doesn’t allow for much equipment or gear to be taken along with the canoer.
Although small canoes have many benefits it’s important to remember all the disadvantages they have as well before you purchase one. Take into consideration all that you want your canoe to handle and then you can decide if a small canoe is right for you.
Need a Smaller Canoe? Check out Inflatable Canoes
If all of the options listed above are still too large for what you are able to transport, then you’re not completely out of luck. There are inflatable canoes you can look into.
Although they are as durable as your more traditional canoes, they are by far easier to store and transport.
Related Reading: Inflatable vs. Traditional Canoes: Are they Any Good?
And don’t totally knock inflatables for their durability. With modern technology they are made with tough material to withstand all the bumps that come along with canoeing.
Below is a great option for an inflatable canoe found on Amazon for easy purchasing. The Sea Eagle Inflatable packs down to a mere 40″ x 24″ x 16″ rectangle, and will fit into its own bag.