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Lightweight canoe -- Hornbeck?

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  • Lightweight canoe -- Hornbeck?

    My husband and I have been paddling for many years. After learning to paddle a canoe as a kid, I bought a couple of Stearns self-bailing inflatable kayaks for whitewater, and we paddled a lot of Class 2 in North Carolina with them.

    Eventually we moved to a place with more flatwater and less whitewater, and we quickly became tired of sitting in a couple of inches of water. We sold them and bought a Saranac 146 polyethylene canoe. It has been an excellent flatwater boat, but weighs 79 pounds. It's impossible to portage it any distance, and as we get older we are both reluctant to paddle it because of the amount of effort needed to get it on and off the high roof of the SUV. It absolutely requires both of us to cartop it, so it's useless for any type of solo trip. We use it about 4 times a year.

    Last year I bought a Klymit LWD packraft, which weighs less than 3 lbs and fits easily in my backpack. I have only used it a couple of times, but it meets my expectations for such a minimalist boat, including being able to paddle it with a full backpack aboard. But it would be useless against any wind, and is so slow it isn't practical to paddle it any distance. I look forward to taking it on backpacking trips that are 90% hiking and 10% paddling, but that's about its limit. And it has no back support at all.

    So we are interested in purchasing a couple of lightweight canoes that are easy for aging paddlers to get on and off an SUV, portage a reasonable distance, and carry enough payload for camping.

    Priorities would be weight, easy of cartopping, and price. (Since we need two solo boats, price is a huge issue. $3,000 boats need not apply.) It's worthwhile for us to trade off on-water performance, within limits, for a boat that's easier to portage and get on and off the SUV.

    While sitting on a high seat is more comfortable, we are fine with sitting low in the boat, as we have used kayaks a great deal. Double-ended paddles are fine.

    We would want to be able to paddle moderate lakes like Pharaoh, Lows, or Big Moose, but would avoid large lakes like Raquette, Tupper, or the Saranacs.

    Given the above, I am thinking that Hornbecks would be the best compromise. We can easily drive to Olmstedville to check them out, order, and purchase boats. The price is high, but we can probably manage it with careful budgeting.

    We would want each boat to be able to carry about 250 lbs, including gear, so something in the 12-mid to 13-low range seems about right.

    But we may be overlooking other options. Suggestions would be very welcome.

  • #2
    Have you ever look at any of the boats from Adirondack Canoe Company?

    And lungs are poisoned and shoulders bowed,
    In the smothering reek of mill and mine;
    And death stalks in on the struggling crowd?
    But he shuns the shadow of the oak and pine?
    ― George W. Sears Nessmuk, Woodcraft and Camping


    • #3
      Probably a good choice for your stated needs. I paddled and carried a 10.5' Hornbeck 185 miles (with 62 total miles of carries) on a diagonal route across the Adirondacks a few years ago, including big lake rough water with no problems at all (I weigh 190 and had the weight of 7 days of food and camping gear with me).

      My only negative with the Hornbeck is that I dislike double blade paddlling, which is the only real option with the low floor seat of the Hornbeck and similar craft. So my next boat purchase was a Placidboat Rapidfire with a custom high seat, easy and natural to use a single blade canoe paddle, but those are much more expensive now. Suggest that you visit Olmstedville and give Hornbeck a tryout on the local pond there.
      "Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." -Walt Whitman


      • #4
        [QUOTE=Jwojcik1990;290665]Have you ever look at any of the boats from Adirondack Canoe Company?

        Adirondack canoe Company was started by a couple of former workers from Hornbeck. Very similar designs and manufacture. From what I hae seen, they seem like a good alternative.
        "Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." -Walt Whitman


        • #5
          Lightweight canoe -- Hornbeck?

          The Adirondack Canoe Company's Skylight model looks like a very credible choice, and Mineville is about the same drive time for us.

          Thank you for that suggestion. I also looked at Vermont Canoe Company, but they seem to be focusing on larger, heavier canoes, ignoring the lightweight market.


          • #6
            Originally posted by VermontDacker View Post

            I also looked at Vermont Canoe Company, but they seem to be focusing on larger, heavier canoes, ignoring the lightweight market.
            I visited VCC a couplle of years ago. Tried a couple of their boats, including a guide boat on the water. I completely hated the way their boats performed (or rather did not perform) compared to other manufacturer's boats I have been in. A wasted trip to the other side of the lake, IMO.
            "Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." -Walt Whitman


            • #7
              My wife got a Hornbeck in 2020 and I got one this year (got tired of renting so I could accompany her!). I also broke in my paddling in the '60s with river canoeing, Grumman style! Paddled several mild whitewater rivers (Nantahala, French Broad in NC; Obed and Cumberland in Tenn and KY, etc.) so I am much more comfortable with a kneeling position and a single-bladed paddle. I am getting used to the sit-on-the-bottom position of the Hornbeck, but my back hurts after a long paddle. I am, however, getting used to it. Last month we both went on the ADK Canoe Outing based at Paul Smiths College. We stayed in the dorms, ate in the cafeteria, and paddled lots of lakes and small streams in the St. Regis and other watersheds. Great fun. It has a two-week and a one-week version, we did the one-week.


              • #8
                I have been taking a 12 Hornbeck Classic canoe camping for a few years now. It does great on ponds and rivers. I've had it on bigger water, but not in rough conditions, so I can't comment on that. I still take my 1987 Sawyer Autumn Mist (which has a spray cover) on those trips.
                "Everyone must believe in something. I believe I'll go canoeing."
                - Henry David Thoreau


                • #9
                  Big water in a Hornbeck works..... IF.... you can keep center ship as much weight as possible. I split my backpack contents intto two smaller dry bags, keeping one immediately behind the back rest with backpack behind it, the other under my knees in my 10.5' Hornbeck. That way the empty bow and stern will "bob" up and over waves instead of plowing through and taking on water. Of course you can also make a spray cover which works very well. It keeps spray out from the upwind side gunwale when you are quartering through wind and waves.
                  "Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." -Walt Whitman


                  • #10
                    I paddle my 10.5 hornbeck with a single blade. Certainly not as fast as the double, but infinitely more relaxing. It is a shorter paddle, about 47 inches.
                    "There's a whisper on the night-wind, there's a star agleam to guide us, And the Wild is calling, calling . . . let us go." -from "The Call of the Wild" by Robert Service

                    My trail journal: DuctTape's Journal


                    • #11
                      Hope I'm not being inappropriate but I was going to place my 10.5 Hornbeck for sale here tomorrow...uh, I guess today since it's 2:30 a.m.

                      Boat is in Star Lake. I can travel along Rt 3 if interested. I'm a bit tied up Saturday evening...parade, fireworks....

                      Ill post pix in a few hours. I need to go to Syracuse for a meeting and the boat is on the rack....planning on doing a quicky paddle there.

                      P.M. if interested. I'm going to be asking $950.

                      Btw there is a12' on Albany CL as well.
                      I sometimes put a wool hat or mitt over my nose, across my face, but not to cover my nostrils, just to keep my nose warm. You have to pay the piper somewhere for this kind of fun
                      JerseyHighlander 2-2015


                      • #12
                        Lightweight canoe -- Hornbeck?

                        Wildrns, it's never a wasted trip if it did its job of convincing you that was not the boat for you.

                        I'm impressed that you paddled a 10.5 ft Hornbeck with a 190 lb person and 7 days of food and camping gear 185 miles, including rough water passages. Your total load, excluding canoe weight, must have been at least 225 pounds, probably more. Hornbeck advertises 200 lb capacity for the 10 high and 225 for the 12 low. That strongly suggests that Hornbeck's weight ratings are very conservative.

                        I like the idea that Hornbeck builds custom boats for each person, so they can give advice on the smallest, lightest boat that could comfortably carry the buyer with his planned gear load.

                        MTVHike, like you, I started out in the 70s paddling rented aluminum Grummans with the family on small rivers. They paddle well, but don't portage or cartop so easily.


                        • #13
                          My Hornbeck happened to be the very first carbon/kevlar hybrid that Pete made. serial #0001. it was a shiny black beauty fresh out of the mold on his office floor the day I visited. it cost a bt more than the standard all kevlar, but it is stiffer and weighs a couple of pounds less. perfect for my purposes. Stiffer and more durable also than the all carbon Blackjack model that came shortly thereafter. Photos of it are posted elsewhere on this forum in other threads. i will not bore those who have already seen them.
                          Last edited by Wldrns; 09-09-2022, 04:27 AM.
                          "Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." -Walt Whitman


                          • #14
                            If you're willing to purchase a used canoe, you might be able to get two canoes for the price of one new one. I was able to purchase two used Placid Boatworks canoes for about half the retail price. Both boats get a lot of use and they were well worth the price. It might be something to consider; although it may take some time to find what you're looking for versus walking into a shop and making the purchase.

                            That's all for now. Take care and until next well.



                            • #15
                              Lightweight canoe -- Hornbeck?

                              I'd be delighted to buy used boats in good condition, but my impression is that they don't come on the market very often and when they do, they go quickly if the price is fair.