Boat Review: The Silhouette by Northern Lights

Northern Lights Canoe and Kayak is by today’s measure a small boat builder. Based in Barrie, Ontario, with shops now in Collingwood ON and Fort Meyers FL, Northern Lights began as a canoe manufacturer supplying boats to the popular Muskoka and Algonquin Park regions. For the last five years they have been quietly turning out about eight touring kayaks a week and have increased their line-up to include five different models.

At 15’10”, the Northern Lights Silhouette is designed with a smaller sized paddler in mind. The soft shined hull and 24” beam offer an excellent platform for learning or perfecting kayak touring essential strokes and skills. The soft chines provide a comfortable transition from primary to secondary or final stability. Northern Lights intended the Silhouette as a smaller person’s craft but we were pleased to find that our larger and longer legged reviewers were able to enter and exit the boat safely and comfortably.  A smaller paddler may want to customize their seat placement slightly forward of the factory placement for better contact with the thigh brace area.

Typically, shorter boars are slower and turn more quickly than longer boats. But what you really need to look at is not the length but the waterline – how much of the boat length is in the water. The Northern Lights Silhouette is a shorter boat yet they have maintained its waterline by producing a boat with very little rocker. So although it is under sixteen feet the Silhouette feels quick to accelerate and will not be left behind in a group of seventeen to eighteen foot boats. The long waterline makes tracking without the rudder a breeze and with the rudder engaged almost idiot proof.

If required, the fully anodized Feathercraft rudder system is easily deployed by a rope system located on the right hand side of the cockpit. With the rudder in the up position, we liked that there is very little play in the pedals.

The hatches are large and can accommodate most sizes of dry bags, making the Silhouette easy to load. The hatch covers are fibreglass with a gasket rand fitting into an internal hatch rim. Fastex buckles and Velcro backed nylon webbing straps complete the system. This closure is more than adequate in normal paddling conditions and only leaked slightly during an afternoon of rolling and rescue practice. The Silhouette is a snap to roll.

The interior is nicely finished with an adjustable high-back seat and foam padding under the front of the cockpit for your knees. The Silhouette comes standard with plastic foot pedals, stainless steel fasteners and cables. The exterior of our Silhouette was very aesthetically pleasing with a blended paint job, recessed deck fittings, perimeter line, ample deck rigging and large comfortable carrying handles.

Small, local builders offer you the ability to customize your boat with colour, materials, seat, bulkhead placements and deck rigging configurations. You also get the satisfaction of wandering in and brushing shoulders with the person building your boat.


Length: 15ft 10in
Width: 24 in
Weight: 48 lbs
Cockpit: 16 in x 31 in
Front hatch: 21 US gallons
Rear hatch: 36 US gallons
Total volume: 110 US gallons
SRP: $2750 CDN

Screen_Shot_2015-07-02_at_2.30.19_PM.pngThis article first appeared in the Fall 2002 issue of Adventure Kayak magazine. For more boat reviews, subscribe to Adventure Kayak’s print and digital editions here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here