According to Leonardo da Vinci, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” This quote rang true when I first set eyes on the sleek, new and tiny 10.5-foot Wenonah Canoe Wee Lassie in Paddling Magazine’s New Product Showcase at last year’s Paddlesports Retailer event in Oklahoma City.

Wenonah Canoe’s Wee Lassie Specs
Length: 10 ft 6 in
Width: 27 in
Weight: 16 lbs
Material: Ultra-light Kevlar
MSRP: $1,649 USD
wenonah.com

By the end of the show, the Wee Lassie had been crowned Best New Canoe in the Paddling Magazine Industry Awards, as voted by on-site media, retailers and paddling enthusiasts casting votes from home. All this hype and nobody had even paddled it. This only amped up my desire to try it out.

For much of the winter, however, the diminutive Wee Lassie haunted my daydreams from where it rested on my canoe tree, still wrapped in its shipping plastics after a late December delivery.

When a warm, sunny morning was forecast a couple days before spring officially arrived, I gleefully freed it from its wintery cocoon.

Wenonah’s Wee Lassie is a lightweight canoe for epic adventures

Weighing just 16 pounds, I marched the Wee Lassie a kilometer through my sleepy suburban neighborhood to the lonely waterfront launch. I tiptoed around some shore ice and settled for my first paddle of the season. Bliss.

woman tossing a canoe over her head
At just 16 pounds, the Wee Lassie is so light we could play catch. | Photo: Joel Clifton

Dawn patrols, sunset sessions, and sneaking out for lunchtime paddles are precisely the sorts of adventures the Wee Lassie is designed for. Wenonah markets it as a roomier, more portage-friendly alternative to a solo recreational kayak.

“The Wee Lassie is aimed at the segment of the market looking for a smaller, ridiculously lightweight boat. The pick-it-up-I-just-want-to-go-float type,” says Mike Looman, Wenonah’s head of North American sales.

A century-old Wenonah solo canoe design

Wenonah is aiming this packboat-style canoe at middle-aged weekend warriors and folks interested in its unique blend of weight and comfort.

The Wee Lassie design—which has a century-old history and has been made by a dozen other manufacturers—plays on the popularity of packboats in upstate New York and the Adirondacks, adds Looman.

“It’s performance-inspired to a point, but the Wee Lassie is solidly in the sport and leisure category.”

At just 16 pounds, this is Wenonah’s lightest canoe—it’s a grab-and-go boat on a diet. Other things also weighing 16 pounds include: a 12-pin bowling ball, a 12-week old Labrador puppy, and a family-sized Easter ham.

My lazy housecat actually outweighs the Wee Lassie by four-and-a-half pounds. Sure, Sampson is a little overweight, but you get the point. The Wee Lassie is so light, you and I could play a high-stakes game of catch.

To create this 10.5-foot version, Wenonah took their larger Wee Lassie, which is 12.5 feet long, 24 pounds and debuted in 2012, and “proportionally shrank it down, keeping the lines consistent and symmetrical,” says Looman.

The larger model is popular with larger paddlers of course, as well as anglers and anyone else looking to bring a bit of gear.

Wenonah’s first 10-foot canoe

The 10.5-foot Wee Lassie is all about minimalism.

Maybe ultralight, thru-hiking legend Ray Jardine could squeeze in an overnight pack, but this is a true grab-and-float boat—“you’re not going to go paddle five or six miles in it,” says Looman. Wenonah makes lots of other boats for that.

“The challenge for us was the Wee Lassie doesn’t necessarily fit our pedigree of making performance, touring and race designs,” says Looman.

“It’s performance-inspired to a point, but the Wee Lassie is solidly in the sport and leisure category.”

Just because it’s featherweight, don’t make the mistake of assuming the Wee Lassie is fragile.

The Wee Lassie immediately charmed me. With a center depth of just 10 inches, it’s most comfortable exploring the nooks and crannies of sparkling ponds, serene lakes and calm shorelines.

There’s really no rocker to speak of, which maximizes the waterline and helps give this little boat good glide for its length. With either a single blade or a double, the Wee Lassie is nimble and responsive—an enjoyably easy paddle.

A Wenonah kevlar canoe for superb strength to weight

Just because it’s featherweight, don’t make the mistake of assuming the Wee Lassie is fragile. I think most paddlers would be inclined to baby it—I know I was—but I also contend it’s stronger than its delicate looks suggest.

The Wee Lassie only comes in Wenonah’s Ultra-light Kevlar layup. This hull is used for many of Wenonah’s boats designed for speed, distance and much tougher conditions than the Wee Lassie is likely to experience.

The hand layup construction uses Wenonah’s proven core-mat material, which “allows for superb strength to weight,” according to Looman.

Small aluminum plates are laminated into the hull and the seat is riveted into these plates. This eliminates rivet heads on the exterior for a glossy and unmarred finish.

The Wee Lassie’s black aluminum trim comes standard, as do the tiny vinyl deck plates and a floor-mounted fiberglass seat with the Cushgear Backsaver back rest, which features an inflatable backpad for added comfort.

The thwart was at a perfect distance for resting my feet. In terms of bells and whistles—that’s about all 16 pounds worth.

There’s an attractive minimalism about the Wenonah Wee Lassie. Many canoes and kayaks in the recreation category come with a plethora of features—cup holders, dashboards, even ports for charging smartphones—but the Wee Lassie eschews all that.

It’s just me and the water open to the air—truly, there’s not much room for much else. The no-frills simplicity is refreshing. Simple sophistication indeed.

Go light, go solo, go right now. The 16-pound Wee Lassie is ready for your next pint-sized adventure. Feature Photo: Joel Clifton

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