This review of H2O Canoe Company’s Paramount 16-6 was originally published in Canoeroots and Family Camping magazine.

When looking at sleek lakewater boats like the Paramount 16-6 from H2O Canoe Company, speed comes to mind. This is a fast canoe, but when was the last time you were in a rush in the back country? Marathon paddling aside, canoeing is rarely about speed at all. It’s about efficiency and the Paramount’s lay-up and hull design offer exactly that.

The H2O line of canoes consists of resin-infused composite boats. This molding process uses minimal liquid resin, producing boats that are both stiff and ultra-lightweight. The Paramount we tested is at the premium end of the line-up, in H2O’s carbon-Kevlar lay-up. Ours came in at a svelte 42 pounds—impressive, considering the use of gelcoat. H2O has managed to shave off pounds by using a clear-coat epoxy from the gunwales down to the waterline. While lightweight, hulls finished entirely in clear coat are less abrasion resistant so H2O applied gelcoat where durability is most important—the underside. The result is a signature eye-catching two-toned look.

As another means of weight savings, designers reduced the Paramount’s surface area. There is little volume at its extremities and sheer lines are low, requiring less build material.

“We started the company concentrating on classic canoes,” says H2O founder and designer, Jeff Hill. “We wanted to make sure the modern boats we do make perform well across all fronts.”

By modern, Hill means asymmetrical. Unlike the Prospector or Bob’s Special found in H2O’s Heritage Series canoes, the Paramount’s widest point is aft of center, a design attribute that improves acceleration and glide.

The first thing I noticed about the Paramount was how effortlessly it travels across the water, exceeding expectations based on its weight and hull shape.

At 16 feet six inches and with little rocker, it has a long waterline eliminating any need for a keel. Few stern finesse strokes are needed, leaving both paddlers free to maintain momentum and take full advantage of the boat’s top speed and glide. Despite the straight-tracking nature of the canoe, the two and a half inches of bow rocker left me pleasantly surprised by the boat’s maneuverability.

Confident paddlers will appreciate the secondary stability afforded by the Paramount’s gently rounded hull. Limited initial stability could leave novice paddlers a little wary when paddling it empty.

With the refined hull, low freeboard and trim placement, this canoe is better suited to weeklong trips than expeditions.

All H2O canoes come with classy cherry seats, yoke, aft kneeling thwart and carry handles complete with finger grooves. Rounding out the beautiful trim package and true to clever weight-saving design principles, the carbon-Kevlar lay-up comes with H2O’s Integral Composite Gunwales—inwales integrated into the canoe during the molding process. On the outside, aluminum outwales are bonded to the hull to maintain strength.

Paddlers looking for a premium canoe can expect to pay a higher price for H2O boats, especially the carbon-Kevlar lay-up. Given that the Paramount’s hull shape is designed for intermediate to advanced paddlers, cost should be less of an issue. These are canoeists who are never in a rush but always have a discerning taste for efficiency.

H2O Canoe Company Paramount 16-6 specs

  • Length: 16’6”
  • Width at waterline: 32.5”
  • Width at gunwales: 35.5”
  • Depth at bow: 22”
  • Depth at center: 14”
  • Depth at stern: 20”
  • Weight: 42 lbs (in carbon-Kevlar)
  • MSRP: $3,295 CAD

This article originally appeared in Canoeroots & Family Camping, Spring 2013. Download our free iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch App or Android App or read it here.

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