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Old Town’s Topwater 120 PDL Pedal Kayak Review

Old Town Topwater 120 PDL
Old Town Topwater 120 PDL | Photo: Old Town

In the tempest of new fishing kayaks hitting the water, it’s hard to make waves with a fresh boat. Especially a company that’s been around for 120 years. But last year, Old Town released the Topwater line to compete with lower-priced competition. This year, they blew the other guys out of the water.

Old Town Topwater 120 PDL Specs
Activity: Fishing, Hunting
Style: Sit-on-Top
Number of Paddlers: 1
Propulsion: Pedal
Material: Single Layer Polyethylene
Seat Type: Element Air Seating
Weight Capacity: 500 lb | 226.8 kg
Length: 12′ | 3.7 m
Width: 36 in | 91.4 cm
Price: $2149 USD

When we fished the Old Town Topwater 120 last summer, our team anticipated Old Town would release a pedal version. The super-stable Double U hull and smart outfitting were perfect for stand-up backwater fishing and the price was perfect for any budget.

So, we weren’t surprised when Old Town released the Topwater 106 PDL. At only 10-feet, six-inches, we were surprised by the pocket pedal boat’s ride and handling. The Double U hull lent itself perfectly to a pedal drive. And the tried and true PDL lived up to its strong and silent reputation. The little Topwater PDL made us hungry for a hotly anticipated 12-foot version. While we were impressed with the Topwater 106’s performance, the team agreed we needed more room for stuff.

Shazam! This spring, the Kayak Angler crew picked up word of a new Topwater PDL in the works and the result exceeds expectations.

The same smart features available on the other Topwater models added to the proven PDL system gives the 120 PDL more to love.

Topwater’s super-stable Double U hull improves stability and keeps the boat traveling straight. Steering is handled with a low-profile knob that is easy to index and a large, responsive rudder. One of our favorite features is the extra-long lever to retract the rudder. Instead of fighting with lines and bungees, the lever lifts the rudder without complaint.

Old Town Topwater 120 PDL Fishing Kayak Review
Overview of the Old Town Topwater 120 PDL Fishing Kayak | Photo: Courtesy Old Town

A lightweight fishing kayak

The boat comes in at a prize-winning 87 pounds and the drive weighs just under 20 making the Topwater 120 PDL one of the lightest pedal boats on the water.

The topside of the 120 shares our favorite Topwater touches. The padded deck is easy for stand-up fishing. A large bow hatch seals for dry storage. Gear tracks on the gunnels are positioned to keep rod holders and fish finder display within reach and out of the path of the action.

Topwater makes it easy to install the fish finder and power cables with a transducer scupper and mounting system.

Two flushmount rod holders behind the seat are angled for trolling. My favorite is the flushmount rod holder beside the captain’s chair. I use it a hundred times a day to hold my rod for rigging or unhooking fish.

Old Town carried over the Elementair Seat which is light and strong, even if it lacks extra padding or supports. I like how the back is angled to accept a PFD with plenty of room in the 21-inch-wide seat.

Old Town PDL pedal fishing kayak

The star of the show is Old Town’s PDL drive. Engineers and pro-staff worked for years to develop the original PDL drive. The extra effort paid dividends with is a system that hasn’t needed improvement since. The pedal system is sealed and maintenance free, as capable in salt water as fresh. The PDL is so reliable, Old Town backs it with a five-year warranty.

I prize the fit and finish on the PDL. The system wedges solidly in the kayak with virtually no flex to transfer maximum power from the pedals to the propeller. Even if the system is larger than other power plants, the solid connection with the hull is worth the trade. When the pedals are inserted in the deck well, the base has a small hatch to double as dry storage.

Probably the Topwater feature that will appeal to the widest range of anglers is the price. At $2149 dollars, the Topwater 120 PDL brings Old Town quality at a great value.

walking out of the store with a solid pedal kayak for just over $2000 feels like highway robbery

I was so stoked about one of our favorite pedal boats growing up, I reached out to marketing manager Ryan Lilly. “Based on consumer feedback, we saw an opportunity to bring a lighter, compact, easy to maneuver and transport kayak to the market,” he explains. The Topwater line has been one of the best-selling in Old Town’s 120-year history. “That’s saying something,” Lilly crows.

Lilly gives credit to the guys behind the scenes. “Our product engineers are some of the best in the business and they delivered some of their best work with the Topwater series.” He points out the Topwater 120 PDL paddles as well as it pedals. “It cuts through the water with confidence and ease,” he adds.

We asked Lilly for the secret to building a feature-filled boat at a reasonable price. “There is a race to the bottom,” he admits, pointing to companies sacrificing quality and features to sell a less expensive kayak. “We are not interested in chasing cheap,” he insists, explaining Topwater’s ideal owner is looking for quality for their money.

Still, walking out of the store with a solid pedal kayak for just over $2000 feels like highway robbery. This boat is a great fit on any inshore or back water expedition with the capability to cover distance and survive moderate seas. It’s the grab-and-go boat you use more than your big, heavy tournament ride. The Topwater 120 PDL will keep friends and family smiling; I’m getting one for my mother-in-law. With smart features and a great price, the Topwater 120 PDL will fit anywhere.

Staffing Shakeups at ACA and Paddle Canada

Canoeists paddle into a misty morning on the lake
Photo: Kristel Hayes

The past three months have seen significant staffing changes at two of the largest paddling organizations in North America. After nine years of working with Paddle Canada, Graham Ketcheson, the organization’s Executive Director, has resigned from his position. Christopher Stec has also resigned from his post as the Chief Operating Officer at the American Canoe Association.

Since joining Paddle Canada in 2010, Ketcheson led the organization through growth and change. He helped implement better membership and course registration strategies and solutions, newsletter and social media communication with members, and a partnership with Rapid Media, so all Paddle Canada members receive a complimentary subscription to Paddling Magazine or Kayak Angler. During his time with the organization, Paddle Canada aimed a media campaign at educating paddlers to be smarter on the water, reaching millions of Canadians.

“One of my realized goals was to bring financial stability and profitability to Paddle Canada and to see the organization succeed by using smarter technologies while cutting traditional operating expenses,” says Ketcheson. “The organization has seen 30 percent growth during this time, mostly in membership and course offerings, plus more than a tripling of operating budgets.”

It’s hard to say goodbye to an organization I have so much passion for

“Graham had many positive traits he brought to the team at Paddle Canada,” says Jeff Martin, current President of Paddle Canada. “He is a people person who can effectively communicate and problem solve when members had questions. Over his nearly 10 years with Paddle Canada, he was able to effectively manage staff and many vital volunteer committees and communicate the vision of the organization.”

“It’s hard to say goodbye to an organization I have so much passion for,” wrote Ketcheson following his March resignation. “Our organization is in such a better place now compared to 2010, when I first arrived in office. We are at a much more sustainable level and have an excellent mix of courses, program offerings and great brand recognition in the outdoor marketplace. We have established partnerships with outdoor manufacturers, safe boating and government partners. The future of Paddle Canada looks bright.”

Both Paddle Canada and the American Canoe Association are in the process of hiring new staff

Ketcheson has taken on a role as managing director at OWL Rafting on the Ottawa River. It’s still in the paddling world, but a big change of duties and responsibilities. Ketcheson says he is excited to “learn a lot more about the world of commercial rafting, which is brand new to me.”

Christopher Stec also announced his resignation effective March 8, 2019, from his job as Chief Operating Officer at the American Canoe Association. In his resignation letter, Stec stated he was grateful for everything accomplished by staff and members of the American Canoe Association since his beginnings with the organization, and was unavailable for further comment.

Both Paddle Canada and the American Canoe Association are in the process of hiring new staff. “In terms of filling the Executive Director’s role, we have a hiring committee in place currently and have advertised the position over the last month,” says Jeff Martin of Paddle Canada. “We have also shared the job advertisement through Paddle Canada social media platforms and through word of mouth. Graham has left some big shoes to fill.”

YETI Introduces LoadOut GoBox

YETI Introduces LoadOut GoBox
YETI Introduces LoadOut GoBox | Photo: YETI

YETI Holdings, Inc. a leading premium outdoor brand, expands its product offerings with a new cargo-style LoadOut GoBox. The YETI LoadOut GoBox leaves nothing to be desired when it comes to utility and durability. Designed for secure organization, this versatile gear fortress is ideal both on-the-go or back at basecamp.

The waterproof and dustproof GoBox can hold and protect everything from duck calls and rangefinders, to tippet and camera lenses, thanks to the included removable caddy, compartment divider, and Pack Attic deployable pouch.

The LoadOut GoBox is built to be nearly indestructible—ready to endure seasons in the sun, negative temps in the field, and repeated abuse being lugged in and out of the truck, the boat, and the blind. And when it’s all said and done, the GoBox stacks up neatly until your next adventure. “We are passionate about delivering products with a combination of exceptional design, function and reliability that are natural extensions of the YETI brand,” says YETI CEO, Matt Reintjes. “With the GoBox, we have taken your standard storage box and turned it into a product with endless versatility and unprecedented reliability”.

The LoadOut GoBox will be available for purchase through yeti.com for $249.99, starting in May 2019. Available colors include white, tan, and charcoal. Accessories included: Divider, Caddy, and Pack Attic. For more information regarding YETI’s new Spring 2019 products, please visityeti.com.

About YETI Holdings, Inc.

YETI is a designer, marketer, retailer, and distributor of a variety of innovative, branded, premium products to a wide-ranging customer base. Our brand promise is to ensure each YETI product delivers exceptional performance and durability in any environment, whether in the remote wilderness, at the beach, or anywhere else life takes you.

We bring our products to market through a diverse and powerful omni-channel strategy, comprised of our select group of national and independent retail partners and our DTC channel. By consistently delivering high-performing products, we have built a following of engaged brand loyalists throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere, ranging from serious outdoor enthusiasts to individuals who simply value products of uncompromising quality and design.

Our relationship with customers continues to thrive and deepen as a result of our innovative new product introductions, expansion and enhancement of existing product families, and multifaceted branding activities.

Introducing Rapid Media’s Innovative Online Paddling Buyer’s Guide

a stack of Paddling Buyer's Guides all side by side
Rapid Media's Paddling Buyer's Guide has gone digital | Photo: Michael Hewis

The latest boats, boards and paddling gear information is now at the click of your mouse and tap of your phone.

The 2019 Paddling Buyer’s Guide is a turn-back-the-clock media initiative with a modern twist. For the first seven consecutive years, Rapid Media published a 300+ page magazine showcasing hundreds of the hottest canoes, kayaks, boards, paddles, PFDs, gear, accessories, and apparel from paddlesports’ most trusted brands. What makes this year’s edition unique and revolutionary is its digital integration with Rapid Media’s new paddlingbuyersguide.com.

More than 110,000+ subscribers receive a digital flipbook version of the print magazine. The flipbook mobile application allows readers to hover and tap on products to pop up additional product information, including international pricing, detailed descriptions, additional photos, and full product specifications.

we see our role evolving from product news and reviews to guiding customers further down the sales pipeline

The reader can then continue reading the magazine, click to buy the product, or learn more and compare products at paddlingbuyersguide.com.

“Rapid Media’s new online Paddling Buyer’s Guide is just another example of how our marketing team is working to create native advertising platforms focused on innovation, measurement and reader trust,” says Director of Marketing, Cristin Plaice. “As more and more shopping and researching behaviors switch to e-commerce formats, we see our role evolving from product news and reviews to guiding customers further down the sales pipeline.”

We are tracking and seeing the success of e-commerce conversions but what is also important is connecting consumer Paddling Buyer’s Guide online research to in-store conversions

While the online Paddling Buyer’s Guide drives consumers to brands’ online stores, it also provides valuable research tools and boosts in-store visits to specialty retail. Every product page includes a link to find local dealers.

“We are tracking and seeing the success of e-commerce conversions but what is also important is connecting consumer Paddling Buyer’s Guide online research to in-store conversions,” said Publisher and Founder Scott MacGregor. “After seven years of publishing the world’s largest paddling buyer’s guide print editions, we know it drives sales. Consumers circle products and walk into shops with dog-eared pages. The magazine can only feature new and top-selling products, while our new online guide isn’t limited by weight or what fits in a mailbox. We can include all products from all brands, driving long-tail sales of every item in every catalog from every brand.”

While kayak fishing boats, boards, gear and accessories are featured in the Paddling Buyer’s Guide, coming soon is the kayakanglermag.com Kayak Fishing Buyer’s Guide.

“We’re serious about connecting consumers with products,” says Plaice. “We are afraid kayak anglers may get lost in all the paddling stuff; they deserve their own Kayak Angler branded buyer’s guide.”

The new online Kayak Angler Buyer’s Guide launches early June with the release of the digital flipbook version of Kayak Angler’s print Buyer’s Guide.

Gearlab engineer uses force sensors to test paddle strength

Kayaker paddles while being hooked up to force sensors collecting data
This new standard will allow the consumer to compare the strength of paddles manufactured by different companies. | Photo: Gearlab

Gearlab, pioneer of the first modern Greenland-style paddles with exchangeable tips, has partnered with engineer Declan Nowak to develop a mechanism to measure the forces on a carbon fiber Greenland-style paddle in the water, allowing Gearlab designers to increase paddle strength and efficiency.

“In the industry, there is no set standard for testing stress placed on the paddles,” says lead designer and co-founder, Henry Chang. “All Gearlab products go through systematic and rigorous research, usability analysis, and field testing. As part of that process, we needed a way to measure how much force is in each stroke and determine the strength-to-weight ratio.”

In consultation with engineers at Gearlab’s design laboratory in Taiwan, Nowak designed an Arduino-powered sensor that records the force exerted by a paddler’s hands on a paddle. An Arduino is a small lightweight microcontroller that is perfect for data-recording applications because it records information to an SD card.

This new standard will allow the consumer to compare the strength of paddles manufactured by different companies

“Using the sensor, I was able to determine the maximum force a paddler is likely to apply in ideal paddling conditions,” Nowak explains. “By knowing the stress a paddle can withstand in controlled lab tests and what the average force of a paddle stroke is, Gearlab can ensure that every paddle will handle tough conditions and meet customer expectations.”

As a result of this collaboration, Gearlab applied these results in developing the new Kalleq paddle (from the Inuit word for lightning) to be released this spring. The new Kalleq paddle, which is even lighter in weight than other models, offers a new sharper edge that improves paddle efficiency in the water, as well as paddling stability. The Kalleq has a redesigned internal carbon fiber structure that offers greater strength and durability in harsh conditions than previous models. And Gearlab’s signature exchangeable tips are smaller and the blade slightly wider than previous models.

With these innovations, the user can go farther and faster, with less stress to the shoulder and arm joints. The tests ensure that as the paddles become lighter, they maintain Gearlab’s rigorous durability standards.

Graph showing paddle blade forces over time
Paddle blade forces vs. time | Photo: Gearlab

*To simplify the graph, no data is recorded when the sensors registered a force of zero.

** While the analysis states that the units of kilograms are a force, the paddle is actually moving the mass of water. The force on the paddle will depend on how fast the paddler is accelerating. For the purposes of this experiment, I assumed that the paddler’s acceleration was the same as the acceleration due to gravity—which is significantly more than the rate a paddler would be accelerating.

Nowak says the next step will involve refining the sensor system and analyzing paddle strength using computer models in various water conditions. He also plans to put the new flagship Kalleq paddle to further tests this summer with Gearlab’s chief engineer, Chung-Shih Sun, on a 740-mile expedition on the historic Northern Forest Canoe Trail through the Northeastern United States and Canada.

In the future, Nowak aims to work with Gearlab to establish a universal metric for paddle companies.

Paddle Force Sensors
Paddle force sensors | Photo: Gearlab

“While each kayak paddle company has its own internal standards for product development, Gearlab is working toward establishing a universal standard,” Nowak says. “This new standard will allow the consumer to compare the strength of paddles manufactured by different companies, the strength of various lengths and widths of Greenland paddles, and even the strength of different types of paddles—such as Euro blades versus Greenland paddles.”

For more detailed information on Nowak’s Arduino-powered force sensor and field testing, go to gearlaboutdoor.com/PaddleForceTest.

About Gearlab:

For the past eight years, Gearlab has designed and manufactured Greenland-style carbon fiber paddles for ocean kayakers around the world. Created by a team of award-winning industrial designers and outdoor enthusiasts, the paddles are adapted from indigenous Inuit designs. Greenland paddles provide a long range, efficiency, and precision while reducing injury and fatigue. Made from 100% continuous carbon fiber material, Gearlab perfects thousand-year-old ergonomics with advanced material strength and durability. Gearlab paddles will open up a new realm of adventure for both weekend kayakers and expert paddlers. Find out more about the benefits of Gearlab paddles at www.gearlaboutdoor.com.

Globalstar partners with the Alpine Club Of Canada

man holds SPOT X 2-way satellite messenger device
Globalstar has partnered with the Alpine Club of Canada

Coinciding with Canada’s Emergency Preparedness Week, Globalstar Canada Satellite Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Globalstar Inc. and the leader in satellite messaging and emergency notification technologies, today announced it has partnered with The Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) to promote safety and security for alpine adventurers and remote workers.

The partnership was established out of the mutual objectives shared by ACC and Globalstar, including the encouragement and practice of outdoor activities and exploration and the promotion of those skills among Canadians. As part of the partnership arrangement, Globalstar Canada is providing the ACC with SPOT X 2-Way Satellite Messengers as well as access to satellite services, for use by adventure guides and alpine maintenance teams.

SPOT is trusted and proven satellite technology used By outdoor enthusiasts and remote workers who need to stay connected when venturing beyond cellular

“We are excited to be partnering with Globalstar Canada this year as part of our safety mandate, adding the SPOT X 2-Way Satellite Messenger to our safety and communications gear,” said Keith Haberl, Marketing Manager, Alpine Club of Canada. “The ACC is passionate about adventure. Every year we run more than 50 guided adventures in remote alpine locations and maintain the largest network of backcountry huts in North America. It is essential that we ensure our guides and hut maintenance teams have a reliable way to keep in touch with our office, for both safety and logistical reasons. In case an emergency arises in a remote location being able to communicate isn’t optional, it’s essential. With SPOT X we’ll be able to ensure this for our workers.”

“SPOT is trusted and proven satellite technology used around the world by tens of thousands of outdoor enthusiasts and remote workers who need to stay connected when venturing beyond cellular,” said Fintan Robb, Senior Director of Marketing, Globalstar Canada Satellite Co. “Through our partnership with the ACC, adventure guides and hut maintenance teams can now easily access the 2-way connectivity and security of SOS that the SPOT X 2-Way Satellite Messenger provides. As the official satellite communications provider for the ACC, we proudly support a 100-year old organization that is part of the fabric of Canada’s mountaineering community. Announcing this partnership during Emergency Preparedness Week underscores how passionate we are about safety in the outdoors and the importance of including SPOT as part of adventure planning and essential safety gear.”

With 2-way text messaging capabilities, SPOT X users can better communicate during their adventures to keep in touch with family and friends, or if necessary, emergency personnel

SPOT X is the latest addition to the award-winning SPOT family of products, providing affordable, off-the-grid messaging and tracking for hundreds of thousands of outdoor enthusiasts. Through a direct connection to the GEOS International Emergency Coordination Center, SPOT has triggered more than 6,200 rescues around the globe within the last ten years, approximately one-third of which have taken place in Canada. With 2-way text messaging capabilities, SPOT X users can better communicate during their adventures to keep in touch with family and friends, or if necessary, emergency personnel. Lone workers can check-in and provide detailed status of their situation when working in remote locations and receive direct replies back with updates.

Established in 1906, the ACC is Canada’s national mountaineering club with more than 17,000 members. Its vision is to bring together, and give voice to, Canada’s mountaineering community. Its mission is to promote alpine experiences, knowledge and culture, responsible access and excellence in mountain skills and leadership. The organization operates the largest network of backcountry huts in North America, from the Neil Colgan Hut in Banff’s Valley of the Ten Peaks (highest hut located at 9,700 feet) to the Keene Farm Hut (lowest hut located at 1,115 feet). The ACC runs guided adventures out of its national office in Canmore, which last year had 54 adventures and 634 participants. It also runs a General Mountaineering Camp every year in the high alpine.

About Globalstar, Inc.

Globalstar is a leading provider of customizable satellite IoT solutions for customers around the world in industries such as government, oil and gas, emergency management, transportation, maritime and outdoor recreation. As a pioneer of mobile satellite voice and data services, Globalstar allows businesses to streamline operations via the Globalstar Satellite Network by connecting people to their devices, supplying personal safety and communication and automating data to more easily monitor and manage mobile assets. The Company’s product portfolio includes the industry-acclaimed SmartOne asset tracking products, Commercial IoT satellite transmitters and Duplex satellite data modems, the innovative Sat-Fi2 satellite wireless IP hotspot and the SPOT® product line of personal safety, asset and communication devices, all offered with a variety of data service plans.

Note that all SPOT products described in this press release are the products of SPOT LLC, which is not affiliated in any manner with Spot Image of Toulouse, France or Spot Image Corporation of Chantilly, Virginia. SPOT Connect is a trademark of Spot LLC. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Hobie’s Mirage Passport Kayak

A young couple are seen pedalling around each in a Hobie Mirage Passport kayak
Hobie Mirage Passport | Photo: Hobie

Hobie has introduced the Mirage Passport as the newest addition to its renowned lineup of pedal kayaks, powered by the brand’s signature MirageDrive – the original pedal propulsion system for kayaking. Maintaining Hobie’s acclaimed quality and durability, the Passport was built with simplicity in mind, delivering efficiency, ease of use, versatility and comfort in a highly accessible package.

“The Passport has been thoughtfully designed to help break down those barriers of entry that may be keeping people off the water, and make pedal kayaking both more accessible and even more approachable,” said Jason Kardas, Director of Engineering Product Management for Hobie. “The ultimate goal of the Passport is to be able to bring the premium experience that Hobie’s MirageDrive technology has delivered for more than 20 years to a broader audience than ever before.”

Hobie Mirage Passport Overview
Hobie’s Mirage Passport Kayak | Photo: Hobie

With its excellent value, transportability, simple and sleek design and durable Thermoform construction, the Passport is a well-rounded boat that truly offers something for everyone, from novice to experienced kayakers alike. It is the ideal kayak for casual recreation and family outings but is ready for all kinds of adventures on the water. Designed to accept most of Hobie’s vast array of accessories, the Passport is also a great, low-impact cross-training and fitness tool for fitness enthusiasts, and can be easily outfitted with additional angling equipment for recreational kayak fishing.

Top view of the Hobie Mirage Passport
Top view of the Hobie Mirage Passport | Photo: Hobie

Powered by Hobie’s first-of-its-kind Classic MirageDrive pedal system, the Passport makes kayaking smooth and efficient, cruising seamlessly through the water. The shorter hull length and wider body provide superior stability, while the intuitive steering system and stowable rudder enable easy maneuvering. Standard equipment on the Passport includes a suspended mesh-back, aluminum-frame seat, two-piece aluminum paddle, two rod holders, accessory mounting tracks and the accessory mount that accepts the kayak sail and new Bimini. Kayakers will also enjoy ample storage space on the Passport, with molded-in, cross-bungee cargo areas on the bow and stern, as well as Hobie’s ‘twist-n-seal’ hatch.

Hobie's MirageDrive pedal drive system
Hobie’s MirageDrive pedal drive system | Photo: Hobie

The new Hobie Mirage Passport will begin arriving at Hobie authorized dealers on Friday, April 26, at an introductory MSRP of $1,299 (excluding taxes and shipping).

About Hobie

Since 1950, Hobie has been in the business of shaping a unique lifestyle based around fun, water and quality products. From their headquarters in Oceanside, California, Hobie Cat Company manufactures, distributes and markets an impressive collection of watercraft worldwide. These include an ever-expanding line of recreation and racing sailboats, pedal-driven and paddle sit-on-top recreation and fishing kayaks, inflatable kayaks and fishing boats, plus a complementary array of parts and accessories. To learn more, visit www.hobie.com.

How to tie a canoe to your vehicle

Tying a canoe to a car
Tying a canoe to a car | Photo: Paddling Magazine Staff

Putting a canoe on your car is an important step for successfully making it to the put-in. Whether you are renting a canoe from an outfitter or you have your own gear, this is a skill you are going to want to learn.

There are a few different ways that you can car-top your canoe, and it depends on whether or not you have roof racks. Roof racks are ideal as it provides the most secure tie down. It also reduces the risk of damaging your vehicle. If you don’t have roof racks there are still other options out there for you.

How to put a canoe on a car with roof racks

If your vehicle has roof racks, you have one of the best situations for tying down a canoe. Follow the steps below to safely transport a canoe on your car.

  1. Lift the canoe up and onto the rack on the vehicle. This can be done with one person for lower vehicles but it is always easier and safer when you have two people.
  2. If you want to protect the gunwales on the canoe, you can put either foam blocks or cloth between the gunwales and racks of your vehicle.
  3. Balance the canoe on the crossbars so it does not tip forward or back. Usually, this means the yoke is resting equally between crossbars. Position it the canoe so it is parallel. If it is slightly off-line, the wind will put uneven pressure on one side of your boat the entire drive.
  4. Standing on the passenger side of the vehicle, throw the non-buckle end of your cam strap to the other side of the vehicle. This step can be done for both the front and back strap of the canoe (one for each roof rack bar).
  5. On the driver’s side of the vehicle, wrap the strap around your roof rack bars and send the non-buckle side of the cam strap back overtop to the passenger side again. Do this for both the front and back strap.
  6. Take the non-buckle end of the cam strap and wrap it underneath the bar on the passenger side and up and through the buckle of the cam strap to begin the tightening process.
  7. Start with the buckle close to the bottom of the canoe (the highest point when the canoe is upside down) so that you have lots of room to pull the strap tight before the buckle hits the bar. Repeat for both back and front straps.
  8. Once these straps are tight, tie off the loose ends so they are not flapping in the wind.
  9. Finally, you want to secure both the front and back of the canoe with a bow and stern line. Every vehicle is going to have different spots to connect. Many vehicles have built-in attachment points under the front and back of the vehicle. If you don’t, you might want to consider purchasing hood/trunk tie-down loops which can be found at your local paddling shop or on Amazon.
  10. Do one final check to make sure the canoe is well connected to the car and you are all set to go. Try shaking the canoe with two hands—the vehicle should move with it.

How to put a canoe on a car without racks

If your vehicle does not have roof racks, there are other ways to secure the canoe to your vehicle. One of the best options is the use of foam blocks that can be purchased at your local paddling shop.

  1. While the canoe is on the ground, secure the foam blocks to each end of the canoe halfway between the yoke and the thwarts. Ideally they will be sitting close to the balance points of the canoe.
  2. Next, either by yourself or with the help of a friend, lift the canoe up and place it on top of your vehicle. You may need to play around with the location of the foam blocks and the position of the canoe on the top of the vehicle. You do not want it too far forward or backward and ideally, it is perfectly balanced on the center of your roof. This also means looking from the back of the vehicle to ensure the canoe is straight down the middle of your vehicle. If it is slightly off-line, the wind will be putting uneven pressure on one side of your boat the entire drive.
  3. Many people will use either cam straps or ratchet straps to secure the canoe to the roof by opening all car doors and actually doing a full wrap inside the vehicle and overtop of the canoe. This can cause damage to the padding around the outside of your door frame. Another option is to use rope and tie a truckers hitch knot in order to get the extra leverage to pull the canoe tight to the top of your vehicle.
  4. Finally, you want to secure both the front and back of the canoe. Every vehicle is going to have different spots to connect. Many vehicles have built-in attachment points under the front and back of the vehicle. If you don’t, you might want to consider purchasing hood/trunk tie-down loops which can be found at your local paddling shop or on Amazon.
  5. Do one final check to make sure the canoe is well connected to the car and you are all set to go. Try shaking the canoe with two hands—the vehicle should move with it.

Wenonah Canoe Review: Wee Lassie Solo Canoe

Wenonah's Wee Lassie solo canoe reviewed by Kaydi Pyette
Go light, go solo, go right now. The 16-pound Wee Lassie is ready for your next pint-sized adventure. Photo: Joel Clifton

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

Terrifying Footage Of Kayaker Caught In Sieve

This video highlights one of the greatest fears kayakers have on the river. It is the reason that river safety is so important and is why all guides and professionals are trained in swiftwater rescue.

This video was published back in 2015 but is still a great example to talk about today. A team of professional kayakers including Rafa Ortiz and Rush Sturges head to Nevis Bluff rapids on the Kawarau River in New Zealand.

The Kawarau River is big. In the video they mention this trip was planned after a few weeks of running smaller rivers and switching to larger water was going to be a challenge.

“You look at it from shore. You look at it from every single different angle you can, but it just comes down to being in your boat and what ever you see when paddling through it. The water is changing every single second” said Ortiz.

Leading the group was local kayaker Jordy Searle, who has paddled the river a number of times and knows it well. As the group was making their way quickly downriver, Searle turned to give the group a thumbs-up signal. Just as he was doing this, his boat was sucked into a sieve.

Among the most terrifying hazards a paddler can face, a sieve is a narrowing that forces rushing water beneath the rocks where it can trap a kayaker and hold them under.

The group quickly raced to shore tossing throw bags allowing Searle a few extra breaths before going completely under water. “It’s hard to put into words what it is like when you see somebody die” said Sturges.

At this point there was not much the team was able to do without putting themselves at risk. They were just waiting hoping that he was going to pop out on the other side.

The following seconds likely feeling like hours, Sturges talks about the relief of finally seeing Searle come to the surface of the water.

Jordy Searle trapped in sieve in Nevis Bluff Rapids
Jordy Searle trapped in sieve in Nevis Bluff Rapids in New Zealand | Photo: Courtesy of Outside TV

It really makes you question how worth it, it really is. I mean, how many more drops, how many more rivers, how many more crazy rapids can you run before you lose a friend – Sturges

Rivers can be a humbling place for even the most experienced paddlers as this video shows. It stresses the importance of being properly trained in river rescue, also ensuring you are always wearing the proper safety equipment.

It is amazing that they managed to capture this entire situation so well. This being filmed at a time when drones where not a thing and instead paddlers had to arrange for a helicopter to follow them down river.

Times are changing. Now that drones are becoming much more common in a filmmaker’s tool kit, these scary situations are more likely to be captured and can be shared with other paddlers to learn from.