Quebec-based Esquif has been producing high-quality canoes, and only canoes, for more than 25 years. A true paddler’s company, Esquif is paddler-owned. In addition to offering classic designs such as the Prospecteur, they have led the way in recent innovation, designing unique canoe models with the thought and planning that can only come from people passionate about spending time on the water.
Prior to 2014, almost all high-performance plastic canoes were made from a material called Royalex (and Royalite). After Royalex was discontinued, Esquif stepped in to fill a void. Their ABS plastic laminate called T-Formex has taken over as the bombproof, low-cost material of choice for anyone running whitewater or going deep into the wilderness.
Nikki Rekman, sales representative for Esquif, says that T-Formex has proven itself able to withstand the challenges paddlers put the boats through on wild rivers. She points to a video from canoeists wrapping their canoe on a remote river. They are able to free it and finish the journey, after a wrap that may have otherwise resulted in an evacuation. Watch the video here.
We’ve broken down Esquif’s canoe offerings by type, and offered some advice to help you choose the best Esquif model to match your paddling needs.
Our picks: Best Esquif canoes for 2022
Not sure where to start? Here’s a list of Esquif canoes we especially love. These canoes excel at the type of paddling they are designed for, whether you’re looking to take an adventure, run rapids, or hunt and fish.
Best Esquif Canoes
Shop Esquif canoes
Esquif makes more than 38 models of canoes, sorted into whitewater, touring and hunting/fishing categories, though there’s a case to be made that the categories overlap.
Hunting and fishing boats often feature a square stern. Square stern canoes can be equipped with a gas or electric motor, or paddled normally. They are often used by hunters, anglers or anyone who needs to haul cargo but prefers the light weight and propulsion options of a canoe instead of a conventional boat. These stable, high-capacity canoes are still suitable for transporting large, heavy loads.
Esquif’s whitewater line includes mostly solo whitewater boats. Some are dedicated saddle-seat whitewater canoes designed purely for river-running. Examples of these include the L’Edge and Spark. Three editions of the Vertige model incorporate more conventional canoe lines.
Life is about compromise, and canoes are no different. Not quite at home with the more dedicated whitewater designs, Esquif’s well-known Canyon and smaller Pocket Canyon models are tandem canoes designed for trips on remote whitewater rivers with room for gear. These boats are also reasonable choices for paddling flatwater stretches between rapids, and are listed on the Esquif website as touring canoes, though they are distinctly more maneuverable and less efficient than some touring models.
The touring lineup is Esquif’s most varied group. Here you will find flat-bottomed recreational boats like the Adirondack, the all-around Prospecteur design for tripping and the cottage-ready Huron 16. This category is where most casual canoe buyers land, but these are still thoughtfully designed and well-made canoes. Depending on the touring you are looking to do, there is a boat here for you.
Explore the options in the links below. They will take you to our Paddling Buyer’s Guide where you will find specs, prices, reviews and places to buy the canoes locally or online.
Shopping for a used Esquif canoe?
If you’re lucky enough to come across a used Esquif canoe for sale, don’t be put off by superficial scrapes and dings; that boat is still river-worthy. However, any lateral lines or creases across the hull indicate the canoe has been seriously wrapped. For everyday paddlers, this is fine, but be wary if you are going to be doing lots of river-running as well, since the crease lines are now weak points.
Being so durable, it’s no wonder that Esquif canoes are a favorite of summer camps and outfitters. Check with them to see if they plan to sell any canoes at the end of the season in order to replenish their fleet.
For more tips on what to look for when selecting a used canoe, read our article How To Buy A Used Canoe.
Esquif canoe buying advice
Consider three aspects of a canoe: the shape, length and the materials it is made from. All are important when deciding which canoe to buy.
Shape is often considered first, as the type of paddling determines the canoe design. Prospector-style boats are efficient yet versatile and suited for tripping, while flat-bottomed and square-sterned boats are slower, more stable and used for hauling cargo or recreational travel.
Some canoes are only available in specific lengths, but others have options. A common question is, “What length of a tandem tripping canoe do I need?”. Tandem canoes can range from 16-18 feet, or even longer in exceptional cases. Shorter 16-foot boats may be easier to store, lighter to carry and turn more readily. Conversely, longer canoes have significantly more packing space and will track (go straight) much better, making them boats of choice for long stretches of open water.
For week-long trips or mostly river paddling, 16-foot canoes balance storage and maneuverability needs. Seventeen-foot canoes have sufficient space for a month-long trip and track better on flatwater. Eighteen feet is enough for an optional third seat. Esquif’s Miramichi 20 is the stretch limousine of the canoe world; with four seats, it’s great for families with young children. They are popular among outfitters looking for a boat that can accommodate two non-paddlers and two experienced ones.
Once shape and length have been decided, a material needs to be chosen. Durability is essential to consider when looking at a canoe. A canoe is a significant purchase, ideally lasting for many years or decades.
Esquif makes canoes that can take whatever you throw at them. These are high-performance canoes made for whitewater and wilderness travel. If you are looking to purchase a supremely capable canoe and are not concerned about carrying weight, these are the right boats.
T-Formex material is a new innovation in robust canoe materials, designed by paddlers and representing a path forward after Royalex was discontinued by the large plastics manufacturer that produced it. T-Formex is made from multiple layers of abrasion- and impact-resistant ABS plastic, molded to the shape. It’s a sandwich construction. The outer layer of the hull is coated in UV-resistant vinyl.
The sun’s UV rays cause more wear on canoes than anything else, so the vinyl coating is a big head start in protecting your investment, though covered storage is still recommended. In between the layers of ABS is a foam core, providing additional flotation to ensure the canoe will not sink if capsized, or worse.
In situations of extreme duress, like when a boat is pinned against a rock in a rapid, the material will bend instead of break, offering the ultimate in durability and wilderness reliability.
Are Esquif canoes good?
Esquif canoes are good for people who want a durable, reliable canoe and don’t mind carrying a bit of weight. They aren’t ultralight by any means—but these rugged boats will stand up to any challenges canoeists put them through.
Where are Esquif canoes made?
Esquif’s T-formex canoes are all made in their factory in Frampton, Quebec (canoe country). The rotomolded polyethylene boats in the saddle-seat whitewater series are made through Liquidlogic in North Carolina.
Esquif canoe dealers
If you are wondering where to buy Esquif canoes, use the dealer locator tool. Find them at dealers across Europe and North America. Direct orders can also be placed with Esquif for custom boats or colors.
Is Esquif out of business?
Esquif canoes are not out of business, and in fact are increasing production to meet increasing interest in canoeing.
Esquif canoe price list
Esquif’s T-Formex boats are more expensive than standard plastic canoes because the plastic is more advanced. They vary in price according to model and length, but generally range from $2,000–$2,500 CAD.
Esquif canoe reviews
Browse reviews of Esquif canoes from the expert staff at Paddling Magazine here. These are helpful in deciding whether this may be the right canoe to match your paddling style.
- T-Formex Review: Frank Wolf Canoes 1,800 KM To Test New Material
- Boat Review: Esquif Excite Canoe
- Esquif Pocket Canyon Canoe Review
- Review: Esquif Zephyr 2.0 XL
- Small Canoe Review: Esquif Canoes’ Prospecteur 15
- Canoe Review: Esquif Canoe’s Huron Recreational Canoes
- Solo Canoe Review: Esquif Canoes’ Extasy Creek Boat
- Esquif L’Edge Canoe Review
- Shootout: Esquif Spark vs. Bell Ocoee Canoe Review
- Boat Review: Esquif’s Zephyr
- Boat Review: Esquif’s Taureau
- Boat Review: Esquif’s Spark
- Open Boat Review: Esquif Detonator