Nova Craft Canoe began producing fiberglass canoes in 1970 out of a garage in London, Ontario. More than 50 years later, they’re still making canoes in London—just in a factory rather than a garage. Nova Craft has expanded their offering of canoes while remaining true to their roots—producing high-quality canoes for exploring the wild spaces of the world.
Anyone who is looking for a canoe should seriously consider Nova Craft. The canoes Nova Craft makes range from 12-foot solo canoes to 18-foot Prospector tripping boats, with whitewater, recreational and cruiser boats in between. These canoes are available in ultra-lightweight aramid composite materials or durable plastics, with many customization options.
We’ve compiled information on Nova Craft’s canoes, along with some tips that will help guide your next purchase. Read on to find out more.
Top picks: Best Nova Craft canoes for 2024
Best Nova Craft Canoes
Prospector 16 Blue Steel
Muskoka 15' 10" Fiberglass
Prospector 15' SP3
Prospector 15 TuffStuff Expedition
Special Edition Prospector
Pal 16' TuffStuff
Prospector 15 Fiberglass
Bob Special Blue Steel
Bob Special 15' Aramid Lite
Prospector 15 TuffStuff
Shop Nova Craft canoes
If you know what type of Nova Craft canoe you’re looking for, follow these links to our Paddling Buyer’s Guide, where we’ve compiled all the important information: dimensions, reviews, prices and places to buy them. Keep reading to find a breakdown of Nova Craft Canoe’s offering and to get a better idea of the boats available.
Shop by material
Shopping for a used Nova Craft canoe?
If you are looking to get the most out of your canoe-buying budget, finding a used Nova Craft canoe is the way to go. Canoe designs change very little from year to year, so expect similar performance from a used canoe in good condition compared to new. For a first-time canoe buyer, this is a great way to maximize value.
Nova Craft canoes built before 2014 may be made of Royalex plastic or the slightly lighter Royalite. Once the standard for bombproof canoes, this ABS plastic material was discontinued by the manufacturer. Used Royalex canoes can still be found, although they are often snatched up quickly. If you see one that is in good condition, act fast.
Look for used Nova Craft canoes on traditional online classified boards. Outfitters and summer camps frequently replenish their fleets, and when they do so, they will sell off older boats. This typically happens at the end of the season, so it doesn’t hurt to begin inquiring in the late summer months.
Like buying any boat, consider the type of paddling you want to do and research the available options online. This will help you save time on your search and get the boat that suits you best.
For more tips on what to look for when selecting a used canoe, read our article How To Buy A Used Canoe.
Nova Craft canoe buying advice
If you are looking to buy a Nova Craft canoe it’s essential to consider the type of paddling you plan to do. This will influence the canoe model and material. Let’s look at Nova Craft’s breakdown of canoe types to help you explore what they have to offer.
Types of Nova Craft canoe
Nova Craft sorts their canoe models into four categories: Recreational, Cruiser, Whitewater and Prospector.
Recreational canoes in the lineup include the Bob Special, Fox, Muskoka, Pal, Teddy and Trapper models. These boats are perfect for beginner canoeists, families or anyone who wants a stable boat to take on calm waters. Their somewhat flat hulls make them choice models for anglers as well.
The Cruiser canoe category suits paddlers looking to travel quickly and easily across flat water. Boats in this category are built with a low profile to minimize drag. Some, like the Haida, feature an asymmetrical design for speed and a flat bottom for added stability.
The other cruiser, the Cronje, is built from the Chestnut Canoe Company’s classic design. This is the boat you want if you want a fast canoe to take on large lakes.
Nova Craft’s whitewater canoe offerings are the Moisie 16’6” and the Supernova 14’10” Solo. These boats are built for wilderness whitewater canoeing. Very few wilderness trips are purely whitewater, and these routes require paddling through flatwater to get to the steep stuff.
With this in mind, Nova Craft’s whitewater canoes are maneuverable enough to control in rapids but still paddle well along the calm sections. The deep hull and high capacity ensure both a dry ride and enough space to take along everything you’ll need.
The final category is the Prospector series. Deemed “the workhorse of the North”, the Prospector design is a do-it-all type of boat. Many companies produce a version of this boat. The particular designs may vary slightly, but the same characteristics persist: a Prospector is a symmetrical-hulled, high-capacity canoe intended for expedition travel.
Nova Craft’s version is modeled after the Chestnut Canoe Company’s Prospector made famous by the artist, canoeist and filmmaker Bill Mason. It can be used for open waters or Class I-II+ rivers.
If you are a canoeist looking to do everything but only have space (or a budget) for one boat, consider a Prospector. The symmetrical hull means it can be paddled tandem or solo by sitting backwards in the bow seat. These boats paddle best loaded with gear and are available from Nova Craft in 15-,16-,17– and 18-foot lengths.
When it comes to canoe length, the longer 17- and 18-foot canoes have a higher storage capacity and are suitable for multi-week expeditions. Shorter lengths do not have the same capacity, but they are more maneuverable on tight rivers and easier to solo paddle. If you are sticking to short trips on smaller waters, a 15- or 16-foot boat is all you will need.
We’ve already touched on the discontinued Royalex material in the Used Buying Advice section, so let’s look at the options available in 2022, from heaviest to lightest.
SP3 is Nova Craft’s entry-cost canoe material for their most durable canoes. First-time canoe buyers may assume that a heavy canoe is always a bad thing and that the more expensive a canoe is, the better it will be. This is not always the case.
Although there is certainly a relationship between cost and weight, it ultimately depends on how you want to use your canoe. If you are looking for a durable canoe that can withstand all degrees of hard use, SP3 is the right choice over an ultralight canoe that will crumple if pinned in a rapid.
Creating SP3 canoes involves rotomolding, a process that slowly spins melted polyethylene plastic in a canoe-shaped mold. Nova Craft’s process results in three layers, two rigid layers with a foam one in the middle. The foam adds flotation, preventing it from sinking if it fills with water.
Nova Craft got its start producing fiberglass canoes, and they continue to do so today. Woven fiberglass cloth is layered with epoxy to make a canoe that is durable and reasonably light, without breaking the bank. They weigh less than SP3 canoes, with a 16-foot fiberglass Prospector weighing 66 lbs/30 kg compared to the SP3 Prospector’s 85 lb/38.6 kg.
Fiberglass canoes also cost less than TuffStuff or other composite materials. These are good boats for recreational use or light canoe tripping.
TuffStuff and TuffStuff Expedition are Nova Craft’s flagship materials, developed after the demise of Royalex. The aim was to create a material tough enough to withstand tripping and whitewater abuse but still be easy enough to carry.
TuffStuff uses a blend of melted basalt rock and Innegra fiber. Innegra is a synthetic fiber made with polypropylene. It is lightweight, impact-resistant and water-resistant, making it a perfect material for canoe hulls. The composite construction is stiffer than SP3, resulting in a more responsive feel.
The TuffStuff canoes are priced in the mid-range of Nova Craft’s offerings. The composite construction helps to keep the boat light enough to carry while still being durable enough to bump and grind down rivers.
A 16-foot Prospector in TuffStuff weighs just 56 lb/25.4 kg, or the more robust and reinforced TuffStuff Expedition comes in at 62 lb/ 28.1 kg, very manageable weights for the portage trail. Read more about what a TuffStuff canoe can handle here.
Aramid Lite is Nova Craft’s ultralight material for flatwater tripping canoes. A composite material like fiberglass, aramid has an extremely high strength-to-weight ratio. It is abrasion-resistant and extremely stiff. Kevlar is a well-known example of an aramid material. These canoes are on the expensive end, but they have a significant advantage in weight.
A 16-foot Prospector canoe in Aramid Lite weighs just 45 lb/ 20.4 kg! This is light enough to easily load or unload the boat solo onto a vehicle or for long portages.
The space-age Blue Steel canoe material blends the best qualities of the above materials into a super canoe. This hybrid of aramid and carbon fibers infuses Innegra into the hull for extra reinforcement. It’s stiff and light but ready to tackle tough rivers and handle abrasions.
The additional process adds a higher cost, making this the most expensive layup in Nova Craft’s fleet, but with a 16-foot Prospector weighing just 48 lbs/21.8 kg, it’s a canoe that can be carried just about anywhere.
What is Nova Craft?
Nova Craft is a canoe manufacturer based out of London, Ontario. They’ve been making canoes for flatwater and wilderness trips since 1970.
Are Nova Craft canoes good?
Nova Craft canoes are good for paddlers looking for reliable, high-performance canoes for flatwater, fishing and wilderness tripping. Different models are crafted for specific uses, and Nova Craft’s offering presents many options and possible customizations.
Where are Nova Craft canoes made?
All Nova Craft canoes are made in their factory in London, Ontario.
Who owns Nova Craft Canoe?
Nova Craft canoe was purchased by Chris Rath in 2019. Before that, it was run by Tim Miller and Pat Malloy.
Nova Craft Canoe price list
How much are Nova Craft canoes? Pricing depends on the canoe model and materials, but they range from $1,200 CAD for a 15-foot Prospector SP3 to $4,109 CAD for the Cruiser series boats in the lightweight Blue Steel material.
In the canoe world, Nova Craft Canoes compare to most companies. With their wide selection, they align with other manufacturers’ prices.
For current Nova Craft canoe prices for each model, check out our Paddling Buyer’s Guide.
Nova Craft Canoe dealers
If you are wondering where to buy canoes from Nova Craft, there is an extensive dealer network across North America and Europe. It is possible to buy direct, but the company recommends getting to know and supporting your local paddle shop to save on shipping costs. Nova Craft canoes are also available at national outdoor chains like Mountain Equipment Company.
Nova Craft Canoe weights
Nova Craft Canoe’s weights are influenced by the boat lengths and materials. Building off our detailed breakdown of the materials above, we will continue to use the 16-foot Prospector as a baseline. Here’s how the material determines the weight of a 16-foot Prospector:
Material Weight SP3 85 lb / 38.6 kg Fiberglass 66 lb / 29.9 kg TuffStuff 56 lb / 25.4 kg TuffStuff Expedition 62 lb / 28.1 kg Aramid Lite 45lb / 20.4 kg Blue Steel 48lb / 21.8 kg
Compare Nova Craft canoes
Nova Craft vs Swift canoes
Swift Canoe and Kayak is another Canadian boat maker with deep roots in the backcountry. These boats are tested in Algonquin Provincial Park and feature a Prospector model as well. They are known for producing high-quality canoes, and whether you choose Nova Craft or Swift, you will be getting a canoe that performs well.
Much of the differences come down to individual preferences and intended use. The only way to truly know which one is right for you is to try them both.
Nova Craft canoe reviews
Begin to search for Nova Craft canoes by reading expert reviews from our staff at Paddling Magazine. This is a great way to understand the capabilities of each boat and what they can be used for. With such a wide range of boats, you’ll be sure to find one that matches your paddling needs.
- Boat Review: Nova Craft Prospector 17 TuffStuff Expedition
- Boat Review: Nova Craft Bob Special
- Boat Review: Nova Craft Fox 14 Solo Canoe
- TuffStuff Review: Nova Craft Prospector 16 Canoe
- Nova Craft Moisie Canoe Review
- Nova Craft Rob Roy Canoe Review