Top 6 Best Whitewater Canoes | 2020 Reviews (Esquif)

Being in the water, you can do many relaxing activities, such as touring, fishing, cruising, etc. Some types of people are up for thrilling challenges and dare themselves to ride the whitewater. 

If you are among the whitewater adventurers, you know that the most famous boat to use here is a kayak. If you still feel unsatisfied using a kayak for your whitewater adventure, you must understand that whitewater canoes exist.

In this article, you will learn more about whitewater canoes.

Top 6 Best Whitewater Canoes Reviewed

This article will help you decide if canoes are the type of boat that will satisfy your whitewater adventure preference. In this section, you will discover the best whitewater canoes on the market.

  1. Esquif Raven Whitewater Canoe
  2. Nova Craft Supernova Whitewater Canoe
  3. Wenonah Argosy Whitewater Canoe
  4. Esquif Detonator Whitewater Canoe
  5. Nova Craft Moisie Whitewater Canoe
  6. Esquif Nitro Whitewater Canoe

#1. Esquif Raven Canoe

raven

Specifications

  • Length (feet and inches): 11’3
  • Width (inches): 30.5
  • Weight (pounds): 50
  • Maximum capacity (pounds): 242

When you first look at it, you probably think that this canoe is an ordinary playboat because of its asymmetrical and squarish stern, not until you start paddling it.

The Esquif Raven Canoe is a product of collaboration among the creative ideas of Esquif, designers Jacques Chasse and Bob Foote. What this canoe offers is excellent predictability, trackability, and acceleration, making it an ideal canoe even for canoers with little experience.

That is why you can say that this boat is fast and can guide across the river waves up to class III.

Aside from those characteristics, Raven offers excellent carving and turning that even canoers with advanced skills can appreciate. It also provides excellent primary stability, and it has soft chines to give a lift for speed.

That is why if you are looking for an excellent white canoe that is worth an investment, go for the Raven. You will enjoy your whitewater experience using this boat, starting from learning the basics until you become an expert.

ProsCons
Excellent predictability, tracking, and speed
Other models are faster
Versatile for any skill level
Excellent stability

#2. Nova Craft Supernova TuffStuff Expedition Canoe

supernova

Specifications

  • Length (feet and inches): 14’10
  • Width (inches): 32
  • Weight (pounds): 51
  • Maximum capacity (pounds): 850

If you want some privacy and want to go solo for your next whitewater adventure, you should consider the Nova Craft Supernova. The Supernova model comes in two variations: the TuffStuff and the TuffStuff Expedition. Choose the TuffStuff Expedition if you are looking for the canoe to ride the whitewater.

Like the TuffStuff, the TuffStuff Expedition uses innegra fibers, and basalt weaved together to form a fabric. These materials have infused vinyl ester resin to make it durable. What makes the Tuff Stuff Expedition better for whitewater is that it is a more durable version of the TuffStuff.

This canoe can withstand all kinds of abuse the whitewater throws at it.

The Supernova has an excellent design that allows you to ride the whitewater without getting any splashes. Professional canoers will love using this boat in the whitewater. If you like to use it in flat water, you may also do so.

ProsCons
For flatwater and whitewater use
Not excellent initial stability
Effortless and fast-trackingSensitive to the wind

Excellent secondary stability
Durable

#3. Wenonah Argosy Canoe

wenonah argosy

Specifications

  • Length (feet and inches): 14’ 6”
  • Width (inches): 30.25
  • Weight (pounds): 30 to 46 depending on the composite material chosen

The Wenonah Argosy Canoe is available in different composites: Tuf-Weave Flex-Core, Flex-Core With Aramid, and Ultra-Light With Aramid.

The Tuf-Weave FlexCore consists of polyester and fiberglass, resulting in a durable material that makes it resistant to impact. Aside from this feature, it is also lightweight and affordable. The weight of this Argosy variation is 46 pounds.

The Flex-Core With Aramid focuses on durability more than the lightness, although this composite is lighter compared to the Tuf-Weave Flex-Core. It is a versatile canoe that is usable to any water condition except extreme ones.

This composite consists of different materials such as foam core and fibers that add to the hull’s weight. Although it is weighty, it compensates for its durability.

Flex-Core With Aramid has no side ribs because there is no need for it. This composition is already enough to distribute loads around the hull, making it durable. Aside from these features, this option is also affordable.

The Ultra-Light With Aramid offers both lightness and durability. The Argosy made from this construction provides better speed because it is lightweight.

This composite uses aluminum plates into the hull. It also serves as an attachment to the canoes’ amenities, such as the seats and foot braces. Argosy canoes that use this composite weigh only 30 pounds.

ProsCons
Lightweight and durable (depending on the composite)Slightly unstable
Excellent tracking and turnability

#4. Esquif Detonator Canoe

detonator

Specifications

  • Length (feet and inches): 10’0
  • Width (inches): 27
  • Weight (pounds): 49
  • Maximum capacity (pounds): 198

Esquif Detonator Canoe got its inspiration from the Nitro model, but this one is faster, shorter, and more playful, making it an ideal canoe to ride the rough rapids. Using this boat, you can ride the different challenges the whitewater throws at you.

Aside from these characteristics, this canoe is stable and forgiving. Although it is not the best boat for the newbies, it is an excellent forgiving boat with a few experiences and training to become a pro.

This canoe features wood thwart supports, foam padding for the knees, adjustable foot braces, and a bag. It also comes with a built-in saddle and handles.

ProsCons
Paddles like a kayak with a planing hullNot the best option for beginners
Catches eddies without much effort
Slow in downstream
High sides and bow to keep you dry

#5. Nova Craft Moisie Canoe

moisie

Specifications

  • Length (feet and inches): 16’6
  • Width (inches): 34
  • Weight (pounds): 67
  • Maximum capacity (pounds): 1,100

If you are looking for a canoe that allows you to place much luggage for your long whitewater expedition, you should look at the Nova Craft Moisie Canoe. This model has a whopping 1,100-pound capacity, allowing you to paddle with your friend and to take much gear and luggage with you on your expedition.

This canoe can tackle the challenges thrown by the whitewater from rough waves to deep holes.

This canoe has a symmetrical shape and deep hull. It also has a generous volume. Because of these features, you can trust that this canoe is stable and maneuverable.

Because of its size, it also allows you to paddle even in flat water to ready you for the rough rapids.

ProsCons
Generous maximum weight capacitySome users complain about its narrow width
Maneuverable
Stable

#6. Esquif Nitro Canoe

nitro

Specifications

  • Length (feet and inches): 11’6”
  • Width (inches): 27.5
  • Weight (pounds): 51
  • Maximum capacity (pounds): 265

The Esquif Nitro is the basis of the Detonator design. It is no wonder why Esquif used Nitro as a basis of its reference for designing its Detonator model because of its impressive features. This model used to have a Royalex composite and was the first one to have a double-chined hull. It worked well, which is why many paddlers loved it.

Although Royalex is not out of the waters, it now uses the T-Formex construction, but it still maintains its double-chine features. Because of it, this canoe provides predictable control on the edge, turnability, and surfing. It offers impressive stability transfer between primary and secondary.

Aside from these features, the Nitro is also buoyant that allows you to go beyond your limits.

ProsCons
Maneuverable in eddiesSome users find it slow
Excellent surfing
Stable

Top Pick – Our Favorite Whitewater Canoe

Now that you have learned some of the best whitewater canoes to choose from and their essential characteristics, you probably have an idea which will work the best with you. If you ask which canoes are the top pick of this review, it is the Esquif Raven Canoe.

It is because there is almost nothing negative to say about this canoe. Even though some professional canoers find this model slower than their go-to boats, it is still an upside for the newbies. It enables the beginners to experience what the professional canoers do.

Even though it lacks in speed, the Raven compensates for its stability and tracking. Excellent tracking is a unique characteristic of a whitewater canoe. That is why the Raven is this article’s top pick.


Best Whitewater Canoe Brands

As mentioned, it is unsure if you will like any of the listed canoes. If right now, you are still in doubt whether to purchase one of these items or not, you should know the best brands on the market instead. Knowing these brands allows you to have more options.

Esquif

Esquif is famous for its canoes, which is the brand’s primary focus. It sells different canoe varieties that are excellent for whitewater, hunting, fishing, or touring activities. You can count on this brand because it has several ambassadors, such as Garett Fache, Theo Meunier, and Sabrina Barm, who can testify its canoes’ performance.

Jacques Chasse founded Esquif and started in his garage. According to him, he has been a paddler throughout his life. His family is too and had several adventures together.

It all started when he built some boat for his friends and decided to venture on it.

This brand created its boats using Royalex as a composite in the past. However, the company, the Spartech, that manufactured this material stopped producing it. It caused the Esquif to look for an alternative composite that led them to use the composite it calls T-Formex.

The brand is proud to say that most of its canoes are T-Formex-made. It also claims that what makes it different from the other brands in the people behind its products. According to it, paddlers are the ones who design the Esquif Canoes, and it cares for its customers.

Nova Craft

The Nova Craft brand came into the industry in 1970 and started by selling canoes made from fiberglass. It was a small business at the time, and the main office was a garage.

This brand is proud to say that it grew to where it is now, and it is capable of responding to its customers’ requests for new models and designs. It says that it is due to the quality of its works.

Nova Craft is now capable of producing different canoes made from other composites, not just from fiberglass. It uses materials such as Innegra, basalt, Aramid, carbon fiber, plastic, and polyethylene. It also uses the latest innovations and techniques to manufacture its canoes that include rotational molding, thermoplastic vacuum, and the like.

The brand is proud to say that it has spread in several parts of the world. It manufactures its aim to provide paddlers the best outdoor experiences and allow them to experience how it is to connect with nature.

Nova Craft currently sells different canoes for whitewater, prospector, recreational, cruiser, and outfitter purposes.

Wenonah

Mike Chichanowski was the one who founded Wenonah. It is not a surprise because he has been a passionate paddler growing up in the Mississippi River banks. He used his father’s canoe for his first experience, and that is where he found his canoeing passion.

When he was a teenager, he built his canoe using wood strips, until his skills developed and evolved into making fiberglass models in his family’s garage.

Currently, Wenonah sells different kinds of canoes, from solo, tandem, and racing. It also sells canoe accessories. 


Factors to Consider When Buying a Whitewater Canoe

Now that you know that there are canoes that you can use for your whitewater adventure, it does not stop right there. It does not mean that you can already go to your favorite store and buy any of the mentioned items.

Although the canoes listed here are the customers’ favorites, there is still no guarantee that you will appreciate the features each can provide you. That is why it is still crucial to consider some factors before placing your order.

Paddling Style

Canoes come in different varieties. That is why you should make sure that you will use a whitewater canoe in whitewater. Using it to cross the lake is unwise because whitewater canoes usually do not have excellent tracking, which is an essential characteristic when paddling in flat water.

The whitewater canoes have rocker for better turnability and full ends for a smoother ride. Multi-purpose canoes that are rideable for both flatwater and whitewater have combinations of these characteristics.

If you feel decided to pursue your whitewater canoeing sport, you should also be aware that whitewater has different difficulty levels, distinguished by classes from one to six.

Whitewater Class Levels

Class One

It is a whitewater condition that everyone can paddle in, even at the beginner level. It is a fun way to spend the day. Although there are waves, they are small and not dangerous. They create breaks between rapids.

Class Two

At this level, the waves can reach up to three feet. To get through to this wave, you need a canoe with an excellent maneuvering ability.

Class Three

This time, the waves can reach up to four feet and provide narrow passages. The water starts to rock the boat unsteadily. The water is already pushing against the sides of the canoe, but paddling can be exciting

Class Four

The Class Four is where paddling starts to become difficult because of the turbulent water condition. Beginners should not try engaging in this water condition because paddling here needs accurate maneuvering ability.

Class Five

Paddling seems uncontrollable. Waves are pushing you to all directions giving extreme whitewater canoers adrenaline rush.

Class Six

Class Six is the most dangerous whitewater condition. Only those who are brave enough or suicidal enough will dare to try to paddle in this condition.

Now that you know the different classes of whitewater and have an idea which whitewater class you can paddle on, what you need to learn next is the type of canoeing activity that you can do. Knowing these activities will give you an idea which canoe is perfect to use.

Whitewater Canoeing Subcategories

Creeking

If you think you can handle the Class Four up to Class Six whitewater, you can do the creeking. It involves paddling in challenging and technical rapids.

It includes riding the tight rivers, waterfalls, slides, where there is a large volume of water displacement.

The typical canoes for this whitewater activity commonly have rounded sterns about bows to allow fast resurfacing and prevent possible pinning. They also have an enhanced continuous bow rocker to withstand the obstacles because of less water contact.

Most canoers do not take their gear with them in this activity unless their boats have cargo to keep it unless they want their stuff to fly everywhere.

River Running

The river running is the most casual whitewater activity that beginners can enjoy. You can think of it as having a tour down the river that allows you to enjoy your surroundings’ beauty while experiencing slight whitewater challenges.

It includes multi-day canoeing trips and casual whitewater racing, and the water condition does not go beyond Class IV. You can take your gear, such as spray covers, to prevent water from getting inside the boat.

Slalom

Slalom refers to a whitewater competition. The water categories vary, which may range from Class Two to Class Six. The participants aim to race from the top of the river up to the bottom as fast as possible. They also have to meet some gates during the competition before reaching the bottom. 

Governing sports bodies set the required canoe specifications to get qualified. The typical requirements are:

  • 67 in length
  • Uses fiberglass, carbon fiber or Kevlar construction materials for the professional level, and plastic for citizen level
Playboating

Whitewater rodeo or freestyle are the other terminologies for this activity. This one is different from the others because the goal here is to perform your best tricks even if you are staying on a single spot. It is unlike the others where you have a destination goal by going from point A to point B.

The best canoes for playboating typically have a low volume at the front and the back of the boat, so you can perform their best tricks effortlessly.

Number of Passengers

Although it is common sense that you should think of the number of possible passengers before buying a canoe, some canoers forget all about it. Some have never expected that they would have a loved one willing to take a ride with them.

Others forget that their pets also add to the number.

If you doubt whether to have a solo or a tandem canoe, consider buying a convertible one.

Amount of Gear

Whether you are going for a long trip or not, considering the amount of gear that you like to take with you helps you decide the appropriate canoe size to buy. If you are taking a lot of stuff with you, such as water, blanket, and other stuff, you need to buy a large canoe.

However, you should balance the canoe features based on the amount of gear that you want to take with you and the type of activity that you want to do in whitewater.

Composite Materials

Whitewater canoes should be extremely durable because of the abuse that they encounter from bumping to several obstacles. The least that you would like to happen is for your canoe to break while you are in the middle of a Class V rapid.

The canoes composite construction refers to the combination of different materials and resin and forms them. It results in a lightweight but durable canoes that provide excellent water performance.

Manufacturers have various materials used to create a canoe. Some of them are their innovations.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass is stiff and durable. It is a cheap material used for a canoe construction that also performs well in water. It typically layers of woven fabric injected with resin and a gel coating that protects the boat from abrasion.

Cheaper canoes typically have fiberglass construction. Its hulls are rugged and light, making it excellent for recreational canoes. 

CrossLink3

The CrossLink3 construction is another durable layer of closed-cell foam materials between layers of polyethylene.

What makes this composite unique is its resilience. It can bounce back from an impact, and it also has an excellent buoyancy.

Kevlar

If you are looking for a lighter and more durable option than fiberglass, you should look for a canoe with Kevlar composite. The only problem is that it is the most expensive among others.

Aramid Lite

The Aramid Lite is your next bet if you are looking for a lightweight canoe. This composite consists of Aramid cloth infused with vinyl ester resin for greater strength.

This composition is ideal for touring or recreational canoes that are for flatwater use.

PolyLink3

The PolyLink3 is another composite that is durable, stiff, lightweight, and cheap. It consists of foam between rotomolded linear polyethylene layers.

TuffStuff

This composite is unique to Nova Craft. It consists of Innegra fibers packed with polypropylene and basalt-rock made fiber. The manufacturer combines them to form into a fabric infused with vinyl ester resin.

Canoes with this composite perform best in flat water.

TuffStuff Expedition

The TuffStuff Expedition is an upgrade to TuffStuff, making it an ideal composite for whitewater and touring canoes. It is stronger than the TuffStuff.

It has stiff, impact-resistant, and lightweight characteristics.

Royalex

The Royalex is your next option if you are looking for a composite that is resistant to obstruction impact and abrasion. Like the CrossLink3, it also has a resilient quality that allows the canoe to bounce back. Aside from these impressive features, the Royalex has closed-cell foam inside the ABS layers and vinyl.

Royalex Lightweight

The Royalex Lightweight, also known as R-Light, balances the canoe’s characteristics between durability and weight. It has the same construction as the Royalex, but it saves weight more.

Blue Steel

The Blue Steel composite refers to the combination of carbon fiber and Aramid.  It offers the same lightness as the canoes that are Aramid-made. However, Blue Steel is more durable.

This material provides added stiffness to the hull that enables the canoe to paddle better.

Canoes that use a Blue Steel composite perform best in flat water and withstand long tours.

Portability

Consider your need to portage a canoe from one place to another. If you need to portage it hundreds of times, you need a lightweight boat. If cartopping is what you will most likely be doing all the time, you also need to consider the weight if you can lift it to place it on top of your car.

Price

Your goal is to cut costs but not spend extra features that you do not need, while not sacrificing the quality.

You need to note when buying a canoe is that the lighter ones are typically more expensive.


Conclusion

Hopefully, this article has helped you figure out the options that you have for riding the whitewater. Although a kayak is an excellent choice, a canoe is too. You only have to select among the best whitewater canoes on the market.

This article listed some of the bests that most canoers love To narrow down your selections. It also listed some information about its brands.

There is no guarantee that you will love one of them, but you can choose the best one for yourself by knowing the factors to consider when purchasing a whitewater canoe.


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: How to Clean My Canoe Properly?

A: The best way to know how to clean your canoe is to consult the manufacturer. It is because the manufacturer knows the composite of your boat, and it knows what kind of chemicals or cleaning agents that work against it. However, if this information is unavailable, you can use ordinary mild soap and water for cleaning. Avoid using cleaning solutions, except advised by the manufacturer. You may also increase your canoe’s protection by applying SPF 50 if your boat’s composite will not work against it. 

Q: How to Know the Right Size of Paddle to Use for My Canoe?

A: The factors to consider to determine the paddle’s right size to use is the paddler’s height and style. The best way to know is that you should be sitting position, place the paddle in a standing position, and the grip part is between your legs. Look where the blade shoulder levels with you. The right size is that it should be at the same level as your forehead, and the bent shaft shoulder is at the same level as your nose. However, if you are the type who paddles deeper, you need a shorter paddle.

Q: Where Should I Keep My Canoe When Not in Use?

A: The best way to store your canoe is to place it in a dry place where it is safe from extreme temperatures. It is best to put it inside a room or a garage where it is safe from the sun. It should be lying on its gunwale supported in two areas for proper weight distribution. You may also hang your canoe with ropes, not hooks, with the right side facing up to save space. Tie the strings in two places, and do not suspend your canoe, tying it on its gunwales, handles, or fragile areas.

Q: What Is the Difference Between a Whitewater Canoe and a Whitewater Kayak?

A: Both whitewater canoes and kayaks are shorter in length compared to the recreational type. They also have some rocker for better maneuverability. What makes a canoe different from a kayak is that canoes are more stable because of its more generous width. Canoes can provide more storage space and load capacity. Solo portaging is less complicated. Kayaks have better hull designs that make paddling more efficient. They are also more maneuverable.

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