Made in USA.
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Reviewed by 1 customer
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Comments about Wenonah Itasca Ultra-Light Kevlar Canoe:
Bought our first Itasca around 2005. Bought another (used) Itasca and refurbished it in 2012. We still have both of them and another 17 or 18 canoes & kayaks. We've paddled many more. We like wilderness expedition, but rarely get the opportunity. We've paddled most western states, & some areas in Canada.
Together my wife & I weigh over 400 lbs, & I stand over 6 feet. My wife, a few inches less. Our kids were raised in the bow of our Venom Racer. We've done our minimalist camping, but enjoy good meals & simple frills, so we don't always pack light. Also, I'm an amateur outdoor photographer, carying equipment weighing nearly 100 lbs on photo ops.
We shopped a long time for our next "Perfect" canoe. It had to have leg room, be big enough for ocean, carry weeks of supplies, track well, and glide like a bird. Eventually we narrowed our search down to 4 different canoes and settled on the Itasca, Kevlar Flex-Core w/ Gel Coat. Shortly after, I injured my arm. I was unable to paddle for over a year. I still can't paddle a double blade, or match the racing strokes I used to love, but as a result, the maiden voyage of the Itasca was more than just a test of my passion…it defined our new canoe.
In high winds, and from the bow, my wife paddled a 9 mi. round trip in one day, & kept up with most of the rest in our group. After I was able to paddle again, we were victims of an intentional swamping prank. We rode quartering waves over 5 ft. from crest to trough & never went over. We did take on a small amount of water & the bow free-fell to the bottom with a slap, and still able to assist a flipped kayak suffering the same prank immediately after.
Insight & tips. This is a remarkable canoe. It instantly became our favorite. We ordered it with the Kevlar skid pads. Unlike after market installations, these are installed in the mold prior to laminating. There is NO additional drag. We got sliding/contoured seats, & a rear foot brace (I beleive these are standard now). After reading about wind problems, I was going to make a canoe cover. Not possible with my injury, so I called Wenonah. They told me: "Load extra ballast." An old trick we've used to trim out canoes for decades. But this required a lot of ballast & was soon abandoned. Our solution was a couple of car top bags. Empty or loaded, when tied between the center gunwals, these shed the wind like a raincoat to rain & provide a great & secure way to load the vessel. Speed is unholy for a touring canoe. It will never compete against a true racer, but for a tandem touring canoe it's heaven. Only down side would be the distance between the for and aft paddlers, makes communicating from front to back a purposful act. In fact, as with any tandum, good communication and teamwork are essential if you want to go paddling and remain friends.
Maneuvering was supposed to be a problem. But after 20+ years in a marathon racer, it was no big deal. We use many of the same strokes the racer needs, & we can turn it on a dime in an instant. And the glide…oh the glide...it has a Gene Jensen glide. Need I say more. To launch, I just shove off & jump in. Initial stability is shamefully off-the-charts, but the secondary is so good you almost can't find its limits. Get a light color, it hides the scratches better. Would be nice if Wenonah would offer pre-finished gunwale options for an additional price. It took me weeks to finish ours one handed.
The basic strokes that allow you to pilot this vessle can be learned in a summer and mastery can be obtained with practice. If you are serious about canoeing, then it's worth the effort to start with the best, and enjoy it for the rest of your life.
The price was high, but worth it. Are there other great canoes out there? No doubt. So the down side would be this: I'll probably never have a desire to find out.
keep your bottom wet!
Service and delivery comments:
Strongly urge you to have it delivered to an REI outlet. Home delivery can be difficult to arrange and exicute.
* Intermediate markdowns may have been taken.
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