Two solid boats for whitewater canoeing.
For a good all-around solo boat that’s friendly to beginners yet still satisfies the seasoned river rat, try the Mad River Outrage (blue). At 52 pounds and 12 feet long, this versatile playboat is short enough to maneuver around obstacles, stable enough to handle big waves, and nimble enough to surf and make precision moves in technical water. I took the Outrage on the Gallatin and immediately realized it would take me a long, long time to outgrow this boat. The asymmetrical hull provided excellent buoyancy over drops; five and a half inches of rocker allowed me to turn quickly. The durable Royalex construction took a beating on submerged boulders and showed only a few scratches. Float bags front and rear and a comfortable, stable saddle kept me locked in tight—except, of course, when I dumped the canoe, which happened more times than I’d care to admit. Available at the Northern Lights Barn. $1,200 (vinyl gunnels) or $1520 (wood gunnels) plus whitewater outfitting; madrivercanoe.com.
If you want to paddle as a team, a great boat for western rivers is the Wenonah Rogue. This 16-foot tandem has excellent stability, plenty of freeboard for repelling water, and three inches of rocker for quick turning. At 69 pounds, it’s light enough to load and unload easily yet heavy enough to prevent any squirrelly behavior on the water. Royalex construction means it’s both strong and resilient. My Rogue has carried me and my partners through just about every major stretch of whitewater around southwest Montana—from massive rollers on the Yellowstone in June to the bony, boulder-strewn Gallatin in late August—and never once let us down. Available at the Northern Lights Barn. $1330 plus whitewater outfitting; wenonah.com.