Submitted: 04-17-2009 by Doug Andrews
Have had our two tone Kipawa since 2004. Learned how to paddle in a Muskoka 16. This boat is not for the beginner. The initial stability is low, having said that secondary stability is high. However, give this boat the respect it needs. Beginner paddlers will appreciate this boat after paddling a recreation boat for 2 or 3 years. This boat turns well, in fact it does everything well, but not great with the exception of handling rough water whether it is loaded or not. This boat is faster in rough water than calm for what ever reason. We know this from timing our runs and paddling with other trippers stroke for stroke.
The weight of the boat is 61 lbs. in expedition kevlar. Not a light weight by any means and no where near what the stated weight is. I believe all canoe companies are playing the weight game to drive sales. Sliding seats to trim the boat are nice, we put pads on the sides in the front to help cushion the boss' knees and I also added a custom made closed cell foam pad to the carrying thwart for portaging, what a difference, in fact I think swift now has them available after seeing mine. The boats prior to 03' I believe are better. There was a mold change done that winter that affected the handling of the boat. We test paddled a 92' in the fall of 03' and it was definitely faster on flat water than our boat. I discovered a couple of years ago that the older boats are narrower at and below the waterline and this would account for the differences in the boats.
As far a using the boat solo, it is ok for short trips, I would never take it tripping though, it is just too big and cumbersome. My solo boat is being picked up the first or second week of May. If you want a boat for everything the Mattawa is a better all around boat, I have used one of those on a few trips also. The paddling mechanics between the Kippawa and Mattawa are the same and are the same with as the Shearwater also. This is why I went with the Osprey for a solo boat, a lot less strain on the shoulder, the paddling mechanics are different with this boat. By the way the Bell Magic and Merlin boats paddling mechanics are also the same as the other boats mentioned above. The bigger solo boats are intended to glide and be a little more user friendly. Heads up on the Osprey solo also. There has been a design change on this boat, so all the new ones this year are a little different than the old ones, if I remember correctly the sides come in a little bit to make paddling easier. I live on Lake St. Clair by the way and do not work for Swift. Just happen to enjoy some of the boats they make. Happy paddling.