I purchased the Wenonah Escapade 2 weeks ago after reviewing many models for the last year. I do a variety of canoeing in many types of conditions. Over half the time I solo. From my research, the Escapade seemed the best match for me. The Escapade replaces a royalex 16' Old Town Penobscot which I paddled for 22 years. I was looking for better speed, straighter tracking and also better solo handling. I do a variety of paddling so it is hard to find one canoe that fits for me. The Penobscot was a good choice for many years. My main reason to look at something different was that on flat water trips my wife and I had to paddle hard to keep up with our friends who own faster performance canoes (whereas they were taking it easy).
The main trade off for me is for river trips where there are class I and sometimes class II rapids. Also I frequently canoe in low water conditions where scraping gravel and rocks is the norm. I soloed the Escapade down a reach of the upper St. Croix yesterday. Water was high so avoiding rocks was easy. I found the Escapade could handle the rapids quite well - mostly class I and one class II. I don't advocate this canoe for white water but I am not going to portage every time I see a riffle. I was very surprised at the stability. I went through some standing waves that appeared higher than the gunnels and it did not take on any water and I never felt in danger of tipping even when I got turned almost side ways. I found it very manuevarable. This was especially noticeable in that I had a stiff head wind the whole trip. The speed is excellent.
For my canoeing, the main trade off is that the Tuff Weave gel coat is very easily scratched as compared to the royalex hull I am used to. So rock avoidance is now a high priority whereas with the Penobscot it was an afterthought. Overall, I think the Escapade performs better than I had anticipated for stability and maneuvarability. It is fast and fun to paddle and a "pretty" canoe at that.I bought this boat in Tuffweave last week from Fluidfun in Bristol, IN (great experience) and just got back from its first paddle -- a local canoe marathon -- and I could not be much happier. I bought it with the intention of using it with my 13 year old daughter mostly with my wife occasionally taking a center seat. I considered some larger canoes like the Sundowner, Spirit II and the Escape. The first two felt very slow by comparison. The Escape seems about as fast (it was 1 ft longer), but front is flared and my daughter had a harder time reaching when in the front. We tried the Solo II and might have considered that except three people was impossible.
The boat tracks great. We could trim it out well with the front sliding seat. It is a great physical fit for my daughter and me. And it is fast....I was ready to buy a Solo Plus when the dealer showed me this boat. It's slightly wider than the Solo Plus and thus more stable for paddling tandem. But it's not as wide as most tandems, so quite suitable for paddling solo as well. I've got a Kevlar layup with three web seats. It's a very forgiving boat, great stability and tracking, and only 40 lbs!
All and all a very versatile and enjoyable boat. The only complaint is that the removable yoke uses very tight cotter pins with sharp metal edges. It's nearly impossible to slip the pins all the way in without cutting a finger-- really wished they'd gone the gunwale clamp route rather than use cotter pins.