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Old 03-19-2009, 04:52 PM   #21
Join Date: Aug 2008
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foot braces

I think Peter is including the foot braces now, but don't hold me to it. but they are a must. Takes at the most an hour to put them in(while you wait), that is if you can stop talking with Peter.... Great place with a great product. I love my 12 ft low profile carbon fiber and I have dragged it a lot of places in the first year that I have owned. I use mine just for fishing and pond hopping or what we call Hornbecking....dave
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Old 03-19-2009, 06:03 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Adk Keith View Post
I would agree with Wldrns earlier statement regarding the all carbon fiber boats being more brittle than the kevlar or kevlar/carbon boats. I have cracked my gunwales twice.
I think a length of 2" fiberglass tape epoxied over the length of the gunwales would toughen them up considerably and add only a few ounces of weight.
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Old 03-20-2009, 12:57 AM   #23
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Great thread! Thanks to all who have responded to the questions of the three of us planning on purchasing solo canoes. Lots to consider. So little time before paddling season is upon us.
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Old 03-20-2009, 12:22 PM   #24
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All of you in the market for canoes.. at least one of you need a kayak.. come to the dark side.. faster.. stable.. comfortable.. sealed storage.. light weight (relatively)... AND it comes with a FREE four hour lesson of purchasers choice.. Intro to Kayaking; Open Water Rescue; Eskimo Roll (BOTH directions); and includes lunch. ****See ad below!
(KAyak lesson NOT valid before ice-out- shipping and handling included within 75 miles)
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Old 03-22-2009, 10:12 AM   #25
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Great thread! I have learned that ultimately I do need 2 canoes (to go along with my 2 kayaks)

This year...recovering from an ankle fracture, won't be portaging much anyway, looking for comfort and something that is easy to get in, want some speed, hoping to do a lot of fishing, paddling like raquette river, ausable river, Taylor pond, Lake Lila, local lakes/ponds,etc. All this has me looking seriously at the Wenonah Fusion. I think that raised seat will be easiest for me to get into. And that rudder is made for drifting down the Raquette, casting into log jams along the way.

Next year its a hornbeck...
“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds.” ~ Aldo Leopold
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Old 03-26-2009, 05:35 PM   #26
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Thank you all so much for the insightful information. I have read and reread these posts. I appreciate your input.
"Many men go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not the fish they are after."
Henry David Thoreau
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Old 03-29-2009, 07:22 PM   #27
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Bell Bucktail vs. Hornbeck is a no-brainer

For me, the answer to this one is simple, Buy the Hornbeck!

I have done much more than just test paddle these two boats, I currently own both the Bell Bucktail and the 12' Hornbeck Blackjack. I have owned the Bucktail for several years and I was very happy with it until I tried to paddle it with my 75 lb yellow lab. The Bell Bucktail canoe is tippy to begin with, and putting the dog in it just does not work. The Bucktail tips over instantly as soon as the dog gets in the boat. My dog is always with me so I wanted to find a boat that could handle the added weight of my lab. I had seen the Hornbeck Blackjack and I liked the looks of it, so I headed to Olmstedville with my dog and a full pack to do a test paddle. The Hornbeck staff was knowledgeable, friendly and they were happy to let me test paddle the boat with my dog.

I was amazed how the Hornbeck Blackjack easily handled my 210lb body, my 75 lb dog, and a 50 lb backpack. My dog is really good in a canoe, but she will frequently spin around, or lean over the side of the boat for a drink. This is not even an issue for the Hornbeck. Even with 335 lbs in the boat, the boat paddles easily and does not feel tippy.

The Hornbeck is quick steering, yet it tracks straight when paddled aggressively. The seat in the Hornbeck is much more comfortable than the Bell. The Bell has an adjustable strap backrest that is located in front of the the wooden yoke. I have adjusted it every way possible and the wood yoke still digs in your back. The seat and backrest in the Blackjack is superior to Bell. The Hornbeck boat is also more rigid and sturdy feeling than the Bucktail.

The Hornbeck staff also custom fitted by Blackjack with foot rests and a lightweight rubber mat for my dog. The foot rests are a must for long paddles and they allow you to paddle more efficiently. Hornbeck will also rig a backpack mount so you can carry your boat hands free.

There is a reason that you see so many Hornbeck boats on car rooftops and on Adirondack ponds and lakes. They are an awesome boat at a great price. Hornbeck boats are as much a fixture in the Adirondacks as the Adirondack chair or lean-to. I am currently looking to sell my Bell Bucktail to make room for another Hornbeck. Feel free to email me at, I would be happy to answer any questions regarding these two boats.

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Old 04-02-2009, 10:56 AM   #28
charlie wilson
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For what it's worth;
Hornbecks, Nessmuks, GRE and Savage are comparable as one grouping of pack canoes: ultra light with emphasis on the portage, not the paddle. Back support is generally fixed, seats are generally a glue-in piece of foam and, footpegs are generally missing. Note that installing footbraces, backbands or better seating to improve control or comfort increases published weight

Bell's Bucktail is properly compared to Wenonah's Wee Lassie and the Vermont Tupper: all larger, more ruggedly built, more seaworthy hulls with emphasis on paddling. not portaging. They all come with foot braces installed and more complete seating with adjustable backband or backrest. Note that earlier BuckTails have a glue in foam seat.

As I am past principal in PB, take this with a grain of salt, but SpitFire is another, unique grouping. It's tumblehome allows a shorter paddle and more vertical stroke, the infused hybrid construction with foam and CobraSox integral rails and thwarts and attention to the paddlers cockpit; seat[s] adjustable backbands, footpegs and front thwart placement combine to yield a high performance product that is priced accordingly.

If you email me at charliewilson610@roadrunner I'll be glad to send you an updated pack canoe spec sheet comparing all available models with the Rushton originals.

Best chance to paddle a gaggle of these varied pack canoes may be Mtn Mans Old Forge Paddlefest in May. Bell and Placid will be there, Pete is just 45 minutes down the road, the Vt Canoe's pack can be paddled at Raquette River Outfitters, just an hour up Rt 30, and the GRE can be paddled at Mac's in Lake Clear, another 20 minutes from RRO.

The balance between on water and on trail, over-your-head, performance is individualistic. You gotta try 'em.

Last edited by charlie wilson; 04-07-2009 at 10:20 AM..
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Old 04-02-2009, 02:49 PM   #29
Adk Keith
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Originally Posted by Battenkiller View Post
I think a length of 2" fiberglass tape epoxied over the length of the gunwales would toughen them up considerably and add only a few ounces of weight.
To be fair, my boat is one of Pete's prototypes of the Blackjack. I believe the current BJs has more fabric layers in strategic locations, due, in some cases to what they learned from the prototypes.
'I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.' - Henry David Thoreau
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Old 04-02-2009, 04:12 PM   #30
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as I earlier posted, agree with Charlie Wilson. Having extensively paddled the Hornbeck and Bucktail, the Bell Bucktail was more seaworthy in choppy water, could be leaned to turn, and was noticably faster. If I were today looking for a boat where long portages to very small ponds would be slowly fished, I'd get a Hornbeck. If portages were half a mile or less and I needed to paddle the boat to get somewhere, I'd get the Bucktail. There are boats designed for being on water and boats designed for paddling. This is not a criticism of Hornbeck boats, just an honest assessment of their limitations based on their design. There will be people who will say they have done 40 miles in a Hornbeck in white-capped waves. Certainly possible but not the most efficient way to travel.
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Old 04-03-2009, 07:53 AM   #31
Rich Lockwood
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Wee Lassie's

Having owned several of these and currently owning a Savage and having paddled them all,I would venture an opinion that the cute name "Wee Lassie" and short length,is all these boats have in common. The vary wildly in paddling characteristics and performance. All Wee Lassies are not created equal. At least Placid came up with an original name.You have to paddle them to make any evaluation.
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Old 04-06-2009, 11:07 AM   #32
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Bucktail vs. Hornbeck

I wanted to take a bit of issue with Adkayer's statement that the Bucktail is more for folks who are concerned with paddling on the water while the Hornbecks are more for folks concerned with portaging.

I paddle a Bucktail that I bought second hand a year and a half ago. It's got the fiblar layup (fiberglass and kevlar) and it weighs 29.5 lbs. The newer kevlar versions weigh anywhere from slightly less than 20 to low-mid 20's, depending on which year they were made, what trim package, whether they have skin coats (minimal outer coating) or gel coat, etc. This week end I just purchased a all kevlar version that weighs 21.5 pounds from another forum member and plan to sell the older one. I also have a 16.5' Bell tandem, the Norhstar, which weighs 48-50 pounds, which I've paddled solo and tandem for a number of years. I love paddling the Bell boats and am a very happy paddler of both the Bucktail and Northstar.

My experience is that the Bucktail is a pleasure to paddle. It tracks well, has excellent secondary stability, can handle pretty big water, moves pretty fast for a short boat, and handles very nicely on winding rivers like the Oswegotchie. On the portaging end of things, there is a major, major difference between it and a normal tandem canoe, such as my Northstar. If you choose to double carry (take boat and pack in two separate trips), carrying a 30 pound boat on your shoulders with a yoke can be done for a long distance with minimal effort compared to typical, even kevlar tandems. I would say that it would be relatively easy to double carry the Bucktail (carry it by itself) on any portage in the Adirondacks, inlcuding those that are well over a mile. At the Bucktail weights, it can even be single carried. For example, last year, on an 8 day trip that included the Lows Lake-->Oswegotchie traverse ( >3 miles), I was able to single carry both the Bucktail and my pack with a week's worth of gear and still 3-4 days of food for the full 3+ mile portage, and that was with the 29.5 lb. model. I'm of average build and strength, and I could never have done that with my tandem boat. I agree that every pound counts and the lighter the boat the better it is for carrying, so the less than 20 pound Hornbecks are that much "better" for carrying, but to figure that the Bucktails are limited to a half mile portaging or that they're significantly limited in portaging as compared to the Hornbecks is not accurate in my view.

The other piece of advice I'd offer to anyone interested in buying a pack canoe or any other boat is to try it and other comparable boats out as much as you can before you make a decision. A number of folks on this forum and elsewhere are very knowledgeable, and definitely have useful information to impart. In my experience, you need to take some of this information into account. However, each boat has its own character, and it's very important to see how you feel with the boat and to have a frame of reference for comparison based on your own experience, not just what others say.

One other thought--I know a lot of people who've paddled various models of the Hornbecks and are very happy with them, so my satisfaction with the Bucktail isn't necessarily a criticism of the Hornbecks. It's meant more as a defense of the Bucktails' overall capabilities, not only on the water, but when carrying them as well.

Great thread!

Gerry Magnes

Last edited by gmagnes; 04-06-2009 at 01:06 PM..
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Old 04-11-2009, 01:45 PM   #33
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Thanks to those who endorse foot braces for the Hornbeck 10.5 boats. In my old Bucktail I could occasionally recline a bit and use the forward thwart as a foot brace, and I appreciated that. In my Blackjack 10 I always get low back pain after 1-2 hours, and sciatica follows. I've thought a lot about getting foot braces to help with paddling efficiency, but I hadn't thought of their potential benefit regarding relief of back pain. I've even thought of selling the 10.5 to buy a longer boat with a higher seat, to allow me to bend my knees more and relieve the back pain, but the increased boat weight over a 4-7 day wilderness trip worries me, not to mention the tree entrapment problem on carries, which was mentioned earlier in this string. I wonder if foot braces commonly prevent back pain from double blade paddling while sitting on low floor seats, or if there are only a fortunate few out there who are helped in this way?
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Old 04-11-2009, 07:43 PM   #34
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I can't imagine getting a good push off with each paddle stroke without footbraces.

They have always been in least 20 years. Why someone would want to sit on the floor and fight every stroke to keep from getting launched forward is beyond me. Of course they are better for your back.

And why anyone would build a double blade boat without them is beyond me too.

And I dont understand tree entrapment with longer solos. Never happened to me and I have had to climb over blowdowns with 15 foot solos. Why 15 feet?..because its required to carry several weeks of food and gear.

I have had to get out from under the canoe and haul it over twelve feet high stacked blowdowns in Norther Ontario, but never been trapped. If you pay attention you can avoid getting whacked by the ends. Its more depth perception and visibility than the boat. Yes portaging is a developable skill and its necessary to be able to point the boat one way while walking another on unmaintained game trails.

I just dont get the problem with longer boats, or not putting in proper footbraces (well attatched) to a "sit on the bottom" boat.
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