Width (in)
Weight (lb)

Pal 16 Options

  • TuffStuff Expedition

    58 lb
    Innegra Composite
  • Aramid Lite

    42 lb
    Kevlar/aramid Composite
  • Blue Steel

    47 lb
    Carbon Composite

    Pal 16 Description

    During its long history of building canoes, the Chestnut Canoe Company produced a range of models they called Pleasure canoes. One model proved to have such universal appeal that it became the definition of a general-purpose craft. This model began life as the Ajax but it grew to be so popular that it was renamed Pal to reflect the affection owners felt while using it. Nova Craft has painstakingly reproduced the lines of the original Pal to provide today’s paddlers with the opportunity to own one of the best general-purpose traditional canoes ever made. It’s a great choice for paddlers who want a canoe that does it all well. Nicely suited for flatwater trips or short outings for sightseeing or fishing, the Pal handles rough water well and feels comfortable in windy conditions. Indeed, it’s a pleasure to paddle either tandem or solo. Once you paddle one you’ll know why owners call it “My Pal”. Shown in TuffStuff.

    Pal 16 Specs and Features

    • Structure: Rigid / Hard Shell
    • Seating Configuration: Tandem
    • Ideal Paddler Size: Average Adult, Larger Adult
    • Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate
    • Ideal Paddler Size: Average Adult, Larger Adult
    • Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate

    Nova Craft Canoe
    Pal 16 Reviews

    Read reviews for the Pal 16 by Nova Craft Canoe as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!

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    I bought a Nova Craft PAL as…

    Submitted by: paddler777978 on 5/19/2020
    I bought a Nova Craft PAL as I was starting to get into canoeing, id like to say I bought it for looks performance etc but in truth I bought it because it was the right place at the right time and cheap. I thought it would be a cheap stop gap until I could find a prospector. I was wrong! Some paddlng over here in the UK seems different to the states and the technique and styles. My paddling is very general taking in grade 3/4 rivers and open waters in winds up to force 4. Open water is a dream in my PAL, put some edge on and it digs in to maintain a solid reliable line, it tracks lovely in open water, turns smoothly and keeps a decent speed in gliding. It seems relatively unaffected in wind compared to boats with higher freeboard and carries all my gear for over nighters up to 6 day trips around Scotland and Wales. I tend to paddle from a kneeling thwart behind the carrying yoke apart from when I’m solo sailing where I sometimes use the stern seat with my luggage up front. White water is fun! It’s predictable, it turns fast when needed and provided I’m committed it generally does what I want it to do. I was worried that the low sides (compared to prospectuers) would take on a lot of water but it really doesn’t. I paddle rivers with 60” airbags front and rear and it seems to ride over most waves and holes. It does take on water but no more than my peers do on the same sections with their higher sided boats. I’d still like a prospect for big rivers but until Nova Craft donate me one I’ll happy making do with my PAL. If I won the lottery I’d maybe have a prospector for river and a PAL in aramid for open waters. The Royalex seems very light and forgiving and although it covers every rock it touches in splashes of blue the hull doesn’t seem to be missing any! Just changed my gunwales from pvc to ash and wish I’d done it years ago, all my future boats will be Ash

    This has been our family…

    Submitted by: uwkb on 9/4/2019

    This has been our family canoe for the past 6 years. For a 16' craft, it is stable, tracks reasonably well and has handled some big wind on the lakes. It doesn't have the capacity for longer trips, but for day trips or two person over-nighters, this is a treat.


    Upgraded to a PAL Bluesteel…

    Submitted by: paddler236939 on 7/12/2016
    Upgraded to a PAL Bluesteel layup for recreational use with my wife. The boat is stiff and with wood trim weighs 55 lbs making handling very nice. I much prefer this layup over our previous PAL Aramid light even with the seven extra pounds. Paddles very nice tandem with good glide speed and no flex. This layup has demonstrated much improved seaworthiness in waves. No oil canning period! This layup is solid. Solo, balanced with 70 lbs. of water forward is also very enjoyable paddled Canadian style. My wife enjoys our outings in the PAL and is starting to take a real interest in improving her paddling skills. This was my hope when buying the boat and my plan is proceeding nicely. In the near future we will retire and plan to travel and paddle the national parks in US and Canada. I'm confident our PAL Bluesteel will be a great companion for our future adventures.

    I bought one of the last Nova…

    Submitted by: paddler233476 on 8/25/2015
    I bought one of the last Nova Craft 'Pal' Canoes in Royalex, two months ago (Summer 2015) because it was the canoe Bill Mason loved (and I heard the loss of Royalex was a bad thing). I solo it by sitting backwards in the bow and place 24 litres of water in the front to trim the empty boat. I weigh 190lbs (on a full stomach) and the canoe performs beautifully.

    Now, I don't have any more than two months experience soloing, but I am very pleased with this boat. It also performs as good as I can ask for with me and my 110lb 12 year old girlfriend in the bow. I haven't yet taken it full of gear with two paddlers. I get the impression splashes of water might get in if weighed down in large waves, but I'm not too worried. I took it through some class 2 (and a half) rapids... terrific. I was however shocked at how easily the Royalex shows damage. Mind you it is only superficial, except for the shavings of plastic removed by the sharp rocks of a man-made lake.

    Other than that, the only complaint I have is that on occasion I find the rear thwart to be a little too close to my legs, but I'm 6' 3". I would also suggest the manufacturer to angle the seat bars downward to increase surface area on my thighs. This would relieve pressure when I'm kneeling. I typically only paddle prospectors, with a week of gear and about 80lbs of weak lily dipping kid up front.

    So far I'm really pleased with my purchasing the Nova Craft 'Pal'. Funny though, I had to buy it in the USA because they were sold out here, and just after my looney government trashed the loonie (and therefore my paycheck). $2700 CAD! Luckily the border agent was too Canadian to notice the 16 ft bright red canoe on top of my car I was smuggling (back) into the country.


    Last year I purchased a Pal…

    Submitted by: paddler234684 on 7/26/2012
    Last year I purchased a Pal directly from Novacraft in Aramid Lite lay up with ash wood trim. I was looking for a light weight recreational boat for either tandem or solo use. I own a number of other solo and tandem boats (Bell Magic black gold, Mad River Rx explorer and Wenonah Rx Rendevous). However, I wanted a light weight symmetrical hull for use with the wife or solo when traveling.

    The Pal has worked out well. When my wife comes along I can easily handle the Pal myself. She has some back issues that we don't want to aggravate. We use the boat for flat water recreation and birding. It paddles easily, decent glide and good all around performance. it has red topsides, sand bottom and tan interior. I really like the lines of the boat and have received many compliments. The tan interior is not to hot in the sun.

    When I paddle solo I sit on the bow seat backwards, place two five gallon collapsible water containers forward and under the stern seat and lean the gunale well over to make paddling easier since the boat doesn't have any tumblehome.

    I have to say I really enjoy paddling the Pal solo. I wouldn't have thought I would grab the Pal over the Magic when I new I was going solo, but I really enjoy paddling the Pal Canadian style. Trimmed with the ten gallons of water enables the Pal to handle light air (5-10 mph) no problem. The boat is also very comfortable and the Novacraft seats are just great.

    It seems the more I use the Pal the more I like the boat. The boat has turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. Thanks Tim Miller and all the folks at Novacraft. Great canoe!


    My experience with the PAL…

    Submitted by: paddler233842 on 10/14/2010
    My experience with the PAL ("Royalex-lite") is limited to day trips since purchase this past spring (2010) plus a 10-day canoe/camping trip (just over 200 km.) with my daughter in early Sept. Anyone familiar with the Kingston-Ottawa Rideau Canal route will know that this consists of a fair bit of open water --including some big lakes in the middle section-- plus some occasional canal cuts and relatively narrow river sections.

    The PAL's capacity is rated at 900 lb. Our put-in at Kingston, with the 2 of us (400 lb., me accounting for the larger portion, and intending to shrink by next year(!)) plus our 200 lb. of gear (we were determined to depend only minimally on the various amenities along the way) was initially serious cause for alarm. We set off in windy conditions, and with the PAL's low profile/low freeboard we had visions of being swamped at any moment.

    Our concerns turned out to be totally, absolutely groundless. As it turned out we had to deal with all sorts of heavy wind conditions (including a full day of 40 km/h, frequently gusting to 60 km/h, headwinds which we sometimes had to take on a close diagonal) and we never ceased to be amazed by the stability of the PAL.

    Neither of us are particularly strong paddlers, so we were also pleasantly surprised by the momentum we were able to maintain in both benign and adverse wind conditions.

    My one concern is that, so far, my experience paddling the PAL solo (albeit "light") has not been very satisfying. I do not have much experience as a solo paddler, but I know I did better in a Bob's Special which I had the use of last year. But I have received assurances from people much more experienced than I that the PAL also has excellent soloing potential, so I must reserve judgment until I have had the benefit of instruction and more experience in solo paddling technique.

    One last point: I find the "traditional" lines of the PAL (and most Nova Craft canoes I have seen) to be really appealing aesthetically. I never tire of just looking at her.


    I own a Pal Kev/spectra -…

    Submitted by: paddler232878 on 9/11/2008
    I own a Pal Kev/spectra - bought new last year. I paddle the canoe solo on flat water with 3 large dogs each weighing in the 70-90 lb range each.

    The canoe is extremely stable, primary stability excellent. My dog managed to put the canoe practically on its side getting out without tipping the boat.

    I had the bow seat removed for space, at 48 lb the Kev/Spec is not ultralight and that would be the only downside in my view.

    The low-profile and low free-board is a dream in the wind -its an all round great boat and as a relative novice, I am very confident in this boat. It's sturdy and well made.

    If it were available one day in Super ultra-light (under 40 lbs) that for me would be the perfect boat... as a woman solo paddler I'd like something around 35 lbs.


    I have a royalite Pal. I…

    Submitted by: rblturtle on 8/12/2008
    I have a royalite Pal. I previously had a 16' Novacraft Prospector.
    For my use, the Pal fits me much better. I don't do heavy whitewater, and for everything else I like the Pal better. It's noticeably lighter, narrower which makes faster and easier tandem and solo paddling, less freeboard to be caught by the wind. It has less rocker and has a flatter bottom, so it's not quite as good at extreme heals and spins. I installed a slanted kneeling seat behind the front seat facing backwards and paddle it Canadian style a lot that way. Paddled that way it could be a good high capacity solo tripper. It also poles well. I think it is an excellent choice for an all around canoe, particularly if you want to solo a lot.

    While I feel it is a bit…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/11/2008
    While I feel it is a bit presumptuous of me to write a review on a subject of which I know so little about, I am drawn to do just that because the Nova Craft PAL seems so delightful to me.

    My only previous paddling experience dates back to the Eisenhower era with a few trips around a small lake in a heavy/noisy Grumman. In the interim, I've done a good bit of sailing, but of late have become more interested in slowly checking out what is going on along the bank with a paddled craft. Oh, those kayaks seemed so charming... but with my 260 pounds (and a strong desire for a slightly more normal sitting position) I soon started looking at canoes.

    On paper, what I was looking for was a canoe with lots of secondary stability -- figuring that my sea legs could handle nearly any shortage of initial stability. With that as a criteria, it really didn't take very long to gravitate over to the Nova Craft website. After a few phone calls, I drove several hundred miles to meet the friendly, informative folks at Blue Mountain Outfitters and look at a Nova Craft PAL in Royalex Lite with White Ash gunwales. Now, this is a pretty boat: one glance down the sheer line explains why boats are always referred to as "she." The PAL seems almost eager to show off her maker's workmanship. All details point to a canoe that would be easy to live with and easy to maintain. Done deal.

    I've paddled the PAL a few times now. It is a very nimble canoe, tracks well, and gives very good glide. This would certainly not be my first choice as a platform for time-lapse nature photography, but this canoe gives it's paddler a strong feeling that leaning over will be met by a reassuring amount of resistance. She is simply very well behaved---as one would expect given her fine reputation established long ago by the Chestnut Canoe Company.

    The amount of time involved with oiling the gunwales (and the special winter maintenance made necessary due to the combination of wood and Royalex) seem well worth the effort – considering the beauty of natural wood. I hope to never own any boat that doesn't have at least a little wood to look at and feel.

    I'll rate the Nova Craft PAL a 9 confident that I don't know enough about canoes to claim to recognize perfection after just a few dances.


    One good thing about the off…

    Submitted by: CanoeDancing on 12/5/2007
    One good thing about the off season is the chance to review notes from the past season and develop plans for next season. When it comes to canoes it's a good time to decide whether to buy or sell or stick with what you've got.

    Back in May 2006, I wrote my first impressions of the Nova Craft Pal, and I don't have any reasons to change my review, only add to it a bit. First, I must point out that Nova Craft donated this Pal to the James River 400, so my review may be a tad biased...

    It's a darn good canoe for lake and river tripping where big whitewater isn't an issue. It weighs a good bit less than comparable 16 footers making it easier to handle on and off the truck and on portages. Putting the saddle in the canoe as mentioned in my first review was mostly so I could race it. Adding a few pounds of gear amidship gives the boat better balance. As pointed out by the builder, the seats are where they are so the paddler has a better position for a vertical stroke. Moving the seats closer to amidship would mean the paddler has to reach farther to paddle, thus losing the efficiency of a stacked stroke.

    The last day I used the Pal this season was about Mile 220 on the James, where the water is lean and the rocks and ledges are everywhere, making it a 'thread the needle' kind of day. My bow partner was an experienced kayaker who wanted to try canoeing and she learned quickly. With hearty bow draws and stern prys we could turn the Pal and place it pretty much where we wanted it each time. On the flats we could out run the recreational kayaks with no problem.

    I really like the Pal and recommend it highly for its intended use. If big whitewater is in the trip plan then move up to the Prospector. You'll lose some speed but gain a good bit of maneuverability and riding over wave trains instead of punching through them. If you're traveling on all lakes then I'd recommend the Cronje which is faster.

    On the whole however, you won't go wrong if you buy the Pal as your 'go to' boat for most recreational canoeing and wilderness tripping. If you want to test paddle this Pal just give me a shout, I'm always glad to show it off.


    I had a choice between the…

    Submitted by: CanoeDancing on 5/29/2007
    I had a choice between the Pal and the Prospector so I called the manufacturer and talked with them at length about my intended use; river tripping with interspersed lakes and Class I-II about 15% of the time. They recommended I go with the Pal. It's lighter, faster on the flats, and turns well enough and sheds waves well enough to use it for moderate whitewater. It's lower ends and less rocker means it is less affected by the wind, too.

    I brought the boat home and talked a friend of mine into entering a downriver race. We practiced an hour or two then showed up at the race and took third place in our division. Our time was 1 hour and 34 minutes for the 9.5 mile course, which had several Class II rapids. That is just under 6 mph. The winner only beat us by 7 minutes so I felt pretty justified in buying the canoe for fast wilderness tripping.

    The fit and finish on the canoe is good, the seats are bootlaced and the rails are vinyl. The yoke is carved but tended to slip off my shoulders so I added a 1/4 inch minicell pad. I think the back seat is too far back for level trim. The front seat is already far enough forward and going any farther forward would cramp the bow paddlers legs. So I installed a minicell saddle about 2 feet in front of the rear seat and leveled the boat right out. There isn't much rocker so it takes some effort to make a snappy turn. Its important to line up early for the rapids and have a good line picked. Leaning helps. We did a few turns with an off side lean like in a sea kayak and the stern-skid turns were pretty impressive. No doubt the Prospector would be a better choice if the rapids are big and confused and long, but for most rivers that I travel the Pal is an excellent choice and the advantage of speed and ease of paddling outweighs the need for running an occasional tight rapid. I look forward to updating this review at the end of the season after I've put a good many miles on the Pal.