RapidFire is a pack canoe with stunning speed in a portable, 27-30 pound package. A new fast and fun Adirondack classic.
RapidFire is David Yost’s transformation of the Adirondack pack canoe into a wicked fast tripper that runs with sea kayaks. Asymmetrical hull shape, shear and rocker, and shouldered tumblehome with an elliptical bottom make RapidFire one of the more sophisticated hulls afloat. The shouldered tumblehome allows more efficient, more vertical, double paddle strokes. That, combined with the wildly efficient (beyond racing spec) 7.5 Length to Width ratio, RapidFire flies like a scram-jet and tracks like a train.
RapidFire is available in expedition laminate with kneeling cane seat for smaller paddlers desiring a hot solo, single blade paddle, tripping canoe with unmatched forward efficiency.
Read and submit reviews for the RapidFire.
Long time flatwater kayaker, I've owned 20+ sea and touring kayaks. Knee and back issues have left me struggling with getting in and out of a standard kayak cockpit, as well as being unable to move my legs much while seated. While I was vaguely aware of the pack/solo canoes, in all honesty I had largely dismissed them as I thought they would be slow and track poorly. Boy, was I wrong! The Rapidfire is just a joy to paddle! Fast, very stable, comfortable, easy to get in and out of, tracks great, and handles flat calm and wind and waves with equal ability. I usually paddle with a double-bladed paddle, and the Rapidfire responds quite well. Quick acceleration, very nimble, and I even enjoy taking her out on rougher days and surfing on the waves. Super light (mine is 26lbs with the gorgeous cherry wood gunwales) and has a 450lb load capacity which is more than I'd ever need. (and I'm a big guy t 6'3", 265lbs) I love the seat and backband combination, as well, very comfortable. Stretching out and changing leg/knee positions is fantastic--something I literally can't do in a closed deck kayak. It's true that it does not track as well as my favorite 17-18' touring kayaks, but, it is FAR more nimble and easy to turn, and it's tracks 90% as well as my longer kayaks--which can sometimes be a chore to turn in tight quarters or high winds--unlike the Rapidfire. I also owned a Wenonah Prism solo canoe, but found that I really like sitting in the bottom of the boat instead of higher up on a tractor seat and rails like the Prism. I also found the Prism to more squirrely in wind and waves, and really need to be trimmed more often by sliding the seat back or forward, and/or adding a couple gallons of water in the bow or stern. When I load the Rapidfire I usually put most of my gear right behind me, and I do carry an empty one gallon jug in case in need the extra weight up in the bow to trim her out, but I rarely need that.
All in all a GREAT boat that I really enjoy paddling, and at the end of the day I get I big smile on my face when I pick her up on load her onto the car racks when she's so light and easy to manage. :)
My first time in a RapidFire canoe was at a town fair. They were having canoe races and many people either brought their own or borrowed from someone else. I ended up borrowing a canoe from an Uncle. I got second place in the race and the canoe I used was very comfortable and moved smoothly in the water. After the race I asked what type of canoe it was and it was a RapidFire. This canoe was great for a fun recreational race.
When you visit Placid Boatworks, Joe makes you feel like family. I was able to see one of the boats being made, and had a tour of the new shop. I had the opportunity to test paddle a Rapidfire to pick out the seat and paddle combination that was best for me in the adjoining pond.
My previous boat weighed in at over 60 lbs, and wasn't so fun to put on the top of my Yukon by myself at the end of a long day of paddling. With the Rapidfire, I know I will spend more time on the water because it is just so easy to manage. That is worth a lot to me.
I love the speed and feel of the Rapidfire. Joe was more than willing to answer a few of my questions during my visit since is my 3rd season paddling (I'm 51). My friend who grew up in the Adirondacks and is an experienced paddler absolutely loved the R apidfire when he paddled mine last week.
I am also happy that I was able to support a small business that actually makes a superior product right here in the USA! The workmanship and design is great, and I could not be more pleased with my purchase.
The Rapidfire is light, well constructed and fun to paddle on both the small and larger bodies of water we explored in the ADKS during the first paddling season.. The glide and handling are surprisingly kayak-like while the open deck and stability accommodate the dog and lots of gear. I opted for the medium kayak seating option and use a 230 cm kayak paddle. I highly recommend the optional dog pad.
I expect to add a deck cover for the upcoming paddling season for rainy and windy conditions. Overall I look forward to another summer in the ADKS with the Placid Rapidfire.
Easy to shoulder, at 25#, to launch and talk about responsive in the water! In a short time the craft almost reads your mind as to what you want to do. In rapids as well as pretty big waves on the lakes, it just eats them up! The tumblehome configuration really works. The incredible design responds easily to edging, etc. allowing terrific maneuverability.
And it's tough! On my first paddle in rapids on the Verde river in AZ, my unplanned "river bank relocation project" left the RapidFire none-the worse for the experience. In a word, it is a GREAT solo canoe!
In three seasons of use, I have only had one problem. I backed up into a sharp edge on a stump and made a very tiny crack on the side of the boat in the clear gelcoat. The repair was easily fixed with the materials and instructions supplied by Joe. I use the boat primarily for long hours of fishing. Each trip is usually around 10-15 miles and I spend around 50 days a year on the water. The boat gets a lot of use and it still looks great! The bottom scratch coat surface has very few scratches and that is amazing considering I go over logs and stumps every time I go out. This spring I will probably re-coat the gunwales for the first time. I could just do a couple of small areas where I have worn the finish down, but I figure after 3 years of use why not do it all. My paddle of choice is a 47" bent Gillespie with a powersurge blade. I can get 3-4 stokes per side and just sit and switch effortlessly.
I would definitely buy another boat from Joe. The folks at Placid Boatworks make a quality product and they are great to deal with.
A week after buying it I participated in the Run of the Charles. While not yet accustomed to the boat I came in 3rd in my class and 2nd in my age group and I am in average shape & weight.
Lightweight, fast, competent in all conditions and beautiful. It may be pricey but worth every penny. I paddle regularly with long sea kayaks (and I also paddle a long sea kayak myself) and very few can outpace me. At less than 24lbs it is easy to load and transport. I love it and can't say enough good things about it.
But back to the 90... and there were several Rapidfires entered, along with a couple of Spitfires. Joe Moore of Placid Boatworks was in his new tandem. there was also the "red tigershark" rf... since this was my first 90 I entered the open touring divison and took off on the first wave. On the second day I was about boat #8 to make it to the bridge and in the top 25 towards the end of the lake and that's when all the multi engined boats started catching up to me, including the war canoes. I had my gps with me which really helped keep me up to speed but it's really tough for a little'ol solo pack boat to keep up with these greyhounds. when I stopped paddling for a drink, gu, etc I came to a stop while the multi engined boats would pass me up, ug. but as long as my motor has some steam in it, the rf would do a pretty fine job of moving along, especially at the end of each day where I somehow managed to fire the afterburner miles before the finish and pass quite a few other boats, much to my astonishment! at the end of day two a k2 had just nosed me out at the line but I bet they were really working for it cause I was on full afterburners and doing over 6ish mph for quite awhile! Now if I had the motor of the red tigershark, well, things would have been a whole lot different! I was able to paddle with the tiger a bit and learned about strokes but it wasn't for long.
All in all, I'm quite proud of what I did in the Rapidfire, I finished as the top solo boat in the open touring division but not nearly as fast as the other Rapidfires racing in their class. the rf can be a fast boat but it can also go the distance. I can't wait to take it for some serious camping next summer!
Lately , I have been using a Zaveral racing paddle more and more, but for speed and in windy conditions, the kayak paddle stays available. Because it is a narrow boat, I had the kayak paddle shortened from 240 to 230 and it works fine.
I have a chronically bad lower back and this is the most comfortable boat I have ever owned and that includes 4 kayaks and 3 canoes. I can paddle all day in the Rapidfire with no backache at all.
I picked up my Rapidfire in Nov. 06 and waited for a year of paddling experience before writing this review.
I first saw a Rapidfire in July 06 when Charlie brought one to the Adirondack Freestyle gathering. He set it on the beach at Star Lake, turned, and walked away to chat with his long time friends in the Freestyle community. I asked him if I could paddle it and he replied, "That’s what I brought it for" and turned back to his conversation with his old friends. I paddled about 15 minutes, was extremely impressed with the canoe and then brought it back for others to try. To my surprise no one else stepped up to paddle it. Guess the Freestylers were more interested in canoes that went in circles than harder tracking ones optimized to cover distances. Could it also have been issues with canoes propelled with a double blade paddle instead of a single blade? After waiting a while and seeing no other takers, I asked Charlie if I could take it for a paddle around the lake. Charlie looked over and said, "I’ll be here for another hour or two, go ahead" and turned to resume the conversation with his old friends.
Now Charlie is quite a salesman in the best sense of the term. He can quote the specs and attributes of his canoes off the top of his head, compare them with anything that has ever been built and generally doesn’t put down other makers or their craft to boost his. However, this superb salesman had nothing to do with selling me on this canoe -- as happens in the best of experiences, the canoe sold itself! I paddled around Star Lake in less than 45 minutes, unaffected by the moderate wind, small waves or boat wakes.
The canoe is very attractive, but I have owned many beautiful all wood and wood canvas canoes over the years so beauty alone wouldn’t do it for me. My lust for the Rapidfire was for how it paddled! I haven’t figured out how he did it, but Dave Yost appropriated my body for the designing of this canoe. At 6’1” and about 205 lbs this canoe fits me perfectly. I had paddled a Spitfire a year earlier and at my size and weight I thought it was nice but wasn’t overcome with the same boat desire - I’m probably closer to the appropriate size and weight for the Rapidfire than the Spitfire.
I drove up to Lake Placid in Fall 06 to demo the Rapidfire another time before deciding if I wanted to order it. The canoe talked to me again. Charlie was too busy building canoes to spend time blowing smoke in my ears, so again the canoe did all the sweet-talking. After returning home and thinking it over once more the checkbook came out.
The Rapidfire has (for me) a perfect balance between very good tracking and enough maneuverability. It is very fast for a 15’ canoe. I find their low (on the bottom) seat comfortable. The lowest seat does pitch me slightly back into the back band (very comfortable), which does reduce trunk rotation, making for a slightly less efficient stroke. Works for days when my back is a little tweaky and asking for support. I also ordered what is now their "mid height" seat. It slips over the attached low seat and gives a somewhat higher seat that also tilts me forward slightly. This moves me off the backbend, allowing more trunk rotation for a more efficient stroke. I use the mid seat when I want to go faster using trunk rotation. Placid is now making a third seat that is higher yet. I haven’t used it enough to have a final opinion, but I’m tilted even more forward with that seat. I have feeling that it might need to be placed slightly rearward of the location of my low seat. It was developed for Joe’s racing and his powerful stroke probably lifts the bow enough to balance the slightly greater forward weight shift this seat causes. Try all three bottom seat options or the hung seat with sidewall stiffening and pick the one that works best for you.
As in all open double paddle canoes, there is some paddle drip into the canoe. It can be slight, or if the wind is blowing wrong, considerable. I leave a sponge on the bottom in front of the seat and squeeze it out ever 20-30 minutes. I have purchased the Placid spray decks but haven’t yet used them enough to rate them.
Joe and Charlie are easy to work with as you order your canoe. Some buyers have ordered the canoe for kneeling with a hung seat, which it wasn’t designed for. For them additional strength is added to the mid section to allow a hung seat. I wanted to change the decks and thwarts using my own stripped maple and apple wood instead of their Diamond Wood. They worked with me on those substitutions. I now have a Rapidfire with the "Anniversary Special Limited Edition Trim Package". Just a pretentious way to say that I traded their unique looking rot-proof wood trim for my less rot resistant wood, all in the name of my sense of aesthetics.
If you want a very fast "sit on bottom" canoe, start your search with a Rapidfire. It’s a fine canoe, built by some fine folks.
Fast, darn fast. No problem keeping up with my partners in seventeen foot sea kayaks.
Can exit from the boat onto anything. Its easier get out of the RF and climb dock ladders than it is from a sea kayak.
Rides over waves really well. The bow is quite light.
Maneuverable even with an abeam wind and sea. Can change direction in any sea.
Minuses: there is just one. The bow is so light without a load that the boat tends to pancake hard over the back of a three foot wave. I would advise always having a pack in the boat. This is after all a pack boat.
Spend a little extra and get the spray cover. It will keep you warm and cozy, which is about the only advantage I can find in a kayak.
From the second I was in the seat, I was comfortable with the boat. It didn't care if the wind and waves were from the front, back , or sides.It handled them all so well it was almost boring. For a 15' boat , it is very quick. We had a newby with us today and I felt like I waited more than paddled. It tracks very well and turns easily compared to my other canoes.
Placid says it is a kayak without a deck and I very much agree. It is the boat I've been looking for because I love my kayak paddle and this canoe is made for it. I hesitate to give any boat a 10 after a couple of hours, but I could find nothing wrong. The part I really liked was stepping out of the boat, picking it up and walking it up the ramp.
The wind and tidal current where I usually paddle have let me try the RapidFire in waves up to three feet (measured peak to trough). Deep-water waves haven't been a problem. In shallow water, where the waves get steeper, I often take on water. I have the canoe rigged with whitewater-style flotation, so taking on a couple gallons doesn't worry me much (and has surprisingly little effect on stability). I have practiced sea-kayak-style assisted rescues and had no problems getting back in the boat. I haven't tried the RapidFire in whitewater.
As to speed, the canoe is noticeably faster than my previous solo (a WildFire). I don't have any useful empirical measurements, since tidal currents taint the numbers.
Negatives: My boat had a minor wood-finishing problem that I fixed myself, after consulting with the helpful folks at Pb (they offered to repair it for me, but it was easier to add some polyurethane myself). The laminate on my hull isn't stiff enough for the way I use the canoe (I weigh just over 200 pounds, and much of my weight is on the rails rather than the floor, since I kneel, and that lets the floor flex a little); Placid Boatworks tell me they have fixed this problem in current kneeling hulls. I wish it turned easier (by design, the stern sits a little lower than the bow, to aid tracking, at the expense of nimbleness). I wish it had a deck to cut down wind effects and keep out the steep waves (Pb now offers a fabric deck -- haven't tried it yet). And while I'm dreaming, it would be nice to have a height-adjustable seat.
But over all, after 11 months, I'm very happy with my RapidFire. I rated it 10 out of 10 because nearly everybody gives a 10 on this site, so the ratings are content-free. Because of the negatives I mentioned above, I actually think of the RapidFire as a 7 out of 10 (tough grader), but I don't know of any production canoe out there that would be higher than a 7 for my needs, so I think I've gotten the best I can get. The RapidFire provides speed, seaworthiness, and comfort for me to do long trips with my sea-kayaking friends and usually keep up with the front of the group.
I find this boat to be everything I want for Adirondack paddling. It has all the stability I'd hoped for with none of the uncomfortable slip in the stern I found with a straight keel boat. The Rapidfire is rapid, allowing me to easily keep up with everyone I could before and informally clocking 8 minutes faster than the Advantage over a regularly paddled one hour route. And while it holds a line without effort, exploring the meanders of the Chubb or Browns Tract is a joy; it goes where you tell it. Often the best of Adirondack paddling has something to do with carries. A piece of pipe insulation on each gunwale to pad your shoulder and thigh and even the longer hops are a snap. Lastly I have to say that while those who know me suggest I might lean a bit hard toward the utilitarian, even I like that this boat is beautiful to look at. As an on-the-water conversation starter, it’s better than a puppy on Main Street.
If you are an occasional paddler the boat might be a bit expensive, but if you look forward to your time on the water and the thought of loading up the boat or wind and waves sometimes keeps you from getting out, do some math and you’ll find the value added to your paddling life will far exceed the cost for the level of quality and performance you’ll find in the Rapidfire.
That said, I'll try to be as objective as possible. The Rapidfire is a 15 foot solo boat designed by Dave Yost. While it may look like a canoe at first glance, it is truly an open topped kayak. It was intended to be paddled from a very low seating position utilizing a double-bladed paddle. It has minimal rocker, significant tumblehome and an exceptionally long waterline for its length. The combination of light weight (comfortably under 30 pounds), large volume and an open top make it an ideal pack canoe (a kayak with enclosed storage compartments is a serious pain when pond-hopping) for the larger paddler.
The design is executed in carbon/kevlar using a vacuum bagging process. Cherry rails were standard when I bought mine, though it is possible that a graphite rail system will be available soon. End caps and thwarts are constructed of a laminated product called dymondwood - chosen for its strength and water resistance (according to the Placid Boatworks web-site). My personal opinion is that it may be an exceptional material for the purpose, but that it is ugly as sin.
It is seaworthy, tracks well and is very responsive to leaned turns. And, above all, it is flat out fast. The tumblehome allows for a pretty efficient paddle stroke - certainly much more so than the other boats in this class that I have paddled. All in all, it is a wonderful execution of a craft designed for a very specific purpose. And that is both its virtue and its vice. As long as you stay within the design parameters, it is a great boat. That's where we need to go back to the beginning of this review.
I am a canoe paddler and make no mistake - this is not a canoe. The seating position is simply not conducive to efficient paddling with a single-bladed stick. It could be modified by installing a seat with enough rise to allow an efficient paddle stroke with a single bladed paddle, but that begins to mess with the stability inherent in the design. Accept it for what it is and you won't find a better boat in the class. Try to make it something it isn't and you probably will not be happy.
Rating - 10 out of 10 if you sit and use a double-bladed paddle.