The Argosy is made for solo exploration of rivers and streams, whether paddling the Missouri River at dawn or running the riffles and eddies of the Shenendoah. It's nimble enough to carry you through cross currents and over eddylines. It has added depth and volume to handle rough water and even whitewater, and plenty of rocker in the keel for maneuverability. The Argosy's ability to lean predictably in tight turns builds in confidence.
My only complaint is the stability. If I sit, the canoe tips with the slightest shift in weight. It shifts so quickly, it catches me by surprise. Once the canoe starts to lean, it accelerates until you shift opposite and stop it. Otherwise, you're in the drink. If I kneel, no problem. But I'm old and stiff, and kneeling hurts. I'll be selling this fine canoe.
The only bad thing that I can say about it is that it has a little flex in the hull when you push it. It doesn't effect the way the boat handles it's just that you notice it. A great all around solo canoe for what it was made for.
The adjustable seat in the Royalex version is annoying - the mechanism rattles loudly when car topping, and it will pop out of your chosen setting if you bump it with your feet while moving around in the boat. Neat idea, though.
The Royalex is a bit thin/fragile, but that's an issue with most Royalex boats these days. At least it makes the boat easier to carry/portage.
Overall, the Argosy does nothing well, but it does a little of everything acceptably.
I have owned about 20 different canoes... mostly solo boats and this canoe is VERY VERSATILE. I just paddled the rocky twisty lower Green River river in NC where quick turns and precise lines are required since only one turbine was running at the upstream dam. This canoe can be easily and quickly maneuvered with its 2+ inches of bow rocker.
Then the next day I paddled a swift but smooth section of the Broad River near the SC border. It was uniformly about 2ft deep and clear so I paddled STANDING up in the canoe where I really enjoyed the high vantage point and seeing all the fish and underwater features. Try that in most narrow beam solo boats! That is excellent initial stability. The flat bottom allows for this capability that my other solo boats do not. I am now selling my Dagger Sojourn and possibly my whitewater boat because this wonderful canoe does it all.
I quickly learned that it must be leaned to track with any degree of ease, and like my other solo boats, the more it's leaned the easier it is to track. Using both Canadian strokes (in-water recovery) and a combination of C-, J- and pitch strokes, I managed to overcome the excessive bow rocker (2-1/4").
After finally getting it to go straight, I did some freestyle moves like box strokes, gimbles, posts, axles, and sideslips, as well as paddling backwards. Aside from being overly responsive to weight shifts, it seemed very agile, almost "squirrely." I also found that its fairly tall ends make it quite sensitive to wind.
What bothered me about the Argosy is its stability. It goes from extremely tippy to extremely stable with a very noticeable lack of transition between the two. It was easy to find the limit of secondary stability because the boat fairly bounces back, but there is no "sweet spot" as in the Wildfire and Independence. Those two boats will hold a lean angle precisely as asked; the Argosy is very unstable until leaned to nearly its limit. This makes for an unpredictable boat that is ill-suited to being paddled flat and is rather uncooperative with only a moderate angle of heel.
Wenonah's write-up is accurate, except I can't recommend the Argosy for rivers wider than about 30 feet or where wind is likely to be an issue. It reminded me most of a Bell Wildfire but with less initial stability. In my view, Wenonah should market the Argosy as a freestyle solo because it's unsuited to any other purpose.
Overall, I really like the boat but I think a $1000 boat should not oil-can that bad and a little more R&D could have made it better.
Since purchasing I've added a Wenonah footbrace. When sitting in a canoe I like to have a footbrace as it allows one to wedge into the canoe and feel a part of the canoe much like kneeling does. Also since purchasing I've added a Kevlar skidplate which was more for assurance/confidence than anything else.
In closing I highly recommend the Argosy for those looking for a canoe to perform on both flat and moving water. If I was limited to having only one canoe it'd more than likely be the Argosy. By the way, the Argosy in Royalex isn't that heavy either. I have a full-size truck with camper shell that I have Yakima's on top. With all that height, I still have no problem getting the Argosy up and down by myself.
Even fairly heavily loaded it was quite fast, tracked well, turned easily, was stable, and yet rode up over the waves and provided a very dry ride. At one point in the trip big standing waves swamped one of our boats, a heavily loaded Old Town Cascade, but my canoe took on less than a gallon of water in that same rapid. Any concerns about the durability of the Kevlar Argosy were ill-founded, since it emerged from the trip with only a few scratches but no damage.
I originally thought I would buy a Wenonah Vagabond, but when I demo'd both of them the same afternoon, the Argosy was clearly superior for my purposes. The Vagabond would not hauled enough freight and would have been too hard to turn.
OK, so the Argosy Ultralight would not be appropriate for big whitewater rivers, and it is not built for rock bashing, but it was very well suited for this particular trip. If you need a tougher material, Wenonah offers the Argosy in a variety of tougher materials; but, of course, they are heavier, and I wanted a very light boat. Wenonah is famous for elegant designs and excellent fit and finish--all of which are obvious in the Argosy that I bought.
Giving any boat a rating of 10 would imply perfection, so I don't think that any boat ever rates a 10; however, I give the Argosy Ultralight my highest rating, a 9.
I was concerned that it might be difficult to make it go straight because of the added rocker. Well that has not been a problem at all. It handles very well, moves swiftly through the water and holds a lot of gear. Although I don't like to carry a lot of stuff I could if I wanted to and it just feels roomy.
I've taken it out several times - twice on day trips and three times on overnight trips. On all trips there was some moving water but also some stretches of flatwater. It has performed perfectly so far. But I have to insert a word of caution – this is not for a beginner paddler. I loaned my boat to someone relatively new to paddling and she had a lot of trouble maneuvering it and keeping it straight.
It’s great on moving water. If you’ll be doing mostly flatwater paddling, this is not the boat you want.
I had compared it with the Vagabond and the things that I noticed when comparing the two was that the Vagabond had more primary stability, but the Argosy had more secondary stability so I could see why maybe the absolute beginner wouldn't want one based on that. But you are not a beginner forever and you will warm-up to this boat quickly and feel very stable in it. Even stable enough to fish in. It is much also much better on moving water where the best fish are anyway. It was also surprisingly fast for it size. I don't think that is much, if any, slower than the Vagabond. I also loved the fact that it was a couple of inches deeper so that I could fit my feet under the seat while on my knees making it really stable.
I think that if you want to get a really good river boat and really an all-around boat, go with the Argosy and if you want to get a lake and flatwater boat, go with the Vagabond. They are both really good boats and I love Wenonah as a company. They always treat me right and take good care on me. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions as I am still breaking in the boat and will be able to tell you more later.