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Wenonah Canoe, Inc.
I recently rented a Wenonah…
Overall, I found it to be exceedingly nimble for its size and it handled very well in fast water. It is quite broad, especially in the bow and stern, which would make it ideal for tripping on rivers. Unfortunately, we were only using it as a day tripper, and so without the load, we found its high ride was a beast in the wind on the open lakes. It had a mind of its own when it came to steering on open water, which was in stark contrast to the ease of control on rivers. We also found it to be sluggish on the lakes, especially compared to the other party we were travelling with in their OT Tripper.
I can't criticize this boat for being very good at some things, and not so good at others. It's really horses for courses, but for varied use, I wouldn't recommend it. For longer river tripping, both in rough and calm rivers, I think it would be an ideal boat.
I have the Royalex Cascade…
The Cascade performed well in waves, wind, and rapids. The only negative is that the thwarts were badly placed for kneeling and I moved both of them closer to the center of the boat. Now I can kneel on or behind the rear thwart and also use it as a footbrace when sitting in the standard rear seat (put it 28 inches forward of the front of that seat and 1 inch lower than the gunnels). Similarly, I moved the front thwart back so the bow paddler can kneel behind the front seat and lean on the thwart. Moreover, this relocated front thwart makes a great grab on the portages, whereas it could not be reached in the original position. Moving the front thwart back required adding a small thwart about 2ft back of the bow for gunnel stiffness (and also for constraining a bow float bag if used).
My rating is a 9 coming from Wenonah and a 10 as modified by me.
I have had a Royalex Cascade…
Having not seen any reviews…
The canoe comes in two versions, the Royalex which is currently advertised by We-no-nah, and the composite which they make only by special order.
The Royalex Cascade is an awesome river tripper. At 17'6" you have to work at tight turns, but she will run dry through large waves and has the capacity for a months worth of gear. We've used her on the Stikine as well as more local trips, and it's always a delight. The length gives her more speed than the shorter boats, and a fair amount of rocker still lets her turn.
The Cascade is good through class III. If you're running more technical water, I'd suggest a playboat. But if you want something that can be dropped off in the middle of the NorthWest Territories, and which you will paddle for a month as you make your way back to civilization, the Cascade is hard to beat.
The composite Cascade is a slightly different creature. She is longer at 17'10", lighter (about 60lbs in Kevlar) and my preferred version of the two. You can only get these by special order, though they do show up used from time to time.
The composite Cascade has a sharp entry under the waterline, so the boat is fast. Not Minnesota II fast, but she'll walk away from most boats. Above the waterline, the hull flares out like an aircraft carrier. We were in the Bowron Lake Circuit paddling one of those long lakes, when the wind hit and blew everyone to shore. We were still paddling in the 3' waves, and the Cascade was moving fast and throwing the waves away from the hull. The maneuverability of the composite version is about the same as Royalex, it's only the speed that's different.
The composite version also gets the sliding pedestal seats, so you can sit or kneel without the foot entrapment problems of a bench seat. And portaging 60lbs is nicer than 74lbs.