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Phoenix Solo Canoe Reviews

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(4 Consumer Reviews)

Read reviews for the Phoenix Solo Canoe by Northstar Canoes 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!

I enjoyed reading Cliff...

I enjoyed reading Cliff Jacobson's thoughtful review. I'm not qualified to disagree with Cliff so I'll just share my experiences. I'm a little over six feet with long arms and around 180 and usually have a 55 pound dog so around 250 normal load. I use short straight shaft paddles like a straight Zav and do hit and switch for cruising power and often go for long upstream paddles on rivers with current from 1 to 4 mph. I've owned quite a few solos.

I basically agree with everything positive that Cliff said about the Phoenix. It's super comfy and stable and friendly with capable and predictable handling. Very nice capacity and very dry and safe feeling. The overall performance envelope is extremely similar to a Hemlock SRT in my view. It's versatile and one could argue worth getting just for the IXP lay-up.

I bought a Phoenix hoping it would be a "better Wildfire" for my uses, hopefully more efficient since it is longer with less rocker, while still retaining plenty of maneuverability since a Wildfire could give up some maneuverability and still turn on a dime.

I tend to push my boats and I think one can push a Phoenix faster than a Wildfire in a sprint. But it takes about ten times more muscle and you could not maintain it. Those full ends that make it buoyant in waves also push back on you if you drive the boat harder. If you drive a Wildfire really hard you eventually run out of rpm (but it's still easy) but if you drive a Phoenix really hard it will burn you up. My composite Yellowstone is for sure a notch more efficient for upstream paddling than a Wildfire or Phoenix. Phoenix would not be my choice for paddling with others in tandems.

I had a similar discussion with Dave Curtis about the SRT. He was saying that it would basically perform "mid pack" with other solos at normal cruise speeds of 3-4 mph and I said I think he's spot on at 3 mph but that 4 mph is a different story and after some more good discussion he agreed. I had a similar feeling for the Curtis Dragonfly.

For downriver paddling the Phoenix and SRT could be two of the best available and both are incredibly versatile too. They are also great fun to just play around with on quiet water. I sold my Phoenix and my SRT because for upstream and flatwater paddling I'd rather take out something else.

Excellent product for the...

Excellent product for the canoe enthusiasts. Superb maneuverability and high quality equipment always.

Northstar Phoenix Solo Canoe

NORTHSTAR PHOENIX SOLO CANOE
Review by Cliff Jacobson

The Phoenix is a slightly larger version of the no longer manufactured Bell Wildfire/Yellowstone solo canoes. Its extra volume (I judge about 15 percent) is carried more forward and aft than in these smaller, earlier boats. Performance in waves is impressive: unlike the aforementioned smaller canoes which tend to run wet through big waves, the Phoenix bucks quickly over them. Even with nearly 300 pounds in the belly, this boat runs dry in two foot high waves. Really! The Gunnel beam is a narrow 26 inches, same as the Wildfire/YS, so those who come from these narrow-waisted boats will quickly feel right at home. I weigh 132 pounds and when I first paddled the Phoenix, I thought was too large for me. But with a good load it's just right for my size. Empty, it responds instantly to your commands. Empty or loaded, the boat remains sporty, controllable and always fun-to-paddle.

I recently paddled the Phoenix 150 miles on the upper Missouri River. We encountered high winds, quick currents and some unexpected big waves. My total load, including my weight, was about 265 pounds* (no portages; we carried ice and went heavy). The boat barely drew three inches of water and it never lost its lively feel. I think it will easily accommodate 300 pounds without complaining. Like its predecessors, the Wildfire/YS, the Phoenix will pivot on a penny without the need for extensive leans. I rate the boat competent in high Class II where big waves and quick turns are the rule, even with 265 pounds aboard. Add a full spray cover and I'd trust her in low Class III.

Some have suggested that the Phoenix isn't fast. Well...I find it fast enough. In practical touring it keeps up just fine with similar but smaller cruising canoes like the Wildfire/YS, We-no-nah Argosy, Mad River Slipper and its ilk. Speed wise, it's not a We-no-nah Prism and it doesn't pretend to be. It's spade card is its "versatility--FreeStyle play on a quiet pond, Boundary Waters touring or long haul expedition whitewater. The Phoenix does it all, with grace, predictability and fun.

Layups: I wanted this boat for whitewater tripping so I chose the new IXP layup. At 42 pounds (on my scale) it weighs more than the other layups but it's much more substantial. Northstar claims it's as tough as Royalex. We'll see. Note: I selected wood trim knowing that it is heavier than aluminum. No matter: I gotta have "pretty"!

Wind: One look at the comparably high-sided Phoenix and you may think it will be a handful in wind. I found it wasn't. Paddled empty (but well), there is minimal concern. Add a light camping outfit and the boat cruises easily. There is no serious tendency to spin into the wind.

If you want a do-it-all solo cruiser that's at home in the BWCA and well beyond, the Phoenix is a great choice. It does everything well except go "real fast". But good paddlers shouldn't have any trouble keeping up with their friends in typical tandem canoes. Oh, did I mention that this canoe is absolutely gorgeous?

Important: Be sure to order the Phoenix with the HIGH seat drops. Sitting low, with your armpits in the gunnels--or kneeling beneath a dangerously low seat (foot entrapment!) discourages control and defies smiles. In moving water, you'll want to be on your knees in this boat. You simply can't ring out top performance sitting on a low-mounted seat.

*Northstar rates displacement at the 3-inch waterline at 260 pounds; 360 pounds at the 4-inch waterline. Recommended optimal load is 170 to 350 pounds. This canoe will carry a lot! Gracefully!

Phoenix Solo Canoe Review

The Phoenix is a slightly larger version of the no longer manufactured Bell Wildfire/Yellowstone solo canoes. Its extra volume (I judge about 15 percent) is carried more forward and aft than in these smaller, earlier boats. Performance in waves is impressive: unlike the aforementioned smaller canoes which tend to run wet through big waves, the Phoenix bucks quickly over them. Even with nearly 300 pounds in the belly, this boat runs dry in two foot high waves. Really! The Gunnel beam is a narrow 26 inches, same as the Wildfire/YS, so those who come from these narrow-waisted boats will quickly feel right at home. I weigh 132 pounds and when I first paddled the Phoenix, I thought it was too large for me. But with a good load it's just right for my size. Empty, it responds instantly to your commands. Empty or loaded, the boat remains sporty, controllable and always fun-to-paddle.

I recently paddled the Phoenix 150 miles on the upper Missouri River. We encountered high winds, quick currents and some unexpected big waves. My total load, including my weight, was about 265 pounds* (no portages; we carried ice and went heavy). The boat barely drew three inches of water and it never lost its lively feel. I think it will easily accommodate 300 pounds without complaining. Like its predecessors, the Wildfire/YS, the Phoenix will pivot on a penny without the need for extensive leans. I rate the boat competent in high Class II where big waves and quick turns are the rule, even with 265 pounds aboard. Add a full spray cover and I'd trust her in low Class III.

Some have suggested that the Phoenix isn't fast. Well...I find it fast enough. In practical touring it keeps up just fine with similar but smaller cruising canoes like the Wildfire/YS, We-no-nah Argosy, Mad River Slipper and its ilk. Speed wise, it's not a We-no-nah Prism and it doesn't pretend to be. It's spade card is its "versatility--FreeStyle play on a quiet pond,, Boundary Waters touring, or long-haul expedition whitewater. The Phoenix does it all, with grace, predictability and fun.

Layups: I wanted this boat for whitewater tripping so I chose the new IXP layup. At 42 pounds (on my scale) it weighs more than the other layups but it's much more substantial. Northstar claims it's as tough as Royalex. We'll see. Note: I selected wood trim knowing that it is heavier than aluminum. No matter: I gotta have "pretty"!

Wind: One look at the comparably high-sided Phoenix and you may think it will be a handful in wind. I found it wasn't. Paddled empty (but well), there is minimal concern. Add a light camping outfit and the boat cruises easily. There is no serious tendency to spin into the wind.

If you want a do-it-all solo cruiser that's at home in the BWCA and well beyond, the Phoenix is a great choice. It does everything well except go "real fast". But good paddlers shouldn't have any trouble keeping up with their friends in typical tandem canoes. Oh, did I mention that this canoe is absolutely gorgeous?

Important: Be sure to order the Phoenix with the HIGH seat drops. Sitting low, with your armpits in the gunnels--or kneeling beneath a dangerously low seat (foot entrapment!) discourages control and defies smiles. In moving water, you'll want to be on your knees in this boat. You simply can't ring out top performance sitting on a low-mounted seat.

*Northstar rates displacement at the 3-inch waterline at 260 pounds; 360 pounds at the 4-inch waterline. Recommended optimal load is 170 to 350 pounds. This canoe will carry a lot! Gracefully!