During the past full season I found the Solo 14 to be an excellent boat for a beginner as well as for more experienced paddlers; I simply don't understand those to criticize it as being tippy, though perhaps the seat height has varied over the years. I both kneel and sit at different times; the seat is plenty high enough for my small feet to kneel comfortably. I also sometimes use a canoe paddle (love my cherry Nashwaak Cruiser), but when accompanying kayakers I often use a double which eliminates the kayak's speed advantage. It is certainly plenty stable for fishing and photography, as well as just "messing around". If anything, to me there is a bit too much initial stability at the expense of secondary stability and speed.
I use mine mostly on small and medium sized lakes as well as slow moving rivers, and have no trouble with tracking well, but appreciate its maneuverability. At 39 lbs (R-84 layup) it is a pleasure to load and unload, and is more than sturdy enough for the places I paddle. It has drawn many admiring comments from both other paddlers and bystanders; particularly those struggling with loading and unloading heavier tandem canoes. I am well pleased, and would recommend it to others without hesitation for these uses, and can't think of a better canoe for the person starting out. The Mohawk people have been helpful and a pleasure to deal with at every step.I bought this little boat in Fall '03 after falling in love with the hull upon paddling a friend's. I have the royalite version and feel this light layup is fine for my use. I use it on Ozark streams and sometimes just to play around on the farm pond. I think it would make a very good freestyle boat.
I've paddled class II on the upper Buffalo, and this is the upper limit for this boat. If you paddle this type of water frequently, you probably should opt for a boat with a deeper bow and mid section, or you will need to dump the water that will spill over the bow. Class I with only the rare to occasional class II is more this boat's forte. I feel the initial stability is good and secondary excellent. The only time I've come close to dumping this boat accidentally is when hitting a strong upstream eddyline. I've leaned this boat to the rails without a brace, just to see how good the secondary stability is. I did dump it when I took it a bit past the rail, but that was without bracing.
Speaking of braces, this boat can be ordered with foot brace, which I would recommend. I didn't order the foot brace, but am fortunate that my 6'1" frame and size 11.5 feet makes the thwart in perfect position to serve that purpose. If I was a little shorter, or had smaller feet, this wouldn't work.
Tracking is fair when paddling the flats, but this boat is more suited to rivers, than lakes. If you need a boat for long stretches of flatwater, I'd look elsewhere. I have thought of possibly adding a second thwart to reduce the flex of the boat, which you notice only when entering, exiting, or paddling very hard. This is the only reason I give this boat a 9 instead of a 10. If only they could use Wenonah's Tuffweave, it would be the perfect solo canoe for the class I to occasionally II rivers I paddle.I bought this canoe in 2003 and have been very happy with it. The best things about this boat is it is very light at 39 lb, and the price. It is not a boat for whitewater, but handles moving water and riffles well. The R84 Royalite construction is not as durable as Royalex, but it seems very study to me. The boat is very manueverable.
Primary stability is compromised, and the boat will feel tippy, at least at first. I don't know if you can avoid this in a short, shallow-arch hull. Secondary stability is good, but it kicks in late. Suggest that anyone buying this boat buy the optional seat-height adjustment kit, which costs only $3. I dropped the seat height about an inch and it made a big difference in stability. I have paddled the Mohawk Solo 14 three times now. 8hrs. at Julington creek off the Saint John’s river. Large open area, 15mph wind, it handled a light chop and motorboat wakes with no problem, dry ride and very stable. Also paddled a very small lake about 5hrs, 15mph wind no problem paddling into the wind. 7hrs. on the Saint Mary’s river, narrow very twisty river. Lots of lay down trees and sandbars its like running a Salomon, the Solo 14 turns on a dime ( due to 1/12” to 2” rocker). I am very satisfied with this canoe we don’t have much white water in Florida so I won’t be rock bashing much but after bashing all the lay down trees in the Saint Mary’s river the R-84 skin was barely scratched. If you plan to do a lot of class 3 and up white water you may want full Royalex but then Mohawk makes lots of WW canoes.
Mohawk can place the seat any were you want, I left mine at there normal placement thinking my fishing gear and or camping gear would trim the canoe and be in front of me where I like to have it. I did lower the seat 1” to add some closed cell foam for padding. and for $3.00 they have a plate to lower the seat even more. This placement works ok but I may move the seat forward a little or just carry more gear. You will be able to solo fish and camp with this canoe for a weekend or maybe a week if you use light gear. The Solo 14 is not the fastest or the prettiest of the three canoes I test paddled but it is fast enough for me.