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Reviews for Aurora Canoe by We-no-nah Canoe

Rated: 8.27/10 Based On: 15 Reviews

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Submitted by: Gary W. FoggSend Email
Rating: 7 of 10

     My wife and I have been paddling the Maine coast for 36 years in both canoes and kayaks. We purchased the Aurora Ultralight as part of a project to study and explore old Wabanaki canoe routes in the Midcoast region. A very light boat was needed for portaging across narrow fingers of rocky forestland, but one reasonably good in winds 10 to 15 mph, 1 foot waves and tidal currents in the narrow bays in between.

I have carried the boat on portages up to a mile in length so far and it has been a delight for that purpose. Simplicity and ease in portaging are enhanced not only by its light weight but by its relatively short length.

In the wind and waves, the Aurora requires special attention to trim. For our purposes, a five gallon collapsible jug that can be filled with water and placed in the bow is essential for ballast. We carry extra drinking water for ballast also. Without holding the boat's nose down, the Aurora is very difficult to track. Even in calm conditions it tracks poorly without special attention paid to trim. However, with the plastic water jug crammed into the bow, the boat turns its nose into the wind beautifully and can be kept on track for hours without difficulty.

With about 400 lbs. of people and gear, the Aurora has sufficient freeboard to handle waves 1 to 1.5 feet comfortably, and it has been very good for crossing semi-protected saltwater bays because of this.

The gelcoat on our boat is quite thin, and so we are constantly repairing it. Many rocks have even cut through the gelcoat and torn some of the kevlar layup. As a result, we have learned to make gelcoat repairs as a matter of routine. They are not difficult and you can restore the glossy finish on an ultralight quite easily once you know what to do.

Overall, we think the Aurora is a well-made boat but we prefer other hull types. The Aurora is a modern asymmetrical hull design. It has a shallow arch on the bottom and turns up to the gunnel rather sharply. It has moderate rocker (1.5 inches). In contrast, we have found that the Prospector style hull from early in the last century is a better fit for the paddling we do. These boats have a symmetrical hull, extra roundness in the bottom and greater rocker. To us they are easier to paddle and more comfortable and secure in wind, turbulence and rough water. They even track well with the addition of ballast.

The only advantage that the Aurora has over the Prospector style hull is that it slices into the oncoming waves a little more smoothly. We appreciate this difference in the windy bays we cross. Nonetheless, considering all the factors, we think we should have purchased a Wenonah Prospector 16 in the ultralight layup rather than the Aurora.

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Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Tested, did not buy. Great canoe though, just lacking in speed and efficiency.

Tested it in Kevlar UltraLite. Very light, ridiculously stable both initial and while moving. Very good maneuverability - the easiest canoe to turn I tested. A little tricky to keep tracking straight though. Definitely lacking in speed.

Overall would be an AWESOME twisty river boat. Super light for portage, cut around trees and switchbacks with ease, and carry a lot of gear. Never feel like you are going to go in the water when you stop.

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Submitted by: BradSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     This is a review of the 16' Wenonah Aurora Royalex canoe. I was looking for an expedition quality boat that would be versatile enough for my son and I to enjoy whenever we had the time. This boat is exactly that. It transports easily on top of my 4Runner and at 67 pounds it is manageable on my shoulders for short portages. It tracks well, manages chop without complaint, and handles like a much smaller boat. I have been able to quickly pivot into waves close aboard without concern. I have noticed that the boat handles much better fully loaded because the reduced freeboard makes it less susceptible to crosswinds.

On one expedition, I used it alone and loaded with 400 pounds of gear and my own 6'4", 220 pounds. I was comfortable and she handled beautifully across a windy, choppy lake. On the return, I was actually headed into an oncoming storm and the boat was steady and reliable. At no time was I concerned about swamping.

When paddling alone, I reverse the boat and sit on the aft seat for better distribution of weight. When my 15 year old son and I are together, he sits fore and I sit aft. We have taken on cross currents and head on tides to raging success! The boat has always been reliable and Iíd buy another one in a heartbeat.

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Submitted by: CanoeEWASend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I was looking for a smaller boat that could handle a variety of condition when I purchased the 16-foot Royalex version of the Aurora and I couldnít be happier. I did take a hard look at the Spirit II and choose to go with a smaller boat that is a better match to our (wife and myself) smaller frames and a bit easier to move around and load and unload on our vehicle. I also wanted a solid yet maneuverable boat that could take a large wake from a power boat while loaded, but still be small enough to thread up some small water.

We typically paddle a large narrow lake on the Columbia River (Lake Roosevelt) with a modest amount of powerboat traffic, and have some smaller rivers (almost creeks) that feed and out of it that we like to explore. I usually go out with my wife, a 25 lbs dog and a mix of gear depending on what were up to that trip. Typically, our total weight is about 425 lbs.

After a number of paddling trips in a variety of conditions and weight in the Aurora here is my take on this boat. If youíre over 5'8" or so, this is not your boat. Iím 5'8" and weight 160 lbs and the boat is comfortable, but not spacious. Weíve owned a bigger boat and the width and size was a bit large for us to paddle comfortably, especially if paddling solo, but the Aurora is very easy to paddle solo for my size. The Aurora at 64 lbs is no problem for my 5'2" wife and myself to load and unload from the top of my Jeep.

The boat tracks fairly well for a 16-foot boat, but seems to track even better with a bit of weight in it. Iíve read that the boat is trim sensitive. I have found that not to be the case, but we typically load with a slightly weight forward trim while in tandem. I like to sit in the front and weigh the most of both of us, so it trims out just right for most head wind conditions. If you are out solo in this boat, I did notice that weight forward helped the tracking. The boat is as fast as any Iíve tried in the same class. The Old Town Penobscot 16 felt very similar, but had a tad bit more legroom in the bow. The Penobscot did not seem to be as fast and did not seem to track as well with my weight in the front, so we went with the Aurora. Quite honestly, they both seemed almost identical in build, performance and price, but the Aurora seems to have a better fit and finish. Honestly, I donít think you could go wrong with either boat.

The seaworthiness of the Aurora became evident on one of our trips. We had a large powerboat shoot around a bend in the lake that was pushing a lot of water while turning. The easy maneuvering of the Aurora allowed us to sweep into a quartered position and into the wake easily. The taller bow took the wake like a champ, even with about 500 lbs in it and trimmed a bit weight forward; the boat also road the up and down swell with excellent stability. I donít know if we would have been able to swing a slower handling boat around as quickly with enough time to develop decent forward momentum as we did.

The bottom line for the Aurora in my opinion: if youíre smaller in stature and arenít looking for massive payload and like a respectfully swift, seaworthy, responsive boat, you wonít be disappointed. If youíre tall or just have long legs, Iíd look at the Spirit II.

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Submitted by:
Rating: 9 of 10

     We bought this boat last summer as an all around family boat. We have taken this boat on overnights with two adults, two kids, a large dog and lots of camping gear. The more you load this boat down the better it paddles. It is not as fast as other Wenonah models, but it is intended to be versatile so some performance is sacrificed. The boat is very versatile performing well in all conditions and two experienced paddlers can make this boat go plenty fast.

This boat performs as it was designed and the manufacturer's description is accurate. We highly recommend the Aurora.

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Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Some folks have given this boat some pretty scathing reviews and for the life of me I can't figure out why.
I bought the royalex version of this boat used at the end of the summer of 2007 and got several trips in this boat before the season ended.

Now keep in mind that this boat is intended to be versatile. It's meant to handle both light rapids and some open water stretches as well as haul some gear. As such, it cannot excel at anything in particular, although if I had to say what this boat's strength is, it would be river tripping.

I outfitted mine with some bow/stern flotation, a thwart bag for the stern and an under-seat bag for the bow. I plan on adding some gear lashing points for amidships this winter. So far, most of my paddling in this boat has been on flatwater since most rivers were too low by late summer.

This boat has very deep ends that catch the wind easily, so you have to work harder to keep it going straight. With practice, though, it's not so bad. It does glide pretty well for what it is and my wife (who is rather small) and I can actually pick up a fair bit of speed in it.

On the limited moving water use this boat has received, the deep ends helped to keep spray in the river where it belonged. A well used paddle can nearly turn this boat on a dime, so it's nicely maneuverable, at least when lightly loaded. It's a little lively at first, but put this boat on a lean and you find a nice sweet, solid spot. I'm very confident in the boat's stability, although my wife might beg to differ when I'm testing the boat's limits.

I've not yet loaded this boat with its limit of gear or people yet. I've only paddled it with a limited amount of equipment (less than 300lb worth of paddlers plus some food and drinks for lunch). I would suspect that the boat will settle down when loaded. I'm not concerned with pushing the limits on a camping trip. I'm a backpacker with a lot of lightweight gear. I can pack gear and food for two people plus a dog for a week for less than 80lb, so even when I go cushy for a canoe trip, I won't be pushing the capacity limits of this boat.

As long as you keep in mind that this boat is intended to be a versatile canoe and as such will be full of compromises, this canoe performs its intended purpose very well. Nothing is perfect, so I can't in good conscience give it a 10, but I'm more than satisfied with this boat. And if I had the money, I might actually have paid full price for a new one even.

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Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 6 of 10

     A little disappointed by the kevlar Aurora after a few weeks of use -- handles moderate wind/wave conditions okay, but has insufficient stability for solo paddling. Its main virtue so far is that it's light. Will update this review after more use...
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Submitted by: Jim
Rating: 6 of 10

     I have owned the Aurora for a year now and I'm severely dissappointed. I've paddled many different styles of canoes and spend a considerable amount of time in them each year so I feel I have enough experience to give the Aurora a valid rating. For starters the canoe is cramped not only in the front but also the rear making it uncomfortable if your long legged. Second, the Aurora is extremely trim sensitive, if it is not loaded just right it becomes extremely difficult to manage in windy conditions. I just finished testing its trim charachteristics by comparing it over the past two days with a competitors canoe of similiar specs and design on the same piece of water, with the same gear, and in moderately widy conditions. The Aurora was the claer loser. I've had this canoe on both multi-day river and lake trips and have never been impressed. On one outing we brought several youth on a lake trip and had a variety of canoes with us. One day the lake was particularly rough and I was paddling with an average size 16 year old in the front, adjacent to us was an Old Town Discovey 169 with one adult equal in stature to myself and two youth about equal in size to my passenger. The Discovery rode higher and was providing them with a much drier ride (at almost half the price). The only good things I can say about the Aurora is that it is well constructed, fairly light, and paddles rather quickly. If you are looking for a seaworthy canoe for large lakes like we have here in northern Maine, don't buy the Aurora there are much better options. If you want a fairly light canoe that your not going to load heavy or take in hard conditions the Aurora might be ok for you. I could go on about this canoes short comings but I won't, I just hope I can save someone from buying this canoe for something it is not.
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Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     This is one very seaworthy canoe. I have the Royalex version and recently took it fishing with a friend of mine who weighs a little over 300 pounds. I weigh 210 so with gear we were pretty heavily loaded. The Aurora handled our considerable load with aplomb and did so while moving fairly quickly when we decided to cross the lake. We never felt the least bit jittery even in some heavy wakes from passing motor boats.

This boat's ability to heel over and be paddled solo, Canadian style is what surprised me the most. It really does turn on a dime if you're kneeling behind center.

I would recommend this boat for someone who is looking for a do-it-all canoe. It's very stable in chop even with heavy loads, has lots of capacity for gear, and can be paddled solo if you want a big boat that maneuvers well. Kind of an SUV among canoes.

My Aurora is Royalex and weighs 64 pounds. It's very rugged but if you want to go for light weight it's available in Kevlar as well. All in all this is a very utilitarian, comfortable canoe.

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Submitted by: JGJSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Just received our 16' Aurora Kevlar ultra-lite (37 lbs!). Took it out solo - windy and somewhat unstable. I went to shore, added weight to the front and the canoe performed beautifully. What a pleasure to paddle. The best part? Putting it on top of the truck - light and easy. My second trip was to a fly-fishing only pond in NH. With all the casting, the stability was superb. It was pricey but I'm older and weight was THE consideration. I am very pleased. Thanks, We-no-nah, for a great boat.
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Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I've had a rolyex Aurora for about 2 years. I've had a fair amount of experience with tandum canoes and like the Aurora quite well. Some have found it twitchy and not initally stable, but that has not been my experience. Relative to flatter bottomed boats it may well seem less stable at first to some. I have paddled it solo quite a bit in the Canadian style and it handles that well, even in a wind. I've had it out in 20-30 mph winds and had no trouble keeping it under control and making headway. The front seat leg room is a little tight and this could be a drawback for longer trips, fishing, etc. I haven't tripped in it yet, but it seems to handle a load well and is a good do it all design, if you are looking for that type of boat.
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Submitted by: Tim MSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I have had my Aurora for 2 months now and put in 20 days with it. I've paddled the Kananaskis, Bow, and several lakes. Just got back from the Churchhill River system (Saskatchewan) and had it tripping with 8 days of gear. Unbelievably the boat maintained sufficient freeboard with tonnes of gear (and beer), tracked reasonably well, and handled the larger waters of some of the Lakes we crossed. I soloed the canoe with the ash yoke across a few portages, including one which was 300 Meters. My royalex hull wieghs in at 64 pounds, but I found it a reasonable solo. We did run some class 3+ water, Otter rapids in extremly high water level. Since we were tripping we had no airbags, just canoe and my big cousin. We took the first half of the rapids fine but we took on a boat load of water when we struck a multidirectional wave (didn't have a clue which angle to approach the crazy waves). My boat then got swollowed by "the man eater" and got pounded into several rocks. Only one small dent in my polycarb gunnels and a few scrathes! I love the durability of royalex! Honestly I was very impressed with the canoe in the rapids until the inevidible intrusion of the water once we entered the technical 4 foot waves; most other canoes that would be appropriate for tripping would have been swollowed up much earlier.

I am so far very impressed with the versatility of the boat; good tripper good for small whitewater. A very good compromise. I am going to buy a solo play boat soon and my aurora will do everything else I need to do.

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Submitted by: ---
Rating: 4 of 10

     I ordered the Aurora kevlar, waited four and a half months, took it out for ten minutes and it felt like it would tip over any second. ZERO INITIAL STABILITY. From what I've read, the boat must have been defective but I didn't want to wait another four months so I traded it in for an Aurora Royalex - which is ok, but less than amazing. Leg room in the front is very cramped. Handles ok - but $1050 is a bit high for this boat. I'm a bit disappointed overall.
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Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     We were anxious to try out our newly purchased 16-foot, 37 pound tandem Aurora canoe (made by We-no-nah) a Kevlar ultra-lite, without the added gel coat. This is the lightest weight material We-no-nah uses and it made car-topping it a lot easier on our backs than our venerable 30-year-old Grumman aluminum 70 pound 15-footer. Once we loaded it onto our car roof and packed the car, we drove 1200 miles to Florida's west coast to begin our winter vacation and paddle. Despite high winds and driving speeds, the boat handled everything well and seemed aerodynamic.

Our first few excursions were on lakes and slow-moving streams to allow us to get a feel for the Aurora's handling, and also to get used to the alligators that were on the river banks as well as in the water! Stability was excellent; the canoe could be tilted quite a bit to the side without capsizing. The most stringent test of maneuverability came on Juniper Run, which is arguably the best half-day canoe trip in all of Florida. This water is supplied by Juniper Springs, located in the recreation area of the same name in Ocala National Forest. At the beginning, the stream is shallow and so narrow that there isn't room to turn the boat around. The creek twists and turns, widening slightly and gradually becoming deeper as springs along the way contribute to the water flow. The surroundings are absolutely pristine, The only sounds to be heard come from the birds and water droplets falling from the paddle as it is brought forward for the next stroke. The current is fast enough to do most of the work until the last section of the run is reached. Here, the stream is wide, shallow and slow. The Aurora performed beautifully on this 4-hour trip. We were able to pivot quickly to negotiate the fast turns. When we reached the slow portion of the stream, the Aurora had sufficient glide to make our progress easier, even though grasses brushed the underside of the canoe in some places. What was really a surprise, as well as fun to see, was looking through the boat and seeing the shadows of these grasses.

The Estero River, near Fort Myers, provided a different challenge. Canoes and kayaks share the river with powerboats, most of whom were considerate, slowing down to minimize their wake as they approached us. A few pretended that we weren't there, and went tearing through at top speed. We turned into their wake as they went by and bounced quite a bit, but did not take on any water. When we reached Estero Bay, we felt confident enough to venture into the open water to explore some of the small islands.

One of our last canoe trips was on the Myakka River, a meandering, slow-moving stream whose banks are favorite resting spots for alligators. Admittance to this section of Myakka River State Park (near Sarasota) is limited, and a permit is needed. We took advantage of the stability of the Aurora to shoot video clips of alligators and wading birds. We were also thankful that we could load the canoe with all our equipment and still have room for ourselves!

In summary, we feel the Aurora is an excellent all-around boat, and perfect for the kind of canoeing we like to do, particularly in Florida's beautiful, exciting rivers and our own New Jersey winding, prestine rivers. Besides, the uncoated Kevlar material looks really cool with the sun shining through it, and we loved all the compliments we kept receiving from other canoeists. It was also great not to suffer any pain while loading the boat onto our car roof because it's so light and easy to lift.

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Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     With all of the recent posts looking for information on Wenonah's new Aurora I feel a little guilty for not having done a review earlier. As a solo canoeist I wanted to buy that one "do everything" tandem (right!!) Originally I bought their Adirondack which handled lakes and mild rivers well but I wanted a drier ride in bigger waters but didn't want the rocker of a WW tandem so bought the Aurora. While the Aurora's a little slower than the Adirondack, probably due to it's extra inch at the waterline, I don't think Wenonah makes a "slow" boat. Rocker is roughly the same at 1-1/2 in. and it also turns very, very well. Initial stability is a little tippy and inexperienced bow paddlers may complain but it's secondary stability is superb, and that's really all I care about. It's also a deep boat (I've heard Wenonah may decrease the depth a little for 2002) which means you can sit and feel secure and not have to kneel all the time except when the water's tricky. I've had in lakes as well as NY Harbor in ocean like conditions. It handled the big waves and troughs nicely. Wenonah offers the dual center air bags (two long tubes) which fit well, and I like much better than the one huge pillow. It does ride high which caused us to work hard when hit with a strong headwind but stays on course nicely. The only other complaint I've had (also from a couple of bow paddlers) is they felt a little cramped kneeling in the front. It is a narrow boat at the ends but the bow profile as the same as the Adirondack and I fit fine in both so not sure how to explain it. Overall it's a great boat without the limitations of boats made exclusively for either calm lakes or whitewater rivers.
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