I was camped on a small lake in the ADK's with a guy who went by the name GlenL on the net, great guy and paddler, not sure what happened to him...anyway, a small canoe came along the shoreline and Glen nearly went nuts, he ran down to the waters edge and yelled..."Way to go, paddling a Hornbeck with a single blade"
The paddler saluted Glen with his single blade and continued on, Glen calmed down and gave me the lowdown on these Horbecks and his admiration for anyone who single bladed one.
Nice canoes, get people way out there.
The old design Hornbecks were way too wide for single blading unless you had long arms. The New Tricks are a better design. I've got a Rapid Fire..also a Adirondack made boat by Placid Boatworks. Better design, more strength and better seating for sure than the original Hornbecks. I have broken one of the latter but not yet paddled the New Trick line. I can't speak for Hornbeck but Placid offers a number of seating options that make single blading more efficient.. I have the drop in high seat.
RapidFire is a little more in length from what bushwhackers want so there are other models.
The really funny thing is the people in the Midwest still know very little about ADK pack canoes. But the boats have made it to Florida where they are just ideal for the small twisty streams on daytrips there.
There is a third ADK packcanoe maker who just started.. Slipstream? I haven't seen any of their boats.
The Pack Canoe is a very old concept.. it was one of the original canoes for recreation.. Now its been modernized and updated in light strong materials by a couple of ADK makers.
Its still available in lapstrake for wood boat enthusiasts. There is an auction to benefit Paul Smith's college at the WCHA site of a stretched Wee Lassie.
I have Pete's first production off the line carbon/kevlar hybrid 10.5 footer. I paid him a visit with the idea of buying the standard kevlar model, but saw this new shiny black one on his office floor, the first one he had made. When I asked about it he said he wanted to try something new and it is for sale, but was not sure how well it would do. He took me up to his loft to see what looked like more than a dozen identical yellow kevlars hanging like sides of beef - "this is why I want to try something different", he said.
It is only a pound lighter than the standard kevlar, but is much stiffer. I bought it instantly. Now it probably has just as many miles on it overhead on land winding between trees as it has in the water. Before the Northern Forest Canoe Trail opened up, I paddled/carried it from Boonville to Plattsburgh. 185 miles, including 62 miles of carries on that solo trip. Love that boat. I still use it for the bushwhack backcountry pondhopping trips it is best designed for, but otherwise when solo I mostly paddle a RapidFire with Joe's highest available rail mounted seat and a single blade paddle.
Not to detract from Pete's boats, but since we're being eclectic, Adirondack Canoe Company, Hemlock, NorthStar, Swift and WeNoNah also build pack canoes. Roughly, Adirondack, Hemlock and SlipStream make smaller, minimalist craft with simple outfitting; all very lightweight and portable. NorthStar, Placid, Swift and WeNoNah make more rugged and more fully outfitted, hence more comfortable watercraft. Lots to choose from. Mad River has a fiberglass model @ 45 lbs that seems to miss the market.
Maybe I am being eclectic, but the concept of ADK pack canoe has not impacted the solo Boundary Waters paddler yet. For some wanting the sit on the bottom double blade experience out there , the thoughts often turn to kayak.
Is this a lack of marketing, opportunity or demand or knowledge?
Perhaps they are not being marketed for the Midwest and Canada, but it seems to me for big water travel that most would rather rely on a kayak. The reasons for this may be unfounded, but it's probably mostly a perception of seaworthiness, and possibly speed.
To me, the pack canoes real strength is portability off the water. Everything else is hugely compromised for this.
I still recommend them to beginners or recreational paddlers just because in these parts they are much easier to use than a kayak. Also, for a smaller solo paddler it is a bit easier to get one on and off the car by yourself. My mother-in-law comes to mind here. Barely 5' tall, I can't see her struggling a heavy plastic kayak onto a car by herself.
I had my brother-in-law rent one last year for his trip to the Adirondacks. He had experience in a kayak and I figured he'd feel comfortable in the pack boat. He said if he were to buy a boat of his own, he'd buy one. I think he liked it more than a kayak for the obvious reasons (easy to carry, easy to load, easy to get in and out of). We were pond hopping mostly, so he saw it's obvious advantage racing across ponds and ports with it.