An incredibly stable, spacious and lightweight folding canoe for two people
Always wanted a canoe but have nowhere to store it or no way to transport it? Inflatable canoes used to be the solution to this. But performance-wise they just don’t compare, not to mention the limited space they offer to store gear. Then came along the MyCanoe Duo. New in 2021, this folding canoe will blow you away with it’s ingenious packable design, incredibly spacious interior and paddling performance that gives traditional canoes a run for their money.
MyCanoe Duo: The stats
|Who’s it for?:||Beginners to advanced paddlers with small cars and limited storage space|
|Best use:||Day trips and canoe camping on lakes, rivers and shelter coastal areas|
|Weight:||19.5 kgs / 43 lbs|
|Dimensions:||4.4m x 89cm / 14.5ft x 35in|
|Pack size:||91 x 69 x 25cm / 36 x 27 x 10”|
|Weight capacity:||218 kgs / 480 lbs|
|Made of:||Double-layer, marine-grade polypropylene|
Features of the MyCanoe Duo
ConstructionThe boat is constructed of double-layer marine-grade polypropylene. This has air pockets between the layers and the outer plastic has a 15 year UV treatment. MyCanoe claims that the boat will last for 20,000 fold cycles, which should have you covered for a lifetime of paddling adventures!
In its packed up state, the suitcase-like package can be lifted either via the two straps on top which are good for lifting it out of the car etc. But to carry the packed canoe any distance it’s best to use the padded shoulder strap which has an adjustable buckle to set it at the right length.
There are two seats that are removable and pack flat when not in use. They are secured into their seat structure with a velcro strap which also holds the padded mat in place. They are really easy to attach to the canoe thanks to the metal fixings that slide and slot nicely into the metal brackets on the inside of the canoe. To remove from the canoe simply pull the toggles to release from the brackets and slide out the way they went in.
Floor / case
The base or floor of the canoe also doubles as the enveloping case for the canoe once it’s folded up. The case is secured closed with button-style buckles and the straps can be tightened right up to secure the contents in place.
When placed in the bottom of the canoe, the floor panel adds a layer of stability and structure to the canoe as well as durability in the high use areas. There are side folds that bend up along the sides of the canoe to further add to the shape and structure.
The new and improved gunwale system seems a little clunky to start with. But after a couple of uses it’s actually really easy to put together. There are three sections on each side which slide along the edges of the edges of the boat and then slot together. If it’s proving difficult to slide them along then they’re probably not quite in the right place. If this happens then slide them off and try again.
Each end of the canoe features small webbing carry handles. These are essential for carrying the canoe in and out of the water.
There are also straps at each end near the handles. These hold the end folds in place and are secured down with Velcro.
Across the middle, front and back of the canoe, from gunwale to gunwale, are webbing straps. These are secured together via a button buckle, and when tightened help to hold the structure and shape of the canoe. They are also useful when carrying the canoe, especially when it is loaded with gear.
On either side of the canoe at both ends, small webbed straps draw in the folds to create some structure and shape. The straps are on the outside of the canoe and are fastened in place with a buckle that has a quick release folding mechanism for quick and easy adjustability.
MyCanoe Duo review video
MyCanoe Duo review
Many years ago, I spent a few years coaching canoeing. I loved almost everything about it and still do. The mesmerising way the paddle moves through the water. The glide of the huge vessel as it displaces the water around it. The ability to paddle it solo or with a paddling partner. The storage space for transporting everything you need for multi-day adventures. The ability to access hard to reach places in a country where everywhere seems too easily accessiible. As such, I’ve been drawn back to canoeing time and again over the years, flirting with inflatables and moulded hull canoes. Nothing can compare, however, to the performance and enjoyment of paddling a fiberglass Canadian canoe. So why have I never taken the plunge to buy one? The simple answer is that they’re too big to store and transport and too heavy to move easily on my own.
The introduction of the MyCanoe Duo into my life, however, has changed everything. Sure, folding canoes will never quite compare with the paddling performance of a regular fiberglass canoe. But they’re not far off at all. And they’re far superior to most inflatables and plastic moulded canoes. Plus, what’s the point of having a canoe that is beautiful to paddle if it’s too difficult to get it on the water in the first place? Exactly!
Portability and packability
The Duo weighs just under 20kg. Once packed up it’s easy for me to lift it in and out of my car and it’s light enough for me to carry on my own. I can easily carry it on my shoulder for a few hundred metres. Any more than that and it gets pretty tiring and I need to stop and rest, switching shoulders regularly.
The packed canoe fits into the boot / trunk or my small car, with the back seats down. Plus, storing it at home is no problem at all. It fits into the garage without filling it up completely, and it would also be perfectly fine storing it in an under stairs cupboard or garden shed, if needed.
The pack size and weight are what makes it possible to finally have a canoe in my life! And the fact that I can go canoeing on my own is a mega bonus.
When I first set up the Duo it took me about 15 minutes on my own. My latest setup took just over 5 minutes and it’s even quicker with the help of my paddling partner. The more I set it up the more flexible the folds become and therefore the easier they are to fold into the correct position. The folds are very stiff to start with. Also, some of the components were a bit clunky to fit together initially, and I even got some bits completely wrong! I didn’t tuck the ends of the gunwales inside the canoe. They were sticking right out during my first paddle. Once I got the knack, however, set up became really easy and the whole process is now slick and speedy. Faster than inflating an inflatable canoe, even when using an electric pump!
During my first outing in the Duo, there were a few teething problems relating to setup. One was the gunwale position, which was easily resolved. The other was the tracking. I found myself really battling against a strong pull to the left. On inspection of the hull, the problem soon became obvious. Both the stern and bow were angled slightly to one side. This is down to how the canoe is folded when it’s packed down creating excess pressure on the ends, resulting in slightly off-kilter tracking.
Thankfully this was easily remedied by simply bending the ends of the boat into a more straight position. And although the overall tracking is really good for such a lightweight boat, this is a small negative to the design.
Aside from that, I have been super impressed with how well this folding canoe cruises in even the most challenging conditions. In fact, I would go as far as saying that it’s almost better in challenging conditions than on perfectly calm water. When it’s super glassy and still, a regular fiberglass canoe glides smoothly and efficiently. The Duo does glide well and paddles efficiently, but as mentioned above, it will never quite compare.
In windy conditions – when paddling a regular fiberglass canoe can be a real battle – the Duo seems to really come into its own, surprisingly so. The fact that it sits relatively low in the water and doesn’t have high sides really helps with this. The wind doesn’t catch the sides much at all when paddling against or across the wind and it’s easy to correct the direction changes when it does. Yet it seems to fly along with a tail wind.
In choppy conditions it’s super stable whether you’re paddling with the swell, across it or against it. The wide and flat bottom provides an excellently stable platform. Plus, the slight bit of give in the structure of the boat means that there’s no sudden jerks as the boat cruises over and down rolling swell.
A recent overnight canoe camping trip started at the mouth of an estuary. We paddled into the main flow of the estuary and then inland with 20mph tail winds whipping up a 2 foot swell. With lots of unknowns about how well the boat would cope, paddling across this wind swell was exciting, to say the least. But there was zero cause for alarm. We felt completely stable and didn’t once feel like we were even close to anything going awry. Once we were right in the middle of the estuary, the swell was developing white horses here and there, yet still the Duo felt great. We took on a tiny bit of water at the back as we rolled down the faces of crumbling swell. But other than that, it was just good fun!
The next day our route took us back the way we came and unfortunately the wind hadn’t changed direction as we’d hoped. It had dropped a little, though. This meant we were paddling into a 15+mph headwind with only a 1-1.5 foot rolling swell as we approached the estuary mouth. Again, no problems at all. The only comment would be that we needed to weight the front of the boat. We moved some gear to sit right at the front but it was only when I knelt forward on the floor of the canoe did the bow stay down when ploughing through the chop and into the wind.
The Duo is designed for open water and up to class 3 whitewater. Before I encountered the recent conditions on the estuary, there was no way I would have considered taking it on grade 3 rapids. But it dealt so well with what was probably the equivalent of a grade 2 wave chain, that I can see it would be completely fine. That said, the lack of buoyancy bags is a concern for me should capsize occur. The canoe does float when capsized and full of water, but it’s difficult to right it without it completely filling up. And I’d not want to have to deal with this on a fast moving river. Because of this, I will not be venturing onto faster flowing rivers beyond grade 2 whitewater any time soon, without purchasing some buoyancy bags to fit into the canoe.
Space and comfort
I’ve spent a good few canoe camping trips paddling inflatables or moulded hull double kayaks, but space and comfort are always compromised. So it is completely game-changing to fill up the Duo without too much thought for how much stuff we pack. Chairs, lounging hammock, fire pit and cooler are all top of the list of non-essentials that will always be packed from now on. And to spend the day paddling in comfort is also just a delight. Even my paddling partner, Rob – who has very long legs and very tight hips – has enough space to sit and paddle in comfort.
The one minor negative in terms of paddle position, is that you can’t get your feet underneath the seat. When I paddle solo I quite like to sit on the edge of the seat with my knees on the floor and feet below the seat. As it happens, there’s plenty of space on the floor to fully kneel, it’s just not as comfortable as my preferred semi-perched position!
Though the hull of the canoe is strong and, according to MyCanoe, can withstand 20,000 folds, it’s not as abrasive resistant as other traditional hard shell canoes. As such, I do become slightly nervous when paddling near rocks when there’s a chance that the swell might push me onto them or in areas where there are unseen rocks just below the surface. I also question how many drags across shingle beaches it can withstand and try to lift it whenever possible.
The one problem with lifting from the ends is that, when the canoe is loaded with gear, it starts to buckle slightly at the folds. To counter this, we tend to lift the boat on either side using the yoke straps.
What I love the most about the MyCanoe Duo
Where to start! My favourite thing about the MyCanoe Duo has to be the combo of packability and spaciousness. As mentioned, I wouldn’t own a canoe if it wasn’t packable and portable like the Duo. And to then have one that offers so much storage space for canoe camping is just a dream. Of course, I also love how well it paddles, but that should be a given for a canoe at this price point.
What I don’t love so much about the MyCanoe Duo
There are a couple of design flaws that are important to consider if you are thinking of investing in the MyCanoe Duo. None of them are game-changers for recreational paddling. But worth mentioning all the same. These include:
- Slight tracking issues with the bow and stern positioning
- Lack of long-term abrasion resistance
- Lack of buoyancy in the case of capsize
- Bending hull when lifting with gear inside
I’d also rather have some space underneath the seats to put my feet when kneel-sitting.
Though relatively new to the paddling scene, the MyCanoe Duo offers so much versatility to the modern paddler that it is very clearly here to stay. It paddles surprisingly well in challenging conditions, is super easy to set up and dismantle, can be carried easily by one person, and fits in the back of a small car. And with oodles of space to store camping gear in, this folding canoe might just be the answer to the storage and transportation issues of beginner and advanced paddlers alike.
There are a couple of downsides to the design but the overall benefits and joy that I have already gained from paddling the Duo by far outweigh them.
It gets two big thumbs up from me.
Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.