Ashes’ canoes were originally designed for protected bodies of water. Our designs for the most part, still reflect our origins. If choosing a canoe to build from our plans, a builder should ensure that the finished boat suits the water he or she will paddle in most. Please review the following criteria to determine which boat will best suit your needs.


First the obvious: a shorter boat will be easier to carry, easier to store, and be lighter; a longer boat will have more carrying capacity, and be more versatile. Beyond that, there are some secondary factors to consider.

  • A canoe with a longer waterline (more length) will have a different wave-making pattern meaning that it will have a higher potential speed.
  • In general, a longer boat will track better (but be careful because a lightly loaded long canoe might not track well at all!).
  • Provided that all other dimensions such as beam, midships shape, and designated waterline remain the same a longer canoe will be more stable.
  • A shorter canoe will be more maneuverable, but will have a tendency to yaw more meaning which, in layman’s terms means it could “wiggle” through the water and thus require a paddler adjust their strokes accordingly.
  • In general, a boat with shorter waterline will have less windage meaning it will be pushed around less by a breeze.
  • A smaller boat gets used more often; it’s easier to get off the car into the water, it can poke its way into tighter corners, and its quicker to build!

Ultimately, unless you are trying to fit your canoe into the back of your van or a small garage, modest differences in the length of your boat are less important than you might think. Don’t fret a whole lot over a 6″ difference. Choose a short boat if ease in getting a boat to and from the water is important, and choose a longer boat if tracking and efficiency are your key must “haves”.

If you were asking our opinion, the perfect size for a solo is 15′. At this size the hull tracks well, comes to speed quickly, and sits in the sweet spot between stability and maneuverability. Hands down, the Solo Day and Solo Trip are our best selling models.


How much do you, or you and your paddling partner, plus your load, weigh?

Be honest about this because a canoe functions best when it sits on her design lines. Include the finished weight of the boat when determining required displacement.

  • Ashes Solo Packette – 110 to 215 lbs
  • Ashes Solo Pack – 115 to 230 lbs
  • Ashes Solo Day – 155 to 290 lbs
  • Ashes Solo Trip – 160 to 320 lbs
  • Ashes Solo Quick – 160 to 370 lbs
  • Ashes Anglers Pack – 180 to 320 lbs
  • Ashes Anglers Day – 180 to 340 lbs
  • Ashes Anglers Trip – 330 to 800 lbs
  • Ashes Tandem Day – 240 to 610 lbs
  • Ashes Tandem Trip – 320 to 640 lbs

You can also review the statistics for each boat to determine each model’s maximum load. Just keep in mind that you’re better off choosing a larger boat than you are loading a smaller one to its limit.

A Word About Weight

A lighter boat gets used more often. There, I said it. The problem of course is that weight needs to be balanced against durability, capacity and cost. To help our customers figure out how much each boat will ultimately weight we’ve built a boat weight calculator that approximates final weight based on a users materials and construction choices.


Canoe Weight Calculator


An angler may ask for different characteristics in their canoe than a tripper might. The first wants greater stability, and the second wants paddling efficiency. In very general terms, a designer achieves these aims by manipulating a number of factors; including the fullness of the ends; the shape of the hull when viewed as a cross section; length, and rocker. In general, a boat with a flatter bottom and more volume at the ends feels more stable when at rest, and a boat with a rounder cross section feels more stable when the boat is heeled or in waves.

Of the various designs offered by Ashes, the Solo and Tandem Series have moderate stability and are designed for paddling efficiency. The Anglers Series have a flatter hull section and designed for those prioritizing stability. If fishing or photography is your primary pursuit, choose the Anglers Day or Solo Trip. If exploring and putting in some miles is more important, choose from the Solo or Tandem Series.


In very general terms, a boat with more rocker is more maneuverable. A boat with less rocker tracks better. Choose a traditional boat like a Prospector if you use your boat in moving and still water, or the lakes on which you paddle have significant swell or waves. Choose an asymmetric hull design if you intend to you use your boat in largely protected bodies of water or slow moving rivers and creeks.

At the moment, the majority of Ashes’ designs are not intended for rivers where a paddler will encounter eddy lines or significant current.

Flare and Tumblehome

All of Ashes canoes are designed with tumblehome which makes paddle access to the water slightly more direct, but comes at a cost of ultimate dryness, and final stability. The Solo Trip is designed with enough flare in the bow and stern to mitigate these issues and should be the choice of solo paddlers who will use their canoe in varied conditions.

Choosing between a hard-chine or recurved tumblehome is largely an aesthetic decision though a builder should be aware that the hard knuckle in the chined version is somewhat fussier during stripping and will require patience when first applying the reinforcing glass cloth.

Further Information

For those wishing for more detailed information on canoe designs John Winters has published a series of excellent articles. It would benefit any serious paddler to visit and absorb his wisdom:

Are You Building a Canoe?

Some canoes go together more easily than others, and some techniques are easier to master than others. The simple curves found in modern style hulls, for instance, are easier to plank than the complex curves common in boats with dramatic tumblehome, hollows, or sharply rising ends. Short boats with a broad beam are harder to strip than longer boats of the same beam because fewer stresses will be place on the planks. If you’re in the process of choosing which canoe to build, it would be well worth your while to take a quick peek at the

Making it Easier


Explore Canoe Plans from Ashes

Solo Canoe Plans



The Solo Day


 15 feet x 29 inches
30 pounds


VIEW detailS

The Solo Trip


15 feet by 33 inches
35 pounds


View details

The Angler’s Day


 15 feet x 34 inches
40 pounds



Choosing Which Boat to Build | Why Choose a Design from Ashes | What Your Plans Include