The Wetfoot Blog

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gear Review - Cedar Strip Canoe

Camp Manito-wish YMCA hangs its hat on the tradition of canoeing. From water logged birch bark canoes of our founders to the present day Grummans, camp has used a variety of makes and styles of this wonderful all-purpose vessel in order to fulfill our mission through wilderness tripping. The affection that Manito-wishers have for canoes and the art of canoeing is prevalent. Whether you adore Matt Nienow’s cedar strip canoes and sailboats in the Northwest or Rick Monserud’s, slightly blemished, purple-power whitewater canoe, there will always be a story behind the canoeist’s most prized possession; and more often than not, that story will begin at Camp Manito-wish YMCA.

If you are interested in owning a cedar strip canoe you can either build it, buy it or be fortunate enough to inherit it. In order to build a cedar strip you must be willing to dedicate a considerable amount of time to the process (well over a hundred hours). Constructing these beautiful boats is not entirely difficult, as there are several resources available to help with every portion of the process, but in order to turn-out a finished product that turns heads, you will need more than words of wisdom.

For this month’s gear review I caught up with Patrick Henneghan, Manito-wish alumni, and his business partner, Dan Mork about their recent endeavor into the world of building their own cedar strip canoe. Pat and Dan point out some of the advantages and disadvantages of building and owning one of these beautiful boats.

-Customizability: Cedar strip canoes can be custom built for the ideal combination of maneuverability, load hauling, speed, etc.
-Weight: Cedar strip canoes typically weigh 50-60lbs; only slightly heavier than Kevlar boats, but they feel like a feather compared to Grummans.
-Beauty and Functionality: These boats are almost too pretty to paddle (they could very well be used as a showpiece), however, you will also love the way they glide effortlessly through the water.
-Reparability: If you have too much fun, these boats can be easily repaired to nearly perfect condition.

-Cost: These boats are certainly an investment.
-Whitewater: Although these boats can be durable enough to run rapids, hitting rocks is like the sound of nails on a chalkboard. Royalex® boats are the better choice for a dedicated whitewater boat.

If you ever get the chance to paddle a cedar strip, you will not be disappointed. However, for a Manito-wisher, canoeing is never a disappointment.

A special thanks to Patrick Henneghan and Dan Mork for this month’s insight on cedar strip canoes. For more information on cedar strips and Pat and Dan's business, Ginseng Paddleworks, contact them at or

Smooth Paddling,

Ryan Wagner
Wilderness Program Director

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