Jami Philip, 42, an Assistant City Clerk in Scandia, Minnesota, loves her Souris River Quetico 17. It’s big enough for two paddlers and her 60-pound dog, but it’s still responsive and light enough for solo wilderness paddling. Philip often paddles the Boundary Waters Wilderness Canoe Area with her niece. One spring, a cold rain pelted them on a portage. A chilling wind picked up and lightning crackled. There were no pleasant, safe choices. It was too dangerous to paddle, but also dangerous to stay put. They waited for half of forever in shin-deep mud at the end of the portage for the lightning to end. Then, needing to move to generate heat, they paddled out as the wind still howled. Philip’s niece was too cold to provide much power, but their fully loaded canoe handled the waves and the wind with Philip providing the thrust, taking them to safety at a campsite across the bay.
C&K: That must have a hard decision to take to the water.
Jami Philip: The winds were still blowing, but by this point my niece was turning purple, so we needed to move. There was a campsite just outside of the bay. We stayed near the shoreline in case we capsized. We had no business going on the water, and I am a huge supporter of respecting the lake and weather. However, we had to get to a dry, warm place and I felt that was our moment to make a break. We got in the canoe and paddled out of the bay and to the campsite. I was surprised at how well this canoe handled the large waves. I had been in large waves before, but this was the first time where our travel was dependent on my strength. It took about half an hour to reach our destination. Within 15 minutes of landing at the campsite, I had my niece in a dry tent with dry clothes and a warm sleeping bag. It turned out to be a good choice. Once we landed the storm picked up again and went on through the night.
C&K: Tough boat for a tough moment, huh?
This canoe is tough! It handles flat water, big waves, and a little rough housing. I was originally concerned about the toughness of this canoe, but trust me, it’s tough. It’s light too. I personally have portaged over a mile with it and if I can do that, anyone can as I’m not a big beefy gal. I have not been able to find one bad thing about this canoe. Besides being a great product, the company has amazing customer service and stands behind their boats.
C&K: So, you and your canoe proved your mettle, but do you remember when you first paddled it and how that felt?
Prior to this canoe, I had a bombproof Old Town. This was a great, little canoe, but heavy. You’d paddle a stroke, move a little, and stop. There just wasn’t much glide. I was searching for something lighter and tried many canoes while searching. I also sought a stable, tough, and lightweight canoe. I rented a Souris River one trip and as I put my paddle in the water and took that first stroke, I fell in love and knew I had found my canoe. I’d paddle one stroke and we glided for what seemed like an eternity. If I were to describe this canoe with one word, it would be ‘butter.’ It glides through the water like a knife through soft butter. Paddling it is a joy and portaging it is enjoyable as well. It has extremely great initial stability, so I feel very safe in this canoe. Because of it, I have been able to take my young niece on BWWCA trips. I would not have been able to handle other canoes on my own.
C&K: How does it handle solo?
While the Quetico 17 is not intended as a solo canoe, I have taken it on a handful of solo trips. I add weight to the front. It needs that weight because you sit a little high to be riding solo. My dog always accompanies me.
C&K: Does your dog present stability issues?
Izable is 60 pounds, but stability has never been an issue.
C&K: What’s your favorite place to paddle it?
Anywhere in the BWCAW is my favorite place, however my very favorite place up in the BWCAW is Horse Lake. I think I like this lake because it’s where I planned my first trip and I have lots of memories there. You can do some nice loops from that area or make a great base camp with many options for day trips.
Have a canoe or kayak you love? Want it to be RIDES? Contact Katie McKy at email@example.com and put “RIDES profile” in the subject line. You will have to provide photos of you and your beloved boat.