Wenonah Fusion.

Wenonah Fusion.

Wenonah Fusion

(L: 13"; W: 31"; 30 LBS., $2,349, Wenonah.com)

The Fusion is the largest canoe we tested. At 13 feet long and 12 inches deep, this is the boat that you might take on a weeklong trip, using your choice of a single or double bladed paddle. The Kevlar build is typical of Wenonah Canoe: light, stiff, and translucent. Wenonah only puts materials where they are needed so it's incredibly strong as well. I didn't test the limits of the material, but I would imagine that with the exception of the polyethylene NEXT, this would be the most durable canoe in our test fleet. The gunwales are lightweight one-piece aluminum, the same stock Wenonah has been using for decades.

It's a proven system, and although other gunwales are more fancy, these are the simplest to maintain. If a gunwale on a Fusion is damaged or kinked, it is fairly easy to replace. The seat is a standard cane seat, with a removable seat pad and adjustable seatback. You can take it out when car- topping the canoe and in camp, where it makes any log or sandbar into a comfortable seat. Pretty nifty. The Fusion is quick, one of the faster boats due to its long waterline, and because Wenonah seems always to design for speed. It is also stable—so much so that the one we tested had been used primarily for fishing.

One feature that set the Fusion apart from the rest of the fleet is the SmartTrack rudder system. The Fusion is a flatter on the bottom than many Wenonahs, so it can skid a little in a crosswind. The SmartTrack rudder is a very efficient foil blade, and the easily-adjustable foot braces use the Toe Pilot controls that need only a nudge. With the rudder up, it's maneuverable. With the rudder down, it tracks like a train.

Purists will scoff at the addition of a rudder to a canoe such as the Fusion. I have an answer for the purists: don't buy one. For those who want a multi- purpose canoe for tripping, fishing, or just goofing off, a Fusion would be a great choice. At 30 pounds, it is also easily handled and car-topped by most paddlers.

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