By Benjamin Orkin
When you think of the word sail, WindPaddle's Cruiser Sail is probably not what comes to mind. More like a spherical wind sock, the Cruiser Sail's innovative design allows for instant deployment of a 19-inch coiled sail to a 52-inch diameter sail that will help propel your canoe along on windy days. Within minutes of launching the sail for the first time on a 95-day canoe trip I took last summer, any initial skepticism regarding its functionality or durability flew out the window.
We loved its ease of use, intuitive design, instant deployment and packability. The large see-through window allowed for enough visibility for the front paddler to take in the scenery and not get claustrophobic and the stern paddler to navigate sufficiently. We were surprised at its versatility as well — we often sailed for hours in 90 degree cross winds through numerous arctic lakes. In these conditions, we found a combination of rudder strokes and proper sail alignment to be the best strategy and most efficient means of traveling. Most importantly, this sail in incredibly effective. We managed to top out our 17-foot, 600-pound canoe at around 7 mph and were even able to make upstream progress!
While we wish the Cruiser Sail came with a carrying case and that its tether was made of nylon webbing rather than thin cord, its outstanding performance and toughness more than compensates for these very minor details. Although it was used for more than 20 days in a 3 month period on a combination of fresh and salt water, the sail shows almost no signs of wear and tear. The Cruiser Sail is tons of fun and adds an entirely new dimension and dynamic skillset to canoeing; it takes the tedium of paddling in windy days and makes them a blast.
Use the Cruiser Sail to race on your local lake or relax as you make effortless miles on your next backcountry adventure or expedition. Don't canoe? Don't worry – WindPaddle also makes sails for SUP boards and sea kayaks.
–Benjamin Orkin tested this and other items on a 95-day canoe trip in Canada’s Northwest Territories last summer. Read more about the gear that got them through the 1,300-mile expedition.