Photo: Clark Lubbs

Swift Pack 13.6 Carbon Fusion
($2,695 in carbon fusion, $2,395 in Kevlar fusion,
L: 13.8′; W:27.5″; D: 11.5″, 23 lbs.

If you want an open-deck canoe that feels like a kayak, consider the Swift Pack 13.6, a pint-sized lightweight carbon/Kevlar trimmed solo canoe that paddles exactly like Swift’s popular Adirondack Kayak. As owner Bill Swift puts it, “It’s the same hull, just with higher sidewalls and no deck.” On the water, that translates to the hull performance of a trusted kayak design without the extra hassle or weight of a full deck. Brilliant.

Stable, fast, easy to pack (we could put our packs anywhere and maintain even trim) with the notably stylish, self-proclaimed “cleanest finish” of any pack canoe available, the Pack 13.6 proved to be the luxury-liner of the fleet. The outfitting, complete with Swift’s Comfort Flex Seat, was by far the most comfortable. Every tester said, “I could sit in this all day,” at least once. Bonus: The comfy seat back tidily clips down for portages or car-topping.

“It’s seems to be the perfect balance between length, width, and rocker to fit every level of paddler,” one tester said. “It’s not as performance-oriented as the Placid, but it’s still plenty responsive. It’s even got a little tumblehome for higher-angle strokes.” The Swift Pack 13.6 (also available in a 12-foot model) seems to fit the performance niche between the Hornbeck (p. 68) and Placid canoes, and for paddlers who want to keep that kayak feel.