Thursday, April 11, 2013

Outdoor Hub Reviews: NuCanoe Classic 12 and Frontier 12 Hybrid Kayaks

Submitted by Anthony Larson of Coulee Region Adventures and originally posted on Outdoor Hub

Being a kayak guide and outdoor writer, I am often asked about watercraft. The most asked questions are “kayak or canoe?” and “what do I use?” The answer is no surprise or secret: my craft of choice is the NuCanoe system–hands down.

About seven years ago, I was paddling down Coon Creek in Wisconsin with my then-eight-year-old daughter when all of the sudden, and for no apparent reason, we flipped. The current pushed her into a brush pile and she struggled to escape, the cold water pushing against her. While I was fighting to rescue her, the canoe drifted down stream, and we lost a lot of gear. My cell phone was damaged (they weren’t as easy to come by back then) and we lost a rod and some tackle. It would take quite a few outings on completely stable water before she would get in a canoe again.

A few years later, a buddy of mine’s brother bought a NuCanoe 12. He was bragging about how stable the unit was, and how he can adjust the seating in it. He had me at stability–as soon as I got home I looked at NuCanoe on YouTube, read a couple forum reviews, and ordered one sight unseen.
A few days later, the NuCanoe 12 arrived, and on the first day I had available, I tossed it in the water and put it to the test. It did everything that it was advertised as doing. Modular seating (check), stability (check), and stand up and fish (some difficulty but done). I bought one more for my guide business.
NuCanoe 12 and Frontier 12 Hybrid Kayaks
Last year, NuCanoe launched their second model, the Frontier 12. They advertised it as being just as stable as the NuCanoe , but with more features: cast and blast decking for user mobility, scuppers for easy draining and tracking, built in storage compartment, and cup holders. Basically, everything the user wanted in the NuCanoe is found in the Frontier.

Being a fan of NuCanoe already, I purchased my first Frontier when they first came out and put it to the test. The unit is very stable; the built in storage compartment basically runs the entire length of the unit, providing lots of room to place long items such as rods, tents, or blankets. The maximum weight capacity is 650 lbs, but most importantly, as advertised, one can stand up and fish out of it with very little discomfort.


Both the NuCanoe and Frontier are made from injected mold plastic. I've had my Frontier for over a year and my NuCanoe for three years. Both models get used in professional fishing and experience a high amount of abuse. Neither unit is showing signs of wear and tear and function well under those circumstances.


Both units perform as advertised, and both serve a purpose for the user. The NuCanoe reminds me of a sit in canoe and the Frontier reminds me of a sit on kayak. For fishing, hunting, and utility craft, I recommend the Frontier. For leisure paddling, I recommend the NuCanoe. Having the ability to get up and walk around takes the Frontier to a whole new level of watercraft.


Price point for the NuCanoe 12 is around $950, and the Frontier 12 is around $1,200. Because of the versatility of the craft, and the amount of use I got out of them so far, the NuCanoe systems are spot on in value. Industry standard for kayaks/canoes start out at $200 for the el-cheapos, and $5,000 for custom-made models. In comparison to other crafts similar to the NuCanoes in the industry, the price point is well within industry standard.


This is the biggest category when I consider writing a product review: would I tell my buddies about this unit and recommend they buy it? YES. The NuCanoe system is made in Ohio, and most of the accessories are made in the United States.

My daughter and son both feel comfortable and safe in the NuCanoe and we go out as a family all the time in them. I highly recommend this product for anyone that loves the water, as well as other kayak rental and fishing guides.

Image by Anthony Larson


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