Last August in 2018 I broke down and bought an Old Town Guide 119. I had been looking pretty hard at a few different solo canoes from various manufactures, but on a gut hunch I went with the Guide 119. To be honest I am glad I did. It’s a great little canoe and was a fraction of the cost of those other canoes.
Old Town Guide 119 – Fixing The Problems
I’ve had my canoe in the water half a dozen times since buying it, twice to the Boundary Waters. There were a few little things that bugged me about it, nothing major, just minor little issues.
- The seat was not level front edge to back edge. While mostly comfortable, I couldn’t help but feel like I was angling slightly forward when sitting. This was an easy fix.
- While the canoe only weighs around 48 pounds, it didn’t come with a portaging yoke, nor does Old Town Canoes sell one for it. Since I planned to use this canoe on extended wilderness trips, I knew I was going to want a yoke. Another easy fix.
- Not the canoe’s fault, but I kept getting lots of paddle drips on me and inside the canoe when using a double bladed kayak paddle. Again, an easy fix.
Luckily all three of those issues were minor and easy to overcome.
Old Town Guide 119 Simple Seat Modification
The seat modification was a simple one. I went to the local hardware store and purchased a couple half-inch nylon spacers and longer bolts. When I got home I simply adding the spacers and replaced using longer bolts, one to each side of the seat’s rear mounting bracket. Doing so dropped the back of the seat down half an inch and made the front and back level.
It took about eight minutes to add the spacers. That’s it! An easy fix which only cost me about $3 at the hardware store.
Did this little trick work? Yes, it most certainly did. A couple days ago I took my canoe out for a few hours and noticed immediately that the seat modification worked. The entire time I didn’t feel like my ass was angling forward in my Old Town Guide 119.
The Old Town Guide 119 Needs A Yoke
Most people probably buy this canoe with the intent of unloading it at a boat landing or perhaps within a few yards of a body of water. Usually that is what I do too. However, I am also going to use my Old Town Guide 119 on canoe trips into the wilderness, like the BWCA and Quetico, and that means portaging.
I wouldn’t want to carry this canoe, or any canoe for that matter, over a couple hundred yards or more of land between lakes without a yoke. Last Autumn did just that, and it totally sucked, not to mention gave me aches and pains.
Old Town Canoes does not make a yoke specifically for the Old Town Guide 119 or the Discovery 119. So I went online and found a company (Essex Industries) that makes a detachable yoke that is universal for many canoes.
Positioning A Yoke On An Old Town Guide 119
It doesn’t matter if you have the Guide 119 or the Discovery 119, the position where you place your quick-detach adjustable yoke is tricky. The problem many people have is they try to place the yoke in a position that will evenly balance the canoe when using the yoke. Because of the position of the seats in these canoes the yoke would be best placed almost across where the seats are mounted.
Sadly, placing the yoke over the front edge of the seat will not work. Your head and the seat will come into contact and make portaging in that position horribly uncomfortable.
I place the yoke just slightly in front of where the seat is. This causes more weight to be towards the aft end of the canoe, which will raise the front end of the canoe up when using the yoke. But, I find it takes very little effort with your hands forward on the gunnels to keep the front of the canoe from flipping up to much.
It’s actually very comfortable. I can carry this canoe for hundreds of rods if I have to without little effort, thanks to that quick detach yoke.
Annoying Paddle Drips Inside My Canoe
Okay, so this issue was not the fault of my Old Town Guide 119. It was about the double bladed paddle I was using; it was too short. Even with drip guards on the paddle I was getting drips inside the canoe and on my lap. Not a big deal on hot summer days, but very annoying on cool spring or fall days.
This is actually a common issue with people paddling solo canoes with a double bladed paddle. It has to do with the canoe width, the physicality of the paddler, and the paddle being used. The paddle I initially purchased when I bought my Guide 119 was 250cm in length, which is a common length for a double bladed paddle.
After a little research online it sounded like people with similar issues like I was having bought longer paddles which fixed their problem. So yeah, I went and bought a 280cm paddle, just 11.8 inches longer than the 250cm paddle… and it made a HUGE difference.
When I was out a couple days for a paddle I had no drips inside my canoe. The extra paddle length worked. No more drips!
The paddle I am using with my old Town Guide 119 is the Bending Branches Glass Slice Solo 280cm. I bought it online, you can read more about them and purchase one by clicking here.
Old Town Guide 119 – Seat Tip!
One last tip on sitting comfortably in the seat. After making the modification I mentioned above to drop down the back edge of the seat, there is one more thing you can do to make it more comfy: Buy the correct life-jacket!
That’s right, not all life-jackets are created equal. You want to make sure you get one that is suitable and designed around being worn in a kayak. Most standard canoe seats do not hack back support, they are usually just a bench style of seat. When sitting in a kayak style seat you have a back rest and will want a life-jacket with no padding on the lower back of the jacket.
I’ve noticed that my usual life-jacket, because it has lower back padding/flotation, pushes up on me when sitting in my canoe. That can be a little annoying as ever fifteen or twenty minutes on my last trip I was adjusting my lifejacket down on my torso to where it feels more comfortable.
See the image below: You can see that the lower back area is mesh, and does not have any flotation bulk… this jacket is designed to be worn for kayaking comfort or with seats that have lower back rests.
Yes, before I go on my next major wilderness cane trip in my Old Town Guide 119, I will be purchasing a new life jacket to increase my paddling comfort.
Old Town Guide 119 Fixing The Problems
I really do enjoy my Old Town Guide 119. It’s a great solo craft and suitable for a wide variety of uses. With a few personal updates it has become more versatile for my needs, and much more comfortable to use.
I have a few more major outings I plan on using it on this year, along with smaller day trips in mind. The Old Town Guide 119 is going to make this a great canoe season!