Review: Nova Craft Fox

I had my eye on the new Nova Craft Fox 14′ solo boat since it was announced for the 2017 model year.  I daydreamed about it while happily paddling my 16′ Prospector all summer.  After having the Prospector out in some big wind and on a solo trip with portaging, I decided that a lighter and more nimble option would suit my solo adventures better.  I took a trip to London Paddle Shop to have a look at the Fox and ended up leaving with a fiberglass version with aluminum trim in Desert White.

 

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Picking up the Fox with a good friend who bought a kayak for himself.

Since my purchase I’ve put numerous day trips out in the Fox with many hours of seat time.  I’ve done the winding lower stretches of Big Creek and the open lake at Deer Creek Conservation Area.  The Fox impressed me in both the flat water and the lazy river.

 

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Out on Big Creek with the Fox.

I found that the boat had a bit of a nervous feel when I first got in compared to my Prospector, but that feeling faded quickly once I had adjusted myself to paddling the solo boat.  The secondary stability of the canoe is fantastic, it feels very planted when leaned to one side.  The canoe tracks very well with minimal correction strokes but also turns on a dime if need be (with a little bit of fancy paddle work).  If you are running primarily in rivers I’d recommend something with more rocker to it, like the Supernova, for improved cornering ability.  I’m not saying that the Fox is a slouch in the river though, it just takes a little more to corner and if you have a good repertoire of paddling strokes you can really make this boat dance.  I found myself “skidding” the rear through tight corners and having a blast on the river.

When out in the lakes it really shines and displays its design characteristics for flat water cruising.  Its tracks very well and the shallow ends don’t catch much wind.  In high winds I have had it weathercock into the wind but it’s still manageable and progress along the water is still possible.  In the same conditions my Prospector would have spun me around and forced me to shore until the wind died down.  There is ample storage room for all the gear you could care to bring along on a solo trip, enough room for a large portage pack ahead of  you and a food barrel behind the seat.  Speaking of the seat, it is slightly tilted forward for comfort while in a kneeling position.  I’m not a kneeler, but I do appreciate the slight tip forward as I find it more comfortable than a perfectly flat seat.  The only creature comfort that I will be adding is some sort of foot bar or brace to give me something to push against when the paddling gets tough.

 

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The Fox waits on the dock at Deer Creek.

One thing I had to get sorted with this canoe was trim.  I’m a pretty big guy and did find it helpful to add some weight to the front of the canoe to trim it out properly.  I take a big dry sack and fill it with water at the put-in, then strap it around the carry handle on the front.  This gives me perfect trim and the canoe handles great.  I wouldn’t paddle this boat without the trim weight, as the front sticks up quite far and catches wind.  Keep in mind this is coming from a 6′ 280lbs person (they don’t call me Sasquatch for nothing).

The other problem to solve was carrying the canoe.  It does not come with a yoke (most solo canoes don’t) so I had to fashion my own solution.  I bought a Nova Craft Deluxe yoke and cut it down.  I drilled it and the aluminum gunnels and attached the yoke with wing nuts.  It’s not the prettiest solution but it works.  I’m currently working on sorting out a foldable yoke so I don’t have to hear the yoke banging around in the bottom of the canoe or risk losing it.

So, if you are looking for a solo canoe for flat water tripping with some slow-moving rivers tossed in, check out the Fox.

 

Since this review, I’ve sold my Fox.  Having a lack of space as well as a 16′ Prospector and an 18′ sea kayak makes it tough to justify having three boats.  I also wouldn’t get much time in it in the future anyways as my kids are starting to join me on all of my paddling adventures, which makes the Prospector the right choice for a one canoe quiver.  I still highly recommend the Fox for solo paddling and will miss mine.

 

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The Fox on top of my truck, looking for my next adventure.

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