Top 5 Square Stern Canoes Under Review

Square Stern Canoe Review

Grumman 19’ Square-Stern

Length19 ft (5.78m)
TypeSquare Stern Canoe
Capacity1005 lbs
ColorsBare Aluminium, Olive Drab, Burgundy, Hunter Green and Insignia Blue

This hand-crafted canoe is made from special age-hardened, stretch-formed aluminum alloy and is far longer than a lot of models on the market. The ‘Bulb T keel’, adds stability to the canoe, even with an outboard put on the back.

Being a longer canoe, it does help that this is robust and stronger due to the shape and material used to make it. It is a great size for longer journeys, as it is still super lightweight and easy to maneuver when using a paddle or outboard.

Even heavily laden, it can still be pushed along with a 5 HP motor (the manufacturer’s suggested limit). It can still be put on an average car’s roof rack (check recommendations) due to its lightweight and doesn’t take a lot to pick it up when portaging or storing on your own. This version of Grumman’s square-stern canoes is ideal for those wanting a larger model.

Things we like:

The ‘bulb keel’ helps paddlers because of the added stability and creates a stiffer and stronger hull. The age-hardened alloy is substantially stronger than other alloys, and as it’s hand riveted (T-6 Alumilite rivets) it is held together with maximum strength along the gunnels, keels and ribs.

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Old Town Discovery Sport 15 Square-Stern Recreational Canoe

MaterialRoto-molded polyethylene
BrandOld Town Canoes & Kayaks
Length15 foot 3 inches (4.6m)
Type“Sport” or Square-Stern
Capacity850 lbs
ColorsRed, Camo, or Green.

This lightweight and very durable canoe is Old Town’s smaller version within their Discovery range, but it still gives you a great carrying capacity.

It does come with oar sockets and durable vinyl gunwales, but the real selling point is the three comfortable webbing seats that are often undervalued by other manufacturers.

Things we like:

Old Town boasts that this canoe has the ability for the user to sit comfortably whilst doing a range of paddling styles, but you can also bolt on a more powerful trolling motor too. This boat is cleverly designed with full-length stabilizing chines and a generous beam, making it a comfortable ride no matter the situation.

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Old Town Rogue River 153

MaterialThermoformed Polyethylene
BrandOld Town Canoes & Kayaks
Length15 foot 4 inches (4.7m)
Capacity850 lbs

This is a nice, long, and well-designed square stern in Old Town’s range of boats. Having the square stern allows for motors to be mounted, but still gives a nice balance on the water.

The center seat has an insulated collar and water-resistant day hatch, which is helpful during longer rides, but like all boats that offer this, it does take away a little bit of usable space and can make self-portaging a little harder.

Things we like:

They claim it is the more versatile and affordable boat in their range, which is mostly due to it having a square stern. What is different from many 3-seated boats on the market, is that this version houses two comfortable and molded seats at the front and rear, which have usable space underneath.

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Sun Dolphin Mackinaw 15.6 Square Back

MaterialUV-Stabilized Fortiflex High-Density Polyethylene
BrandSun Dolphin
Length15 foot 6 inches (4.72m)
Capacity800 lbs
ColorsHazelnut or Navy

This is Sun Dolphin’s more ‘specialized’ canoe range. It’s aimed towards paddlers that enjoy canoe fishing and need a very sturdy and comfortable boat on a variety of water types.

The three seats are molded and have built-in storage, plus a cooler that helps when you are using bate (helps with the smell). The square stern allows you to mount on a trolling motor, which means you can search for fishing spots without your entire day spent paddling. This smallest model can still comfortably house three adults and is still relatively lightweight when un-laden (95 lbs).

Things we like:

There isn’t much of a visual difference between this and the other versions of the Mackinaw range, but the subtle changes make it a ‘canoe-fishing-friendly’ model. With the added integrated dry storage, drink holders, and cooler, it makes it easier to house bate and things that are needed whilst waiting for the fish to bite. The comfortable and larger carrying handles are a real plus too, making for a more comfortable portage.

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Esquif Heron Square Stern Canoe

BrandEsquif Canoes
Length14 foot 6 inches (4.4m)
Capacity800 lbs
ColorsCamo or Green

This versatile, lightweight, and multi-purpose canoe has been perfectly adapted for those wanting to also fish and hunt. It’s got the benefit of being a great size, whilst also being versatile, having a foam core hull that insulates you from the cold water, and it is a quiet and comfortable ride to the more secluded fishing spots.

You can even get the interior of the canoe painted in camo to help with fitting into the environment and opt for wooden gunwales too.

Things we like:

There is a great level of versatility with this boat, with a huge carrying capacity and the added benefit of being insulated from the cold water, allowing you to be out in the wild and still get to your favorite fishing spots throughout the colder season.

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A square-stern canoe may look a bit odd to some people and hard for the more traditional canoe fans to appreciate, but in so many ways, this style has a huge advantage whilst on certain paddling trips and specific paddling experiences.

It may look like it won’t paddle correctly, but they do, plus the added hull strength that this style of canoe offers is actually very noticeable when you are out on the water. But which model or style do you choose? There are differences between the models, so here are some examples of the best square-stern canoes currently out there:

How to choose a square stern canoe

If you like longer canoes, like family canoes, then a square-stern model might be for you. This style of canoe has the added advantage of being a lot sturdier than other types on the market, mostly because there is an added support laid into the hull that increases the overall stability and strength of a longer canoe.

Do you want to try out a variety of paddling trips, but think that the longer ones might be too tiring? Or perhaps you want to try fishing or hunting from a canoe, but find you can’t because you are a loud paddler (hitting the gunnels when you paddle).

Although square-stern canoes can’t be paddled in both directions, you can attach a trolling motor to give you a rest while on longer trips. What you need to do is figure out which size suits you best e.g. do you need more storage capacity or do you need a smaller canoe so that you can also solo-paddle easier?

What are the advantages/disadvantages of square stern canoes?

Key aspects to think about when choosing a square-stern canoe is that you can use a motor when going on long journeys or when you want a break, but the obvious disadvantage is the slightly more tricky shape to tie down on a rack or trailer. The other issue is that you can’t paddle in reverse as easily or spin it around like a double-ender.

Things to look for in a square stern canoe

The manufacturer of your canoe will recommend the maximum power of the trolling motor that best suits your canoe (typically 4hp), so make sure you follow these guidelines when looking for the bolting plate and motor size. You also want to consider where the stern seat is located in relation to the trolling motor mounting plate, as some models do need you to reach quite far back to get to the motor’s controls.

What’s the best way to use this canoe?

You can use this style of canoe like any other traditional canoe on the market, but you have the added benefit of taking it easy when using a tolling motor.

You can’t use this like a power boat, so don’t think that you can bolt on a high-powered outboard motor and create a wake. Most manufacturers will only advise you to use a motor with a maximum of 4hp and only use on water that won’t require you to keep the engine revving all the time. Remember that you can’t simply turn around in your seat if the canoe spins uncontrollably (like double-enders can), so you won’t be able to just paddle it if the square-stern faces against the current.

There isn’t any specific paddling technique associated with a square-stern canoe, as there is no change to how you paddle. All you need to check is that the trolling motor you have fits the manufacturer’s guidelines and off you go.


Square-stern canoes are a good choice if you want something that is truly versatile and has a multi-purpose use. This style gives you the benefits of cutting through the water like a traditional canoe but allows you to bolt on a trolling motor to help with longer trips. It is known within the industry that longer square-stern models are a lot sturdier and stronger whilst on the water, due to the support structure within the hull’s design. It does mean you can’t paddle it in reverse like a more traditional design, but some manufacturers have their own take on the “square” part at the stern.

If you want to put a square stern on the water, your paddling skills will be totally transferable, so it’s not like you have to learn the basic strokes all over again.

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