16 June 2015

Supernova Maiden Voyage

Back in the early part of the year I ordered a new canoe, I've been lake tripping in the cedar stripper for a few years now and got the hankering for river running. It has been many years since I ran rivers in a canoe, in fact it was before I moved to Minnesota. So with that itch I scratched it by ordering a Supernova from Nova Craft Canoes.

Supernova 14′ 10″
The Supernova was designed as the ideal solution for the paddler who loves to do solo wilderness river trips. While the Supernova hull characteristics do what you’d expect from a white water boat – like keep you dry and effortlessly surf a wave – where you really appreciate the canoe is the flat water sections in between the frothy stuff.
The Supernova would be most appreciated by experienced paddlers who enjoy messing around in rapids. Even though it comes to life in the rough stuff, it retains enough of a quiet nature that it won’t feel out of place for a casual paddle on the local pond. In the hands of a competent paddler the Supernova is an excellent dance partner.
TuffStuff Expedition: 53lbs / 21.8kg

Length: 14’10”/ 452cm
Width: 32″ / 81.2cm
Center Depth: 15” / 38cm
End Depth: 23″ / 54.4cm
Capacity: 850lb / 386kg

· Symmetrical Hull
· Shallow Arch Bottom
· Moderate Rocker

I'd spent some time researching canoes that fit my use, I wanted something that could do nearly everything,  be nearly indestructible, relatively light weight and with good capacity. The Supernova fit the bill. I ordered in March and took delivery on June 11th at Bearskin Outfitters. They are great folks to do business with, be it canoe ordering or outfitting for Boundary Waters trips. 

As she was when I brought her home.

With limited time, story of the year so far really, I set out for a 35 mile run down the Cloquet River. This would be my first river paddle in nearly a decade, it's mostly a mild river with some Class I, II, and III rapids, but more I & II than III. I figured it would be an easy go and that I'd knock the rust off without much trouble.

The upper portion of the Cloquet River just after the put in at Indian Lake is narrow and winding through willows and marsh, quite beautiful.

About two miles of that and it opens up a bit with more varied terrain, the wilderness aspect remains though. The Cloquet winds through the Cloquet Valley State forest and for the most part is devoid of human encroachment, you're not near roads or developments, very closed off from civilization.

There is some footage in the video of running the Camp G rapids which were Class I & II, fairly mild stuff but loads of fun.

Shelter for this trip was a Kifaru Megatarp covering a Bear Paw Wilderness Designs Net Tent 1.5. It is a pretty good setup that's as  bug proof as you can get and extremely reliable from a bad weather perspective. It's the same set up that I'll use on  the North Slope of the Brooks Range Alaska trip later this year.

The set up is very simple. The two ends of the net tent are on the trekking poles, the four corners are shock corded to the four stakes used on the Megatarp. I use two tarp hooks half way down each side that are also shock corded to the middle stakes on the Mega. This makes for super fast and solid set up with fewer stakes and more flexibility with the Net tent. No stress points either.

I sacked out around nine, it had been a long day and it didn't take long for sleep to come. I woke to the sound of wolves howling at around two in the morning. They didn't sound all that far off. The rest of the night was uneventful.

The amount of mosquito swarming me in the morning was insane, I whipped up a quick breakfast in a bag and broke camp as fast as I could. Back on the water the breeze kept them at bay.

35 miles later I entered Island Lake Reservoir where I paddled the 2 miles from where the Cloquet opens into the lake to my take out point at the farthest visible point in the image below. 

I'm very happy with the canoe, though I managed to scar it up pretty good in some places on rocks I could not see. I went relatively light and I believe it would have handled even better with some additional weight. Overall I couldn't be happier to be running rivers again!

The video is a simple affair with just some highlights from the trip.


  1. Once again, I wish we were closer geographically, and I'd be out there with you! That looks like a really well-designed, tough canoe and some beautiful scenery. I'm sure it'll be a workhorse for you in the future..

  2. Oh, and the specs you listed lead me to believe it'll be an easier, faster boat to paddle than the Guide 119 I like so much, at around the same weight.