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Bell Canoe Northstar

rated 5.0 of 5 stars

Bell Canoe is no longer in business, and the Northstar has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best touring canoes for 2024.

photo: Bell Canoe Northstar touring canoe

I've owned a Northstar for about 3 years now and the more I paddle it the more I like it. I put a kneeling thwart in for solo paddling and raised the back seat. It handles very nice with a heavy load and is very stable. I do a lot of paddling up
in New York in the Saranac lakes region, it seems to be in its element there with the portages and paddling lake to lake.


  • Fast
  • Stable when loaded
  • Smooth to paddle


  • Poor initial stability
  • Seats too low, cannot get feet under them for kneeling

I bought this canoe used from an outfitter in Saranac Lake. The first time I got into it I almost fell out the other side. I wasn't expecting it to be so tippy being used to an Old Town Discovery. I am a solo paddler so I had to put a kneeling thwart in it if I decided  to buy it. I used the thwart in front of the rear seat for kneeling. As soon as you start paddling it becomes stable and seemed to glide across the lake. I was hooked!

The model I got was the kevlar with aluminum gunnels, it only weighs 43 lbs. It was so easy to lift and carry. the hook bit deeper. I packed my gear and went to the outfitter and bought it.

When I got home my next move was to  put a kneeling thwart in and raise the back seat. I usually kneel when I paddle and could not get my feet under the rear seat. Since I did the fitting and I use it for solo tripping I have fallen in love with it. I take the dog along and she sits in her area in front of the front seat providing ballast. She is good to have along when camping to provide camp security services.

I would highly recommend this canoe for the solo paddler. It is fast, smooth, good handling and light to carry. I have not used it on a river yet, I use my Old Town 169 for that. This canoe would be perfect for the the BWCA. When you load up this boat and slide out onto a still and silent lake lined with tall wind swept pines and hemlocks and the loons sound the alarm you'll know you've made the right choice.

Source: bought it used
Price Paid: 1400$

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Price Reviewers Paid: $1,400.00
Weight 41-45 pounds
Length 16 feet, 6 inches
Max Width 34.5 inches
Optimum load 250-500 pounds

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