From the Shop: Know your Options

Over the past few years, the Option whitewater canoe has undergone a good bit of evolution.  This week’s “From the Shop” looks at the different versions and explains the changes, and how to identify them.



Option Prototype

There was only one of these made, and I never sold it, so if you’re trying to figure out which Option you have, this ain’t it.  It had softer chines on the stern, no splash deflectors on the deck plates (though I did add one made of of foam), and was a little shallower than the later boats.


Gen I

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If memory serves me, there were 15 first generation Options, all of them were red.  The distinguishing characteristics are the long deck plates, and “five string” airbag lacing on both bow and stern airbags.

Gen II


The only substantial change from Gen I to Gen II was shortening the deck plates.  The longer deck plates didn’t seem to make much difference in terms of dryness, so I made them shorter to try to save weight.  The hull was the same as Gen I.  The Gen II boats have 8 string airbag lacing, and were the only ones that had the top half of the mold split cross-ways- so the parting line runs across the top boat, rather than along the deck plates.  These were made in Red, Blue, Black, and Green, and I think there was one yellow one.



The third generation Option had ends that were 2 inches deeper than the previous versions.  The hull remained the same, but the gunwales were lifted two inches in the ends, tapering down to the same depth as the previous canoe in the middle.  This was a major improvement in terms of dryness, but the canoe handled essentially the same.  There were 7 strings on the airbag lacing.  These were made in all sorts of colors.

Gen IV


This is the “Forgotten Generation” of Options.  There were only about 15 of them made.  The bow hull was very slightly flattened from the previous versions to make it easier to push around, and the inside of the gunwales was rounded over to make them stiffer.

Gen V

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The ultimate Option, the result of years of testing and tweaking.  These are the ones out of an aluminum mold rather than fiberglass molds, so the finish is much nicer and the the plastic is a more consistent thickness.  The stern chines were sharpened on these to make the boat track better, and thwarts were added to the ends of the canoe to stiffen the gunwales and deck plates.  The rounded inwale was kept from Gen IV.  Between the thwarts helping to stiffen the top of the boat and more consistent thickness in the plastic, these are also the lightest of the Options.