Coleman Scanoe: The Original Scout Canoe


If you’ve never heard the term “Scanoe”, you’re probably not alone. The last Coleman branded Scanoe was made in 2001. Ever since, there have been imitators called Scout canoes, but the good old Coleman Scanoe? Maybe you can find one used, but new? Not anymore, my friend.

What is a Scanoe? The Coleman Scanoe is/was a cross between a skiff and a canoe – hence “scanoe.” A Scanoe is wider than a regular canoe and has a square back so a trolling motor can be mounted to it. Scanoes are no longer made by Coleman, but plenty of these “scout” canoe types are on the market, taking the place of the branded “Scanoe.” 

Now listen, I’m completely prejudiced when talking about canoes made to mount trolling motors. I’ve written about trolling motors for canoes and have fond memories of my youth, trolling for trout in a squareback aluminum canoe. The Scanoe was just a more purposefully engineered version of that concept, so I love it for that reason alone.

Versatile, portable, fast, and convenient transportation to and from and on the water… A Scanoe is just cool.

If you like the dual function of a Scanoe like I do, you should consider getting one. Because a trolling motor is not only great for cruising around with a few people but more importantly, trolling for fish. The option to take off the motor makes this vessel great for paddling as well!

Read on to see how/where you can get a Scanoe and which one to get! 

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A Brief History of the Scanoe

Finding a Scanoe in good condition is getting increasingly more difficult, as they’re no longer made. Production started with Coleman in the 1980’s and then the brand was sold to Pelican International around 2001. Pelican also tried their hand at Scanoes once they bought the concept but stopped a few years later. 

Though Scanoes are hard to find, Craigslist will occasionally have one in pretty decent shape. Old Coleman Scanoes and other companies’ versions of this canoe can still be found if you keep an eye out.    

Coleman Scanoe Specs   

As you can see in the comparison below, the ’85 and ’89 models are pretty similar. They’re both about 15 feet long and have pretty wide beams for a canoe.

The most noticeable difference between these two models is that the ’85 only has 1.75 horsepower capacity rating, and the ’89 increased its capacity a few years later to 5 horsepower. The slightly wider beam on the ’89 means it’s more stable and thus can hold more weight. And that allows it to handle a few more hp mounted to the stern. 

Company/ModelColeman ScanoeColeman Scanoe
Length15′ 8″15.67′
Hull MaterialPolyethylenePlastic
Width (beam)38”40”
Weight95 lbs.94 lbs.
Horsepower1.75 hp5 hp

The last Coleman brand Scanoe was made in 2001. Since then, other boat makers have tried their hand at this hybrid vessel, but none have fully resurrected it to mass market appeal.

Pelican Scanoe – Scout Canoe

Pelican Scanoe - Bayou 160

When Pelican bought the Scanoe brand from Coleman, they took the Scanoe concept and sort of blew it up. The Pelican Scanoe beam/width is a whopping 43″, which makes it sturdy. Sadly, the “plastic” manufacturing materials made it incredibly bulky and heavy. 

2011 Bayou 160 Square Stern specs  

  • Length: 16’6”
  • Width (beam): 43” 
  • Seats: 3 
  • Weight: 111 lbs. 
  • Horsepower: 5 hp 

Pelican’s Scanoe is a whole 5″ wider than the original Coleman Scanoe from 1985! It also has the horsepower of the 1989 Coleman Scanoe, but as I mentioned, that makes it heavier and bulkier. You may feel more drag with the Pelican model Scanoe as well.

On the plus side, this Scanoe is great if you need something heavy-duty and have lots of gear to haul!   

Old Town Scout Canoe

Old Town Discovery Sport 15 (Amazon link)

Old Town is probably the most reputable brand that still has scout canoes on the market. With Coleman and Pelican, you will need to peruse eBay or Craigslist to find one that’s in good condition.

With Old Town, you can pretty much guarantee the quality, but a hefty price tag does accompany it. Old Town doesn’t advertise itself as a scout canoe—calling it a “Sport”—but the squareback is how you can identify its similar functionality. 

  • Length: 15’3”
  • Width (beam): 40″
  • Material: polyethylene 
  • Horsepower Rating: 4 hp

Compared to the other two Scanoes, the Discovery has an average length and beam, but with its three-layer polyethylene hull and ability to seat four people, it’s an improvement for sure. 

Just be warned, Old Town quality comes with “Old Town” price—it ain’t cheap. 

Scanoe at Dicks Sporting Goods  

Dicks Sporting goods used to carry a sqaureback canoe that’s similar to a Scanoe, but lately I’ve been unable to find it.

The Sun Dolphin Scout 14′ 3 is a squareback “Scanoe” type canoe that’s capable of mounting a trolling motor to it’s stern.

The most similar in terms of size that I can find at Dicks would be the Old Town Canoe Guide 160. It boasts 16′ in length and an almost 40″ beam, so it’s incredibly sturdy like other scouting boats.

How to Shop for a Scanoe vs Canoe

If you’re looking to get some form of Scanoe or otherwise square stern canoe capable of mounting a trolling motor, it’s important to know the terminology. 

“Scanoe” is a slightly outdated term, as production has ceased. If you ask someone at a store about a Scanoe and they don’t know what that is, don’t worry! Just ask for a canoe with a squareback, as one of the most noticeable differences.  

Scanoe and squareback aren’t necessarily the same thing, though.

Proceed with caution, as a Scanoe is always a squareback, but a squareback isn’t always an “official” Scanoe. If you want the “Scanoe” for the name, buy an old Coleman or Pelican. If you simply want a squareback canoe you can mount a trolling motor on, you can get one online from several retailers.  

Squareback Canoe

The primary difference in a squareback canoe is the most obvious: its square stern design, rather than the classic pointed back end. The front does remain the same. They typically seat three people, so it’s good for family fishing trips or rides around the lake (if the motor’s attached). 

The pros and cons are listed together here: 

  1. They are typically heavier than traditional canoes, and still sort of bulky in the design itself.
  2. Because it’s missing the rear pointed buoyancy, a squareback typically sits lower in the water at the stern. This causes drag if you’re paddling it, so if your main use will be paddling, you may want to think about getting a traditional canoe and them using a trolling motor mount when you need to.
  3. Made to mount a motor (and easy installation saves time and frustration) 
  4. Not great for rough water (due to its clunky nature)
  5. The motor makes this canoe move right along, especially with a 5 hp engine.
  6. And as a small, portable trolling vessel, the squareback can’t be beat, IMO. 

Regular Canoe

The regular canoe is that “classic” boat with a double-ended point on the front and back. You can’t put an engine on it as easily as with the square back, but it can be done. It’s probably not ideal, though, so probably save this for times you want to paddle or take a leisurely fishing trip with one or two people.    

  1. Pretty fast
  2. You have to paddle, which can get tiring.
  3. It’s great if you’re trying to maneuver.
  4. Sort of unstable 

Is a Scanoe for You?

At the end of the day, it depends on what you’ll use your canoe or Scanoe for most. If your focus is to get out on an all-day fishing trip, you a Scanoe or a squareback scout canoe is for you. 

In short, the square back or “Scanoe” may be best suited for leisure trolling for fish, especially with motor mounted and ample seating. The regular canoe is good for quick trips, lots of motion, competitions, and just one or two people aboard.


I'm Steve, the research and technology workhorse behind Paddle Camp. I do tons of research on all our family's paddling gear before I buy or recommend anything. I grew up canoeing with my dad and brother. A few years ago I bought paddle boards for my daughters, myself, and my wife. Ever since then, we plan most of our vacations around kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding.

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