Northstar ADK Solo Pack Canoe Review and Adventure

I’m really excited that production is catching up to demand so I can start promoting the Northstar ADK Solo as a great alternative to anyone considering recreational kayaks but needs light weight. You have to really consider if you need a “deck” on your watercraft. In central Oregon, it gets real hot and we don’t have huge open big-wave water. The ADK Solo is perfect for these type of conditions and 18-19 lbs is about as light as you can get. At that weight, I don’t think about car-topping or going for a 2-3 mile walk with my canoe!

Here is a video overview of the way I like to stock ADKs:



The simplicity of the ADK just makes it so easy to self-service your own adventure. Here’s a video blog of a recent and much needed adventure and a genesis tale of why simple adventures can sometimes be just what is needed:

Northstar’s ADK Solo Canoe…Growing up in Minnesota had me on the water from a young age. Tubes, kid rafts and kayaks at first but it was trips into the Boundary Waters with family and later friends that had touched my soul in the way so many lifelong paddlers describe. The loons in the evening, the reveal of the next lake at the end of a portage trail. The simplicity and pace of life at the campsite.

I attended college in Madison Wisconsin where my sophmore year apartment looked out over the waters of Lake Mendota.

During this year I made a big life choice to depart the Materials Science program and enter the Forestry program. I had chosen to immerse in big natural ecosystem study vs micro-elemental study. I remember the day the microscopes chased me away. I wanted to see and understand the big picture around me instead. The playground of my childhood would become my classroom. It was around that same time that my roommate borrowed my Toyota Tercel and quickly had a crash at the top of the hill from our place.

With my newly acquired ecosystem hungry outlook, I took the “totaled vehicle” insurance money and bought my first solo canoe, a Bell Magic.

I was able to paddle it circuitous around the lakes to class and afternoon studies and then short-cut portage it home at night. What a sight it must have been to see someone walk across campus with a canoe on their shoulders. In the winter, I crossed the frozen lake by foot to get to the agricultural buildings on campus. I loved both these walks and paddles and the time they gave the mind to settle within the rhytmic motion of footsteps or paddle strokes.


There were two local paddling shops in Madison. The one that pulled me in closest was Carl’s Paddlin’ along Lake Monona. Expert staff, a curated selection of gorgeous kayaks and canoes and an old wood floored brick building. When I told the owner, Carl, the story of how I obtained my first canoe he looked up and said, “you used your car funds to buy a canoe?”…”you’re hired”.

Over the next 3 years, many of Carl’s senior staff departed and I became “manager”. I worked year round with Carl (mostly for gear in the off season when cash was low) and learned so much from him. I remember loading a fleet of rental canoes from the river to the trailers one brilliant summer evening. Carl and I both had canoes on our shoulders. I turned to him and said, “I could do this for life” and he beamed back with a big smile bursting out through his thick beard and his bespectacled eyes had a look to me that said he understood all too well.

After college I moved to Oregon for the Forests, Mountains and girlfriend in law-school. Because I was now in a city, a Forestry job just wasn’t going to happen. After a few months of earning cash by building a sheep fence for family friends, I had to find real work. A mortgage loan officer boiler room job was offered to me (and every other warm heart beat willing to sit on a phone all day). I also interviewed at the local Kayak shop, Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe. I chose the latter where I worked 4 months before my relationship with Bell Canoes gave me the opportunity to start a rep business showing their canoes around the West.

I spent my 20s traveling the entire West. Friends were made in every town. So many rivers paddled that were followed by shop parties into the late evenings. Wet gear was always drying off my truck. This was the dream scenario for someone young and willing to dirtbag around the most beautiful parts of our country. Through hard work and dedication, I found my business expand. Less days on the water, more days in front of spreadsheets and more stress to “produce”.

The best production though was my family that begin at 30 years old. Over the decade of my 30s I worked even harder to provide for my 3 children. The need to create security had taken some of that innocence that had me wandering around the West in my 20s. But there was so much joy helping them grow.

The super-demand cycle for paddlesports during the 2-3 years of the pandemic had things moving even faster and more flurried. During this crazy demand cycle, I started to imagine that this is what people of fame might feel. Everyone looking for something and platitudes being thrown at you wether sincere or for ulterior motives.

And then the economy slammed into the log jam of a war in Eastern Europe, high inflation worldwide and “outdoor” fatigue. Shop inventory started to pile up. People wanted their trips to Vegas and Disney back. It felt like a massive hangover to me and I just wanted to pull the covers over my head.

This winter came and I needed a break from paddlesports. I couldn’t find the place of child-like wonder for time on the water. I took some months off before the New Year. I had to reframe. Less can be more. I had to get back to my years of nostalgia where a canoe and paddle was part of my grasp for freedom and exploration. A sunset or sunrise. The meditative calm that comes from repeated step or paddle stroke.