Silverbirch Canoes | Our Guide To Custom Options

Silverbirch Canoes | Our Guide To Custom Options

Silverbirch is a British canoe manufacturer based in Norfolk, driven by their passion to create the highest quality lightweight and durable canoes.   Just looking at one of their boats the attention to detail and quality of finish is clear. From the bow to stern these canoes are truly a work of art. Here at Robin Hood Watersports, we are proud to be outfitter level dealers, meaning we are not only recommended for advice on purchases but can also apply a range of custom options with brand approval that the work will be carried out to their exacting standards.  Our staff see their Broadland and Firefly models as long term purchases capable of taking you on some of the best adventures and facilitating the exploration of diverse waterways.  It’s nice to give you confidence by confirming our customers feel the same way!

View our full range of Silverbirch canoes here.

As a result of our knowledge, passion and outfitter status we pride ourselves in offering the opportunity to customise your canoe, making it personal to you, with features which highlight not only aesthetics but also practicality.  So, what might this entail?


The first decision is to choose which model best suits your intended use.  In this blog we are largely concentrating on the traditional Broadland (15/16ft) and Firefly (14ft).  The former is our best seller and can be paddled either solo or with up to three adults.  In contrast, the Firefly was originally designed as a solo boat but has since been approved for tandem setup in the case of two light weight adults.  Of course, each scenario will be different and thus we strongly recommend contacting our specialist staff for advice or confirmation of your choice. 


Once the model selection is confirmed it is time to consider which of the two canoe constructions you would like.  Both Duracore Plus and Duralite are triple layer, meaning outer and inner plastic skins contain a foam core.  This is much lighter weight than single layer versions and also sees an improvement in stiffness and efficiency due to the laminate layup.  So between the two, what is the difference?

Duracore Plus is a strong, durable and stiff choice which is great for paddlers who prioritise the robustness of their canoe over the weight. It offers unrivalled value.

Duralite is finished with an extremely tough, high density whitewater grade plastic.  The inner foam core is thicker than that found in Duracore Plus.  The result is a stiffer and lighter boat that retains the same durability.  This really does bring Duralite into direct competition with Royalex and T-Formex but at a fraction of the price.

Lacing & Rope Work

Lacing a canoe adds a personal touch, creating a smart finish and added functionality. The resulting internal loops allow you to attach small drybags, water bottles or a throwline, giving easy access and reducing kit rolling around in the hull! Those interested in canoe sailing will find it useful to attach an external karabiner during setup. 

The low stretch, polyester rope is generally 3-4mm and comes pre-stretch to eliminate future maintenance.  While a massive range of colours are available our staff generally favour black or green.  This is due to the excellent match with gunwale or Silverbirch logo colours.  As well as colour and diameter there are a whole host of bespoke options and we are here to modify lacing to suit your use.  Some examples may include, bigger/smaller loops and larger/smaller spacing’s between loops.

As well as full or partial length lacing, the addition of fitted rope grab ends add a whole host of functional benefits. Situated at the bow and stern, this 11mm floating rope allows you to attach a hook, secure painters, or to serve as tie-off points for rescue ropes or tow lines. The most obvious use is to use as a handle to grab when portaging.

(lacing, internal loops & rope end grabs fitted)

Additional Buoyancy

The nature of the triple layer construction means your canoe will be positively buoyancy and not sink should it become swamped.  However, whatever your paddling style we recommend the addition of either inflatable bags or solid foam blocks to make emptying easier should the worst happen.  Airbags are our staff preference due to their lighter weight, with 32” versions most popular.  For those paddling rough water and expecting the gunwales to be overtopped on a regular basis 48 and 60” versions are a great choice but do reduce the available space and opportunity to paddle tandem. 

The method of attachment comes down to personal preference and the intended use. For calm waters many will use the hull lacing and fitted rope end grabs.  For more dynamic environments we can adhere d-rings to the base of your boat, with cam straps then used to cinch the airbag down for a more secure fit.


As standard the Silverbirch boats come complete with a beautifully crafted ash yoke, providing structural support and the ability to carry the canoe solo on your shoulders.  For those interested in an upgrade, the deep dish yoke options are truly works of art.  These yokes come in a range of tones including Ash, Cherry and Ash/Cherry (two tone).   As well as improved aesthetics the deep dish yokes increase the surface area when solo paddling, resulting in a marked increase in comfort.

(the beautiful ash/cherry two tone deep dish yoke)

Kneeling Thwarts

If you intend on doing plenty of solo paddling, a kneeling thwart is going to be a very valuable upgrade. This accessory is installed between the stern seat and the yoke of the canoe. The main reason for a kneeling thwart is to create a comfier position for a solo paddler, nearer the centre of the canoe, facilitating more efficient paddling.   The thwart can be fitted at factory or in our store but the staff recommendation is that it be supplied loose.  In doing so, you can paddle the boat first to determine the optimal trim position based on your build, paddling style and common loading configuration.  Standard positions tend to vary from 12-15 inches back from the yoke.

(an ash kneeling thwart with drop hangers, ready for fitting)


Wood web seats are the logical inclusion for Silverbirch canoes, offering the optimal balance of value, comfort and durability.  The make up over 70% of our canoe builds but that’s not to say you shouldn’t consider other options.   Many of our staff use the curved wood web seats for increased comfort.  Cane versions are also available in both flat and curved options to create that classic look.  The only downside is a minor reduction in durability and thus best avoided for heavy duty use. 

One option we are particularly pleased to offer is the inclusion of drop hangers, angling the seat downwards.  This is best suited to those who plan to kneel, using the seat in a similar style to a kneeling thwart while retaining the ability to adopt a classic seated position when resting.  The only aspect worth considering here is that the addition of drop hangers negates the ability to paddle your canoe solo in reverse using the front seat as the angle is simply wrong.

(a curved cane seat, perfect to create that classic look)


As standard the Silverbirch boats come with black vinyl gunwales.  However, ash versions are an upgrade that can totally transform your canoe. I think we can all agree that the light, natural material gives a classic, yet, smart finish to any Broadland or Firefly. But what functional benefits does it entail? Firstly, the ash choice of gunwale will save you around 1.5kg compared to the vinyl alternative, potentially a big benefit on any trip with multiple portages.  Maintenance is something our customers often have concerns around.  Our advice would be that ash gunwale canoes should be kept away from moisture and its good ventilation.  You should apply Osmo 420 natural oil every 6-8 weeks using a microfibre cloth, taking just 5 minutes.

(ash gunwales transform the look of your boat, as well as reducing the weight)

Freeboard Height

It used to be that each canoe model came in a single design.  However, Silverbirch offer their traditional canoes in either standard or highline versions.  The latter sees a 30mm increase in sidewall depth resulting in two main benefits:

  1. A greater loading capacity for long trips or with heavier paddlers
  2. A reduced potential for water ingress when paddling in rough conditions, either white water or in open water.

For many of our customers these factors will be attractive. In the interest of balance we simply recommend that you consider the nature of your paddling, as the increased depth will make the highline versions a little prone to wind.  Finally, as the seats are fitted to longer hangers you require a slight increase in reach to paddle effectively.

Sailing Accessories

Upgrading your canoe so it is capable to sail adds another level to your adventure. Whether it’s for a few hours having fun in some wind on the lake, or if its cover bigger distances over a multiday expedition, it an option worth thinking about! This is mainly made possible through the installation of a Silverbirch canoe sailing seat and mast foot adhered to the hull.  Many will then attach jam cleats to the gunwales and use full length lacing to clip an external karabiner for sheet routing.

(the Silverbirch sailing seat replaces your front seat for added versatility)

Custom Colours

The ultimate customisation? Having a boat in personalised colours of your choice. As standard, Silverbirch allow you to select a variety of solid colours for both the inside and outside of your Broadland or Firely, with greater choices in Duralite constructions.  If you want to go further then the sky is the limit and our passional staff can arrange a bespoke pattern that is restricted only by your imagination. This is possibly the only customisation that technically doesn’t have any positive functional purpose. But… let’s be honest, it’s a pretty cool thing to have!

(just a few examples of what is possible with custom colours)


All of these upgrades are possible here at Robin Hood Watersports and will be bespoke to your liking. We believe canoes are an extremely personal and traditional craft which have been used for thousands of years. They’re timeless pieces of equipment which is why we think they deserve the option to be upgraded and personalised for each individual for years and years of enjoyment. If you have any questions about any of these upgrades, please get in touch.

To view our full range of Silverbirch canoes please visit the following link:

Happy Paddling!

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