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Similar to OT Penobscot

Looking to replace my Penobscot 16 with something that has similar performance, but is lighter. Any suggestions? I wish Old Town made them in a lighter layup.


  • Perhaps the Millbrook AC/DC.
    Very light, fast, turns much better than a Penobscot. The S-glass/Kevlar layup is strong, but you'll have to expect the occasional repair. The original AC/DC was designed by Jon Berry to win the "combined" whitewater event, where performance on a slalom course is combined with performance on downriver.


    Millbrook prices are *very* reaonable compared to what you'd pay for a similar layup from Souris River, Swift, Bluewater,etc.
  • Of the boats I've owned,
    the Bell Northstar feels a bit like the Penobscot and it is quite a bit lighter in any of the composites that were offered. But, it is out of production, so You'll have to look for a used one. I've owned and paddled both of these boats. The Northstar is probably a bit faster, too.

    In the Millbrook line, I have a Souhegan and it is nothing like the Penobscot. It is all about manuevering and not about tracking.

  • Options
    Mad River Explorer?
  • Heavier, slower than the Penobscot.
  • Northstar
    is back in production as the Northwind 16. Ted Bell is making them on his own and will layup in white gold which is a less expensive but very durable construction. See Oakorchard Canoe website.
  • Tough to build a boat with
    the performance characteristics of royalex and all the other performance characteristics of the OT Penobscot and make it much lighter. I've always thought that the Penobscot is remarkable in that it is so light. Your gonna have to be making some sort of a compromise somewhere - need to think that through a bit so your search is focused on the type of boat you really want. Which performance characteristics of the OT Penobscot do you want to change?
  • I don't understand the question
    I really don't want to change the performance. I love the versatility of the Penobscot, paddle solo or tandem, decent speed, solo trip with a load and a dog. I still want those qualities just want it lighter.
  • You will have to go composite
    I agree that to achieve any significant weight savings in a tandem canoe over the Penobscot 16 Rx you will have to look at a composite.

    I too would look for a used Bell NorthStar if you could find one. It is 4 inches longer than the Penobscot with just about the same maximum beam but 2 inches narrower at the waterline so it should be at least as fast. It does have a bit of rocker, unlike the Penobscot, which I would consider a good thing. Paddles well solo and tandem.

    I hadn't heard of a Bell Composites North Wind 16. The picture and specs on the Oak Orchard canoe site are taken directly from the Bell site. It may well be that Ted is building a boat identical to the NorthStar, but I would look into it further if you are interested.
  • Options
    Kevlar Mad River Explorer
    slower, but a lot lighter
  • What I mean is that
    royalex has performance characteristics that are different than composite. Generally composite will be stiffer and that makes it perform differently. So if you like the characteristics of a flexible (royalex) hull then you are not going to find anything lighter I don't think. But if a stiffer hull is ok for you - then sure you can spend a lot more and get a lighter boat.
  • I wish I knew the answer,
    but I totally get the question. I love the Penobscot, but I'd love it more if it was 10-20 pounds lighter.
  • You're right, but a Royalex boat can be
    stiffened quite a bit by putting foam pedestals or struts between the thwarts and the bottom of the boat.

    And we tend to assume that composite boats are stiff, but there can be exceptions. If you don't know the maker, I would want to have inspected their boats. Making a composite boat both light and stiff is a real challenge. The better makers today are using foam core bottoms, but those are hard to repair, and have been known to snap when a loaded boat is pulled over a log. Souris River uses ribs, but I've read reports of apparent fatigue damage. I have a Millbrook ww boat that has sides as thin as cardboard, but the bottom is stiffened with Spheretex. Probably better than foam core for whitewater, but not as light.

    Selecting a composite design with a significantly curved shallow arch bottom, and with curved tumblehome sides, will provide a measure of stiffness and perhaps allow less cloth to be used in the layup.
  • All true - but
    if the OP is paddling in any significant shallow white water with boulder hits likely he would be pushing the limits of a light layup composite boat. Sure, if you are expert, a light boat can be just the ticket. But for many a royalex boat might be the best choice. I once owned a 50 Lbs 16 foot prospector boat in a composite layup and it was fine - terrific actually - in white water so long as there was plenty of water. Without a lot of water it would take a real beating, and this was a heavy layup. I loved the boat but it was not the best choice in a shallow white water environment.
  • Not to worry
    about the fragile nature of composite boats. As we age a couple of things work in our favor here: First, we shy away from the from the really rough stuff where we are apt to bang up the boats and, because our clock is running, they don't have to last that long anyway. A friend once asked, as I was pussy-footing around some rocks in a composite, "you saving that boat for the next owner"?


  • Novacraft Pal?
    Anyone paddle one of the composite versions?
  • Wenonah sundowner ?
    -- Last Updated: Oct-07-13 12:20 AM EST --

    Not sure if they'll make it in composite

    Escapade with center seat?


  • Question for OP
    Why is it important to you that your canoe be lighter than 60 Lbs? When is it that the weight is causing troubles for you?
  • The Penobscot, I own is....
    15 years old, and showing the thousands of miles it has seen. Thinking of retiring it, so why not go lighter when hitting the portage trail?

    You are correct that 60lbs isn't very heavy especially for a royalex canoe. Just considering alternatives.
  • A used Kevlar canoe
    Or new
  • Yea,...
    Just trying to figure out which one.
  • I agree
    -- Last Updated: Oct-08-13 12:03 PM EST --

    We use our Jensen 17 on lots of rivers, with rocks.
    After a few years of scrapes here and there, I just touch them up with epoxy
    I only use our Penobscot in real shallow or class II rivers

    Jack L

  • Pal
    I own a pal and have paddled the Pnob. The are similar,but not the same. The pal is more a flatwater boat,the Pnob a little more moving water capible. Both are goot at being paddled solo if necessary.

  • Questions
    First, I'm a little surprised that you said the Penobscot is better in moving water. Doesn't the Pal have rocker? What feature makes the Penobscot better in the moving water?

    What material and what is the weight of the Pal?

  • comparison
    My pal is royalite,but I have paddled one of the light composit ones ,and it was similar to mine.To me the Bnob turned a better.It also has more freeboard. My son and I took my Pal down a class 2esh stream,and it didn't do well and we got wet even before we dumped. It is a sweet boat easy paddling boat in flat water,and with it's low freeboard,little bothered by the wind.
  • Options
    I agree with rpg51, including that compromise is the operative word. Royalex is incredibly durable but you pay for that with weight and some loss in efficiency. The OT P16 is a cool boat in that it is efficient, can be turned decently, takes ClassII rapids, can be set up for solo, and is light for a Royalex boat. The alternatives are similar design in Royalite or... a composite, the latter which IMOP will require good maneuvering skills and adequate water. Yes, Kevlar composite does take abuse but not the constant banging and grinding plastic can endure from bony shallow creeks, let alone a wrap around a rock. It is sort of a judgment call based on how and where you paddle, or want to paddle, or are willing to not paddle. So, seriously, why not have one of each :)? For a composite, do test paddle a Jensen 18 w/ a front slider seat) just because it is soooo much fun (several mfg's offer this hull; typically 38 lbs Kevlar). For some outfitters Wenonah builds Kevlar boats with bow/stern skid plates (really helps durability), maybe you can order one with that feature, or buy used from an outfitter, or perhaps other mfgs will accommodate the same idea. Note that it may be difficult to convert some of the other designs to work solo in the same manner as the P16, it is just really good for that. So that would make three boats, or four if you paddling partner wants to solo as well. No, I am not in the garage expansion business.
  • I've had a Penobscot....
    ...and still have access to it. We've paddled it side by side with the Malecite, and paddled the Malecite sxs with a Wenonah Escapade. Not a lot of difference in the performance, but the composite boats are a little more efficient - the Escapade seemingly the most so.

    Gotta take exception to claims of superiority of rx boats in bony rivers. I spend a lot of time on bony water, class 1 & 2, and my Millbrook kev/glass Coho shows less damage from dragging than my heavyweight rx NC Prospector. The Millbrook takes some pretty stout glancing blows with little or no noticeable damage too. The difference comes into play, I think, with heavier blunt blows in deeper heavier current - or in a wrap situation.
  • N'Star equivalent
    Yost's redesign of the Bell NorthStar is the Swift Kewaydin 16. It can be had in the lower 30 lb range.

    MRC's composite Malecite is another similarly sized and rockered hull. It's V bottom has specific handling characteristics missing from the P-Nob. Weight's closer to 40# as they do not offer an integrated rail system.

  • Options
    Swift Kewaydin
    I test paddled the Kewaydin 15 solo last year, and thought it felt like a lighter and racier solo version of my Penobscot 16.
  • Malecite - Penobscot differences
    Oh yeah - I was only thinking about forward speed/efficiency. Handling characteristics are definitely noticeably different. (Not better or worse - just different)
  • Coho
    On g2d's recommendation, I looked at Millbrook's website, and the Coho caught my eye. I know it was designed primarily for poling (a skill I'm trying to learn), but how does it paddle, and would it be a possible Penobscot replacement?
  • As I recall,
    the Coho is an evolved version of the Souhegan with differential rocker (less in the stern). This is a design feature intended to improve tracking and probably does. However my estimate would be that the boat is still much more manueverable than the Penobscot and a lot crankier about tracking.

    I believe Steve in Idaho owns a Soho and might chime in about it.

  • Other way around, I think.
    The Coho came before the Souhegan, IIRC. I can't speak for the Souhegan - but TommyC1 can. Anyway....

    I think it's safe to say that if you like the Penobscot, you may love a Coho - unless you want to be able to turn it around to paddle solo (I just kneel aft of center). It is *slightly* asymmetrical (swede form). It doesn't appear to have significant rocker, but it does turn easier than the Penobscot. It's been a while since I paddled or poled the two in close proximity, but I would say the Coho is about as efficient as the Penobscot - while being more nimble (if you can even associate that word with the P'scot), and of course, a lot lighter.

    While it's easier to keep the Penobscot going straight with bad technique and the P-boat is maybe a little faster with a good engine - I would take a Coho over it any day. It's a great recreational canoe. Besides that - Kaz is great to work with and will furnish the boat to your liking at a very reasonable price.
  • I stand corrected
    I went to the Millbrook website to read what they say about the Coho and The Souhegan. The Souhegan is listed with 3" of rocker while the Coho is said to be only "slightly rockered". So, one can conclude that the Soho will probably track better than a Souhegan and therefore might be a reasonable candidate to replace a Penobscot.


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