Advice needed

I am researching to purchase a canoe that I will primarily use on camping trips with my two boys (7 and 9). Small lakes and rivers/creeks up to Class I rapids. I have some experience in a canoe, Old Town rental. I would like a canoe that can be used for fishing and is relatively inexpensive. I looked at Dicks over the weekend and liked the looks of the Mad River Adventurer 14. It almost looks like a cross between a canoe and kayak. The seats looked very comfortable. It was $550.


Go 16’ - 17’
With 2 boys you’ll be cramped in a 14’.

I have a 16’ Penobscot that works great for me.

Mostly it’s me a my son (10 yrs old), sometimes my daughter (12) goes with us. We have canoe/camped with the 3 of us in it and it’s worked pretty good. If my daughter paddled more I’d probably look for a Spirit II.


Yes, seconded
You’ll do much better with a 16-17 ft. boat. three people, even two small ones will be cramped in a 14-15 ft boat, particularly if you have any type of gear.

Canoe Purchase
It is hard to find any canoe for that price. Turn your boys loose on INTERNET research. Dad the problem is those boys are gonna want a boat of their own after there first trip. Get the largest boat you can (16 to 20’) the use it later for the pack mule for the loads of equipment. Again boat selection is related to the choice of water you wish to paddle on. (no current,some current,mild class 1,2 water) I recommend a canoe course also so all have the knowledge. If Scouting or the YMCA is in the future this would be a plus for them. I had two daughters and they both are avid canoe-women.

keep looking
Canoe lacks versatility. Its trying to be two things and does nothing well. It has a horrid hull shape and poor initial and secondary stability.

Dont be suckered in by price. You do not need a twenty footer but look for something that isnt so easily overloaded.

You have no experience given that you have tried one boat.

Look for at least 16 feet preferably 17 for three people. There are boats made by Bell Swift, Old Town, Evergreen, Nova Craft

What you need to do is go to a paddlesport demo day and paddle several boats. Its like househunting. Yes it can get confusing!

Somewhere on this board someone said they had been sold one of these boats by a box store salesman and they were not happy. The salesman said because it was heavy it was stable. Of course the price got them.

Rubbish. You could buy this boat and use it once and it would cost you 550. Or you could buy something for a thousand dollars and use it for twenty years thirty days a year. It would cost you less than two dollars per use.

gotta disagree
the A-14 and it’s larger bro the 16 have decent hull shapes with reasonable glide and excellent stability curves. they ARE plastic (sturdy/ heavy) and like the OP noted, somewhere between a kayak and canoe shape.

the 2 boys would probably love paddling it w/o DAD!!!

go to a demo day before yoy purchase anything.


R&D team Confluence Watersports /Mad River Canoe

If money is an issue
like it often is, then I’d look for a used Grumman aluminum. Should be able to get a 16’ or 17’ model, used, for about $300. It won’t be the sleekest thing on the water, but it’ll be a better boat than the Mad River Adventurer 14’er.

It’s close to indestructable–if you avoid hitting a rock hard–and if you want to sell it in a few years (and haven’t hit too many rocks) then you’ll get back what you paid for it.

The only problem is you may get too attached to sell it.

Adventure 14 – JUNK!
How typical of Confluence to grind out cheesy plastic rubbish. The formerly well-respected Mad River brand name has sunk to new depths! The poster is wise to seek advice rather than impulse buying that embarrassing tub. The MR Adventure 14 is a goofy cross-over design, think of it as a cheap plastic beach toy. Keep looking. Don’t let the allure of a cheap price and bright color schemes entice you.

Generally speaking a 14’ foot canoe is much too small for an adult and two kids. This is a safety issue – the vast majority of 14’ canoes are just not large enough to safely handle 2 people let alone 3. The MR Adventure 14 has seats for 2 people – where would the third person sit? If you’re thinking one kid at a time I think you’ll find that will get old soon. If you’re thinking you can prop a kid up on that little plastic console between the seats I think you’ll find that will make that particular cheesy little craft dangerously top-heavy.

16’ is the typical length for a tandem canoe, a 17’ (or bigger) is better suited for three people. With one adult and two medium size children you could probably get by with a 16’ for a while. At least with a conventional design canoe you can get a third seat so that all passengers are seated. Having everyone onboard seated helps to keep the center of gravity within a safe range.

With the exception of the one guy from Confluence who posted positive things about this “craft” all others are trying to steer you away. Think about that.

Go bigger
I agree that you will need at least a 16’ canoe for the use you plan, and 17 would be better. Did you like the rental baots you used? Canoe liveries often sell their older rental baots, so tthat might be a place to start.

Agree on 16’ Tandem
The Adventure 14 does look kind of fun, like a tadem recreation kayak really. Unless there is some real magic in those chines it is hard to believe it is stable enough, comfortable enough and has the load capacity for your uses. The width particularly (31") is very narrow for a real canoe meant to haul multiple people and be stable enough to fish from comfortable and haul some camping gear.

Get something 16 or 17 foot long with aroud 35 or 36 in width and a shallow arch to flattish bottom. That way you have reserve comfort and safety. You and your boys will relax and enjoy yourselves rather than constantly fussing over who is leaning, or not sitting in the center, etc.

Old Town campers would work well for you and you can often find them used for not much more that you’d spend on the adventure. Wenonah’s Spirit II, Bell’s Northwind in Royalex are going to be about twice what you’d spend on the Adventure, but they’ve got tons more versatility and weigh 20 lbs less to boot.

Those boys will grow quick too. I’ve got a couple of kiddos myself – you’ll never regret some reserve stability and carrying capacity.

Father, 2 sons and a canoe…

Mad River
I don’t care much for the direction Mad River has gone, or the Adventure boats, but, for your purposes I’ll still recommend a Mad River canoe. Find a used Explorer in Royalex. It’s a 16 foot canoe, tough as a tank, very capable on the rivers you describe and has excellent stability. It will be a good learning boat for the three of you and a fine canoe for running smaller rivers for years to come. You should find a used one in a comparable price range to the Adventure 14 and over the long haul you’ll be much happier with it.

The above views are my own, they’ll likely be discounted by the next poster. In no way do they reflect this website or anyone that posts on this website. I came by the opinion through my own free will and many hours paddling the above referenced boat.