Current Designs Caribou

Does anyone paddle a Caribou? I test paddled one several weeks ago along with several other touring boats from Current Designs, and fell in love with it the moment I settled into the cockpit. I haven’t been able to get it off my mind since.

I have an older one. I like the boat alot. You will get alot of opinions about boats and no one boat does it all but the caribou is a great boat and has a cult like following. CD has been making this boat fo a long time. That should tell you something. Happy paddling. Vaughn Fulton

Well respected boat
The Caribou is a well respected boat with a lot of partisans. CD revised the hull a bit a little while ago. Some feel the earlier version is superior.

I like mine a lot
I agree that the older one is better, in my opinion. I have one I bought in 1998 that I’ll probably never sell - it’s my big water, go surfing, go camping kayak. I’ve paddled the new one as well, and it’s not the same, but it’s still a very good kayak.

The only modifications to the original I would have ever suggested to CD would have been to change the coaming to a more standard keyhole shape (But keep the thigh braces as they were), and lower the rear of the coaming as much as they could, to facilitate layback rolls.

To the OP - if the boat is in your mind like that, it’s probably calling you. Try a few other similar designs, and go with the one you can’t get out of your head.

Near Sacramento area?
I have a friend selling one. Nice yellow deck, blue hull for about $1500 I think.

I’ve Never Paddled the Caribou
or even seen one. What’s the design like? What do you like about it?

I paddled the Caribou (no skeg) in strong wind, about 25 kts, and found it terribly hard to hold direction.

Caribou (S)
Funny thing, here. I had a Caribou S for a year or two. Never really appreciated this fine kayak, until I sold it back to the original owner, the guy I bought it from. I have added a few years on since then, and thinking about buying another. This is a great boat for the aging kayaker! It will do just about anything you ask of it, and it takes a bit of effort to capsize it. Rolls quite well, but I would have liked a lower back deck. Does just fine on foreword sweep rolls. Wait 'till Greyhawk signs in!

I’ve owned a Caribou S
for five years now and I’m generally very pleased with the boat; it does so many things so well. It does benefit greatly from the skeg in quartering wind conditions. I’m presently looking for a Feathercraft K-Light for traveling but will likely keep the 'Bou for as long as I want to paddle. Excellent boat!

Cap’n Ken’s 'Bou went for a spin from Key Largo to Daytona and back again, where its “rightful” owner, Grayhawk, who had a fling with a Nordy, but went back to his real love, now appreciates it more than ever.

I’ve paddled it a time or two, and I like it a lot. Sally’s paddled it a time or two too, and she absolutely loves that boat -it’s her favorite kayak, I do believe.

Now I’m not sure about what the current Current’s like, as it’s apparently been modified from the original design Ken, Grayhawk, Sally & I are familiar with, but I’ve heard rumors it’s not quite the same boat.

But if that latter model’s the one you’ve paddled, and if that’s the one you like, and if that’s the one you’re comfortable in, then THAT’S the one you should choose and use to


-Frank in Miami

I would like the original
Barry Buchanan Bou.

That was its heyday with its home in Bass Harbor ME.

It was a wooden boat.

Changes to Caribou
Curious, I looked this boat up on the CD website. They say they’ve softened the chines and rounded the previous flat areas of the hull.

Isn’t that watering down what makes a greenland-style kayak unique?

I wonder if they wanted to give it more of a typical kayak feel to increase mainstream sales.

For those who have paddled both the older and new versions, what do you feel in the difference?

Checking in…
I had up to six kayaks in my yard at once. Now I have one, the Bou.

Capt.Ken was gracious enough to sell it back to me once I realized I had made a mistake selling it and biting off more than I wanted to handle when I bought the Nord LV.

I bought the Bou based on the hard chine design. My first seakayak was a Pygmy 14 and I enjoyed the handling so much that I figured the Bou would be a natural step up.

I have not paddled the new one so I can’t comment on the changes.

I did locate an original wooden Caribou thinking it would be lighter. It turned out to be much heavier.

If you find an older one be sure it has a skeg, the early production ones did not.

Lots of guides us a Caribou
That should tell you something.

CD Caribou

– Last Updated: May-31-11 11:42 AM EST –

I've always thought the Caribou was one of the prettiest production sea kayaks.

I did not find that it suited me, but enough skilled paddlers admire the boat to indicate it is a very good design.

Attached are images of the earlier (blue deck) and current (teal deck) CD versions of the boat.

I used to ballast mine by putting all of my stuff in the rear hatch as far aft as I could put it, and that would counteract most weathercocking.

About 5 years ago or so, I installed a skeg in it. The boat almost never needs the skeg all the way down - usually half at most unless I’m surfing.

caribou kayaks

– Last Updated: Jul-19-11 11:35 AM EST –

G'day: the caribou kayak is certainly a gem. I've been paddling since 1989 and have paddled many touring/sea kayaks. The caribou is the best kayak I've ever paddled. It is right at home in big open waters and submits to easy paddling in creeks and rivers because of its easy turning ability. *Note: I still like the older/original version(prior to 2010's re-design)of the caribou. Current Designs completely re-designed this classic in every way(length/width/hatch covers/hard chine/seating(fore)etc...)I've paddled the new version and it felt good, fast and responsive but a bit more 'squirly' from the original model. Don't know why???? Current Designs(Wenonah) changed this great kayak so radically...nontheless if one really loves a kayak they tried then purchase it by all means. I have a friend who paddle both versions of the Caribou and purchased the new model(2011) and totally loves paddling the kayak..I own two(2) older versions and I'm looking for a third. I love the older version of the bou' in so many paddling ways. I've had it out in many conditions on many types of water. I hardly ever use the skeg-although it is good to have one--that is how easily this boat is responsive to paddling technique. Anyone have an older version for sale???

The Caribou

– Last Updated: Aug-22-11 8:51 PM EST –

Thank you all for your kind words about the Caribou!

Yes, it is Barry Buchanan, the designer of the Caribou. I am alive and well; mostly riding an adventure motorcycle these days, and contributing to that community. You can learn more about that by searching for "blacklabadventures", or, "site stromtrooper, black lab".

I promise you that there will be another chapter in the history of the Caribou!

I DO like the comments of paddlers that say, "the 'old' version is better then the 'new' version." That's because the old version has a piece of my soul in it! The new one, does not.


Older Version
Was looking at old posts and found yours. I have a 2001 Bou in really good condition. Bought it new and always stored inside. Paddles awesome.

If your still looking, I’m in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Send me your email address and I’ll send images.

Let me know.

Larry Malone

Malone Auto Racks

I bought my caribou used. It had been damaged and repaired. Most of my experience with it was at Hilton Head and the Paupac in PA. Fast, maneuverable, and surfs like a dream. Be careful with coming ashore; you’ll get the ride of a life time, or you could do an ender on the beach. And, it doesn’t climb waves, it goes through them. The skeg is needed with a tail wind. I don’t use it much, lately. Been very busy. I thought of selling her, but it has such great memories.