Family Canoe

I am looking for a starter canoe for the Family. I want something we can all fit in safely. I have a 3 and a 5 yr old and of course the wife, Would a 16ft canoe like the Discovery 169 be enough boat


The kids will grow. Get at least a 17 ft.

Wenonah Spirit II in Tuffweave layup
or Royalex. A canoe that you’ll appreciate more, the longer you own it.

The Discovery series are painfully heavy and the hull designs are pedestrian.

Yes, it would be a great “starter” canoe
Just keep in mind that it is very heavy.



At least 16 feet and cheap
With kids 3 and 5, the trips are going to be short, so don’t be too picky. If you’re like me, the rest of the family will eventually get sick of paddling, and you’ll end up in a solo boat anyway.

Good luck and have fun. Its wonderful when you can paddle together as a family.

I’m in a similar situation as you (minus 1 kid). After a lot of thinking and consideration I’ve settled on the Old Town Penobscot 16 RX. Mine is still on order but I really think it’s gonna be perfect.

the Old Town Disco 169 will make …

– Last Updated: Mar-27-10 1:07 PM EST –

....... an excellent choice for your needs .

It weighs 84 lbs. , and true that is not the kinda boat you want to portage for a mile , but loading and un-loading , getting it to a from the put-in is not even a thought that would make me think twice .

I'm well into my 50's , she's 7 years younger than I ... we just do it and it ain't no big deal .

On the water the Disco 169 will take the small kids moving around and impatience and be forgiving , even to them hanging over on the gunnel and wanting to touch the water all the time (of course you will be trying to keep them in the center , but during the interim the Disco 169 will be a very stable , large volumn and forgiving canoe .

Ours has surprised the dickens out of me ... in a good way !! It's a great rec. canoe . Nothings perfect , but the Disco 169 has that great intial stability and load handling volumn .

Try to have a look at Bass Pro Shops if one is near enough to you , for the Old Town Expedition 169 (it's a Disco made for the Bass Pro Shop) . Price may be better .

Negatives with the Disco 169 ... it's 12 lbs. heavier than our Royalex 16'-10" ... it's not designed for more than class 11 rapid water ... it's a plain jane boat ... it's not a fast boat , but it turns well and handles rough water and winds well enough to be sure !!

Think Craigslist
Buy your ‘Starter’ canoes on Craigslist.

Do your homework first

169 is a good starter for small lake, quiet waters and two kids. Add a lot of gear and you’ll need more boat or another.


it’s real good river canoe to be sure …

– Last Updated: Mar-27-10 5:16 PM EST –

...... it handles moving water , even faster more confused waters with confidence and predictability , it turns well enough in them , it can dance a little when called upon to do so , just don't expect it to be a WW boat , but it handles class 11 very well ... in 30" wave trains , although it does well enough for brief encounters , that's not it's strength , nor mine .

But ya know , in a tandem being used for family outings ... you aren't going to be messing around with any concernable WW anyway , just isn't going to happen by chance , right ... that's more of a solo (sometimes tandem) setup with canoe and gear designed for same , plus willingness and the experiences that comes with it .

You’re sounding like a Discovery
salesman. We rented one to paddle the Edisto. It was heavy, slow, and mediocre in handling. All on flatwater. It could not even approach the OT Tripper we used to own.

I can understand g2d …

– Last Updated: Mar-27-10 11:59 PM EST –

...... that the Disco 169 is not the Tripper 172 , but I wouldn't go as far as saying could not even approach .

There are definate differences between the two , price not being the least of them , or at least new prices .

The Trippers material begins it's advantage because it's Royalex , which to me relates to a bit lighter weight and a bit stiffer .

The Trippers length is 5" longer but the Disco 169 is comparable in volumn .

The Tripper has a distinctly more arched haul bottom giving it advantage in seconfary stability , where as our Expedition is more of a modified flat bottom having a very mild arch (but not as flat as say the Camper) .

The 5" longer Tripper still weighs 4 lbs, less than a Disco 169 .

There is more rocker in the Tripper as well (at least I believe there is) , giving it the edge in turning ability .

yeah , I like the Tripper and would own one even to point of trading off the Expedition 169 , if there were a fine condition used Tripper available come up in the future , but I'm pretty content with the Expedition (Disco) as it stands too .

I wouldn't say the Tripper is nessasarily a faster haul though ... maybe the more rocker would give it a slight advantage in speed because of wetted surface area , but the Tripper ain't a race boat either ... it too is a hauler .

I was able to purchase our Expedition 169 (a Disco) for 550. bucks + tax brand new in 06 ... the Tripper was and still is in the 1500. buck range .

When thinking new , you have to pay a whole lot more for few and slight advantages , at least that is my experience ... as is always said here on , look for good used condition boats and you'll end up with some advantages at more reasonable prices .

I'm not trying to sell the Disco , but I also don't think it fair for others to degrade it's very good attributes just because there are more refined and much more expensive boats available ... the OP asked about the Disco , and I have given a fair (not over inflated) evaluation of it I think ... I knew the differences between various canoes like the Tripper , the Appalachian and the Disco series from Old Town , and some other boats , from experience in them before buying the Disco ... and still chose the Disco (Expedition) .

yeah , and I got another thing to say …

– Last Updated: Mar-28-10 12:38 AM EST –

...... about the Disco 169 (or Expedition 169) .

It is not a little lake boat only as infered . It is "VERY capable" and indeed even desired out in the open waters of very large mountain reservours with heavy water and tough winds ... that is if your main concern is security and stability under such conditions . Furthermore it is indeed a load hauler with large volumn and weight capacity capabilty, even though that higher freeboard and volumn (which is it's good advantage in heavier waters) , is more of a wind catcher ... personally I'll trade a little more wind fighting for stabilty and security any day in large open waters ... this is one of the main reasons I chose the Disco , and that from experience ... you will hardly ever find us in little waters anywhere , and when we are the Disco seems a bit too much boat in a way .

the disco has ample room in the mid section. you can put both kids, all your gear and a picnic basket in there and still have room to bring them some toys to play with in case they get bored. i recomend bringing a childs pair of binocculars, letting them have thier “own” paddle and perhaps a gps or compass they could learn on. i saw the cutest tyke fishing set ups. who knows? they might really catch something.

whatever you purchase i hope you have years of quality fun.

I have taken mine down the Nantahala
many times and also through the falls at the end.

We have air bags for it.



Discovery 169 vs Tripper
Years ago the local Old Town rep told me the Discovery 169 was the Tripper in Polyethylene. Likewise the 158Discovery was the Camper hull and the Discovery 164 was the Penobscot.

He said the poly shrank more coming out of the mold than the Royalex and that accounted for the length change.

I have never noticed any hull shape difference between the 169 Discovery and the Tripper to say that they are different. The outfitting may change from model to model, but the 169 sure paddles like a Tripper to me.

And that makes it a great boat for what the original poster wants to do. It has the volume to carry his load. It is stable,and will be very safe with two kids aboard.

Would i trade my 17’Spirit for a 169 Discovery? No,but my usage is different and 85# is not what i want to carry.


I’d second the demo!

– Last Updated: Mar-28-10 5:55 PM EST –

Agree with g2d..Wenonah's Spirit II would be great...also think you should demo as much as possible.. Think I might opt for a used 17'[+] boat...but should demo for what feels good for you two + kids.


My first canoe was a Disco 169
I bought it as a family boat and it served that purpose well. My young children loved that boat. After a few years i bought a more purpose built boat for myself, but kept the Disco until the kids outgrew it years later. I gave the boat to my brother who used it for years as a lake fishing boat.

The disco 169 is a great family canoe. The fact is, you don’t know where or if your paddling will lead you. Buying a more specialized boat now isn’t necessary.

One other boat to consider, that you could find in plentiful supply would be a Mad River Explorer RX. Not as big as the 169 but another SUV like canoe that is family safe

I still say the Spirit II in Tuffweave
or Royalex is very much worth a look. Are Discoveries THAT cheap?