Family tandem for the Ozarks

My buddy, married with 3 small but growing kids, currently has an Old Town (OT) Discovery 169. He’s looking to make car-topping a bit easier with a lighter, but needs something durable enough for rocky streams in the Ozarks. I’d suggested something like a Penobscot 16ft but then realized with 3 kids and some camping gear, he probably needs a 17fter at least. Is there something lighter on the used market that will hold up to Ozark use? Newer composite boats will likely be out of his price range. Seems like the OT Tripper doesn’t gain much in weight savings for the current price (though it’s tough to find definitive weights on these - anyone know the weight difference btwn a Disco 169 and a 17ft Tripper?) Thanks!

My Town Tripper is around 80 lb, knocking on 90. Pretty sure the discovery 169 that I rented for the Buffalo was heavier than that. Though probably not by a significant enough margin to be worth it on the merit of weight alone.

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Where is he located? A kevlar Swift Kipawa just showed up used here in Pittsburgh, PA. 16’ 6" canoe around 40 pounds for $1325 is a pretty good deal. I believe it would have been nearly $3500 new. Very highly reviewed by owners on here, including as a family tripping boat.

Per the spec sheets, OT Disco 169 is 91 lbs. and Tripper 172 is 80 lbs.

This might be harder to find used, but I’d also look for the Esquif Prospecteur 17. I’ve been looking at family-sized canoes too, and have noticed Esquif is making boats using a Royalex-like material in a variety of designs. The Prospecteur 17 is 76 lbs. They just introduced a lighter version of the design called the Huron 17 which is only 59 lbs, but it’s too new to be found used I think. New price would be ~$2400.

A used kevlar canoe would be the lighter choice, but maybe less durable.

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Thanks for the info, all.

He’s in Missouri so Pittsburgh is a bit far.

In terms of kevlar, the Ozarks are a lot of rock and gravel, so I gather kevlar is not ideal for abrasion. He’s now looking at foam-core fiberglass boats like the Clipper Ranger to shed pounds and retain durability. Not sure if anyone has experience with Clippers but I know fiberglass is supposed to be most abrasion resistant after ABS and aluminum.

The problem with aluminum is that it’s soft and so it can hang up on rocks. Not to mention how loud it is! And hot.

If I was going to use an uber light canoe ( and as I continue to creep into crepitude one may be in my future) in rocky streams I would put the “sacrificial” abrasion tape strips on the hull – you can get the self adhesive stuff in 8" wide now. I have used the 3" tape on the keels of my folding kayaks over the years. And we used some peel and stick tape to patch over a large gouge in the keel of a glassed-over vintage wooden canoe years ago (after filling the void with well-masticated chewing gum – this was a field repair with what was on hand). That patch held up for many years.

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Really hard to find the right Kayak that will do all things! Our SOT tandem -a Perception Pescador-is 13 ft, & a lighter one at 63 pds… The price -(new) was moderate-about $600.00. I’m not sure it may do the trick with small kids , without any cockpit to rest , but the rest of the factors may suffice. It’s comfortable, with a feeling of sitting up high in the stern and with padded seat backs. Have paddled it in rocky areas and like any kayak, proceeding with caution is advised as like any kayak it could begin to tip when hitting rocks., but always self-righted just fine. It’s a tough, well-molded SOT with storage pockets & optional attachments available. Never been sorry we got it and still have it for when I am taking my disabled partner out paddling. The dog also fits on it with us. I would suggest This kayak mainly for it being lighter as a tandem and with a hull that can stand up to most anything and all at a moderate cost. I love the Tripper too, but perhaps the newer inflatable “rafts” may work best in rocky areas & can hold the kids in just fine? An inflatable may just bounce right off any rocks or obstacles, but that’s only important if going with a fast current , and not so well-suited to lake use. I can manage this tandem by myself -mainly when using the trailer, but 2 people have also car-topped it before as well .

The OP clearly needs a canoe to carry an adult and 3 kids plus family camping gear.

To be fair I think he needs two canoes and an additional adult. Canoe plus a pair of light plastic SOT’s for the oldest kids might be a good idea in time.

Personally I wouldn’t worry about material that much. That being an issue is an IF not a constant. Which weight and space constraints will be be, even before you hit the water. Plan around how you’ll carry 3 kids, an adult, AND camping gear for each first. Optimize for abrasion/impact resistance after that if you can. People once got down river in dug out canoes and animal skins wrapped around sticks. Don’t get too bogged down in what the most optimal way do something.

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I think kevlar is more durable than fiberglass. Hence it’s used to make protective keel strips.

I just checked out Clipper’s site because I hadn’t heard of them before. They have some models of interest to me. Unfortunately, they have very few US dealers.

I think kevlar is more impact resistant but fiberglass more abrasion resistant? Maybe I’m wrong about that though. It’s a good point about the kevlar skid plates, but those are very thick and soaked in a very hard, thick layer of epoxy, quite different in appearance from a canoe made wholly from kevlar.

DeepBarney makes a good point though, even if a material isn’t the best material, it will still take a while to wear through a hull scraping over things, which is more likely in waters my buddy will paddle, compared to true collisions like in real white water.

willowleaf agreed with many of your thoughts. I didn’t even suggest aluminum to him, even though that’s what all the outfitters in the Ozarks used before ABS came along, because of the heat issue with the small kids above all else - don’t want to solar-oven the baby sitting below the gunnels in the Missouri summer sun!