Free Canoe need help to decide

I have been offered my choice of a canoe for free. I have the choice of a Mad River Journey 156 or a Old Town Guide 147.

My wife and I would use it for overnight camping in slow moving rivers and lakes. I do fish out of a canoe after camp is set.

If you had only these two canoes to pick from which would you choose and why? Obviously price is not the factor. They are both used and been on the water 4 times just as demo’s.

Thanks for the input!

I haven’t paddled either
but based on the specs, unless a few pounds of weight is a major factor, I would go with the Mad River boat. I really dislike the molded plastic seats on the Old Towns.

Fourteen and a half feet is really short for a tandem canoe, especially if it is to be used for any kind of tripping. The Mad River boat is longer and slightly less beamy. Although neither would ever be considered “fast” I’m pretty sure the Jouney would paddle more efficiently than the Guide.

Both are made of 3 layer polyethylene with all its positive and negative attributes. The only positives I could foresee the Guide having (apart from being a little lighter) is that having less depth it would catch a bit less wind when the wind is against you. But you might want that additional freeboard if you load the boat up with 2 people and a load of overnight tripping gear.

Another vote for the Mad River
We have a Guide 147, and though it isn’t bad for short day trips, I (the bow paddler) find the bow seating position cramped – not much leg room and I have to brace my knees on the gunwales. Kind of sluggish, too, and not much room to stash stuff. The seats are not all that bad. But we also got a 16’ canoe last summer (a different Mad River model) and have found we much prefer it – much more comfort for the bow paddler, better tracking and lots of room for packing. The longer boat is only a few pounds heavier but you will definitely appreciate the extra foot of length.

Short Tandem Canoes, and Seats
Tandem canoes of such short length, in my experience, are just plain sluggish, so I’d go with the longer one. Even with the Mad River being just slightly longer, I think you’ll notice the improvement. On the other hand, Pete may have a point about freeboard. Two big people, or two regular-size people plus camping gear may make you wish you had more freeboard, but whether that’s the case or not, paddling an overloaded boat on a regular basis will sooner or later convince you to get something bigger, and then it will no longer be an issue.

I prefer traditional seats and really hate molded-plastic ones, but I’m a kneeler, not a sitter. My friend Rena recently got a tandem canoe and since we both kneel 99 percent of the time, we adjusted both seats for kneeling and it was SUCH an improvement. Besides the obvious boat-control issues and the advantage of all-day back comfort, kneeling eliminates the need for lots of legroom upfront, or the aforementioned problems of knees uncomfortably braced against the gunwales (which tends to become an issue in many boats when sitting, regardless of legroom, bow or stern, unless you install footbraces). I also fish from canoes and kneeling is a huge advantage for that as well. Unless you can’t kneel due to some physical problem, I certainly recommend learning to paddle that way, even if just part of the time, and of course doing so requires your boat to have a traditional style of seat (in this case, Mad River again).

What is the total paddler weight?
Such small tandems have little capacity and are easily overloaded. My wife and I are a “healthy” couple and together we tip the scales at about 420 lbs. We overload my 15’ X 35" tandem with no cargo. It becomes very tippy and sluggish.

ditto others…go with the MadRiver boat
For easier paths to the water…get one of the carriage-carriers for one end(2-wheel job), sorry can’t think of the name of those things right at the moment.

The 15’6" boat looks better…might be heavy but the Guide is a heavy sucker. Spring Creek makes the best yokes imho…little aluminum bars connecting wide foam that rests on both shoulders = very, VERY comfortable for portaging a canoe of any weight.

Consider a 16+ foot canoe.
I think it will meet your needs much better.

All perfect advice, I think we are going to demo the Mad River this weekend.

We decided
Just wanted to say thanks to everyone with the help and let you know we went with the Mad River.