Hellman Prospector vs Slocan / Esquif T-formex vs Duralite?

This turned out a bit long…

I have a lot of time to dream big these days and it has me wondering about having chosen a Hellman Prospector last summer. This time last year my girlfriend and I (mostly me) were looking at canoes to buy. We were living on Vancouver Island and between the local waters and her being new to paddling the Prospector came out the winner. We used it on a few weeklong lake circuits, some weekend overnighters, and evening paddles. It’s been a great boat.

I’ve since been sent to Northern BC (Peace Region) for work, will be in Kamloops for 2021, and then hope to land somewhere in the Kootenays permanently after that. As much as flat-water paddling is peaceful, it’s just not really my style. It had been a while since I had paddled much but when I was paddling I was in a kayak on class 3-4, rafting, and doing some class 2-3 canoe tripping up to about 10 days. I’d really like to get back to this and do big river trips. With loads of rivers being way more accessible now that I’m on the mainland I’m wondering if I should have gotten a Slocan rather than a Prospector. My thought…question, is that I should look at selling the prospector while it is in great shape and replace it with a Slocan.

The Hellman Prospector shape is more flat-water orientated than most prospectors. The slim bow that makes it faster also cuts the waves making us take on more water. The waves we cut through on flat water make me a little worried about how much we’d flood through a wave train. I’ve though about putting a spray deck on it but they are not cheap and we have a dog that I would rather not get out of a hatch if we dump. He could go on top of the deck but we pack fairly light and don’t always fill the boat enough that there would be anything under the deck to support him. I don’t want to buy a deck only to buy a Slocan anyway.

Who has paddled both the Slocan and the Prospector?
Would it be worth going to the Slocan? I’ve only really paddled an Esquif Prospector and Canyon before.

T-formex vs Duralite vs Duratoff?
I know what abuse t-formex can take from working at a shop that rented them and using them on trips. I have a duralite boat now that I’ve been kinda babying but have heard lots of good things about it springing back and taking big hits. Does anyone have anything to say about abrasion tolerance of Duralite or Duratuff? Sometimes you load your boat and by the end it’s sunk enough and is stuck on a rock. Sometimes you need to drag your boat on the portage. Sometimes you grind over rocks. I know t-formex can take this by leaving plastic behind but how does duralite fair? I take pretty good care of my gear but don’t want to have to baby it.

Duralite or Duratuff?
Our prospector is Duralite and seems so thin. But there have been no issues and I’ve heard lots of good things about how durable the Duralite is. On a weekend trip I wouldn’t be too worried about it but it’s the times the boat is loaded for a couple weeks that I wonder about all that weight running the Duralite over a rock.

I honestly don’t really know much about the paddling in the regions I’ll be moving to next but if we want to be more on rivers then I suspect the Slocan will be better in the long run. The Scout is another option since in reality we’re more likely to paddle more weekends and the Slocan may be too big. Realistically we might get a long trip in once a year and for some of those long trips there is a chance we’d be flying to the location and renting a boat anyway. Once we’re most settled somewhere and I can meet more people to paddle with I imagine I’ll be looking for a play boat as well.

Hellman is pretty much all I’m looking at brand wise. The shipping on everything from out east was way too much when I looked into it last year. Clipper is out here too but I don’t like their seats. Hellman was also great to deal with the first time.
The Esquif Canyon is sold in some BC shops and I know that it is solid – but also heavy.

Sooooo there’s my ramble of thoughts from being inside so much. I don’t expect I’d swap anything this year - unless something comes up in the used department. For now, the prospector will be capable of what we’ll be able to paddle as I need to teach my girlfriend how to paddle in moving water first anyway. So nothing big is happening right away.

These are the big dreams I’m having haha along with classics in the Yukon, NWT, and some sort of multi month cross country adventure.

I’d say if you want to change canoes go with the Scout. I’ve done 13 days on the Missinaibi in a Nova Craft Prospector 16’ with plenty of room. I don’t know about their materials but there some newer high tech fabrics in use that are pretty strong. Probably any of those would hold up to reasonable use - and that includes gravel bars & rocky landings & launches. I have a 1991 Wenonah Rendezvous solo in their “Tuffweave” that I took down the lower Missinaibi in low water in 2018. No problems with the boat on the trip.

Now if you need something for whitewater play where you have a good chance of pinning/swimming then the T-formix or Duratuff might be good. And, if you need something for a month in the Arctic then the bigger boat in as heavy a layup as you can get might be right.

Any chance that you can visit them at Hellman once things clear up & shops & travel open up?

Yeah the Scout would likely be enough space 80% of the time. I thought the prospector was going to feel big which in part is why I shied away the Slocan in the first place. After having paddled it a bunch though I don’t find it hard to manage. Next year when I’m further south I could make a trip to Nelson or maybe meet someone with one of the boats to try out.

Good questions. We don;t see many Canadian boats in the States away from the Border. I have always heard great things about Hellman boats, especially the Slocan. I have always wanted to paddle one.