Help with Old Town choice.

Hello All,

I have the opportunity to purchase a new Old Town canoe at a good discount. This canoe will replace a 16ft Penobscot that was stolen several years ago. To be honest the Penobscot always felt “tippy” to me.,

We never dumped it but that’s how it felt to me.

Anyway – a decade later we would like to get back into canoeing. My wife would like to get another 16ft Penobscot and I would rather have the 16ft Camper. I like to fish and I like to take my 80lb dog along with me. I currently use a 14ft Sportspal for fishing and hunting that is terribly slow but incredibly stable. Not a boat we can really enjoy together. We are also a good bit larger then we were when we first bought the Penobscot so many years ago.

My question is really about the Charles River 16ft in RX – Would this boat be a good compromise between the other 2 choices? – The specs look like it might be. It has the waterline width of the Camper but it has a shallow arch bottom like the Penobscot.

We would like to get close to the performance of the Penobscot with the stability of the Camper. We also want to stay with Old Town (discount) and under 65 pounds. We will use the boat for weekend camping on lakes in Northern Maine – We may do some light river running but nothing too adventurous – With the well trained and steady Lab in tow –

What do you good people think about the Old Town Charles River 16? – Is it a good boat?



Well, somebody’s going to say it, so I might as well beat them to the punch, but can you test paddle the canoes first? That would settle the matter pretty good, wouldn’t it?

17 footer?
Another thought for consideration - why limit the options to 16 foot canoes? Are you going to solo alot? Because if not, either the 17 ft Penobscot or Tripper might have the speed/stability combo you’re looking for.


– Last Updated: Jul-04-11 7:37 PM EST –

Spend the bucks and get an Old Town tripper----17+ feet-80 lbs wide, relatively fast, and stable and built for expedition paddling (holds 1100 pounds of people, food, and gear)---I owned one for 25 years and the dumbest thing I ever did was sell it.---Check the Old Town factory store in Old Town Maine when you get up there next---they can sometimes give you a great deal on a factory second---1/2 price for a minor cosmetic flaw) Mine was 1/2 price and the only thing wrong was that the nameplate was on the stern rather than the bow.

Oldtown options
Thanks all – I am looking to stay at or under 65lbs and at 16ft for ease of loading and solo use. I will not be able to “test paddle” a Charles River – I would need to order one. I remember how the Penobscot handled and it was not great for fishing and the dog might be an issue in that boat. This is why I was looking for feedback on the Charles River RX vs. the Camper as far as speed, stability, tracking and hauling is concerned.,

Thanks again


My eyeball says that the Penobscot
is more a softened V bottom than a shallow arch, and that may be why it feels tippy.

You might want to peruse the Wenonah offerings, not only their Royalex but also those models available in Tufweave. An Aurora or a Spirit II would be nice and stable, reasonably fast, and maneuverable enough for river use.

Wenonahs and Maine?
talk to any local outfitter and you will get a backlash of laughter.

They do not fit the Maine environment. Unless you are very skilled and lucky and in a no rock environment they are not for you. They are wonderful in the Midwest. Go over a spike filled or dynamited rock river and you can count the shreds.

The Charles river is a tub… wonderfully stable and a sort of look back to the courting canoe. (Which the original Charles River Canoes were). OT calls it fast. I don’t but perhaps you really are not seeking speed. It is user friendly.

Both the CR and the Camper will feel more stable than the Penobscot. However outfitters in Maine use Penobscots quite a bit. The feeling of instability goes away in an hour or so.

Less if you do not infer that the boat is unstable. I have put beginners in a Curtis/Colden DragonFly one of the most notorious boats for intimidating paddlers who knew it was round bottom. If they did not know…they were much better off and dry and happy.

Listen to your wife?
The Penobscot really is hard to beat for an all-around canoe. I fish out of mine with no problems, sitting and standing. It’s just a matter of staying centered and loose, and getting used to it. A very predictable boat.

Wenonah in Me

– Last Updated: Jul-06-11 9:56 AM EST –

I would disagree with Kayakmedic. I have used both Royalex and Tuffweave Wenonahs in Maine and they work well. My tuffweave Spirit II is an excellent canoe for many of the long lake/river trips. It has enough rocker to handle the easy Class II rapids and does very well in the wind blown lakes.

Having said that I think a Oldtown would be fine.

Charles River
I had a Charles River for about a year. Overall, I liked the boat, but I’ll point out the things that I didn’t like about it. It was pretty stable and very predictable, but I found that with two adults in it there was very little free board and it would take on a lot of water in smallish rapids. As a solo, the high ends turn it into a bit of a sail. It also oil-canned quite a bit while paddling tandem. Like you, I had bought mine with the intent of using it as a fishing platform (river smallies), but decided that it didn’t turn well enough for the water that I paddled frequently. I ended up trading it in on a Winonah Rogue and fish more adventurous water these days.

I too have a Wenonah
and we have run the St John and the Allagash in it. And the WestBranch… its our choice when there is lots of portaging or the water is high. When the water is high our boat is actually a favorite of serious downriver racers…its an Odyssey.

We live in Maine and can make "boat to take " decisions within five hours of the trip. Others may have schedules to keep and cant time with the optimum water levels.

But dragging it loaded down a bony river or on the Penobscot with the sharp ledges at Old Town would have some compromises.

Yes it can be done…is it always my first choice…no.

You were balancing on the softened-V

– Last Updated: Jul-06-11 6:33 PM EST –

instead of picking one side or the other for most of your weight...that's why a P16 seemed tippy. A few choices..fwiw:
Penobscot 17 = 65lbs, Tripper...
Wenonah Tandems...check em' all out(Tuffweave or flexcore kevlar/used...* and put some skiplates on)
Bell(non-Kevlight/used...+ skidplates) Northwoods(18.5'?)