Help with this Mad River canoe identification…

This canoe is going to be in an auction an hour from me. I am looking for a good beater canoe to take down Michigan backwoods rivers. The only information I can get is this is a 16 foot Mad River canoe , seems to be licensed for 2019. Can anyone out there help me with model, hull material, fair auction price or anything relevant to this canoe. (and what to look for when buying this used canoe) Thanks a lot for your help! [all I have is this picture]

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It is definitely a plastic hull, most likely thermoformed Royalex, possibly T-Formex, although Mad River did produce three-layer, polyethylene roto-molded hulls as well which they called “Triple Tough”. If it is 16 feet long it is most probably an Explorer model.

The 16 foot Explorer was one of the most popular Royalex boats MRC produced.



I am about 95% sure that the canoe is a Royalex Explorer. That gray interior color was very common for Royalex MRC canoes. MRC produced T-formex boats for only a few years. The TT (triple tough) roto-molded poly canoes that I have seen have a lighter color interior, more an off-white.

A Royalex tandem Explorer would be quite suitable for the use you describe. It would be helpful to get a hull identification number (HIN) if you can. That will be a 12 character combination of letters and numbers either on a metal plate affixed to the right outside stern of the canoe, or more likely embossed into the plastic at the same location. The first three characters of the HIN should be “MAD”. The rest of the HIN will include a model code letter and the month and year that the boat was molded and certified with the US Coast Guard. The fact that the boat was registered with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission in 2019 tells you nothing about when it was actually made, of course.

As for what it might sell for at auction, who knows. Sometimes a boat sold at auction will go for less than what it might go for in a private sale in which the seller is patient. Other times people get “bidding fever” and a boat will sell for much more than what it might actually be worth. As for what it is worth, you need to decide what it is worth to you and what alternative boats might cost.

Royalex boats have been selling for considerably more that they did a few years ago since Royalex production ceased. T-formex is something like Royalex but heavier for the same model and more expensive. Roto-molded poly boats are a reasonable substitute but they are very much heavier than Royalex.

Assuming that boat is in good condition which it appears to be from the single photo, I might expect a canoe of that material and model to sell for anywhere from $600-$1200 depending on the local market. If you have an opportunity to inspect it, pay particular attention to the seats and yoke, the exterior hull bottom, and the stems. Any wood items can be easily replaced if rotted but that would entail additional expense and should dictate a lower sale price. Damage to the Royalex hull can also usually be repaired successfully if not too extensive, but again would dictate a lower selling price.

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I agree that it looks like Royalex and in the pic it looks like it’s in good shape. Just to emphasize one of pblanc’s points the first thing to do is inspect the bottom and especially the ends (stems) because many Royalex boats have worn through the thin skin and will require repair (skid plates). Damage is easy to see; you’d see yellow material under the green skin. If the bottom is perfect I might offer up to $700-800 but if the ends have damage I’d be in the $400 range. Given the cost of new boats and availability challenges finding used boats it also depends how much you want it, pblanc’s range of $600-1200 is perfectly reasonable.

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Thank you so much for your detailed information. The auction is this Saturday and with this , I can go in with a good information and make my bid. THX,Cindy

Also inspect the ends of the thwarts and seats… Often the ends of the wood are not varnished or sealed and rot starts there. It is fixable and there are places to buy replacement thwarts and seats like Ed’s Canoe but it will be a bit of an expense …

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