LL Bean Royal River 13 (Wenonah Fusion in T-Formex)?

Sorry to pepper you guys with all these question but apparently I’m channeling my Covid-19 stress into canoe shopping - a totally online endeavor given shelter in place!

Anybody have any experience with the LL Bean Royal River (I had mentioned it in a different thread but it got buried before any relevant responses)? I understand its a rebranded Fusion but in T-Formex, without the rudder, and with a cushion seat/seat back and foot bar. I’d be interested in any info/opinions but two specific questions:

  1. Looking at the 13’ length and 31" width and the not very high seat, (and whatever you can tell on hull shape) do you think it will have very good initial stability?

  2. Should I be concerned that Wenonah apparently thinks the Fusion needs a rudder and the LL Bean version doesn’t come with one?

Initial stability is good on the Fusion. Not a fan of the 9" deep canoe seat with the back rest, compared to some other options out there, but it’s functional.

Worth noting that at 49 pounds, it’s not that much lighter than the Old Town NEXT, which is around the same size and is designed for a similar use but has a much more substantial seating design (and is $500 less).

The rudder on Wenonah’s version is a little silly, in my experience. Use a double bladed paddle, be realistic about performance on windy days, and you’d be fine.

I paddled a Wenonah Fusion once, on an easy Class I river where no real maneuvering was required. I am not a fan of seats with back rests. I paddled it with a single bladed paddle sitting, because that was the only posture the seat allowed. I usually paddle canoes kneeling.

I have to say that I was not impressed. Stability seemed fine, not that I tested it in any way. But it did not track well. That does not usually bother me since I paddle all sorts of whitewater canoes that do not track well. But I expect better maneuverability in return and the Fusion did not deliver that.

I could not get the hull to carve at all from the seated position. If I had been able to kneel and shift my weight forward a little, I probably could have, but the outfitting did not allow that. Paddling sit and switch, I found I could only get maybe 4 or 5 strokes in per side before I had to switch.

I think this boat is really designed for paddling seated with a double-bladed paddle. For flat water paddling I think a rudder might be quite beneficial for some, but I did not test this boat on still water.