Mad River Canoe IQ system beta?

The Mad River Canoe IQ system is something you hardly ever see mentioned except in their advertising. Is the IQ system worth the extra cost? Do paddlers use all the add-ons such as spray skirts, chine bags, and so forth? Just curious whether its something I should consider when I upgrade to a new canoe. I’m thinking I might want the adjustable seat in a new Freedom Solo so I can mount a take-out pedastal in front of it for ww, then take the pedastal out and stow it for flatwater.


Not the boat you want for flatwater
I suggest you forget about flatwater paddling with this boat if your objective is distance paddling. As a intermediate paddler, you will much prefer paddling flatwater in a solo cruiser. Just get 2 boats and be done with it!

I don’t Like the IQ System
Especially the seats. They’re supported/braced with straps. They feel flimsy to me.

I appreciate their innovativeness. I appreciate their taking a risk. And in theory the concept is good. But I just don’t think it worked out practically.

IQ System
I paddle a MR Freedom Solo with the IQ System. The seat is not flimsy and makes adjustment and positioning easy. It does tend to move about when someone grabs the crossbar seat support to lift the canoe, so I try not to do that when loading or carrying the boat. I also have the front spray cover and d-rings that attach the to IQ grooves in the gunwales.

That said, I have been disappointed with the availablility of IQ accessories. I am looking for an IQ footbrace, and am told they are on indefinite backorder. I think that making IQ accessories has been a low priority since MR was sold.

I would also agree that the Freedom Solo is not the boat I would not have chosen to paddle on a windy lake. I’ve done it and survived, but I think a better tracking boat would be better for that purpose. Also, the FS is a bit heavy for portaging any distance. I’ve paddled solo trippers and am thinking a Bell Magic would be better suited for flat water. The Freedom Solo is a great river boat IMHO.


When I was shopping for my tandem rec canoe, I was torn between the MR explorer with IQ and the Wenonah that I got. I ultimately decided the IQ system wasn’t very practical for the everyday paddling & touring that I would be doing. I agree with KenE that it is great that MR is still thinking out of the box and getting innovative - even after moving away from Vermont.

IQ seats

– Last Updated: Jun-21-06 3:55 PM EST –

My initial impression is that I'm not crazy about the IQ seats. To me they are not as solidly mounted as conventional seats. Under pressure from leaning and weight shifting, the seat moves a bit. While I'm sure you get used to it and build it into your interaction with the hull, I think I prefer a more solid foundation.

MR Guide/MR Freedom

– Last Updated: Jun-21-06 12:07 PM EST –

I have one of each; that's a "fact".

What follows is strictly "personal opinion":

The Guide/aka Freedom Solo is a good multi-purpose boat; especially on class 1 & 2 moving water rivers.
A generally good mix of stability, manueverability, responsiveness, and hauling ability.

They were never intended to be lake boats, or boundary water boats, or whitewater boats, or a boat you'd want to portage for long distances.

Could they be used on large, windy, lakes? Yes, with inherent problems. Were they designed for that? NO!

Could they be used on class 3 whitewater? Yes, with inherent problems. Were they designed for that? NO!

Could they be portaged? Yes, with inherent problems. Were they designed for long portages?

Could they be used in the Boundary Waters? Yes, with inherent problems. Were they designed for the Boundary Waters? NO!

Is the Freedom as well made as the Guide was?

Is the IQ system worth the extra cost?
Capsize a Freedom in class 3 with their IQ spray skirt attached & you'll probably be replacing the spray skirts, or maybe end up with one of the spray skirts wrapped around your neck.

The boat is not designed for big, windy lakes with 2 foot, wind blown waves; so why do you need the spray skirts?

If you're doing class 1 & 2 rivers you can get out the water you may take on with a 2 dollar sponge.

Need the spray skirts to paddle in heavy rain, because your gear is packed in non-waterproof containers? A nice selection of waterproof bags are a lot cheaper than the IQ system spray covers.


P.S. It's relatively simple to remove a wood/cane, or wood/canvas seat & intall a small(removable) pedestal in any boat. All you need is a pedestal, 2 pieces of PVC pipe, 4 anchors & 2 nylon NRS straps.

mr iq
i have a mad river freedom with the iq system and think its great for the reasons i use it. its so cool to be able to move the seats and trim the boat the way i want it trimed, it is also great if i want to solo one day and tandem the next and just bring one canoe. its heavy at over 70 pounds but i did not buy this boat to do any portaging. just from put in and take out. i did buy the beer oops cup holders and they are the best they can fit a soda can with hugger or without.i will also be buying the tie downs and straping for the flotation.

Thanks everyone
Its always fun to hear such divergent opinions. I’m a long time fan of the Guide/Freedom solo. IMHO its ideal for the Class I-II ledges and drops with flats in between. After reading your input I’m leaning away from the IQ.


In the final analysis…
We can all be very analytical, and opinionated on occasion.

It’s nice to get some opinions, but in the final analysis; if if “floats your boat”, suits your purpose, and makes you happy, then go for it!

Sometimes I have a tendency to “over analyze”, and probably too often, I base my opinion on what floats “my” boat.


Well said, Bob
I went ahead and got the Guide with the wood trim. Picked it up last night and left it on the truck so I can take her for a spin this afternoon. This is one of the “Vermont” Guide’s and the woodwork and deck plates are indeed much nicer than the ones from North Carolina. The thwarts are a lot nicer, too. Thanks for all your input, it made my decision a lot easier and more satisfying.