Mad River canoes

I’m getting ready to buy another canoe and Mad River is on the list. Interested in an Explorer in either Kevlar or possibly Royalex. Reading between the lines on some replies on this forum it seems that there is a difference between pre and post 1999 boats. Am I reading this right? If so what are the differences and is Mad River still a product I should consider?


Dagger Reflection 15

CD Solstice GT

Dagger Baja

Mad River Explorer RX

I have Mad River Explorer rx. I have paddled it on lakes and in rivers up to class III whitewater. I have paddled through 2 - 3 foot high standing waves/stoppers with Explorer. Canoe got only small amount of water inside. So far I have never capsized with Explorer.

It is excellent all-around canoe. There are not very many canoes that can handle class III whitewater yet they can be used on flat water too.

My canoe is manufactured probably 2001. Quality of canoe is good. I have changed cane seats to more durable web seats.

Explorer is very canoe for mixed water usage. For mild rivers and flat water Wenonah Spirit II would be better choise.


Current customer service?
I just rehabed a 1979 Malecite. The hull is still in very good shape for 25 yrs. old. I tried getting customer service to help me with issues like ash gunwale size and shape and getting the “retro” decals that were original to the boat. I could not get through to a human and had only 1 e mail answered. All they said was we don’t sell direct contact your dealer. Well my local dealer is a big kayak guy and not interested in helping out with canoes. Check out this aspect of Mad River now that they have gone big corporation before you buy. I have heard or read that the time proven designs like the Explorer and Malecite are the ones to go with if you do go MR.

Re: MR
I recently did some shopping for canoes and ended up buying a 1995 Explorer Rx. I think the general concensus is that MR has gone big and their focus has turned away from high end,high quality boats to a more middle of the road product.

The stories I have heard would indicate that due to the change customer service has become somewhat lacking.

I do believe that their new products are of an acceptable quality.

As far as Royalex vs. Kevlar you should check the archives here at You might also find some references to MR.

Good Luck,

Big Mac

2001 Explorer
I’ve a 2001 Explorer in Royalex and love it. Very nice on lakes and does quite well on the rivers solo or tandem. I’m a BIG boy and I can stand in it and pole or paddle as I choose. Stays dry in haystacks and steers accurately enough that (when my skill permits) rocks in class 2 are easily avoided.

I’ve read repeatedly that customer service at MadRiver is lacking, but I’ve contacted them 3 or 4 times and was a bit surprised at how kindly and quickly they responded to my piddlin’ none quality based requests, (list of dealers, extra stickers, maintenance question).

In my opinion you could do much worse than an Explorer; you may be able to do better. For my needs (an all around canoe)the Explorer is perfect. I got a lot of compliments on its good looks last weekend.