Mad River Courrier???


Can anyone comment on this boat? I understand it is the predecessor of the Guide. From the reviews here on the board it sounds to be wider and may have less rocker but not sure.

People have claimed they have run Class IV in it, but I find that statement maybe a bit ambitious.

How does it compare to the Guide in terms of maneuverability and whitewater capability?



It probably had enough more volume
compared to the Guide to run heavier water, as long as one had a normal tolerance for dumping and bailing. Another early, somewhat-short boat from that era was the Old Town Mini-Tripper. The MR Courier and the Mini Tripper were used with some success in OC-1 slalom events prior to the appearance of more rockered Royalex canoes.

III & IV is Fine

– Last Updated: Mar-22-10 3:26 PM EST –

My Dad used to use a MR Courier on the Lower Yough (III & IV) all the time. There was nothing ambitious or iffy about it at all. And he wasn't even that great of a paddler. It's not a play boat, though. If I was only going to use it on III & IV, I wouldn't buy a Courier. It will do just fine, though.


– Last Updated: Mar-22-10 4:36 PM EST –

I've had a Courrier since 1990 when I bought one used, outfitted solo with a saddle and air bags.

My son then 12 took it down several class II+ to easier class III no problem, and it has had a number of trips down the Nantahala. Solid downriver whitewater boat, can eddy and ferry and surf, but definitely not a playboat as said above. I've had a friend who claims to have used them on the Chattooga and many SE rivers back in its day. Not much rocker compared to today's boats. Once I tried an Encore I found the boat to be sluggish. The boat was very "high tech" in its time back in the 1980's, and was used in "combined" type races with one boat for both downriver and slalom. Lots of volume and was paddled tandem as well.

Hope this helps some.

Well, it’s argueable whether there is
any class 4 on the Lower Yough, but I know people have run Chattooga 4 in Couriers.

There is nothing about the Courier that makes it especially suitable for class 3-4. It is inferior to MANY open canoes developed subsequently, including the Sunburst, Encore, Rampage, Outrage, etc. etc., and also including my MR Synergy. The Courier WAS NOT designed for heavy whitewater, but people with patience and water reading skill can get away with it.

1 Like

LOVE the MRC Synergy!

– Last Updated: Mar-22-10 7:46 PM EST –

Too bad they don't make it anymore. Actually, they discontinued it (the white water canoe)in the late 90's and now have put the name back on a roto plastic kinda version of a pack canoe/kayak/canoe hybrid thing...

Ahhh progress.


Yes, MR would rather market the
Dagger Caption, a better tandem boat than the Synergy, but not the Synergy’s equal as a solo cruiser.

That Mad River doesn’t know what it is doing is evidenced by their picking up the mediocre Dagger Legend while ignoring the outstanding Dagger Dimension.


– Last Updated: Mar-24-10 8:44 PM EST –

But, we should remember when doing up the wildly successful MRC Explorer, Jim often said he wanted it to be just a bit better than a Grumman.

Legend is a user friendly tandem river tripper. The Dimension, based on the Orange Crush stripper, was a HOT river tandem for advancing- advanced paddlers. Which one would we want fueling our retirement?

Courier? We spelled it differently back then, a nice hull in its day, which is long gone.

A couple aged about 70 got into and
paddled a Dimension all the way down 84 miles of the San Juan, and ran all the rapids. They were experienced trippers but NOT whitewater specialists. I’ve never heard that the Dimension is hard for ordinary mortals to paddle. Sluggish on the flats, yes, but predictable and forgiving in rapids.

As for the Legend, is it really any better than an OCA?

I’d let ya…

– Last Updated: Mar-25-10 4:40 PM EST –

I'd let ya test paddle my Courier,and my Vermont made Guide, but Michigan to Missouri might be overkill distance for a test paddle.
My Courier is kevlar, with wood trim, and it's for sale. My Guide is royalex with wood trim, and it is not for sale.

Both are quite manueverable, both will carry a good sized paddler & lots of gear."Both will run class 3 in the hands of a skilled paddler, if properly outfitted". WARNING: MAD RIVER GUIDES & COURIERS ARE NOT DEDICATED WHITEWATER CANOES, AND NOVICE/NAIVE PADDLERS DO NOT QUALIFY AS SKILLED WHITEWATER PADDLERS". Both canoes prefer moving water, and both were well made. A Courier is getting hard to find in any condition, and a Vermont made Guide will soon be the same. That is a shame; in my opinion the Freedom Solo is nothing but a pale shadow of a real Guide.

There are some canoes that are better than a Courier, and some better than a Guide.
There are surely a lot of canoes that are worse than either.

Novice paddlers, paddling a Courier, or a Guide, on fast moving rivers, with obstacles present, are "fun to watch". Photo op.


Yes, I love my Guide. It took a long time to find one. I had liked the hull shape of the Freedom Solo but the one I had was so incredibily flexy that it would oilcan and shake going down anything bigger than about Class I.

I find the Courrier intriguing too. Sounds like it’s a wider deeper version of the Guide. From what I found it looks like it is sized pretty close to the Super Nova which is a pretty big boat.


Uh, Bob, I want to see you run the
middle Tellico in your Guide. I like and admire the boat, but it isn’t going to easily handle class 3. The Courier would do a bit better, because it would sit lighter on the water.

Easily run class 3…

– Last Updated: Mar-25-10 4:29 PM EST –

The Tellico!
Cut me some slack!

The Tellico is a very poor example of some easily run class 3 rapids, and you know that.


Had it before the MR ME
a million years ago. It was meant to be a ww canoe playboat but boats have greatly improved since. Found it to be wide and very heavy with no rocker. Used it for class 3+. Good for going straight only.

There’s a difference between run and

– Last Updated: Mar-25-10 4:43 PM EST –

survive versus run with appropriate mastery. I've paddled my Guide enough to know that runs on the middle Tellico, the Ocoee, Chattooga 3, even the Nanty, are going to be a constant challenge, not a reasonably secure run.

I don't care if people want to do that sort of thing, but I don't want naive Guide paddlers getting on any of those rivers and thinking they're going to be in control.

I've thought of running the Nanty in my Guide, just for amusement. But then I realise it won't be very amusing, because I won't be able to manage even half the maneuvers I always make in my real whitewater boats. Why change real control for bailing and dumping?

As for the middle Tellico, that is the section from the last road bridge crossing down to near the ranger station. It is a series of technical class 3s, nothing more.

Wish I could try an ME. My Synergy
is in some way Mad River’s successor to the ME, and I’ve found a lot to like in the Synergy. People still speak highly of the ME. Not many Synergys were sold, but those who owned them, liked them a lot.

Are you saying?

– Last Updated: Mar-25-10 5:36 PM EST –

Are you saying that the road to mastery is only gained by always feeling & being secure and always feeling & being in control?

Accepting a reasonable challenge, possessing enough skill & ability to survive, being just a little bit out of control on occasion, and having experienced a few bailing &/or dumping drills are not learning experiences?

While not advocating a "die for your sport" mentality;
shouldn't/couldn't one, after reasonable consideration, consider "going for it" on occasion?

I am "NOT" referring to "novice/naive" paddlers.


P.S. The Tellico, whatever section you are talking about is not an easy, pool/drop, class 3. There are some "very healthly" gradients(varies from 32 to 120 feet per mile) as noted in Monte Smith's Southeastern Whitewater) . Many of the rapids, even if rated as class 3s are very technical. Example: Putting in at Turkey Creek results in "nearly a mile" of continuous class 2+ water before class 3 Crack in the Rock, a technical rapid which requires successive 90 degree turns to run it's namesake crack. Another example is the seemingly easy rated class 2 Reeder's Rock. The ledge is easy; the runout is not; due to inconspicuous undercut rock which captures about 70% of the streamflow at 200 cfs.
The tilt of the riverbed is also not that noticeable, but the streambed helps sweep everything towards the undercut rock.Smith compares it to the seemingly benign, Chattooga's Woodall Shoals where quite a few have died.
Definitely not your fairly benign Lesser Wesser on the Nantahala with a decent runout.
You knew that!

The middle Tellico is considered

– Last Updated: Mar-25-10 6:20 PM EST –

class 3 by everyone who is anyone in the SE. Monte Smith was very conservative in his ratings. The first time I ran it, in an obsolescent C-1, I was lead boat, no scouting, and nailed everything except for the hardest drop where I flipped and rolled.

I'm saying that the ability to stumble down the Ocoee in a MR Guide does not mean the Guide should be considered right for the Ocoee, or even the Nantahala. It only means someone had some experience and some guts. A boat truly suitable for the Ocoee, or the Nanty, should be capable of nailing most eddies along the way, of running through the biggest holes without swamping, and of being agile enough to run alternate routes to stay dry.

Oh, and if you could erase everyone's memory of Lesser Wesser, and install it amongst the other rapids of the middle Tellico, you would see a lot of carnage on the river. Lesser Wesser has gotten "easy" because so many have run it so many times, and because just one scout reveals the most likely route to get through the rapid.

The MR Guide is a brilliant design. It is not a true whitewater boat. It is a general purpose boat that can handle some whitewater under some conditions.

Generally in agreement…

– Last Updated: Mar-25-10 7:14 PM EST –

Generally speaking, I think "most of the people who are anyone in the SE are head & shoulders above the vast majority of paddlers. They have such a wealth of venues to paddle.

I like to think that I gave whatever I ran, in whatever boat I ran it in some thought & made a well reasoned decision the majority of the time.
Sometimes I just "went for it".
It helped that every one of the paddlers I paddled whitewater with on a regular basis were Lifeguard & Swiftwater Rescue Instructors; as well as Wilderness First Responders. As was I. That may have had something to do with what I considered running, and in what canoe. My trust level in my companions was high, and seemingly that trust was justified...... I'm still alive, as are they.
I was confident in my skills; but admit I did my share of swims.My partners were always there for me; as I was there for them. We always thought that going for it on occasion, and even swimming on occasion when we did was a part of it all.

Which is not to say that I do not understand, or know the feeling of mastery when a thing is done well, and most certainly when it is done in a solo whitewater canoe.

As for the Nanty; I most often ran it in either my MR Outrage X, or a Mohawk Probe II. Ran it a few times in a Mohawk Odyssey 14. Never ran it in a Guide, but back in my wilder days, if challenged to do so, I would probably have gone for it without much thought. Don't doubt I could have done it, and besides, I always had 2, or 3 aces up my sleeve so to speak, paddling with me.


Solo tripper…
The Guide was designed as a solo tripper to have enhanced performance capabilities in moving water conditions over it’s predecessor, the Courier.