Mad River Explorer 16???

-- Last Updated: Apr-17-10 1:08 PM EST --

Looking for some opinions from experienced canoeists on this boat for tandem paddling.

I have a Mad River Guide adn really like it as a solo boat and my understanding it is drawn from the Explorer.

I currently have a Nova Craft Prospector for tandem and like it but found a good deal on an Explorer locally...trying to find out if it is a vermont made model which is only reason I would get it if it is.

How would the Explorer handle compared to the Prospector?

Is the Explorer rockered as heavily as the Prospector? I would guess probably not but not sure.

I find the prospector very capable in whitewater and maneuverable. Slow though and not the best on flatwater.

How would the explorer compare for river and open water use?



can’t go wrong
You can’t go wrong with the Explorer. I actually know of one for sale “locally” which may be the one you’re looking into. (“Locally” should be a term we define in the ADOK thread!) I’ll email you some details. Yes it will be capable whitewater and still slow on flat water. No I wouldn’t say it is that similar to the guide. The explorer has significantly more flare than my dad’s Freedom Solo. He had an explorer then got the Freedom Solo, first thing he did was rip out the thwarts and put in longer ones to push out the sides a little. Come to think of it, I don’t even know if the Solo has the shallow V…

They really are diferent boats but get it anyway, specially if it’s a deal and/or Vermont built.


First, Mad River canoes can have
varying amounts of V-bottom. The Explorer is distinctly V-bottomed. My '73 Compatriot was even more V-bottomed, and I didn’t like it. Our Mad River Guide/Freedoms have a much milder V-bottom than the Explorer, and they gain by it. My Mad River Synergy, a whitewater tandem, has just a hint of V-bottom.

You do NOT want much V-bottom for whitewater paddling. The Explorer has more than it should, but is a decent tandem craft for whitewater, as long as you don’t go past class 1-2+ and an occasional class 3. A friend used to solo paddle an Explorer in class 3 and some class 4, but that was partly because he couldn’t afford a shorter, lighter boat at the time.

So the Explorer has to be considered on its own. A decent lake boat, though slow. A decent river boat. A decent whitewater boat, though not that maneuverable.

NC Prospector v. Explorer
The boat you already have is superior. The Explorer is a fine boat, a bajillion of them floating out there doing an okay job at what they’re tasked with. But the Explorer is very tuned down compared to your Prospector, this being because the Explorer was made to be easily digested.

But if you can get a great price on one in decent condition, I wouldn’t pass. It’s a fine canoe to have in the fleet.

Explorer made to be easily digested?
As by a tribe of cannibals?

Keep what you got
Or at least spend a little time in an Explorer before you trade.

I’ve owned and used a Royalex Explorer for roughly 15 years.

As others have said it’s a good boat. Not a great boat.

I would not compare it in any way to the Guide. Not even close. The Guide is a boat that puts a grin on your face. The Explorer will get you there… eventually.

I’ll guarantee that your Prospector turns better and I’d be surprised if it wasn’t faster than an Explorer.

I started playing at WW in a Spirit II

– Last Updated: Apr-18-10 8:35 AM EST –

... not a great boat for it, but it's what I had. I always paddled stern. Then I had a chance to paddle stern with a guy in his Explorer. I couldn't believe how much harder the Explorer was to turn and bring around than my Spirit II. It sure was dryer though.

Yeah, the Spirit II sits light on the
water, like our Bluewater Chippewa. Broad, shallow arch will turn easier than a prominent V-bottom like the Explorer.

The Explorer turns fine
So long as you heel her to the rail or maybe a little more. Mr. Henry didn’t do her any favors making her V as strong as he did. But If you get it most of the way out of the water…

I can get her to turn OK when I’m poling by standing on one chine and lifting the other foot off the deck. She’s actually pretty nimble paddled Canadian (both knees in the same chine). I find it much harder when soloing rough water where I want a knee on either side.

In theory a tandem crew ought to be able to easily heel her enough. But they really got to trust each other!

MRC Explorer vs Prospector

– Last Updated: Apr-19-10 10:24 AM EST –

I have a Kevlar MRC Explorer that dates back to the early 1980s.

As has been said by others, it is a Jack of all trades type of boat that excels at nothing. Having said that, I like mine quite a bit.

It is very seaworthy and has great cargo carrying capacity for a boat of its length. I agree with TommyC1, it turns fine as long as you heel it onto the flat portion of the hull bottom, a characteristic of V-bottom hulls. I find an off-side heel works a bit better. It is certainly not fast on flat water, but cruises pleasantly and is predictable in wind.

If I was paddling on a river I would probably prefer the Prospector. If I was doing mostly lake paddling, I would probably take the Explorer.

I’ve had a Royalex Explorer for 30 years and agree with plbanc’s evaluation.

If I had a Guide and a Prospector, I think I’d be looking for something more specialized than an Explorer for my third boat. Perhaps a fast one.

on another note
If Royalex, make sure boat doesn’t have an oil canning problem. This means a test paddle is in order.

There are more than a few soft bottemed Explorers out there. I know because I bought one of them, new, from a dealer. It took a fight, but I got Mad River/Confluence to replace the boat. The replacement boat oil canned as well, but was within a limit I could live with though not ideal. That boat now resides with my son who uses it for fishing.