Mad River Kevlar from 1983

Hi All,

First post here – but I wanted to pick some brains about this canoe. A local outfitter has a Mad River “kevlar” canoe for sale on a trade in that was originally made back in 1983.

From the pictures and comments it is structurally sound but well used (would need new skid plates at a minimum).

16’ and from what they are saying it comes in around 55lbs. Does anyone have experience in these boats from the 80’s? What potential problems would I be facing or looking out for? Is it possible to re-surface a kevlar boat of this age?

The price would be under $1000 - but just curious if this is something I should dig deeper into or run far away from.



go look at it.
Its the length of the Explorer which came out in Kevlar in 1984. Explorer was in fiberglass in 1981

The weight is too heavy for me to believe it is Kevlar unless early layups were imprecise or had lots of layers of fabric.

I am betting it is glass and your outfitter is trying to milk you for a thirty three year old canoe.

Not worth $1000 to me.

Look at the last numbers on the hull to corroborate the year he is telling you

For a boat…
…that old, I’d offer $300 max.

Make sure it’s not “floppy”. those old Kevlar layups typically didn’t have anything to stiffen them up. A boat like this with multiple layers of Kevlar that have banged around for 30+ years, possibly have no rigidity left to it.

Check it out.
If it’s kevlar, it will show a honey color on most of the inside (assuming it wasn’t painted after manufacture) with the exception of a roughly diamond shape area of the floor.

If it’s fiberglass, the entire inside of the hull should be close to the same color as the gel-coat.

At that age, I would probably prefer it to be glass - depending on how it was used and stored. $1000 is probably way too much, either way.

I would run away from it
Jack L

$1000 for a 33yr old canoe
Is too much

I wouldn’t pay anywhere near 1k for a Kevlar or glass canoe that old. $200 and I think he has a deal.

This is a tough crowd.
About 6 years ago I paid $1300 for a like new 1989 Curtis Lady Bug kevlar solo and had no regrets then and still don’t.

A 30 year old fiberglass or kevlar that needs some work would obviously go for quite a bit less than that.

Check it out in person, if you want to make the drive, and then decide what it’s worth to you.

Tough crowd -maybe
I paid 1400 for a 17 year old kev Malicite last year. But it was a nearly pristine premium version and stored with meticulous care. I’d pay a relative premium for a comparatively scarce and desirable solo canoe too.

But a 33 year old Explorer with ends ground off should be way south of 1000 bucks. I think Kaz has it about right - unless it’s in better shape than it sounds. And that would be only if it’s still nice and stiff.

MRC Kevlar Explorer
The Explorer was a few inches over 16’ in overall length and was Mad River’s most popular model, so that is very likely what it is.

I have a Mad River Kevlar Explorer of right around that vintage, perhaps a couple of years older. The MRC Kevlar Explorer of that vintage was a very robust all fabric layup without any foam core or ribs, and yes, it did weigh 54-56lbs. The fiberglass Explorer weighed 70 lbs.

The Explorer is a pretty good “jack-of-all-trades” tandem design. Reasonably efficient but not terribly fast, decent maneuverability and good stability, and very good load capacity for a 16’ canoe.

IMO the age of the canoe, apart from its condition, is irrelevant in determining its value. I have quite a few canoes from the early 1980s that are in fine condition, including my Explorer.

The value of this particular canoe will depend on the extent and nature of the wear and damage. New quality tandem Kevlar canoes of a quality comparable to the Explorer are now around $3000. Paying $1000 for a used Kevlar tandem in good condition is not at all unreasonable, but if significant repair or reconditioning is required, the price would obviously be less. If you could provide a link with some photographs a more reasonable estimate of value might be given.

Just for comparison

– Last Updated: Apr-09-16 2:31 PM EST –

My previous Malicite was a year older, but I bought it a few years earlier. It was also in exceptional condition and came with a couple nice paddles, but it was fiberglass - so a little over 10 lbs heavier.

I paid only 650 for that one, which was the asking price.

Some of this is going to come down to how important is the weight difference to you. And don't forget that the stem repair will add a little. Just a little, if you do it right.

No question that this is probably potentially a very good canoe. The question is - can you find better at the same price or less?

Thank you
I really appreciate all of the opinions – I think this is one I will be skipping. I’ve attached a few pictures below of what they sent me. Too many unknowns, and I do believe I can find something nicer as spring comes.

you did the right thing
Sometimes I wonder of sellers “what were you thinking?”

What I’d do…
I’d throw a Monty Python “holy hand grenade” at that thing, and “run away, run away”.

I’m betting it will look worse in person than in photos. Bet you’d quickly see some “issues” with the trim once it’s turned right side up.

I bought a near pristine Bell Wildfire. a near pristine Wenonah Prism, and a near pristine Bell Flashfire for less than seller’s asking price.


In the words of Monty Python…

– Last Updated: Apr-09-16 6:53 PM EST –

They almost always look worse in person,

– Last Updated: Apr-09-16 6:50 PM EST –

Don't they?

Holy hand grenades, Batman! Rode hard and stored out in the weather!

I wouldn't give 300 for that one. Might take off their hands for free, as a favor.

Pitiful mess, that is.
I think Doug has gotten better looking hulls for free, or close to it.