Mad River Liberty vs Swift Osprey

Anyone paddled these two? I have an Osprey,but havn’t paddled a Liberty.Thoughts?


I Had a Liberty
the mr liberty is a smaller, low volume, straight-ahead paddling canoe. To me (at 215 pounds), it didn’t have ANY personality. A purely boring canoe for my size.

Turns okay, nothing else notable. Not a great boat for in the current. More of a poorly designed flat water boring canoe. Read the reviews, though. Others thought it was nice.

I paddled the Swift Osprey only momentarily. I didn’t really care for it, per se. MUCH better than the Mad River for personality, river tripping, etc.

I personally like the old Bell Wildfire, now made by placid boatworks, yes? I also like the Sawyer Autumn mist for rivers, tripping.

I have a Liberty
and just try to pry it from my cold stiff fingers when I’m dead. It’s my only canoe now. I used to have an Outrage and an Explorer but didn’t use them as much as the Liberty so they went away. Yeah, it doesn’t spin like an Outrage, but I live in Michigan and my Outrage was wasted here given the dearth of strong current here. I do take the Liberty out on rivers and have no problem manuvering with only quiet strokes. That’s important because I like to observe the river critters and swishing and splashing would scare them off. The boat has taught me a lot. When I first acquired it, I thought it was tippy but I’ve only been overturned one time and that was when I did something really stupid. Now I put young Scouts in it when they are working on the solo part of their canoeing merit badge. It behaves well in wind without being a dog to turn so the boys can get a good feel for the effect each stroke has without being blown down the lake. Even the older more experienced ones like it. Also, it is light enough that many of them can carry it by themselves.

Under 150lbs.
The Liberty was a good canoe, but…I wouldn’t recommend it for those over 150lbs and taller than 5’8" or so. For those larger, the MRC Independence would be the canoe of choice.

The Liberty is, as stated above, a great youth solo canoe.

Development Myth

– Last Updated: Dec-06-07 8:37 PM EST –

MRC's Independence predated Liberty. The myth, which may be fact, is that the lamination crew cut the best part of a foot out of a heavy glass Indy, glassed it back together, faired it, tooled it and made the Liberty mold.

That is exactly how the Bell NorthWind came to life.

Fortunately, the MRC bondo team got a little more rocker into Liberty than Indy so it turned better. Volume, drag and capacity were all reduced, but boat was too wide for the smaller folks it was supposed to address.

It has all the characteristic of Vee'd MRC hulls; tracks but needs be heeled onto a flat and dragged sideways to maneuver in current. It reacts pretty well to outside heeled, carved skids but is quite resistant to inside heeled skidded turns. The lack of tumblehome in a wide boats forces smaller paddlers to paddle at a standing heel, with all those inefficiencies, or to use extra correction to compensate for the turning forces developed by low angle forward strokes across those wide rails.

In short, a nice, light, entry level solo that tracks well. Limitations will arise as paddler skill increases.

Osprey is a much, much more sophisticated canoe. It has differential rocker to help intermediate paddlers keep on course. It has enough bow rocker and soft enough chines to respond to inside and outside heeled skidded turns. It pulls/pushes nicely towards abeams. At 30" Osprey is, maybe, a little wide for compact paddlers but fits the larger amongst us pretty well, as the Sawyer Autumn Mist, a similar hull, fits even larger paddlers well.