Missouri River Canoe Selection ?

Am planning to canoe from Kansas City to St. Louis this summer on the Missouri River; and preparing to purchase an appropriate 16 or 17 foot canoe.

Am undecided between a new MAD RIVER 16 "plastic" canoe versus a nice used Aluminum canoe (GRUMMAN or OSAGE). Prices are similar. Will the polypropelene MAD RIVER canoe hold up as well in the Missouri River? I don't plan on hitting anything, but there are wing dams and floating logs.

On our smaller Missouri rivers, all the rental canoes are aluminum. But there are more shallows, rocks, and boulders than on the big Missouri.

Which would you recommend I purchase? and WHY? THANKS.

JERRY (gold40@aol.com)

Missouri River Canoe Selection
Either /or will work just fine if you don’t feel “the need for speed” and don’t plan to tangle with any buoys (they will win no matter what kind of boat you have). Pay attention, do your prep work, stay in the channel and you will have a great time. Are you planning on going solo in a tandem boat? If solo, should be plenty of room in a 16 or 17’ for gear, food, water as needed, since it is possible to resupply in places along the way. Message me for info, and let me know when you’re launching, can help you resupply, might meet up and paddle with you for a ways.

17 foot, and aluminum.
If the 16 foot “plastic” MR is the one I’m thinking of, it’s not a serious canoe. And it has too much seat and center structure in the way of gear storage.

MR used to offer a 16’ “TT” version of their Explorer, and that wouldn’t be too bad, especially as you’ll have lots of gear in the middle of the boat to keep the bottom from pooching upward.

Hull Strength
Thanks for the responses.

Is there much difference in strength or resistance to puncture between the plastic or aluminum hulls?


you need to be more specific
There are lots of different types of “plastic” canoe and kayak hulls.

Royalex is a plastic material with an ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) with a layer of vinyl bonded to each side.

Polyethylene hulls may be solid (one-layer) or triple layer which incorporates a foam core.

TwinTex is a material incorporating fiberglass cloth in a polyethylene matrix.

There are various other thermoplastic materials that have been used in kayak construction as well.

Any plastic or aluminum hull can be punctured. Triple layer, single layer, and Royalex hulls have been used in whitewater canoe and kayak construction for many years and while punctures occur, they are not that common.

I don’t see why there
is such a concern. The OP isn’t going on whitewater which can rip any hull.

Between poly and alu… the chief difference is one is good at cooking lobster ( it gets hot) and some of the poly designs with built in extra seats cupholders and coolers are plain awful and are lacking in versatility. The Mad River Adventure 16 was plainly designed for day trips rather than extended ones. I’d pick any alu canoe any day.

Aluminum used to be used in whitewater back before the advent of poly and RX.

Paddling.net classifieds
There are two canoes in the classified ads right now that are around the price of a new Mad River 16 Adventurer and are infinitely better paddling canoes for the long trip on a big river you are undertaking.

One is a Wenonah 17’Spirit II in Iowa and the other is a Mad River 18’Lamoille in Illinois.


No need to get too technical
Just look around and get what you can afford, what is comfortable, and what you like. As I said earlier, there are plenty of places to resupply between KC and St. Louis, there is no whitewater, and the only portage will be around the Chain of Rocks if you plan to go to the Arch. I paddle an RX Wenonah Wilderness solo on the MO, carries plenty of gear and food, is stable and fun to paddle. I also paddled a 17’ Osagian aluminum for 30+ years, turned around, solo, and had a great time on extended trips. Check out the Missouri River Paddlers Facebook page for much expertise and advice, and have fun with your trip. Holler if you need anything.

I wouldn’t want to solo a MR adventurer
canoe- tried my 16’ MR adventurer (poly) a little bit and its just not set up right- the molded in center “seat” acts like a thwart to give the boat rigidity but its not good for soloing- the bow seat does poorly as well, the best place I found was behind the midship “seat” and in front of the stern seat- if you went that route I would definately customize a seat.

Overall I was pretty impressed with the handling of the boat when paddling it tandem. I suspect the folks that knock the handling of the boat haven’t actually paddled it. The poly is tough although heavy and it is poor for portaging, not just because of the weight but also lack of thwarts. I agree with the others that there is probably a better boat out there for you, especially for a solo paddling. Unfortunately most aluminum canoes are also designed for tandem paddling. I see that as the key issue rather than the material the boat is made out of.

Was looking at it again, and thinking
of what I could do to replace the seats and center thing with what would retain stiffness of the hull while adding flotation rather than weight. Interesting technical challenge.

Every maker of poly tandems has faced challenges to make them stiff enough and light enough.