MR Explorer 15 vs Mohawk Odyssey 15T vs.

-- Last Updated: Apr-16-15 8:19 PM EST --

I'm in the market for a tandem boat that will be paddled tandem, but also that can be paddled solo. It will primarily be used on small rivers and creeks in the Southeast, with some limited use on small lakes or ponds. I'd like something that will handle Class II water.

I'm drawn to the Odyssey 15T for a couple reasons - narrower in middle than explorer, it's avail from factory for $500 less than explorer, and my wife had a Mohawk Viper years ago and I like the company. That said the Odyssey doesn't seem to get very good reviews.

I have found a new Explorer 15 avail at full retail. I'm concerned that the shallow V is going to drag more than another hull design, otherwise I like this one too.

I had Dagger Legend 16 several years ago (almost 20), and I loved it, but I never tried to paddle it solo and it "seems" like a 16 will just be too big.

I would classify myself as advanced beginner to intermediate skill level. I ran the Legend tandem on Nantahala (don't need this boat able to do that) and several other Class II runs in the SE. My wife is a beginner.

I'd love some first hand tandem experience from either of the 15s mentioned - or some other suggestions. Availability is an issue at this point. Craigslist for my areas is pretty light.


Owned The Explorer, Paddled the Mohawk
I only paddled a friends Mohawk one time. It was slow and sluggish to turn. Narrower or not, I doubt it would paddle faster than the Mad River? One of the beauties of the shallow-V hull is that it you can confidently lean it and decrease your waterline. Is the Explorer 15 “Fast?” Not by any stretch of the imagination. But, it certainly seemed faster than the Odyssey 15.

As for tripping, the Explorer will definitely hold more. But, anything more than a few days tandem tripping will overload it unless you’re relatively small?

Solo, I tripped out of it and it was my everyday boat for 4 years, converting it to a solo the last couple. When my wife started going solo exclusively and I found a couple other boats I liked better.

I’ll give you some links to some of my pic of it tandem and solo. It’s a boat I liked very well. Not my favorite, but if you told me that was the only boat I would be allowed to paddle for the rest of my life, I could live with that.

I have a mad river solo and Odysseys 15’
Mad river is a solo but not sure of the model. I have Odyssey in tandem and solo.

The Odyssey solo is pinched in the middle at the gunwhales for a solo paddler in the middle of the boat. The tandem is not, so when paddling solo, it’s a bit more reach to get over the side. Still, I did not mind paddling the tandem as a solo, it’s just the solo is better if that’s what you’re gonna do. Beware of reviews, they are two different hull shapes above the waterline.

Paddling solos, it’s kind of a toss between the Mad River and the Odyssey. Generally I prefer the mad river unless there is a wind, then the odyssey is better.

Of all my tandems, the Mohawk 15 is my bow paddlers least favorite though to be fair she is comparing it to a 16’ Penobscot and an aluminum scaled down Titanic.

If you are buying new; the guys at Mohawk at are awesome to deal with.


I don’t paddle whitewater.

All canoes discussed above are in Royalex unless otherwise noted.

BTW, Here’s More Reviews
Including my review back in 2012:

15 foot is short for a tandem
I’ve seen lots of couples paddling shorter tandems with the husband in the back and the wife in the front, and the boat is way out of trim. It looks like they are doing a wheelie. There are always compromises when you buy a multi-purpose boat, and depending on your weights it might be fine for you and your partner, but I’d try paddling it tandem before you buy it.

My experience with the Explorer is with the 16 ft. That said, I find it paddles quite well solo when I flip it around and paddle from the “front” seat. Sure it has issues if it gets windy, but overall it’s easy to handle solo. I’m sure the 15 handles even better solo.


– Last Updated: Apr-17-15 8:49 AM EST – has been pointed out, if there is a disparity in weight between paddlers, the boat may be "Out of trim." I've found that to be easily remedied with redistribution of gear, coolers, etc. If you look, you'll see the Duluth Pack up front behind the bow seat:
If there is a BIG difference, you can (I have a few times in OTHER boats) tweak the seat positions by moving seats.

I've owned and paddled the Explorer 15 and 16. The 15 is NOT too small for tandem use unless you're planning on extended tripping or perhaps BOTH paddlers are 200+lb range. As for soloing in the Explorer 16, I have, and I think it's a bit much. Much harder to solo IMHO than similar sized boats like an Esquif Mistral or Nova Craft Prospector.

Any pics of Odyssey running tandem?
What was her complaint of the bow seat? I didn’t realize there were two different hull shapes of this boat. Thanks!

Thanks Wildernessweb, I’ve seen some of your pictures before and they’re great. I don’t have any plans for anything more than day trips at this point so I’m not needing a lot of carrying capacity. Have you had any issue with running shallow water with the hull design scraping a bunch on the shallow V?

Lack of foot space
I don’t have any pics.

mohawk: buying new…

– Last Updated: Apr-17-15 10:52 AM EST –

I seriously doubt that you will be able to get "any" new canoe from Mohawk. I believe they are sold out. Can no longer get Royalex. Might give them a call to be sure.........

I'm guessing that your best bet for any Mohawk now is finding a used one.

Mohawk was easy to deal with. I have owned & enjoyed quite a few of their models. My wife & I still have 4 of them. I hope they are able to restart production in the near future. That remains to be seen.


Strangely Enough…

– Last Updated: Apr-17-15 11:14 AM EST –

....I've never noticed any more wear and tear on my Mad River boats with the shallow-V than other boats I've owned with a shallow-arch. Why is that? I don't rightly know, but POSSIBLY because most of the time the boat is "Resting" on either side of the "V" and therefore doesn't seem to rub any more than other boats? Maybe I've just been more careful? Maybe the layup MRC used is "Beefier?" I don't know, but it's not been MY experience. As a matter of fact, and this is just MY personal experience, my Mohawk Solo 14 wore through much easier and much worse than any of my Mad River boats. Not trying to badmouth Mohawk, we have one in the barn as we speak. But, the Mad River was definitely tougher.

Hope that helps? Take care!

Royalex vs Royalex Light or Royalite
Terry, I think you have mentioned in the past that your Solo 14 was not made from standard Royalex, but a lighter version. The Solo 14 was available in both. Does that sound right?

Send me an e-mail
I’ll send you some pictures

Royalex layup
I have a Mohawk Solo 14 in the light Royalex layup they call Royalite. It has worn through more easily and quickly than my Royalex (not Royalite) Mad River Freedom Solo which I bought new in 2006 and which hasn’t worn through yet. I just keep applying a new layer or two of Krylon paint to the Mohawk Solo 14 when it wears away.

My impression is that Mad River may use a heavier Royalex layup than some other producers. I am also convinced that the original Vermont made Mad River Guide had a heavier layup before it was bought by Confluence and the Mad River Guide became the Freedom Solo.

Mad River Guide
Having owned 2 different Mad River Guides, and 2 Mad River Freedom Solos; I would agree with you 100% Vic.

I think the layup on the Vermont made boats was stronger, and could take more abuse.

In my opinion, the Vermont made boats were a higher quality build.


Heavier in 1993
I oaddled a MRGuide. I could barely pick it up.Its hull weight was 57 lbs… considerable heft for an under 15 foot boat.