MR Liberty for a fattie

5’10" 230lbs, kneeler. I want to pick up a Liberty, was wondering if I am exceeding the “efficient” values for this canoe. Would be used for short day trips on winding, protected water (so minimal gear, 240lb. 250 total, max). I also wonder, at my weight, how will it respond to freestyle maneuvers? I don’t want it if it’s going to be a total dog for a heavier paddler.

Reason for Liberty? Economics. Have a personal contact letting a nice one go for very cheap. If I had any kind of money at all right now it’d be a wildfire.

You’ll have to try it.

– Last Updated: Nov-07-08 6:34 AM EST –

I'm inclined to say it won't be enough canoe. I could easily be wrong, too. Can you demo it? How big are your feet? There's probably a canted cane seat in it and the hull is on the shallow side of the scale. You might have to a little custom work with the seating.


Is the canoe glass or Kevlar?

Liberty is not the best
hull for freestyle…if that is your interest I would hold out for a Wildfire. Liberty is a nice boat, but you are a bit large for it. Can you paddle it?..sure, but it will not be as responsive as you will want.

Try the old trick of adding 240lbs of water (8.4lbs/gallon) and see what the freeboard is. And 6" (quoted by some mfgrs) is not enough to make paddling the boat fun. I weigh 250 and have learned this through a parade of boats I have owned, sold, and some that still sit on the rack without getting used. More than 4" of hull in the water reduces the fun factor and will make freestyle more difficult.

neat bottom
Liberty was a neat little hull - seems to have a little more rocker than the Indy, from which it descended, kinda like Athena from Zeus.

Liberty was always under-rated for weight. That said, 160 pounder with 70lbs kit would be fine. Now the same weight distributed higher, over a moving human frame? Try it and see.

While a nice tripper, Liberty will not morph into a FreeStye hull. Scant bow rocker means the bow won’t draw as one might want. The skegged, Veed, stern helps tracking but resists the stern skid that is key to playing in the boat. Lastly, flare at amidships is problematical to the vertical paddleshaft that is the key to hull control.

Anyway, nice tripper - go for it.


I had one
I bought a really nice Liberty I fell in love with last spring I intended to use it for tripping with a light kit.A beautifully made pretty boat! I was 200# then and when I added 50# more it was surprisingly significantly slower.The freeboard was fine,just the sluggishness.I traded it for a Merlin II.


You are a larger paddler…
…and so am I! I’m also one that can speak very directly to your question because, 1) I had a Liberty for some years (sold it to a friendly p-netter couple) and 2) I’m 5’11" and weigh 240. Ours was a fiberglass boat from Rutabaga, purchased originally for our 110 lb daughter. When she moved to kayaks (she lives in Bayfield, WI where the Apostle Islands are, so this made sense) I decided to paddle it. The responses you’ve had are on the button: Not much rocker, so it isn’t a freestyler, but it is a sweet little daytripper. At your (our) weight, you can easily overload this boat, however, so take a day pack or dry bag and some water or a thermos and try to leave it at that (or not much more.) You’ll have a good time and the boat will treat you well. There isn’t much freeboard on this design anyway, so just don’t push the load limit. But I DO encourage you to buy and enjoy this really nice design.

I already have an Indy
I wasn’t so much looking at the Liberty as a freestyle oriented boat, but rather how well it will respond to freestyle maneuvers with someone of my weight paddling her. If she’s not going to be noticeably more nimble than my Indy, not much point. FWIW, I love the low freeboard on my Indy, going out on 20mph days and not having to struggle at all is great. Granted, the Liberty won’t be used at the same venues.

I have seen CEW refer to the Liberty before, even noting that MR seemed to have stumbled upon a better hull when they chopped the middle out of the Indy. I guess that I may be packing too many lbs to take advantage of that though :slight_smile: My weight gain is my paddling loss. I promise, someday I’ll get back in shape.

Anyway, for 3 bills I’ll probably pick it up just to have.


– Last Updated: Nov-08-08 9:36 PM EST –

$.01...a little longer Wenonah's Encounter(Expedition!(heavier) Kevlar layup best 4you)..would be a great boat...or something like that boat! Don't know if it'll be the best in winding brooks, but it has just the right volume for you for efficiency/speed!


Already have a kev flex-c Prism
The Prism carries enough for me to go two weeks, cause I don’t carry a lot. Not much reason for me to upsize to an “expedition” solo. Kinda want to go the other way. I have a 16’ prospector, but I want a dedicated solo for twisties and that will reward freestyle technique more than my other solos.

– Last Updated: Nov-08-08 11:07 PM EST –

Have you tried a Bell MerlinII..? (in BG)
It's a nice canoe....may not be THE end all, I think a Curtis Peregrine?..(ie one of their larger volume solos) might be worth trying, but if you locate a MerlinII on a paddle-day next Spring...might wanna try it..might have everything you want combined into one boat...


The Liberty sounds neat

– Last Updated: Nov-09-08 10:51 PM EST –

if it floated by me it would be interesting..

Even though I already have several solos..some "FreeStyle "boats (where did that come from) and some that can do FS if the paddler is up to the Merlin II and and the Peregrine.. (which is kind of in the middle volume solos. SRT for river trips huge and the Eaglet for large solo paddlers)

Sometimes I just grab fun old boats like the Dandy, play with them and then resell them.

I only weigh
135 and the INDY(Vermont Canoe) 3/4" deeper than original MRC works great for me. I tried a kevlar and a fiberglass Liberty a few years ago thinking my small frame would be perfect for it, NO NO NO. I felt the boat to be a little too shallow for me, and that was without any gear or my dog.

Some of that is psychological
If you are used to a deeper boat you will be able to detect minute changes in depth. It may well be the boat is find for a person of your size, but its not right for you…

I have paddled an Indy a long time ago…and coming off a deep boat that I usually paddled, I had the same feeling. I paddled one recently and having paddled about forty different solos over the summer, I did not have that feeling.

Solos: arm and leg measurement as much a priority as weight.

I love the Indy
I actually have come to absolutely love the low freeboard of my MR Indy (bought from Clarion). It’s as wide (wider actually) as any solo that I’d want, but I can put it up on edge all the way to the gunwale and hold it there as long as I like, and it’s as solid as a rock. Easy to stand in even. It turns o.k., but it really doesn’t like me to reach for bow draws. But the stern lets out just fine when heeled.

In reality in a boat like the Indy I’d like it even narrower. I find sometimes even for cruising straight I keep it a bit heeled just so it’s easier to maintain a squared up forward stroke. I don’t mind the shallow V, but a shouldered tumblehome would’ve been a pretty sweet addition to the VC Indy (though I know people didn’t want it changed at all).

I really wish somebody near me had a kneeling Rapidfire I could try, just to see how tender it really is. But as it stands a Peregrine is my dream boat. Every time I get near having the $$$ something comes up (broken car, health incident, etc). I do love the Indy though, and can’t see myself parting with it. I’ve yet to paddle a canoe so immune to the effects of the wind.

Subjective impressions
Indy is a great boat. Had Peregrine not floated by in the Expedition layup it would have been a consideration.

Impressions from my only paddle of Indy is that its an easier turner flat than Peregrine. Peregrine seems to demand a heel of some sort to turn, and to make a uey, to the rail.

Alas my RapidFire is a sitter on the bottom. More responsive to turn flat than either of the above. A couple of times I have had to paddle it by kneeling in it to back our of something three feet wide…so much for gunkholing. If I were taller I would probably find it narrow enough to really worry about my head placement.