Need opinions on Mad River Courier

I’m not really a canoe paddler (till now) but I want something stable to paddle on the lake with my 65 pound White Shepherd. I’m looking at a used one in kevlar, seems to be in good shape. The seller is asking $750 which seems reasonable (I think) because a brand new Wenonah Vagabond (for example) is $900, and I don’t need new.

I do want to paddle it with a kayak paddle but am not sure what length. I was thinking 230-240 but someone recently told me 240 would be the MINIMUM length I should consider. (Didn’t know they made them longer… I need to do some research on that.)

I am not going to worry about speed at all because I’ll be mostly paddling alone. Just wanted to bounce this off some of the folks out there who know canoes.

Another used one I’m looking at is the Wenonah Sandpiper in Royalex for $400 but one person suggested it would be good to get something a bit bigger considering the size and hyperactivity of my dog. :slight_smile:




– Last Updated: Sep-08-06 6:25 PM EST –

If I recall, it's about an inch and a half or two inches wider than the Mad River Guide/Freedom Solo. Pretty stable, for a solo canoe, and volume for tripping. Not the best day tripper because that extra volume will catch the wind unless you are heavy and travel heavy. Given the size of the dog, however, that extra volume is probably what you need. It also has a lot of depth for using a kayak paddle. There are many people who use kayak paddles in a canoe, but the deeper the canoe, the more difficult IMHO. Another thing I would be concerned about is that you are a beginning canoe paddler with what you say is a hyperactive dog paddling alone. Even if you're experienced in a kayak, paddling alone in a boat you're unfamiliar with and an excitable dog is a setup for failure and possibly worse. I would test paddle that canoe first if you could, and I would leave the dog at home and at least give a single blade paddle a try along with your kayak paddle. As for the Sandpiper, I would hesitate to reccomend it with a dog. BTW, a very good friend of mine has become benefactor of people who buy new canoes and try them out with large dogs! WW

My opinion…

– Last Updated: Sep-08-06 6:38 PM EST –

My opinion on several comments you made:

Sandpiper: I don't own one, but I've paddled one & I think it is too small for a beginning canoer & a hyperactive dog.

Vagabond: Perhaps a better choice than a Sandpiper. Don't know where you priced one at $900.00, but I bought a mine for $800.00. I bought a new (used once) Vagabond (for my wife/with her money) for $600.00. Evidently I pulled the trigger on my purchase "too quick".

Mad River Courier: Never paddled one, but I own a Mad River Guide & a Mad River Freedom Solo. All 3 of those boats are "very similiar" in design. Again, not so sure that boat is the boat for a beginner & a hyperactive dog. You should read the pnet reviews on the Courier, Guide & Freedom Solo, "before" you pay $750.00 for a used Courier. Most assuredly those models will carry the intended load, but they will require that you "pay attention" till you have adjusted to the boat, or you may get wet a few times.....especially with a dog in the boat with you. Those boats are not hard tracking boats, but with the kayak paddle you should be able to adjust to their demands. They are also not the best boat on the river when dealing with strong wind & carrying a light load. $750.00 seems a little steep "to me" for a used Courier, unless it is in "primo" condition.

If I were you; I think I would do a more thorough search for a used boat; especially as the paddling season starts to wind down in some parts of the country.

A couple of other boats you might consider are the Mohawk Odyssey & the Mohawk Solo 14. They will become harder to find in the future as Mohawk is no longer producing boats.


P.S.I just read wildernesswebb's post. I am a benefactor to people with large, unruly dogs who buy nice, new canoes. I am currently seeking a Bell Merlin II & a Bell Magic(at seriously reduced prices of course). If you have unlimited funds & love pretty canoes; buy one of those. If it doesn't work out; email me asap please, and I will attempt to be a benefactor to you too.
No, I do not want a dog at any price!

Too much, by a lot. I would not pay
over $450 for a Courier, because the ABS is old and probably brittle. I would NEVER pay that much for an ABS boat that old.

Donna said

– Last Updated: Sep-08-06 8:20 PM EST –

Kevlar not ABS although the same concerns may be there depending on where stored.

I’m gonna show my ignorance…
What’s ABS?

The Vagabond
There are two dealers in the area (one in OH, one in KY) who have Vagabonds in stock. Price is the same on both - $899. I have seen some online for slightly less but the lower price is offset by shipping charges.

I considered a SOT (Ocean Kayak Sidekick) also. It would probably be more stable, but I’d have to buy a special cart to help me carry the thing - very heavy.

Also looked at some wide rec kayaks with large cockpits (which I normally hate, but might be fun with the pupster).

Sounds like I need to do more research. Thanks for the comments, they’ve been very helpful.


ABS- Rolex is a hard rubber for lack of a better term. Will bounce off rocks. Miss the rocks and go for Kevlar a composite like fiberglass with much less weight. An ABS boat will be a lot thicker and heaiver then its kevlar brother. Kevlar left out in the sun for a long time is not happy. Me I love my dogs all 3 they just don’t paddle with me so I can’t comment on that aspect.

Kevlar Courier
Never seen a kevlar Courier. If this is kevlar it should be pretty light, maybe 40 - 50 lbs?. The Royalex (ABS plastic) Couriers that I’ve seen run about 70 lbs.

IMO the Courier is more like an Explorer than a Guide or Freedom Solo. It’s pretty wide and stable for a solo. I’d want at least a 260 cm double blade.

Kevlar Couriers were made from 1984 to 1994 so it’s at least 12 years old. $750 is way too much for Royalex boat that old. Even if it is kevlar it may be brittle if it’s been stored out in the sun.

But if it’s light and in decent shape it might be a good boat for your purpose.

It is kevlar, for sure
He told me the weight (can’t remember exactly) but it was fairly lightweight. I know the seller personally - he’s very active in some of the local paddling clubs and from what I can tell, he takes immaculate care of his boats. The photo he sent me showed it stored on racks in a garage. I don’t have any qualms about buying from him, just trying to figure out if it’s the best choice for my situation and (if this is) what’s a reasonable price.

Another question: Can I use my kayak cart on a canoe or does it take a totally different cart? I know my short SOT doesn’t work with my cart.