Newbie seeking new canoe advice

Hello all, I am new to this forum and for the most part new to canoeing, though I do have some canoeing experience from boy scouts many years ago and own a Ocean Kayak SOT that I haven’t used much since having kids, but did get some fishing and boat-in camping out of when I was using it.

I am currently shopping for a canoe to be used both for fast flatwater overnight tripping on the lower Colorado River with a buddy and also for light paddling around smaller lakes in Southern California and the Sierras with my wife and two young daughters (3 and 9). So far I am leaning heavily towards the OT Discovery 169, either in the form of the LL Bean West Branch version with the family package or the Bass Pro Expedition version, to which I’d add a center seat. I’ve also been looking at the OT and Wenonah factory seconds available from Sierra Trading Post. I really like the looks of the Royalex OT Charles River and the Royalex Wenonah Prospetor’s 57 lbs is very appealing, though I am not sure if the design of the hull is ideal for my purposes. The OT Tripper looks good too, though I wonder if it might be a bit much for my needs. Can anyone offer insight into any of these canoes suitability for my purposes? I would unlikely being soloing in the canoe, though my wife is rather small so weight could be factor for transporting. Stability is an issue with wife and kids. My soon to be paddling buddy and I will need some cargo weight and volume capacity for overnight tripping.

The OT Tripper
is probably best suited to your purposes of the ones you’ve mentioned. Others may offer additional selections.



With four people and two of them growing
the Tripper will do you best. Its faster and more maneuverable than the Disco. The Charles River is a courting canoe best meant for flatwater and the Prospector is meant to haul a load. Its got a fair amount of rocker and sheer (high ends) and is meant to be a river boat. It can get blown around on lakes. No doubt its the most versatile but its the most handful of the choices and has the roundest deepest bottom.

You really need something in the seventeen foot plus range for a whole family.

I am assuming you will be shopping for a cart. Its no fun hauling 85 lbs of Tripper on portages.

Its the go to boat around here for big lakes and gravel bar streams…things that ground out Prospectors.

You can take up poling too. The Tripper is a magnifico solo poling boat.

Heavy boats
Of the ones you’ve listed, I’d go with the Tripper and install your own center seat.

I don’t think the Bean “family package” is worth the $100. It seems to be just two chair backs, which most people would not use, plus two very low end paddles. I don’t know how the Disco paddles, but it’s usually considered to be sort of a low end boat.

The 15’ Wenonah Prospector is a nice boat, but I don’t think it suits your purpose. You will only be on FW in SoCal and the Propector has a lot of rocker, making it somewhat hard to paddle straight. Also, it’s too small for two adults and two kids.

All the OT plastic boats are very heavy, up in the 80+ pound range. Unless you are very young and strong, and never age, I guarantee that you will get tired of lugging that much weight, even if just to and from the car.

You might want to look for a used and much lighter composite canoe. You don’t need the ruggedness of Royalex in the reservoirs of SoCal or the lower Colorado. Look in the classifieds on this site, Craigslist and

And as to price
For the Tripper, I think you’d do better on price by ordering it new from REI with free shipping to your nearest REI store. At the end of the year you should get back about 10% as a rebate if you join as a member. That should beat STP’s price plus their $125 shipping charge for a “cosmetic blem” boat.

In addition, REI has a very liberal return policy.

REI also offers several other popular canoes on their website:

4 people equals Tripper
…it is heavy, but if you can handle the weight (get a cart) it’s a great boat for what you want to do.

If the weight is too much for you, a composite hull would be next in line. Check out 17 foot hulls from Souris River, Wenonah and Swift canoes (think Swift has a 17, not sure). The price will be steep but you can always cruise this site or craigs list for used.

If the kids are small you might also look at a Hemlock Eagle (they often used ones on their site)…it sort of depends on your total weight load, but you’ll want to stay in the 16.5 to 17 foot range for size. When the kids get too big to share, get them their own!

Similar to the Tripper?
Thanks- the Tripper looks a good a choice our needs, one that we won’t outgrow any time soon. The Mohawk Intrepid 17 looks pretty similar to the Tripper and if freight charges aren’t too much more that STP’s, should be about the same price,and not a factory blem. Any thoughts on this canoe compared to the Tripper?

Not really

– Last Updated: May-08-11 4:47 PM EST –

Disclosure: I have never paddled the Mohawk Intrepid or even seen one. But that in itself may be instructive.

In a superficial length sense, all 17' Royalex tandems are similar. But they are very different in market acceptance and reputation. The 17' Intrepid may be a fine canoe (it has some good reviews on the review page here), but the OT Tripper has been a classic, highly rated canoe for almost 40 years (more than 20 reviews here). The Tripper has been used all over the world on wilderness trips, has a solid reputation, and is a flagship of the historic OT Canoe Company.

The downside for the Tripper -- and any 17' Royalex canoe -- is the weight. This is an important consideration to many paddlers who portage a lot and to older paddlers and women. It may not be so important in your your situation.

If you go Royalex, I would stick with the time tested classic tandems such as the OT Tripper or the MR Explorer, as they are readily available from REI in SoCal.

My first canoe (of 16) was the Royalex MR Explorer, which I bought in 1980 in San Jose. It is a foot shorter than the Tripper and about 8 pounds lighter, but it can carry two adults and two kids because it is deep. I had three kids and a dog, and we were all often in that canoe when they were young. I installed a wide cane seat 8" back from center -- for solo paddling or sitting two small kids -- and moved the center thwart forward. The canoe was paddled in every sort of water in NorCal: reservoirs, SF Bay, Sierra WW rivers, and it then came East in 1982. I rowed it, poled it, and even put a 2 hp motor on it. That Explorer is still going strong except for oil canning, which eventually affects most long Royalex canoes. .

Maybe my math is wrong, but I think your best deal (including rebate) is at REI. More importantly, the post-sale service will be superior. You will have a much harder time dealing with STP or Mohawk if something goes wrong, such as Royalex lamination problems that don't show up right away. That's a whole subject unto itself.

Why not get 4 Old Town Packs??

Are you going to put one of those in
the dryer and shrink it for the 3 year old?

definitley considering REI…
with sales tax and 50 mile roundtrip travel costs to the closest store, it works out to a few bucks more to buy at REI but you make a good point about their satisfaction guarantee. REI is planning on opening a store in my town, though they haven’t broke ground yet, so yeah, I am surely considering REI, thanks for the heads up.

i am going to go against my own grain and advice on most threads and say maybe a aluminum canoe? a 16-18’ used you can get for cheap (250-400) last forever, carry the whole family with weight room to spare, and if the family decides they don’t want to canoe all that much you wont feel bad for spending the money. And if you all like it can get another plastic or composite boat down the road after your sure the family is into it, or get yourself a solo play boat for muti use on the side, they are numerous, paddle great on flat water, easy to find used, and it will give you time to feel out the family in it, and more time to find that “steal” on craigslist etc on a real find (ie the penobscott 16 royalex i got for 450 or the ranger otter for 650) that will take time… just some thoughts…

think hard before paying the 1500. bucks

– Last Updated: May-09-11 11:14 AM EST –

...... plus another (90. tax) for the OT Tripper 17 (17'-2") and not giving any more thought to the OT Expedition 169 .

At Bass Pro the OT Expedition 169 will cost you 667. bucks total . That's 699. minus 10% discount for 1st purchase using the Bass Pro credit card (just have to sign up for it and use it for purchasing the Expedition 169 as the 1st purchase) ... and add in sales tax (total 667. bucks out the door) .

There isn't that much difference between the two canoes . Both have moderate rocker , both have shallow arch hulls . Both have 15" center depth . The Expedition 169 is 23" at the stems , the Tripper is 25" . Both are 35" waterline , 37" at the gunnels .

The Tripper is 5" longer , and weighs just 4-5 lbs. less .

The Tripper will not turn faster , will not go faster , will not be any easier to paddle , will not be any tougher . The Tripper will be just a tad bit drier in bigger WW (like 30" WW) . Niether canoe is a seriously rockered WW canoe (meaning high cl-lll plus) , both handle smaller WW well , and that's basically because of their high volumn hulls . Both are rock solid stable . Both can have kids hanging over the sides playing with the water , both can have kids sit on the gunnels and be just an inconvenient tilt to the hull . Both have plenty of room in the middle for a couple kids to play around while moving .

The main difference is the Tripper 17 will cost you 922. bucks more ... and for what ??

Don't get me wrong , I really like the Tripper 17 ... but I like our Expedition 169 just about as much . We paddle peidmont/mountain rivers and try to avoid any serious WW but do go through some cl-ll and rarely cl-lll now and then . On large flat water reservoirs the Expedition 169 feels "VERY" safe when the winds and water kick up .

I've used both . I own the Expedition 169 because the only difference I found was the extra 5" length (which is in the middle section) . Yeah I like the extra 5" , but do not miss it in Expedition 169 .

Don't let anyone tell you because the Expedition is 3 layer linear polyethylene (which is as good as it gets the way OT does it) , that it's in anyway inferior to the Tripper's Royalex hull .

Ps., ... I also own a (1984) 16'-10" Old Town Royalex canoe , it's nice too , but the Expedition 169 is preferred in the rough stuff .

Both the Tripper 17 and the Expedition 169 are great canoes for peidmont/mountain river canoing , lower class rapids ... river places that you will encounter rocks , ledges and light rapids to deal with .

Both canoes are just "BIG" stable , high volumn canoes that are basically slow on flat water . What they do is carry a large load in fairly heavy water well and are very stable doing it .

When I bought our Expedition 169 , it cost me 100. bucks less than what you can get one for today ... and it's still a "great" deal at Bass Pro .

17ft Grumman…
how would one compare to the OT Discovery/Expedition or Tripper in terms of stability or speed?

tripper vs expedition
I was under the impression that the Tripper is a faster canoe though otherwise comparable and that while the many reviews of the Discovery/Expedition are generally very favorable, some criticize it for being slow. If the Tripper isn’t so much faster, it is more difficult to justify the extra expense. With young kids involved I’ll take stability over speed. In particular, I need a good stable canoe in order to take my brother out. He is autistic and bit overweight and uncoordinated (he might not be able to react to situations that might test the stability, though we have canoed together before, years ago)

I owned a Tripper, and I think the
Mohawk 17 would be an acceptable substitute IF outfitted properly. But I also think you should be aware that a 17 foot canoe can carry a family of four only under the mildest of conditions. Otherwise, you need two canoes.

Tripper - Discovery 169
The 169 Discovery was made from the Tripper mold. The polyethylene just shrinks more as it cools and the 17’2" Tripper became a 16’9" Poly-Link Discovery. Same handling, same speed, same stability. Just a weight difference and 2.4% shrinkage. The poly version is a bit stiffer than the Royalex; both are plenty tough. You just weigh your back against your wallet, same thing in composite canoes. Fiberglass costs less, kevlar and carbon fiber weigh less.


Same mold? Disagree.
Same mold? I’d like to see some authority for that statement.

The Discovery is not only shorter than the Tripper, it has less bow depth, significantly lower load capacity, and straight sides instead of the Tripper’s flared sides.

The Tripper is made from Royalex (Oltonar), which is formed from a Royalex sheet sucked into in a vacuum mold:

The Discovery is made from what OT calls three layer superlinear, which is formed from pelletized polyethylene splashed around in a rotational mold:

Though smaller in all dimensions other than width, the Discovery is heavier. Royalex is a superior canoe material than polyethylene in terms of resiliency, durability, impact and wrap resistance, and paddling quietness.

Either the Tripper or Discovery may be perfectly satisfactory canoes for the OP, but they are different hulls dimensionally and constructively. I think it is a false parallelism to suggest that they are akin to two different composite layups from a common mold.

The Discovery is indeed less expensive. As to price, the OP should be aware that the canoe is just the beginning of the expenses. Right away, he will need three paddles (one as a spare), PFD’s and a canoe cartopping system, all of which vary widely in costs themselves.

As to paddles, I would advise against aluminum-plastic for primary paddles. If buying at REI, I would recommend the Bending Branches Arrow as a good mid-price choice for the primary paddles and the indestructible Carlisle as a backup spare.^cat%2C4501466%3AStraight-Shaft+Canoe+Paddles

the grummans paddle great, so do the osiagians, esp on flat water, not so good on rivers with any flow, and the keels will get hung up sometimes on things. They are all I paddled when I was young, 3 trips to canada’s Quetico Prov Park. We never saw anyone back then very often to compare, but we hauled a$$ and a lot of miles in them…