How does this canoe handle class I-II water loaded and unloaded [I’m 200lb]? Can you compare the stability and handling to a rx Bell Wilfire or Solo Yellowstone? Thanks!
Freedom Solo/Yellowstone Solo
As has been mentioned there have been many threads regarding these canoes. Using the past and present names of these boats as keywords do a search of this forum and I think you’ll find tons of informative information.
I think most people would agree that a Freedom Solo can handle somewhat bigger WW than a Yellowstone Solo and remain drier, although both boats are quite capable of doing Class I & II. The MR FS is heavier & longer than the Bell YS & has a bigger load capacity. Note: Bell’s canoes often weigh much more than advertised – be wary of that. Of course a Bell YS is still lighter than a MR FS.
I’ve had a Wildfire RX for about 4 years and I’m similar in weight to you. I have several canoes, but that one is my favorite day tripper for small twisty/rocky streams here in SE Ohio. It can’t handle me AND tripping gear, but for day trips running almost empty it’s a fine canoe – very maneuverable with good secondary. I’m a bit turned off by its asymmetric rocker, but heeled a bit it turns just fine. If I weighed 150-175 it would make a good wilderness tripper. But alas – too much ass.
Also be advised that the Mad River name was sold to a big water-sports conglomerate some time back. Mad River’s old molds were moved to a new plant several states away from where they were first built, I understand that no workers made the move. The original designer/owner (Jim Henry) left the company many years ago. So Mad River is just a brand name now, the “heritage” has been lost. Since the sell-out and move I have heard negative comments about the Mad River’s quality and customer service.
In my opinion Bell’s quality is sort of hum-drum, but not terrible. Their customer service was never absolute top shelf, but again not terrible. At the very least it hasn’t gotten any worse and it’s still an independent company rather than just a cog in the wheel of a big corporation.
That’s how I see it. Randall
I have the Mad River Freedom Solo and love it. I am about 5’11” and weigh about 185-190 pounds, and it handles very well both loaded and unloaded. I have not used it loaded in real class II rivers but friends of similar size have and say it handles that water very well.
One caution on the Mad River Freedom Solo. Workmanship on some of the boats is of questionable quality. If you decide to get one make sure you look it over VERY carefully before putting down your money.
I had looked at the Bell Yellowstone/Wildfire in Royalex a few years ago but didn’t think it would carry my weight and a weeks worth of gear.
Another class I-II river solo boat to consider is the Novacraft SuperNova. Some friends my size and larger really like this boat. In my opinion the quality of the workmanship on the SuperNova is considerably better than that of the Mad River Freedom Solo.
If you can get your hands on a used Mad River Guide in good condition that would be my first recommendation. It is the same boat as the Mad River Freedom Solo but the Guide was made by the original company before it was bought out by the large cost cutting conglomerate that owns Mad River now. In my opinion, generally speaking, the quality of workmanship on the original Mad River Guide is better than that on the Mad River Freedom Solo.
I’ve got em…
I’ve got a MR Guide, a MR Freedom Solo, and a Bell Wildfire in RX. To make a long story short; I totally agree with Arkay’s, and Vic’s responses.
P.S. I’d sell my MR Freedom Solo, and the RX Bell Wildfire at the right price. I would “not” sell the MR Guide (like new, dark green, wood trim)for twice what I paid for it.
Check out Middleton's Specialty boats in Vancouver for some deals on used Swift Raven, Bell Yellowstone solo and Clipper Probe 12.
A bit off topic maybe
but what are your thoughts on the Osprey? Had a chance to “wring it out” yet? What do you think of it? In your opinion, is the handling in the same class with these other boats?
Hey Pat …
Haven't had a chance to really give the Osprey a workout yet. Picked it up late friday afternoon, drove home, put it on a rack, and started packing gear/food/boat for a weekend of whitewater paddling. Hit the road early saturday morning. Didn't get back till sunday night; Saint Francis was up & running really good. Hopefully, will get the Osprey on water before the week is over. Not gonna happen today; temp. is about 34 with wind chill of about 25. I'll tell you this; it is a light weight, well made, sweeeeet & classsssy looking boat. Beautiful!