Old Town Camper or Mad River Heritage

I am searching for my first canoe. This canoe will be used on a fairly large lake that attaches to a large river system. My plan is to use the canoe when the waters are calm and flat. I am looking for stability and may want to do a little fishing too. I don’t want a cheap canoe in case I do become more of a confident paddler and venture a little further than what I plan. I have read many reviews and think I have narrowed it down to a couple of canoes. The Mad River Heritage 14 or the Old Town Camper 15. I plan on paddling solo and with my family. What do you guys think? I have chosen these two based on availability to dealers. I am not sure why these are so expensive compared to others?

They’re expensive…
because they’re made of Royalex, which is more expensive than the other plastics that canoes can be made of.

This has been said over and over here, but again…no canoe does it all well. No tandem canoe will be as good solo as a dedicated solo canoe. That’s point number one.

Point number two is that a good flat water canoe will not be a super-stable canoe. All canoe newbies want stability because they believe that canoes are inherently unstable. A canoe is no more unstable than the balancing ability of the person paddling it. On flat water, if you venture out into the wind you want a canoe that will handle waves and stay dry. What I’m trying to say is that neither of your two listed choices will be good in the wind of a big open lake. You need something longer, higher-sided, and with excellent tracking ability. So while either of those canoes will be just fine in sheltered waters, I wouldn’t take them into bigger waves. And I’d go with something at least 16 feet, even if you don’t plan on challenging the open water, if you need to paddle tandem, especially if your “family” consists of more than yourself and one other adult. Basically, if you need a canoe that will handle the wife and one or more kids, you’re gonna need a bigger boat, and the bigger the boat the worse it’s gonna be to paddle solo.

My “family” consists of 3 kids and my wife. I don’t plan on bringing everyone every time but I am sure at least 2 of my kids will be with me. I feel initial stability will be very important as I plan to just be out front of the cottage most of the time and not on any big excursions. If I am choosing the wrong type of canoes any other models of Old Town or Mad River would be appreciated. The dealers I am in contact with are just dealers and did not offer a lot of help in choosing the correct type of canoes. I thought a recreational canoe might suit my needs but I may be wrong. Thanks for any info.

Bigger is better
I agree with Al_A, except for the idea that you need a deeper canoe. For a lake, you don’t need or want anything deeper than the Camper. In fact - if you go with a deeper canoe, the wind will have it’s way with you.

Definitely, you will need a longer canoe. Flat bottoms are fine for small lakes and ponds, and even okay for flat rivers - but they don’t handle wind waves well and they are more susceptible to being blown about by the wind than any other bottom shape.

You can start with a large tandem for your family, and it will be a lot of work to paddle it very far solo (you might want to look into poling it though). But if you start with a solo canoe, it will be only that. The learning curve in a solo is a bit steeper as well.

If you can handle the weight (and be aware that there are methods and accessories to help with that), you might want to consider the Old Town Tripper.

Agree on the Tripper…
If you’re limited to Mad River and Old Town by your dealer, I think the Tripper would be your best choice.

Try an Old Town Pennobscott 16, or a Mad River Explorer 16. These are the canoes you seek.

death wish
Agree, go with a discovery or explorer or malecite, etc. or a rowboat. The conditions may change in an instant and any boat may suddenly become inadequate especially a 14 footer.

Ok. I will take a look at these models. Thanks so much!

three questions …
… you said “so expensive compared to others” …

I see on the OldTown site that the Camper 15 msrp is $1650. , what is the price you have found for that canoe ?? (and I agree that anything even close to that price is expensive for a Rx canoe) .

New Brunswick … is that New Brunswick above Maine and Nova Scotia , or like New Brunswick , NJ ??

Why wouldn’t you shop for a nice quality used canoe , are they difficult to come by near you ??

Choice, Pricing and availability

– Last Updated: Jul-28-13 11:25 PM EST –

You will not find any canoe that paddles well with a wife and kids aboard and also dies well solo. Sorry.

Secondly, top end tandem canoes run ~$3,500, the cheapest just under a $K, so a $1750 boat is below mid range and not expensive. RX is going up in price rapidly next year.

With your decisions randomized, a used RX hull may be a better bet. Look for an OT Penobscot16 or 17 or a Mad River Explorer or a Dagger Reflection 16. Almost any 16-17 Rx hull will do, those are just better and older brands, but you may find a used Wenonah or Bell at reasonable price, both later to the Rx game.

Better to get on the water this summer in anything adequate. Look through the Pnet classifieds. Experience will bring your needs in focus over time.

Whatever you do, get decent paddles, starting with Fox Werks straight blades to learn; they are where the cost/quality curves cross. You'll probably want bents later.

bon chance!

OT Penobscot is a good first canoe…
Ditto on madmike’s mention of OT’s Penobscot. Heavier than composite boat but has nice combination of straight-ahead efficiency with good initial and heeled stability.

If you’re over ~240…maybe a Tripper. As a beginning paddler I wouldn’t take on big water so soon…but that’s just my $.01. Either Penobscot or Tripper, or maybe a royalex Prism(Wenonah). Don’t know of the MadRiver…but they have a few too.


How would you guys rate Old town’s Tripper initial stability.

2 boats needed
Alot of “using a tandem as a solo” questions lately on the board so do a search if you have not already. You really need 2 boats, the family canoe and the dedicated solo. $1650 for a new Camper!!! Not sure where you are located but that price would get me a nice used fiberglass tandem and solo boat. Buying used means you don’t have to cringe when you drop the boat loading it or scrapping against a rock.

A boat that may seem tippy at first will get better the more you use it. Just plan on getting wet the first few months with your new to you boat :slight_smile:


OT RX Tripper 172 …

– Last Updated: Aug-01-13 1:16 AM EST –

...... nice initial stability , very much like the less expensive 3 layer polyethylene OT 169 Discovery model . Let's put it this way , a couple of rambunctous boys can roam all over the canoe , hang ove the side and mess with the water while under way or at rest ... and probably the only concern you'll have is they make it somewhat uncomfortable to have to keep sitting a kilter and adjusting your own position while paddling the thing . These particular two youngins seem to think the canoe is their personal jungle gym , but all stays plenty stable enough . As a side note , they're fully capable of jumpimh out of one canoe and into the next along side it (at rest of course) , w/o causing any alarm that something is going to flip .

Both canoes seem so much alike to me , but the Tripper 172 being RX (generally stiffer) , 5" extra length , 2" higher bow and stern , and 4 lbs. lighter has to be said to have the advantage .

Both canoes are high volume work horses . Being a high volume canoes they are roomy for gear and persons , hold large amounts of weight safely , feel and act bigger in heavier weather and waters (and I say safer in same) .

Used OT RX 172 Trippers are out there , maybe not today for you but perhaps tomorrow . New is not all it's cracked up to be , 1.) because they cost too damn much for a canoe anymore , and 2.) because a good used canoe will make you just as happy and do the same things the more expensive new canoe does .

Remember , canoes such as the work horses are made to put your sometimes muddy feet in , bump into things now and then , get scratched , scuffed and nicked , they are made to take a lickin and keep on tickin . Perhaps best of all they're made so you don't have to overly concern about such things . Practical , safe and solid and tough as nails (well maybe not nails but you get the picture) .

Personally I've long considered trading both my OldTowns in on one nice used Tripper 172 . One is a fine "06" OT Expedition 169 (3 layer) , the other a fine 1984 OT 16'-10" RX Acadia . I'd expect a few hundred in my pocket after the deal also .