old town canoes

i’m curious to know why people dislike old town canoes? when someone asks for advice for purchasing a new canoe here i always see people recommending bell, mad river, and wenonah. are old town canoes second rate?

The Discovery…
…models tend to be heavy.

I have one of the original DISCOVERY canoes.

Made back before they had numeric model numbers

because what became the 178 was all they made.

It has held up well.

And, despite it’s length, I’ve wheeled it through

many a tight swamp. Although sometimes I had to

get out and push or shove it around.

In open water it tracks well, can carry enormous


I like it.

the Old town
Penobscot is the canoe of choice for many very knowledgeable down river racers.

To answer your question old town is the chevy of canoes. Some are great and some are uninspiring. every one loves to pick on them. And since they stopped making composite hulls they really have nothing I am interested in ( except a Penobscot)…

If you have a Chevy, they like…
a Ford!

I have an Old Town Disco that we call “Old Faithful”

Over the years on this forum, it never ceases to amaze me how posters will tear down the canoe, kayak, roof rack, or vehicle that they have never owned, but yet claim to be an expert on.

If you want a true opinion of a product you have to talk to several people who actually own that product.

It wouldn’t surprise me if there are not more OT Discos and OT Penobscots in the water than any other model.



Old Town
There is nothing wrong with Old Towns. Good, solid canoe (like someone said, a chevy). Reilable. Durable. Afordable. Decent designs.

Manufacturers like Bell and Wenonah made a name with their premium, kevlar canoes. However, you notice that they have recently (within the last 10 years) start to emulate Old Town by adding general purpose, royalex canoes. They should. There’s a market for them.

Nothing wrong with them
From the few I’ve paddled – and from what I’ve read – Old Towns do the job but don’t inspire a lot of emotion. You’ve got to remember that folks who post here tend to be real enthusiasts who appreciate characteristics that the average paddler wouldn’t notice, or care about. Old Towns are good at what they are – solid boats at reasonable prices – but many of the folks here are looking for more performance and are willing to pay for it.

I like the Tripper

– Last Updated: Aug-19-05 9:53 AM EST –

I accumulated an OT Tripper a while back. Last weekend was the first time that I paddled the boat.Actually my brother and his son got to paddle it before I did.They have never even been in a canoe and didn't seem to have any problems paddling it.I've had the canoe since last fall and wasn't really interested in paddling the boat.I bought it at a reasonable price just to resale.It needed a little tlc and it would make a nice boat.After seeing how easy it was to paddle I had to try it too.Turns out that I have found a new favorite.It is a heavy boat but I love the way it paddles so, that kind of cancels out the weight issue.I spent all this past week cleaning it up.Now I'm presently refinishing the yoke & thwart and also rigging it up for some extended trips.I regret one thing and that is not getting it out earlier when I first got it and use it on a couple of trips and really needed the extra space.I also own a Bell Wildfire and a Dagger Legend 16.Both, too me, are good boats but I certainly think that the Old Towns(if they are anything like their Tripper model)definatly should'nt be over looked like I was guilty of myself.

Let me take back the comment about looking over the Old Town boats.I did'nt really over look them but I was kind of thinking that they were "plain ole canoes" kind of what angstrom is talking about,I was wanting a solo boat with a certain spunky kind of way about it and didn't weigh a ton.The OT's just did'nt have what I needed at the time so I went with Bell.I did think about investing in another Bell canoe to use for extended tripping.Lucky for me though, I have Discovered Old Town."Plain" is good.


A big low-cost improvement
… on their low-end line would be to stop using those molded plastic seats. They’d have to put figure out where to get their flotation though.

OT Discovery 174
The Discovery 174 was our first canoe. It was a great boat but heavey…90lbs. I had to get rid of it for a lighter canoe that would save nmy neck nd back while loading on top of our SUV. The canoe handle well and is a tank.

I own a Penobscot 17…
It tracks well enough, hauls a half ton of people and gear (O.K. think Chevy pickup), tough hull (Royalex), only weighs 70 lbs so I can still pick it up (I’m 65), turns well if heeled a bit…

I have used it on lakes and rivers. I did kick the cane seat out when jumping in/out on a low water river trip; so now I have a distinctive self-applied webbing seat in the stern and the original cane in the bow.

Eventhough I paddle a 16’ kayak most of the time, I still love the elegance of a single paddle vessal. My Penobscot will be with us a long time.

Had a Tripper…
…and loved it, other than the weight (80 lbs). The upside to being heavy is that it is a durable hull. It’s not a good flatwater boat and I certainly wouldn’t want to have to portage it very far, but for easy WW and/or rocky rivers the Tripper is great. I used mine for several 100+ mile river trips. The thing will carry a huge load and still retain reasonable seaworthiness. I long ago switched to paddling solo so I sold mine, but if I ever need a good tandem workhorse again, I’ll definitely consider a Tripper.

Old Town is Old Reliable…
Maybe I’m just one of those plain old canoe nothing fancy kind of guys, but I own a Discovery 169 , 2 Pathfinders and a Pack. While the Disco 169 is HEAVY it is also tough and carries a ton of gear. The Pathfinders are a favorite and much lighter. The Pack…well at just 35 lbs and 12 feet it’s perfect for just tool’n around. I fish from mine when I have to go solo. Yes, nothing fancy or flashy but for the money and the quality I will remain a devoted Old Towner…Never,ever let me down…

No Dislike of OT Here…
…maybe a bit frustrated with them that they dropped their better (IMHO) designs in favor of more boats that are similar to each other. There are some of their boats I really like; the Loon 138 kayak, The Osprey, the Pack canoe. I DO seem to be one of the few who dislike the Penobscot, the Camper is o.k., the Pathfinder o.k., but both tend to oilcan more than I think they should. I don’t like the plastic molded seats in the Discos. I feel they dropped some of their better hulls; they dropped the the Canadienne’s, the Columbia, the Northern Light. I like the analogy that they’re kinda like Chevrolet. IMHO they dropped their Corvettes and Cadillacs and kept the Impala and all the similar models. I think OT does a good job with their “Sporting” and “Rec” boats, but they don’t make high performance models. WW

Strudy, But Heavy
I had an OT 133 that weighed 85#. When you go paddling a lot racking that heavy boat every weekend is a darg, weight becomes a big issue. I don’t buy anything over 50#

…also have an OT Tripper. I absolutely love this canoe. I am not a canoeing purist by any stretch of the imagination and I have this canoe for one purpose and one purpose only…fishing. It has terrify primary and secondary stability and it handles the whitewater I encounter like a dream. I have literally beat the snot out of this thing on the rocky rivers I fish and it is still going strong. I lowered the weight by 8 lbs by replacing the tractor seats with webbed seats, but added the weight back when I built ash work decks for the bow and stern paddlers. I throw a coat of turtle wax on the hull before I take it on the river so that it slides over rocks easier when they can not be avoided. If you don’t like the look of a green tripper…you should see it coated with turtle wax. Canoe looks like it is chapped. I use a 30lb thrust TM on mine and it is mounted in the bow. This setup lets us flat out cruise and go back up river when we want to fish those honey holes again.

Part of this is the long-term result of product marketing. OT heavily boasts the durability of their canoes. Bell, Wenonah, etc. emphasize the paddling efficiency of their canoes.

All of these manufacturers make boats that fit either or both attributes. Just a matter of test paddling and sampling.

Persoanlly for flat water, I prefer a boat that paddles well vs. one that I can drop off a building.

The only brand that I absolutely steer people away from is Coleman.

The One I’ve Never Paddled
Never paddled the Tripper, but I don’t think I’ve ever found anyone who has paddled one that DISlikes that boat. That’s one boat you never see for sale, people that buy a Tripper tend to hang on to them for life, and that says a lot for a hull! WW

I don’t own one, but I rented one on
the Edisto, and it oil-canned badly, in spite of not appearing to have sustained much abuse.

Now, even as a former satisfied Old Town Tripper owner, I can’t say much for a company that releases a boat that oil-cans so markedly.

Your mileage may vary.

Old Town
Wha Ho, Pilgrims;

I have a Bell B/G Wildfire; a MR RX Guide and F/G Indy; a Wenonah 16’RX Prospector. But I also have 3 Old Towns - a Cascade, a 1936 17’ wood/canvas OTCA and my beloved 1978 Tripper. Even with those above upper crust boats my favorite canoe is still the old Tripper. Heavy - yes! Bit of oil-canning unloaded - yes! But built like a tank, highly manuverable for a big tripping boat, will haul half a ton and even not bad to solo (with very little wind, that is)and yes, great lines. It’s a very nice looking boat. It’s surprising that OT still makes it, since they have a tendency to discontinue most of their great canoes as of late. I love my Tripper…

Fat Elmo

Soloed my Tripper down Talking Rock
Creek in N Georgia at high water, never took water. Though when we hit the lake and a strong headwind, I had to put a 50 pound rock in the bow to get to the take out.

I had friends and acquaintances who used Trippers routinely on Chattooga 4 and the Ocoee, but that was the early 80s. Now most of us prefer smaller, WW boats for maneuverability.