Old Town Discovery 158 vs. 169

Hello, everyone!

After kayaking a few years, I’m finally in the market for my first canoe, and I think I’ve pretty much made my mind up on trusting the reliability of one of the Old Town Discovery models.

There are two advertised locally: the 158 for $300, and the 169 for $400.

I’ll be using the canoe mostly for slow river camping and occasionally lake fishing. I intend to paddle it both tandem and solo.

I’m leaning towards the 169 because everything I’ve read has led me to believe it’s just a smoother ride, but I am wonding if my solo trips will benefit from a shorter length.

Anyone have any experience with these boats for my intended uses?


The 169 is kind of a baby Tripper. It has full ends, rocker, somewhat rounded hull and a dry ride. It is a better river boat than a 158 by far.

I rented two 169 OTs for a technical river run on the Trinity R in CA. The boats did great.

I have paddled plenty of large canoes solo. A 169 is not that hard to handle from the bow seat turned around.

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Thanks, Pine! I suspected I would receive this kind of response. My biggest concern is the solo tripping, but I do like idea of being able to load it down for more luxurious camping outings.

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Nate a 158 is small for tandem paddling, but a 169 is not too big for solo paddling.

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I have an OT guide 147 and IMO was too short for a tandem but made a really nice solo. I found paddling from the bow seat backwards even after moving the bow seat 8” closer to center was no good as a seated solo unless you have gear to add for counter balance or some kind of bladder you can fill with water and use as counter balance. Kneeling worked fine as that moved my CG closer to center. I ended up stripping the seats and thwarts and relocating it all putting my weight perfect for unloaded paddling and then storage front and back of me so I stay balanced with any amount of gear. The problem then becomes the width for a conventional canoe paddle and I didn’t care as my plan was to use a double blade kayak paddle. I quickly found a 230cm was to short and found a 260cm to be perfect. Now that I have it done I absolutely love it and took some weight out in the process. The drawback is it is no longer a tandem.

Maybe the longer one you are looking at could have room for a third center seat for solo.

I draw so little water now I have been getting thru spots where kayaks were hanging up. I also carry an aluminum poling pole and have been trying that out sometimes in the shallows.

I have had both and if you need to haul a lot of gear or paddle it mostly tandem the 169 wins, but If you paddle mostly solo and do not have big hauling requirements, go 158. If either has the plastic seats, replace them. You will be glad you did. Of all the boats I have sold off over the years the one I miss most is the 158, maybe because it was my first canoe. I ended up replacing it with a Bell Morningstar which is a great boat too.