Old Town Koru material


This canoe claims to weigh only 48lbs in fiberglass with wood trim. How did they do this? Is it just a lighter layup? Is it a lighter resin system? I’m so confused.

they’re not being specific…

– Last Updated: Nov-13-06 3:45 PM EST –

...but I'd imagine it could be that they're using pre-preg material with an autoclave molding process. Current Designs is doing this with their Kestrel hybrid boats, and the weight savings is significant over a traditional wet layup glass or Kevlar build. I'm a little skeptical of the weight, but figure even if they're anywhere close, it'll be noteworthy, given the very reasonable MSRP these boats will carry.

And for anyone wishing Old Town still made the Canadienne, the Koru appears to be thisclose....

Pre Preg
Pre Preg, why didn’t anyone think of that sooner! Yea, you will definately save a ton of weight with that. Man, why didn’t I think of that.

From Old Town’s web site for the Koru:

“Optional Infused Composite for lighter weight”

Sounds like a pre preg to me.

What are others thoughts of the boats design?


It is neither a lighter resin nor a lighter lay up. It is a new technique, at least new for the canoe industry. It is my understanding that it uses a manufacturing process that large aircraft companies developed called resin transfer moulding (RTM) and vacuum infusion. It is a closed-mould technique in which preformed material (like Kevlar or fiberglass) is laid into a mould and then liquid resin is injected. Pressure is applied by creating a vacuum in the mould. After it cures, it is demoulded. Recently manufacturers of sailing yacht hulls and decks started using it.

Then a similar technique came out that when you see it done looks like a royalex canoe being made. Instead of a sheet of royalex being put on (or in) a mould and then heated in an oven, a sheet of resin and a sheet of Kevlar or fiberglass (or other composite material) is used. Then it is heat and vacuuming is applied. The resin is melted and is pulled through the material. There is no liquid resin. It is all very controlled. No putting resin on too thick or thin. It is uniform.

Thanks for the insights into the manufacturing process Ken. Sounds similar to Nova Craft’s “Infusion” method – at least as I understand it.

It seems a bit out of character that Old Town, who has historically been a low to mid-range builder would decide to bring out a line as pricey as this. This is not the marketplace OTC has occupied, especially in the past few years. At $2549.00 for the “Advanced Composite” it would have to be a heck of a good hull design to compete with other builders using similar lay-up techniques like Bell, We-No-Nah, etc…

Their low-end fiberglass model wouldn’t hold much appeal to me as a tripping canoe, I’d have concerns about durability in the bush. If their “Advanced Composite” can compete in strength with Kevlar and especially if they can expand this into a full line of canoes with some really good hull designs I would think they might do well with it. They certainly have the deep corporate pockets to play with.

The Kora design looks like a straight keeled lake tripper, personally I like a bit of rocker for added maneuverability. However from what I see at their web-site it’s certainly a handsome craft. Here’s a profile view:


Their ad copy implies a relationship to “Algonquin and Ojibway hunting canoe designs…” I’m not at all sure where the “Ojibway” influence comes in… (just sounds cool I suppose) But the stem, low sheer line and dead flat keel does indeed look reminiscent of an Algonkin (sic Algonquin) type. Refer to: The Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America – Adney & Chapelle, pg 118. From what little I can see from their web site illustrations and specs this is a 21st Century interpretation of course (tumblehome, seats, construction, etc), but it is nice to see some influence from traditional craft. Very visually appealing.

However having positioned their brand near the bottom of the barrel at places like Dicks and Cabelas, etc in recent years the OTC sticker doesn’t carry much cache by itself these days. Makes me wonder if they’ve thought about contacting some of the “name” hull designers… Having a “DY” or “JW” decal slapped on some of their hulls would certainly appeal to people with money to spend on canoes in that price range. I’d be thinking along those lines if I was in the board room – instead of sitting here bored in my room. ;^) …just some thoughts… -Randall

PS – It’s started raining yesterday afternoon and kept it up most of the night here in SE Ohio. Creeks are rising… machinating my shuttle…hehehe

But then again
If places like Dicks and Cabelas are happy with carrying Old Town, perhaps they’ll carry a couple of Korus. That could be a boon in places that don’t have a high end canoe shop but do a have a Dicks or Cabelas. It could expand Dicks and Cabelas customer base. Plus Dicks and Cabelas may look at it as an opportunity for their salesmen to upgrade a customer looking at a lower cost canoe.

Sounds logical to me, hadn’t thought of it that way.

My hat’s off to OTC for trying new things. -Randall

wasn’t Old Town
one of the first to use Royalex? I remember the photos of the canoe being thrown off the factory roof and surviving.

they’re recognizing a shift
in the marketplace. While canoe sales have generally been flat the last few years, the biggest ‘flat spot’ are the lower to mid-level boats which makes up the bulk of Old Town’s offerings. Conversely, the upper end boats from WeNoNah and a few others seem to be holding their own. The price-point $399 plastic canoe is always going to sell regardless, but the segment that has the most potential for growth IS the upper end boats, especially as the boomers age and weight becomes more of a consideration (and price less a consideration).

Since Old Town hasn’t made a high-end boat since the mid to late 90s, it made sense for them to explore the concept again. I’m not sure if the average Dick’s would bother with these at all, but it would be a good move for Bean to show it in their catalog, if for no other reason than it shows well, and would help to put the $1100 Royalex boat in price perspective.

There will always be a market
for a high end boat, especially ones with leading edge technology. OT badly needs a little lift in the image department, so I doubt that although maybe Dicks’ or Bass Pro may have one of these babies on display, that thats who they are shooting for. This is more likely to help get local dealers interested by giving them something to sell that is not at every discounter and represents a higher quality level, something a lot less vanilla than what they have had to sell. Kind of what the Corvette used to represent to Chevy back inthe 60’s. I hope it works for them.

That was the Discovery material
Cool gimmick though.

Angstrom, Paddlinpals – you’re BOTH righ
…well sorta…

Old Town was one of the first to use Royalex – in 1973 to be exact. Also Old Town’s Lew Gilman is the guy who invented rotational molding as used in their original Discovery line (and now used by many other builders).

As to the famous toss from the roof. The first Royalex Tripper was thrown from the roof of the factory on a dare from one of the factory workers. It survived. Several years later a Discovery 169 was given the same treatment/abuse. It survived as well.

Reference: The Old Town Canoe Company – Our First Hundred Years by Susan T. Audette.

Looks Good
The traditional look and the low weight are both appealing. It is great that Old Town is trying this. The more low weight choices out there the better for this guy pushing 50 years old.

I might have a chance for one more boat in that price range. I’d like it to be a reasonable portage weight 10-30 years from now, even if its just making the cary from the garage to the truck.

I really do use my solo canoe more than my tandem as much due to the weight difference as the paddling difference.

As to the Koru’s performance, it looks like it ought to paddle pretty sweetly. I’m with Arkay though, for the paddling I do most, some rocker is sure nice.

Symmetrical with no rocker
Canoe and Kayak Buyer’s Guide lists the Koru as a straight line hull (no rocker) and symmetrical It would be an interesting tripping hull to load up and test drive.

Promising development
I am interested in the material, if it really is a step forward. The design looks good, but if the material works out, it will likely be applied to other shapes as well. Given enough time, other companies might adopt it, and who knows what will happen then?

I applaud Old Town for taking the chance on a new material. I am also glad they chose to make this boat so aesthetically pleasing, with the curved stems, graceful sheer line, and wood trim with scuppers.

I look forward to reading reviews and trip reports about this canoe.