Old Town Quality

While visiting a nearby canoe/kayak retailer this week, I was most interested in an Old Town Penobscot and another Old Town model.

The retailer made a comment that he had not been very well pleased with the overall Old Town Royalex canoe quality over the past couple of years.

He then led me toward thinking more about the Wenonah brand and a specific canoe model in their lineup.

When I asked how that could be when all of the “Royalex” sheets come out of one and the same manufacturer, he stated it was likely due to cost reduction moves at Old Town. He said his customer complaints had risen dramatically during the period. The issue was strength and rigidity.

Has anybody had or heard of any similar statements.

I had never heard anything but good about Old Town, so somewhat blew it off.


My experience
I bought one a few years ago that had a pressure deformity in the hull. The dealer said it would work itself out in the sun. After months of trying to get the dent out I ran into an Old Town Rep. and he told me to take it right back to where I got it from and it would be replaced no questions. Old Town did so with no problem but the dealer wasn’t too thrilled. I also found that the hull flexed a lot in small chop. Otheriwse no real complaints.


Can’t say for sure…
but I own two recently made Old Town boats…the Guide and the Tripper. I’m very pleased with both of them. Top notch in my book. Maybe others have had bad experiences but I’ve had great luck with Old Town.

the JEEP of canoes
you can buy prettier.you can buy cheaper. but there’s only one old town. rugged reliable and a great value. i have 4.

Royalex is a trade name that originated with the Uniroyal Corporation. Uniroyal sold the name and rights to produce Royalex to Spartech which now makes all of the material used by boat manufacturers. But individual builders can apparently spec different thickneses for the sheet.

The general consensus among whitewater canoeists is that Royalex is less stiff and less durable than it used to be and boats don’t last as long. It isn’t clear whether this is due to a change in the manufacturing process or to makers specing thinner sheet. Some feel that Royalex needs to cure to achieve maximum strength, and that current manufacturing practices don’t allow enough cure time.

Although the material is all produced by one corporation, different specifications for sheet thickness and compostion, and differences in the time it takes to mold the hull after the sheet is formed could result in differences in perceived stiffness and durability between manufacturers.

Tough as nails for the most part.
Occasionally, you get a molding problem. It can be disappointing and inconvenient. But you got to love a company that stands by its product. Friend of mine had one shipped, Penobscot. Shipper somehow managed to put a teeny weeny inch long scratch on the aluminum gunwales. He called Old Town to find out what touch up paint to use and what the proper prep work would be. Old Town said go ahead and treat it like it is yours, we will send you a new one. Couple weeks later new boat arrives. He turns in his well used river boat that now looks like it was dropped off a van for a spanking new one. He would have been satisfied to fix the scratch. He definitely got a good deal from that.

That is true. Dealer is correct.

Likely not sufficient Cure
is a possibility as my dealer indicated that the boats “got better” simply bl leaving them out in out TX heat for a day or two…;

he also mentioned the possibility of thinner specs. on sheets…

Last part correct

The last time I picked up an Old Town canoe at a store I couldn’t believe how heavy it was! How do people handle these things?

Old Town Quality
I sold my Penobscot 164 and bought a Wenonah Escape after receiving some bad advice from Old Town customer service (read my report). Maybe the customer service rep. was giving me good advice about what the quality should be, rather than what I experienced. I feel the Wenonah is a better classed canoe, granted, it cost more than the Penobscot, but that may show you may get what you pay for.

Wenonahs and Old Towns are in two different food groups.

Former good when portaging part of your trip and speed is a plus.

Latter good when ledges and bottom scraping and gravel part of your trip.

One look at the Penobscot River in front of the OT factory is worh a million words. Its full of sharp rocks basalt and shale. Wenonah eater.

The Allagash has several Wenonah Carcasi.


What an image! Your post made me smile- but oh how true.

Quality of (fill in blank)
An ABS hulled boat is much more than the hull. The dealer may have been referring to the quality of the outfitting: gunwales, thwarts, seats etc. The raw hull has to be trimmed (accurately or shabbily and all degrees in between), the gunwales have to be fitted as well as all other parts.

In the “good old days” boats were made by folks who were boaters for the most part. Nowadays the factory workers do not seem to be as concerned with quality, so the conglomerates have a challenge.


Bingo…find the paddlers! Best of luck.

But to be fair there may be human
carcasi underneath some abandoned OT Trippers in Superior National Foest…

Which model? Which material?
The Penobscot 16 only weighs 58 lbs.

Some other models weigh into the 80’s.

Penobscot 164 is poly, the 16 is royalex
Big difference in weight.