Opinions on the MR Explorer 16TT

I bought a Mad River Explorer 16TT from REI and got it home only to see it was not symmetrical in shape and had 3 warps on one side of the hull of the shallow V. I called the company and they said put it in the sun for 8 hours, if not perfect by then, return it for a new one. I did return it and a new one is on its way.

Today I saw an Old Town Charles River at Spots Chalet for $100.00 more however the salesman said it has been there all summer and nobody has been interested in it and may go on sale in a month or so.

My question is what boat is better? Both look nice with the Old Town looking a bit more detailed (wood brackets for drop down mesh seats vs. plastic on the M.R. for example) I really like what the reviews say about the Mad River TT and with the shallow V, appears to be a good choice.

I am new to the sport and will be with family on lakes and camp trips & buddies on rivers (class 1 & 2 only)

Is the Mad River TT a good boat? I thought so; I bought one but have not used it. OR do I go with the Old Town? Any suggestions?

Are these boats in the same class?

Thanks everybody as you have already helped me with a previous post.


Costa Mesa, CA

6/half dozen
you need to GO PADDLIN’!

The CR has traditional lines. You like?

The TT is a bit more modern in shape. It paddles very well.

for your use (possible current) I’d pick the TT. I’m not a huge fan of ol’ Canadians. lots of windage in those ends.

just 2 centavos.


REI has
a very liberal return policy. I would take advantage of it ang go buy the Charles River. If it is the same version that I have seen at Dick’s (the Polylink version not the RX) it is equal to or better than the 16TT but seems to get the edge in durability and is well worth the extra $100 if the Mad River is made from the triple tough material and has plastic seats.

The Mad River 16 TT…
has ash-framed webbed seats with truss for added rigidity, sculpted ash portage yoke & is made of polyethylene. It comes with the IQ2 system that accepts accessories and is 4 inches longer and 1 inch wider and 1 inch deeper but weighs 6# less than the Old Town. They both have 1100 lb capacities.

I forgot to mention
I have heard nothing good lately about Mad River’s customer service. Several people that I know have been left “holding the bag” with leaking cracks in their Triple Tough and have gotten no good remedy from Mad River. The lucky ones bought them from REI, who cheerfully took them back. The ones who purchased them from other outlets were not as fortunate.

As far as IQ gunwhales go, the jury is still out there. You will find good and bad written about them if you search these boards.

I recently contacted them myself for parts for my Dagger Legend (which they now own the rights to)and was not impressed with my treatment.

Even though I own Mad River boats myself, what I have seen and heard lately would preclude my purchasing another.

MR Explorer 16TT
I have one. It’s about 3 years old and has the same type of warps as you describe on one side of the V. MR had an on-line forum at the time and they said the same thing about putting it out in the sun. I did but it had no effect. You’d think that they would come up with a solution for avoiding the warpage by now. Seems like they must be pulling the hull off the mold before it’s sufficiently cooled.

Other than the warpage (which I don’t notice while I’m paddling) I like the design. I do mostly flat water and it’s good with two paddlers but a fair amount of work solo, particularly in a breeze. I’ve also got it set up for sailing and it’s a great hull for that with its rocker and good primary and secondary stability. I probably sail it more than I paddle it. Would I get another Explorer 16? Probably, but I think I’d go for Royalex this time (for weight reasons also). I have the vinyl gunnels. Seems like most of the complaints with the IQ system is the availabilty of the accessories (apparently permanently back-ordered).

  • Rob

So do you think…
…the issues are with Dagger & Bell parts alone due to them being taken over by Mad River and not being prepared to deal with those other manufactures OR do you think it is just Mad River $ucking at customer service even with their own stock.

REI has been good but what will happen after the warranty expires and REI is no longer obligated?


What do the reviews say about the
shallow V? I’ve owned three Mad River canoes, and several others, and I say, the less shallow V, the better. It does NOT give as much initial stability as other designs, it does not give any more secondary stability as other designs, and it has more wetted area. The old Explorer could be made faster, steadier, and better handling by converting it to a shallow arch.