OT Katahdin 16' vs. OT Disocvery 158

Hello! First time poster here. I’m shopping for my first canoe and I’m hoping to get some advice on what to buy.

I live in downtown Washington DC and was given a canoe slip at a boathouse on the Potomac, along with a budget for a canoe. I plan on mostly canoeing the river closest to me, that is, the Potomac that runs through downtown DC. My primary use will to take a friend (95% of the time a beginner) every now and then. I’d also like a boat small enough that I can paddle solo from time to time. Secondary purporse would be to take the odd trip down the Shenandoah, and teritary purpose I have aspirations of fishing it a bit in the potomac, though I’ll probably only try that a few times – I don’t see myself getting hooked on that in the short term.

I’ve sifted through Craigslist and found 2 boats that seem to fit the bill and my budget:

First, this Katahdin 16’, which according to the seller is from 1989, a “fiberglass weave” material and that OT is making the same model under the “Stillwater” name. The photos suggest it’s in pretty good shape but again, first time buyer so I don’t know what to look for.


The second is a OT Discovery 158, which according to the seller is from 1994, and thinks it’s “royalex” material (though I’m not sure if I believe that). I have asked for photos of the bottom because the listing suggests there are some scraps, but for the purpose of this advice request, let’s assume those photos come back good.


Would anyone have a minute to take a look at these two listings and consider my setup and make a recommendation? I’m really excited to make a decision and get on the water – thanks so much!!

A couple of things to consider:

– Last Updated: Sep-16-14 10:19 PM EST –

The Discovery 158 is not Royalex, it's polyethylene. Catalog weight for the Discovery 158 is 80 lbs; catalog weight for the Katahdin 16 is 65 lbs (both probably optimistic).

The Katahdin 16 was similar to the Stillwater 16 but according to Old Town it used a higher quality layup.

If you plan to kneel while paddling, the Discovery has the OT molded plastic seats which make kneeling virtually impossible; the Katahdin seats would be more versatile.

Hi. The Stillwater is a wide tub
stable canoe. OK for rivers… and lakes if you aren’t in a hurry

My neighbor has one. Its a beast to carry. His back is still hurting from a Sunday portage. Right now he is speaking ill of the poor canoe.

You may find a cart a worthwhile purchase, especially solo.

Katahdin vs Stillwater

– Last Updated: Sep-16-14 10:31 PM EST –

The Katahdin was being built at a time when Old Town was still making a fair number of good quality glass boats, and had the same cloth as the fg Canadienne, Northern Light, etc (but with a balsa core, or maybe it was foam). The Stillwater uses a heavy roving, and is both a heavier boat and a less stiff hull.

I've never been a fan of the Disco 158. Flat bottom, generally poor tracking, heavy. If the prices are similar and the Katahdin is in good shape, pull that trigger.

Right Price?
Thanks mobrian a bunch for your suggestion. Do you think $550 is a fair price for this 25 yr. old Katahdin 16? What would you pay for this old guy?

Does the Stillwater points apply to Kata
Hey kayamedic, most importantly, thanks a bunch for your reply. One quick followup question.

Do you think the Katahdin is the same weight as the Stillwater? Further up the chain someone said 65lbs–is that what your buddy’s canoe weighs?

Take a little longer and see if you can
access the used boat columns of local canoe clubs. You may meet some sources of advice as well as a good variety of boats.

16’ Katahdin
Old Town has conflicting data in their old catalogs. the 1992 edition has the 16’Katahdin at 72# with vinyl gunwales and cane seats. by 1998 it was listed at 65# with vinyl gunwales and cane seats. It also lost 2" in bow and stern depth. The 16’ Stillwater stayed at 60# in both catalogs. It looks like the Katahdin became a different layup of the Stillwater because in the 1998 catalog they have the same dimensions, the Katahdin losing the extra depth and becoming narrower at the waterline. Biggest difference is in the layup. The Stillwater has flat balsa rib like reinforcements across the floor and an open keel. The Katahdin has a smooth floor and a filled keel, which would account for the 5# weight difference in 1998. Both series of canoes, Stillwater and Katahdin were made in 12’, 14’ and 16’. All were biased towards stability, making the 12 very wide at 41" and the 14’ at 39" wide. The 16’ paddles ok, the shorter hulls are for casual short paddling daytrips.

Given the choice between a 158 Discovery and an early Katahdin, the Katahdin wins big. 65# is manageable, 85# is a struggle. The Discovery can be lightened up by 10# just by changing from the rotomolded seats to cane seats.

Hope this helps,


Thanks Bill!
Hey Bill, thanks a bunch for the detailed reply. I’m new enough that I’m not sure I followed your catalog detailing of the layups in the 90s (this one is from 1989), but you laid it out clear enough in the last paragraph that the katahdin is the better choice. Thanks so much for your opinion here, I really appreciate it.

$550 too high
Even though glass is theoretically a lifetime investment, for a boat that vintage, in fair condition, $250-400 would be more reasonable. At the time the boat was new, it retailed for about $700-800. Whoever bought it then got a few decades worth of use out of it, and they should expect to see normal depreciation.

My two centavos

awesome – thanks mobrein
thank you so much for the advice on pricing – extremely helpful