OT Penobscot vs. Kennebec

-- Last Updated: Apr-05-13 12:15 PM EST --

I'm going to Anchorage, Alaska this summer for three weeks and will be renting or borrowing a canoe. The ones available as of now are a Royalex Old Town 17' Kennebec and a 16' Penobscot.

Use will be on rivers not exceeding easy class 2 and lakes or other open water. Some reasonably competent solo use (by me) and some tandem with another old guy with unknown competence.

I have some familiarity from years past with the Penobscot but don't think I've ever been in a Kennebec. Any general opinions on which might be the more suitable boat overall?

The penny is the one you’ll want to solo. It has about a 750lb capacity for when you tandom, so no too much gear. I haven’t paddled a kenny


– Last Updated: Apr-05-13 1:57 PM EST –

I have paddled the Kennebec, and it's a joy in Class 3.

On the flats it's more of a headache.


If I can solo the Kennebec, you can too. But for the use you describe, you will need Advil too.

K is better for
moving water. Workable on flat but will take more work than P. depending on water size the 17 may be more reassuring…everything is bigger in AK. You certainly coud use the K if you want size/comfort.

stevet you are bringing back
memories. I had to solo the Kennebec over 150 miles in five days on the St. John in Maine. That river is runnable mostly after ice out but only for two weeks. Its got lots of Class 2 and some 3 but lots of what we call “deadwater”.

I hated my paddling of the K in “deadwater” particularly with headwinds.

I ran out of Advil.

Are you planning day trips or
a lengthy trip? The 16’ Penobscot is a really nice solo canoe but not something would want to paddle tandem with a boat full of food and gear.

Mostly day trips
I had fantasies of some long river trips but have eliminated them due to the difficulties and expense of bringing (on an airplane), buying, begging or borrowing a bunch of camping gear.

So mainly some day trips on easy rivers and lakes with maybe, at most, a one or two night overnighter. The rivers will be smaller volume ones. I don’t like big water, moving or still.

A Mad River Explorer is now also in the mix, which I am more familiar with than the Penobscot and Kennebec. But it’s heavier than the Penobscot if we do portage routes on Kenai.

Given your options
and having paddled/owned all, I would take the dependable, comfortable (handling and volume) Explorer. Use two people to carry it if it’s really heavy.

Thanks for the comments
As the trip isn’t until July, I’d be grateful for any other thoughts in the interim.