Pre-purchase advice

-- Last Updated: Jan-27-11 2:02 AM EST --

Im about to purchase a canoe for family use. Primarly lake (80%) with occasional river (20%) up to class I-II. Stability is more important than ease of turning. Durablity is more important than speed. I'm in shape so weight isn't a huge concern (or I say so now) What's the better boat for me:

A new old town 160 guide for $699
A used (good condition) Mad River 17ft Kevlar Explorer for $900

Thanks for your input.

The old town 160 converts to a wonderful row boat if you want a heavy row boat capable of class three white water, but as a canoe it paddles like a PIG. It also weighs about 100 pounds. You can move it if you are strong but it will mover better with a quality cart which you should buy the same day you buy the canoe.

The Mad River Explorer is one of the best all around canoe designs ever. In Kevlar it is light, strong, and repairable! It could be a canoe that you pass down to your children. I think it paddles very well and that is an very good price if it is in good shape.

I’d snag the Explorer
But if you don’t have inside storage, I don’t think you’ll be happy with wood gunnels (if it has them).

Better for you?
The Explorer is the better canoe. If I had to choose between these two, it would definitely be the Explorer. The Old Town is a poor paddler, but based on your needs, the Guide would be the better choice.

There are tons of great paddling boats, both new and used, that fit your niche and exist in between those two boat’s price. I’d recommend that you keep looking.

Without knowing
how big the family is it’s hard to advise, but the Explorer is a much better boat of the two. Don’t think you’d be sorry.


– Last Updated: Jan-27-11 10:02 AM EST –

The Explorer is actually about 16'4" and a good hull. Mad River's kevlar boats were very well made. Heavier than many kevlar boats, but tough. It will be like a feather compared to the OT, though. Rode out a nearby tornado under one (Not saying it would have protected me from a tree, but it was psychologically comforting) and have an older Mad River kevlar boat in the barn right now. Snatch it up unless it's been severely abused! WW

There used to be a RX 17 Explorer…
MRC did make a 17’ Royalex Explorer, but after a number of years, they modiified the hull (pushed it out and gave it a bunch of flare) and called it the Revelation (Confluence later renamed it the Freedom 17 and now I believe it’s dicontinued).


My main gripe about Mad River Kevlar
is that they usually did not use S-glass or E-glass for the outer layers. So they had to use more Kevlar to get the needed stiffness, and the Kevlar would fuzz when worn through the gelcoat.

I don’t know why they did this, because MR did wonderful work with glass-- I owned a glass MR for many years and it was light and very tough. They actually could have made glass/Kevlar hulls lighter, stiffer, and stronger than all Kevlar hulls.

The MR Explorer hull is very good in a “truck” kind of way. MR has tried to build successors with shallow arch rather than V hulls, but customers have not responded. Because of the customer appeal of the V-hull Explorer, they’ll probably make them forever.

suggest you consider this …

– Last Updated: Jan-27-11 4:04 PM EST –

...... go check out an Old Town Expedition 169 at Bass Pro Shop .

East TX has quite a few Bass Pro Shops (just type in Bass Pro Shop and click "stores" , then click on map star/store closet to you) .

The OT Expedition 169 is very similar to the OT Discovery 169 , but I like the Expedition even more ... having owned and paddled both . It has some rocker , has "slight" shallow arch hull , is 3 layer super linear polyethylene constructuion (middle layer is "FULL" floation layer) , wieghs 84 lbs. , 16'-9" long , 36" wide , 15" center depth , 23" bow/stern depth (in other words it's a higher volumn canoe , more space inside) and can carry "lots" of weight "safely" and still be stable , feel safe and handle well . If you want to know in more detail what my experiences in this canoe have been concerning rough water or weather conditions both river and flat water , email . In brief I can tell you it's a canoe that is safer and makes you fell more confident in heavier conditions ... this canoe is NOT a pig , but rather it's is made to do serious bussiness when called to do so !!

Old Town MSRP is 1000. bucks and honestly I don't know how much if any less canoe shops offer them for(??) ... what I do know is Bass Pro Shop (at least around here) offer a fantastic deal on the OT Expedition 169 , about 300 less than retail . Also if you sign up for a Bass Pro Shop credit card (before you buy) they will give you another 10 % off of your 1st purchase ... The OT Expedition 169 at our Bass Pro list at 699. right now , take another 70. bucks off that (1st credit card purchase) and the bottom line is about 630. + tax . They sell Extra Sport PFD's too (good PFD's) , so save another 40. bucks on 2 of them . "Don't" be tempted to buy a couple Feather Brand paddles there , I can suggest "much more" preferable brands .

Don't make the mistake of thinking I'm playing up this OT Expedition just because I own one , that's not the case . I also own another fantastic canoe , a 16'-10" Royalex OT canoe and can tell you I like them both equally well . Also have time in a handful of other canoes to make comparisons to , and I really like the OT Expedition 169 , in comparison to them all it's a mighty nice canoe !!

So due yourself a favor and go see if Bass Pro has one for you to check out and see what you think . Don't be shy either , even ask them to set it down on the floor so you can kick the tires . My thinking is save considerable bucks and get a really nice canoe in the process .

Pretty much just like the OT Disco ... ... those seat backs come out if you don't want to use , I took mine out before ever using them cause don't like seat backs personally .

ps., ... in my opinion the shallow arch hull on the OT Expedition 169 (Discovery ??) is somewhere between a normally thought off shallow arch hull and a flat bottom hull . It's not as pronounced of arch as a more arched bottom , but not flat like a flat bottom , it really is a nice compromise between the two . This canoe has great intial stability (can't be beat) but also has good secondary stabilty (it can be leaned over steeply and not flip) .

Should you decide on the MR Explorer , I'm certain you will like it too . If Old Town the Expedition 169 is so much different (much more versitile and capable canoe than the Guide 16) .


If I understood you correctly –

– and I think I did – you really like your OT Explorer 169!

If you end up unhappy w/ your choice,
you’ll likely be able to sell the MR for closer to what you paid than the OT.

For your use . . .
I’ve paddled an OT Tripper and an XL Tripper. These were the older Royalex boats, and they are great in shallow rapids and carrying load through whitewater.

Compared to just about any kevlar canoe, they are slow, sluggish, and being quite wide and high at the bow, less comfortable to paddle.

My favourite canoe is a Hellman Slocan. That said, I would much prefer something with less beam and less flare for 80% lake use. If you really wanted plastic, a Penobscot 17’ or a Wenonah Spirit II would be a nice choice.

The Canoeroots Magazine buyers guide puts canoes into catergories - recreation, whitewater, lakewater, performance, and solo I believe. There is a big difference between whitewater trippers and lakewater trippers. That said, the main difference is comfort and efficiency, so a 90lb. plastic tub could do everything while a light kevlar tripper can not do serious whitewater.

the kev Explorer!


Is this the Guide 160 you’re looking at?

If so, no way that one a family boat, period. That one is 14’7" long. Usually when people say “family” around here they mean two adults and 2 kids. (otherwise they’ll say, “my wife and child” or something).

If you want the answer to the question as you asked it, buy the Explorer. It will serve you well and will have good resale if it’s not what you decide you want.

Some are saying wait for something else. That’s not bad advice. Royalex is perfect for where you are progression wise. The Spirit II is a great boat for what you describe. But that’s a different proposition and no one knows your precise circumstances but you.

Good luck

Yup, Rob
Used to own a Revelation. Very attached to her, called her “Sandy.” Broke my heart to part with her, but my BACK was appreciative! WW

clarion , OT Expedition 169