Really? Mad River Explorer?

-- Last Updated: Mar-30-09 12:14 AM EST --

Tell me, I read recently a comment that a Mad River Explorer is considered a tub by todays standards. Is that really true? I bought my beloved Kevlar MRE in '83 and will never part with it. I still love it, carries a ton, does rivers well, fishes well, trips well, and isnt as bargey as many canoes out there. I know every scratch, most of which I got on the Missinabi the 1st year I owned her. Can anyone relate? Back in the 80's, it was "The Bomb", dont even tell me it's only a firecracker now, or even an M-80. It's got to be at least a surface to air missle.?!!!! I say, respect the beloved MRE's!!!!!!!!!!!! Keep the faith my brothers!!!!!!

Whose standards?
Maybe there are faster lake boats but looking at your profile I think you have a fine boat. Its taken you on many long journeys and is well suited to what you like to do.

Take the advice that helps you and chuck the rest. It’s your trip, not theirs.

Shushhhh. I just tell people they suck and offer $100.00 to take them to the recycling center…

I have 2 and will buy as many more as I can find cheap.

Has better gunwales than the OT Tripper
but is otherwise inferior.

I would hate to have taken an OT

– Last Updated: Mar-24-09 7:29 PM EST –

Tripper on the Snake River in the Yukon.The first thing you do is a 1.5 mile portage. Tundra is not firm, it is spongy with lots of dips.

We had all Explorers..16 and 17 footers. Had to take the thwarts out of some of the boats for nesting.

Now when we got past Ft McPherson on the Peel River we knew we had "tubs" (the wind comes right off the Arctic Ocean) but on the other 400 miles the boats were just what we needed in big whitewater with a load for three weeks out.

The OT could have been fine too..but I suspect wetter.

I have friends with vintage Trippers too. So many patches that now one of them is at least 100 lbs. And it is not the XL.

too heavy, Mad River Kevlar 57lbs.

Post Vermont Explorers
Would be tubby. The dimension were “tweaked” after the move and are no longer as sleek as the as before.

Mad River “Jumped the Shark” after they moved?

You should have seen Payson
Kennedy and various other NOC luminaries racing Old Town Trippers in Nantahala slalom races. In one case they beat John Berry and partner in Berry’s AC/DC in the Nationals combined class, slalom and downriver.

I have a friend who soloed an Explorer, back in the late 70s and early 80s, and could do amazing things with it. Ran Chattooga IV with us at 2.1, ran the Chauga Gorge, and the upper Conasauga. But one reason I say he did amazing things was that the Explorer did not have the wonderful center pivot section I had in the Tripper. The Explorer took more anticipation in technical sections.

I think the Explorer is hampered by too much V hull philosophy. My little MR Compatriot was even worse in that respect, but its eventual descendant, my MR Guide, has just the right amount of V, for that kind of hull. My MR Synergy has just a touch of V.

MRE’s have legions of devotees
And that gives me hope that I may yet adapt to the boat and like it. How can all those good boaters be wrong? But as I right this, the only thing nice I have to say about the boat is I like it better than my Tripper when it is on my shoulders. But it must be me. The boat has a golden reputation (and I don’t).

I do believe it is the slowest canoe I ever paddled.


I suspect most of the “tub” comments
you’ve read are referring to the Royalex Explorer, not your Kevlar Explorer. We owned a Royalex Explorer for a short time several years ago and quickly decided it was probably fine for downriver but not so hot for flatwater, especially in the wind. We recently picked up a used Kevlar Explorer and to me it’s a completely different boat, much easier to paddle and better in the wind, but still with the feeling it can handle anything you might encounter. It’s not as effortless to paddle or fast as some other composite canoes but as an all-around canoe it’s becoming our all-time favorite.

That’s funny
What sold me back in 1982, (I know, I’m old), was this… I paddled a Grumman Whitewater 17 foot canoe the whole length of the lower Missinabi, and after struggling against the wind on the Moose, my buddy asked if I would like to try out his Mad River. Catch was, bow paddlers stayed in the boats, so I got his weakling daughter. We kicked everyones butt. What a joy to paddle, so I personally think there are plenty of slower boats out there. Let me also say this, once we were crossing Missinabi Lake, in the biggest water I’ve ever been in, I actually felt safe in this canoe, where 90% of boats out there, I would have been on the shore with.

If I Were Still 39…
…and had a strong back I’d still have mine as well as my old 80lb MRC Revelation. Never thought of my Explorer or my Revelation as a “Tub,” thought of them as my “Ticket” into a magical world on the river or into the wilderness. Many fond memories here, including riding out a tornado under one. None of those thinking I was paddling a “Tub.” WW

A Love Hate Relationship
I’ve got a Royalex Explorer. Never paddled the composite boat but hear it’s a different animal.

Unloaded in the wind, it’s a kite. Wherever the wind blows is where I’ll go.

Poling or paddling on the river that V is a pain. I’ve got to agree with g2d, the Tripper with it’s arched hull is more manuverable. The Appilacian is better too.

Slow? I spell slow E-X-P-L-O-R-E-R.

But then it’s a good steady load hauler. With a weeks worth of gear the wind problem goes away. It’s not a bad river boat, goes up as well as it goes down.

It’s also the steadiest most secure canoe I’ve paddled. The morning I was out of my head paddling into the harbor in Belfast Maine, a stiff breeze and two foot chop trying to send me out into Penobcott Bay, it was the Explorer that saved my bacon. No doubt.


If versatility is the quality sought after in a canoe design, then the Explorer sits atop the food chain. Period.

Just sayin’


Great boat sold for the wrong reasons
Back in the day MR Explorers were sold as “family canoes” when those families would have been better off in a Malicite or Eclipse. The Explorer was intended for river tripping. Compared to flatwater trippers it is a tub, but compared to other river boats it’s fine.

A family in a Malecite? We were
a family of four, and we could not have done what we did in a little Malecite. I’m talking about me weighing, then, 200, my wife at 135, and two kids weighing 100 together. That’s 435 total, a lot for a Malecite on a wavy river or a big lake. When we went canoe camping, it took an 18.5’, 15" deep Moore Voyageur supercanoe. An Explorer could have done it, marginally.

A Malecite a family boat? I don’t think so.

400 lbs isn’t a problem
I have paddled the Malecite with two 200lb+ paddlers and it was fine, only half of the max freebord. Both boats are about the same length, but the Explorer is a few inches deeper. Aside from that they paddle totally differently. IMHO the Malecite/Eclipse are much nicer handling than the Explorer.

A 16’ canoe is tight kids and gear. We have a second now so we are going to find out this summer how soon we will need something larger then our Kipawa. It was fine with 1 kid. I think we will be able to manage this summer with a 3yo and 1yo. The only hard part is fitting them in with the packs.

Most families aren’t going to spend much time on wavy rivers or big lakes. For the rivers the Explorer would work, but I wouldn’t want the huge profile of the Explorer on a big windy lake.

Our Moore Voyageur had a high
profile too, but when the family was aboard, it didn’t blow around. It was only when paddled empty and with no gear that it could get blown around and downwind. A Malecite might be more controllable then, at least up to the point that it would swamp. The Moore never swamped.

A big, windy lake
is no problem for a moderately loaded kevlar Explorer.