Really? Mad River Explorer?

a tub is exaggerated, of course
but the question is: would you now buy a new (FRP) Mad River Explorer given a choice between say a Bell NorthStar, a Swift Kipawa, a We-no-nah Escapade or their 16’ Prospector models?

Not now, the lines are completely different. A Vermont boat, perhaps.

than that is the answer to your question

True. What happens in wind and waves
depends a lot on the period of the waves and the direction of the wind. A loaded short boat may work OK for some waves and some wind directions.

We were paddling SW on Agnes Lake in Quetico, in our 18.5’ Voyageur, facing strong chop going to rollers in a quartering headwind. I was very pleased at how our big boat was rising and plunging in controlled fashion, water spilling aside from the unusual flare molded into the top 5" of the boat’s hull. It was like watching a battleship part waves near a hurricane.

There were too guys in a 15’ Grumman not far from us, loaded with gear like we were, and I was worried for them. I thought they might founder, and wondered whether we had the ability to help.

But they made it to the portage channel OK. When I talked to them, they said they didn’t take on water. Their 15’ length was a reasonable match for the quartering waves. Their blunt bow and stern helped too.

So, without more experience than I have ever had, it’s difficult to generalise about which boats will survive which conditions.

All I’m sayin
is they are still an ok boat, even by todays standards. I love the lines of some of the boats you suggest as well. Nuff said.

MRE Explorer
What I take from this thread is that there is no perfect boat. Each boat mentioned has it’s pros and cons.

As with many hulls on the market, one must differentiate between composite and any sort of molded rubber. They are invariably quite different.

I own a mid eighties (Vermont) fg Explorer. It’s heavy to carry but is a great boat when I need something deep and stable. I’ve paddled Royalex versions of the same boat, heavily loaded on class 3/4 river trips and they did the job just fine. On the lake crossings they were adequate.

Would I take one to the Boundary Waters? Probably not. That’s why many of us have more than one boat.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom Paddles and Cedar Strip canoes

Big Windy Lake
Not a problem in a loaded (300 lbs?) Royalex Explorer either.

Unloaded it’s a kite.


MR Explorer
I grew up in one. we got it from VT in the mid 1980’s. drove to Waitsfield and even got a tour of the plant. Mad River Vermont crew was awesome. Too bad they moved, Waitsfield is a cool town.

I have the boat now, my father passed it down a couple years ago. it needed some repair so I replaced wood gunnels with IQ2 vinyl for durability and ease since this was my first canoe re-build. Got new seats and thwarts. Basically it was a hull up restoration. I had to get new deck plates, so I put the old MR medalion (VT Boats) on my outrage as a reminder.

The boat is durable and in my opinion the best tripping canoe around. I have paddled oldtown 16’, colman ram-ex 15’, grumman and other aluminium boats, but over all the Mad River impressed me. Old towns are not bad but they are heavier and not as comfortable. colman and grumman boats are durable but the metal frame and keel makes it hard to manuver in running water with rocks. grummans are like rock velcro.

The reason that the MRexplorer is like a sail on lakes is because it is not designed to be a flatwater boat. The explorer has a whitewater hull w/o a keel and the shallow vee shape and moderate rocker allows it to slide and spin for moving water mobility. Loaded down it tracks better because of obvious reasons.

I like it and think it is the best versitile boat for variational tripping from flat to heavy whitewater.