Royalex Champlain good as a family boat?

I jumped in a bit over my head with my last canoe purchase (Supernova), I probably could have avoided this if I asked for advice here first. I learned my lesson, so now I would like to draw from the wisdom here before I lay down the cash.

My family is growing and would like to get a larger boat to fit two adults, two young kids, and camping gear/small dog. Mostly lake travel, with plans to do Labrynth Canyon on the Green in a couple years. (I am out in the west.)


  1. Is this boat a good fit for my usage?

  2. It has tractor seats, which I have never used before…can you kneel in the rear seat, or are they foot forward only? (I have a hard time getting comfortable with my feet out front.)

  3. Anything else I should look out for?


Good boat for your usage
1) Yes

2) Not easily, the seats are set low for paddling seated. Depends on your shoe size whether it will be easy to get them under the seat. With a foot brace you may find the seating comfortable, no squirming around like on a bench seat. I regularly spend upwards of 8 hours a day in a tractor seat (in a canoe, not a tractor), and its no problem with a bit of padding. 1/2"closed cell foam.

3) buy a composite hull, better paddling, lighter to carry. You did not mention shallow stoney streams, which are the main reason to buy royalex. The price difference between royalex and kevlar is only a couple trips to the chiropractor, and you are worth that.


I agree with Bill. A royalex Champlain is really getting up there in weight. For lakes and Labyrinth Canyon, you don’t need a royalex canoe and your back will thank you. I just had my kevlar Champlain on Labyrinth Canyon last fall and it carried everything we asked it to for luxury camping. However in your case with 2 adults, 2 growing kids, a pooch, at least 16 gallons fresh water for 4 days travel for the humans, a groover, plus food and camp gear… that’s not realistic. Rent a second canoe for that trip.

It’s not clear from your post but are you buying the boat new? The Wenonah site says they come with hung seats.

I’ve been through this with the kids. Mine are now old enough and big enough so we need two boats. My sugggestions is that whatever canoe you purchase think about whether it will still be a good boat to have when there are only two of you using it. The Champlain sounds to me like a good choice.

just trying to put some numbers …

– Last Updated: Mar-19-10 11:09 PM EST –

..... together to get an idea of a total load and see if the canoes' weight differences are all that important here ??

2- adults = 340 lbs. ( depending ??)
2- kids = 110 lbs. (??)
1- pooch = 50 lbs. (??)
food and water = 140 lbs. (??)
tent,bags,cloths,gear = 145 lbs. (??)

785 lbs

a 57 lb. canoe vs. 80 lb. canoe ... diff. 23 lbs.

about 900. bucks diff. (new) between the Champlain (Kev.flex-core) and the O.T.Tripper 172 (Rx) .

785 + 57 = 842 (Wen. Champlain Kev.Flex-Core)

785 + 75 = 860 (Wen. Champlain Rx)

785 + 80 = 865 (OT Tripper 172 Rx)

Does 18 or 23 lbs. really make that much diff. considering the total load that paddles need to move along ??

I can understand having least amount of wetted area could help , but high volumn boats need to get drafted properly too , correct ??

The Rx Champlain and OT Tripper are about same price new ... add 830. bucks for that 18-23 lbs. weight savings in the lighter boats .

Does 23 lbs
really make that much diff? Sounds like you are directly asking me, so I’ll take the bait on just this one last response…

An extra 23 lbs does matter a lot if you the man and you have to manhandle a 75lb or heavier boat down to every landing and back up on the roof racks by yourself or mostly my yourself every time the canoe needs to move on dry land. Included in those activities is extended reach and torso rotation with that load. All it takes is one sprained back and that heavy canoe will rarely, if ever see water again. Most job safety manuals now days won’t allow lifting of over 50 lbs without special training and authority to do so. It’s great if you are a brute and can easily handle a 75lb or more canoe by yourself. I thought nothing of portaging my standard weight Grumman plus a full pack over 40 or more portages per trip for some 25 years. Funny thing though as you get older, lighter reopens opportunities that were closing down on you by taking the drudgery bull work out of the equation. For someone just starting out getting the family involved with canoeing, why not go light from the get go and have far less risk of ending up with a bum back out of the deal.

So you’re crunching up the wrong mountain with your numbers. Oh and here are a couple hints… water weighs 8.34 lbs per gallon and the standard stainless steel groover that has been used for 4 days will top the scales at least at 30lbs. Add a cooler and ice, etc, etc.

Yes, it is a used boat…
Wenonah RX Champlain with tractor seats, and bow slider asking $895. It is said to be in like new condition with the exception of a few scratches on the bottom of the hull.

It is difficult to find good canoes out here (Northern CA) on the used market, so I was fairly excited to see this one for sale. I am a bit concerned about the seating configuration, and may pass it up just for that reason unless I can give a similar setup a try first.

Yes, weight is a concern for sure, I would love to have a kevlar boat, and for what I will be using this boat for it would be fine. Until I have enough experience to know exactly what I want, I am not ready to lay out the cash for a shiny new one so I have to take what comes up used. The family boat now is a MR Explorer, and getting it on and off of the rack on my full sized truck really is a chore!

As for the Labyrinth trip, whatever canoe we end up with, we will do some test trips to see if we can fit in one canoe. We backpack and are used to packing light, but if it just doesn’t fit in the canoe we have a 14’ SB raft that will haul us all just fine. I just thought the trip would be a bit more exciting in a canoe.

Thanks for the replies! Sounds like a great boat that will work well for me. Now I just have to decide if I should go pick it up or not.

Does the price sound fair?

I lug my canoe distances
and it can be a chore some times. I recently bought an Oldtown Hunter in Royalex and what a difference frommthe standaaard weight. This oast weekend I pulled two up a steep bank and you definitly can tell difference.

Go for it!
The Champlain would be a nice canoe for what you are planning to use it for. The Rx version will be a bit heavy but unless you do portaging the weight won’t be that important. If your kids are still young and can sit side by side it will be big enough. If they cannot, it will be hard to do a long trip like the Green when carrying all supplies and still have leg room left. It will also handle some WW if you ever decide to do so. I have paddled a Champlain on a five days trip in the BWCA, it was the Kevlar version, it handled great with a full load. I was going to buy one but I found a great deal on an ITASCA so I went it instead of the champlain. The price is fair if it is in great condition, especially it has wood trim. Usually Rx canoes do not come with adjustable seats. If you do not like the seats you can always replace them with bench seats. Happy paddling

Can’t say whether the tractor seats in
that used Champlain are at the right height for kneeling, but our first canoe had tractor seats, and they were at just the right height for both kneeling and sitting, even with my size 15 feet.

If the Seats Are Your Main Concern…
…then changing them out is not a big deal if it’s Wenonah’s vinyl or wood rails. I “Customize” all my seats with drops high enough to fit my size 11.5’s under. It’s easy to drill through and hang the seats at the height you want. Trim a bit at a time. Ed’s canoe has nice truss style seat drops. Raising the seats shouldn’t affect stability in that boat, it’s a pretty stable craft. I’ve only spent a little time in the Champlain, but it’s a darn good family boat for big loads IMHO. And sounds like a good deal for you. WW

get a comfortable yoke…
As said it’s a big boat with some weight putting in/taking out. I think Spring Creek’s foam pad-aluminum yoke might be as comfortable as you’re gonna find…imho(not affiliated). The two-boat -thing would be my way to go as well, but your choice of a single looks good.


I made an offer on the canoe
we’ll see what happens now. I agree that two boats would be a good option for us, especially when the kids are older, but I am not sure my wife would like to captain her own boat just yet.

Thanks for the input!