Similar to OT Penobscot

Looking to replace my Penobscot 16 with something that has similar performance, but is lighter. Any suggestions? I wish Old Town made them in a lighter layup.

Perhaps the Millbrook AC/DC.
Very light, fast, turns much better than a Penobscot. The S-glass/Kevlar layup is strong, but you’ll have to expect the occasional repair. The original AC/DC was designed by Jon Berry to win the “combined” whitewater event, where performance on a slalom course is combined with performance on downriver.

Millbrook prices are very reaonable compared to what you’d pay for a similar layup from Souris River, Swift, Bluewater,etc.

Of the boats I’ve owned,
the Bell Northstar feels a bit like the Penobscot and it is quite a bit lighter in any of the composites that were offered. But, it is out of production, so You’ll have to look for a used one. I’ve owned and paddled both of these boats. The Northstar is probably a bit faster, too.

In the Millbrook line, I have a Souhegan and it is nothing like the Penobscot. It is all about manuevering and not about tracking.


Mad River Explorer?

Heavier, slower than the Penobscot.

is back in production as the Northwind 16. Ted Bell is making them on his own and will layup in white gold which is a less expensive but very durable construction. See Oakorchard Canoe website.

Tough to build a boat with
the performance characteristics of royalex and all the other performance characteristics of the OT Penobscot and make it much lighter. I’ve always thought that the Penobscot is remarkable in that it is so light. Your gonna have to be making some sort of a compromise somewhere - need to think that through a bit so your search is focused on the type of boat you really want. Which performance characteristics of the OT Penobscot do you want to change?

I don’t understand the question
I really don’t want to change the performance. I love the versatility of the Penobscot, paddle solo or tandem, decent speed, solo trip with a load and a dog. I still want those qualities just want it lighter.

You will have to go composite
I agree that to achieve any significant weight savings in a tandem canoe over the Penobscot 16 Rx you will have to look at a composite.

I too would look for a used Bell NorthStar if you could find one. It is 4 inches longer than the Penobscot with just about the same maximum beam but 2 inches narrower at the waterline so it should be at least as fast. It does have a bit of rocker, unlike the Penobscot, which I would consider a good thing. Paddles well solo and tandem.

I hadn’t heard of a Bell Composites North Wind 16. The picture and specs on the Oak Orchard canoe site are taken directly from the Bell site. It may well be that Ted is building a boat identical to the NorthStar, but I would look into it further if you are interested.

Kevlar Mad River Explorer
slower, but a lot lighter

What I mean is that
royalex has performance characteristics that are different than composite. Generally composite will be stiffer and that makes it perform differently. So if you like the characteristics of a flexible (royalex) hull then you are not going to find anything lighter I don’t think. But if a stiffer hull is ok for you - then sure you can spend a lot more and get a lighter boat.

I wish I knew the answer,
but I totally get the question. I love the Penobscot, but I’d love it more if it was 10-20 pounds lighter.

You’re right, but a Royalex boat can be
stiffened quite a bit by putting foam pedestals or struts between the thwarts and the bottom of the boat.

And we tend to assume that composite boats are stiff, but there can be exceptions. If you don’t know the maker, I would want to have inspected their boats. Making a composite boat both light and stiff is a real challenge. The better makers today are using foam core bottoms, but those are hard to repair, and have been known to snap when a loaded boat is pulled over a log. Souris River uses ribs, but I’ve read reports of apparent fatigue damage. I have a Millbrook ww boat that has sides as thin as cardboard, but the bottom is stiffened with Spheretex. Probably better than foam core for whitewater, but not as light.

Selecting a composite design with a significantly curved shallow arch bottom, and with curved tumblehome sides, will provide a measure of stiffness and perhaps allow less cloth to be used in the layup.

All true - but
if the OP is paddling in any significant shallow white water with boulder hits likely he would be pushing the limits of a light layup composite boat. Sure, if you are expert, a light boat can be just the ticket. But for many a royalex boat might be the best choice. I once owned a 50 Lbs 16 foot prospector boat in a composite layup and it was fine - terrific actually - in white water so long as there was plenty of water. Without a lot of water it would take a real beating, and this was a heavy layup. I loved the boat but it was not the best choice in a shallow white water environment.

Not to worry
about the fragile nature of composite boats. As we age a couple of things work in our favor here: First, we shy away from the from the really rough stuff where we are apt to bang up the boats and, because our clock is running, they don’t have to last that long anyway. A friend once asked, as I was pussy-footing around some rocks in a composite, “you saving that boat for the next owner”?


Novacraft Pal?
Anyone paddle one of the composite versions?

Wenonah sundowner ?

– Last Updated: Oct-07-13 12:20 AM EST –

Not sure if they'll make it in composite

Escapade with center seat?

Question for OP
Why is it important to you that your canoe be lighter than 60 Lbs? When is it that the weight is causing troubles for you?

The Penobscot, I own is…
15 years old, and showing the thousands of miles it has seen. Thinking of retiring it, so why not go lighter when hitting the portage trail?

You are correct that 60lbs isn’t very heavy especially for a royalex canoe. Just considering alternatives.

A used Kevlar canoe
Or new