If you saw my first post “looking for a family canoe” You’d know what I want.

Any way I think I have it narrowed down to about 4. I know I’m going over my original budget, but heck I didn’t know a canoe cost more than a cheap second car.

Now the choices are:

Old Town Penobscot 17

Navarro Loon 16 or 17

Mad River Explorer

We-no-nah Spirit II.

Ok, place your votes, and pro/cons for each please. Seems like I’m about to buy a very sacred heirlom or someting.

Thanks all.

I vote for the sliding front seat,
all else being close contenders.

With kids or dogs who may move about,

the trim adjustment is a big plus.

Happy Holidays!


The Spirit II would be my choice!!
Just from what I have gathered about the boats that you listed I would put them in this order

1 Spirit II

2 Penobscot 17

3 Explorer

4 Loon

the reason that i like the Spirit II better than the penobscot is because of the extra material in the Spirit II. Old Town did a light Royalex lay-up for the penobscots to save weight and that is good, but I would rather have a more durable boat. The wenonah boats are reinforced in the bow and stern and they also have a thinker coating on the outside layer so that it takes longer to wear through. Reason two(and most important) is that I felt like it paddled much better. I like the way that wenonahs come to a much sharper point on the bow and stern. You get that gliding feeling(at least as much as you can with a royalex boat. Where are you located? Give me a call if you are anywhere near Alabama and maybe even come on by and test paddle them. (800)874-5272


Still vote for Spirit II.
Although I own or have owned three Mad River canoes, I think the Explorer is a “truck” compared to the Spirit II. The Explorer has relatively blunt ends, and the V-bottom increases wetted area while providing a kind of stability I do not care for.

Explorer owners become fond of them for good reasons. The boat does a lot of things fairly well. It is a better whitewater boat than the Spirit II, but you aren’t in a whitewater area.

If you weren’t (mistakenly) concerned about stability, I would suggest trying a Mad River Horizon 17, the basic model of which comes at a decent price. Stability is the hobgoblin of novice minds. After a month or two of experience, it just isn’t an issue. Especially if you kneel in difficult circumstances, which you should do anyway, regardless of the boat.

If it is indeed something you want to keep forever and hand down, I’d opt for, without a doubt, the Navarro Loon.

If you just want to get the family on the water and have fun either the Old Town Penobscot 17 or

Mad River Explorer.

If you want a better performer, do-it-all canoe, then the We-no-nah Spirit II.

If it were me:

  1. Navarro Loon 17
  2. Navarro Loon 16
  3. We-no-nah Spirit II
  4. Toss up – Old Town Penobscot 17 & Mad River Explorer.

    Actually, I think you’ll be pleased with any of them.

whichever one you can get used
Don’t resolve yourself to breaking your budget just yet. Give yourself a chance first.

By having three canoes on your short list that are very popular, you stand a very good chance of getting a good used canoe.

You’ll quickly spend the difference in gear anyway.

Get all four…
You’ll end up with that many in a few years anyway!



Spirit II
I paddled the OT 17’ Penobscot as well as the explorer and I have a Spirit II in my collection. If found the OT harder to turn. The Explorer slower.

I have a preferance for Spirit II

Pro: initial stability, speed

Con: high bow likes to catch the wind, tendency to cut through the wave vs deflecting the water. Results in a wetter ride in rapids.

But any of these boats would be a good choice.

Good luck!

Spirit or Penobscot
I’d get either the Spirit II or the Penobscot.