Souris River Quetico 16 vs. 17

-- Last Updated: Jun-24-06 8:38 PM EST --

OK, just because a new job will keep me from making a hoped for trip to the BWCAW this summer, doesn't mean I can't dream of lake tripping canoes and plan to order one this offseason.

A couple of years ago we tripped out of Atikokan, ON with a scout troop in Q 17's. I thought the Q 17 was a fine canoe. Good speed and seaworthiness and incredible stability. Seemed plenty tough too and with the scouts you know even with good intention and effort they got banged around some.

In looking at various kevlar tripping canoes I see that the Q 16 is capacity rated similarly to the Bell Northwind kevlar and the Hemlock Eagle and only a little lower than the Q 17. I couldn't find rating on the Mad River Explorer kevlar or the Wenonah Spirit II.

So my question is would the Q 16 have the capacity for a couple of 200 lb. guys and a weeks gear? Also, how does the Q 16 compare stability wise? I'd prefer to own the Q16 because I often solo my tandems and imagine the Q 17 is a bit much to paddle alone.

If if find a used kevlar in another brand I may jump on it, but if I order a boat it is probably going to be a Souris River Q 16 or 17.

“Just” if you pack carefully.
Capacity ratings can be deceptive. But from the little I know about the Souris hulls, I think you could get maybe 580 pounds in the boat with a good handling margin.

As for stability, if the hulls are very similar and of equal beam, the 16’ hull will be a bit less stable than the 17’ hull.

Hull shape
If I recall correctly from my insomniac surfing last night the Q 16 has a slightly more rounded bottom compared to the Q 17 which is described as flat in the very center. The beam is a inch narrower also. I studied the Q 17 bottom when we had them secured for the night on that scout trip, but darned if I remember my impressions about it 3 years later.

This would further cut capacity, but
would make the 16 a better solo boat than if it were as flat bottomed as the 17. A solo paddler may want to tip, or heel, the boat toward the paddling side, and a very flat-bottomed craft may make that difficult.

You’re really looking for an unusual boat, a 16 footer that can carry two guys and gear for a week and also be an efficient solo cruiser. Some of the Prospectors on the market might be worth looking over. Prospectors vary quite a bit in speed and maneuverability, but can offer great capacity.

As I recall, the Souris is a bit fuller going toward the ends, and that gives the 17 extra capacity. Don’t know about the 16.

Estimate of Q16 capacity
I have a 2002 Paddler magazine buyer’s guide and my lake tripper is a Souris River Jensen Huron 18. SR hasn’t made the Jensen Huron since 2001. Anyway this buyer’s guide lists the maximum performance burden (as supposedly recommended by the manufacturer) for both the Q16 and the JH18 at 650 lbs. In the real world of BWCA / Quetico travel I think maximum performance load on my JH18 is 600 lbs, and that’s a hull displacement of about 5". Because both boats were rated the same capacity, I think you would be fine with the Quetico 16 if your load is no more than 600 lbs.

Total Weight
I’m just going from the top of my head, but I think my brother and law and I were under 600 lbs on our 7 day trip a couple of years ago. We rented a Bell Northwind in Kev lite and it handled things just fine. My impression was that it was a real sweet paddler but not the gear hauler that the Q 17 was. We had two scouts and an adult in th Q 17s the year before, plus our personal gear and the really heavy food packs. We could have added another 100 lbs probably with little effect except to maybe cripple us on the portages!

Souris river used to make a prospector. Now, Hellman (who was one of the souris river businesss partners before he went his own way) makes one. I don’t know a whole lot about them, but they look good, and use a similar system of resin/cloth.

My Two Cents
Have done week long trip in the BWCAW with our old Quetico 16 with me and a friend about your size, Rob. Probably the upper limit of this canoe, but got into some 2-3’ waves on Alder and no problems. It will not handle as much as the Mad River Explorer or the Spirit II, but will solo much easier than both. BUT, I have to tell you about a similar, but IMHO BETTER hull. I have the Ranger Otter and it has a similar feel as the Quetico 16, and Mad River Explorer but IMHO it’s a better paddling boat than ANY of the others mentioned except the Bell’s. Kind of feels like an Explorer in that it has similar primary and secondary stability, but doesn’t feel like it takes as much effort to get it moving as the Explorer does (I’m talking about the composite, not royalex Explorer). It’s hard to describe, but it seemed to have all the attributes of the Explorer hull, but was easier to paddle; so essentially a “Tweaked” Explorer. I think if a person took a Wenonah Adirondack, a Quetico 16, and a composite Explorer, threw them in a big pot, then mixed them together you would get this boat. Had a nice long boat discussion with the guy that delivered the canoe (he delivers boats for several manufacturers in the northeast) and he told me the manufacturer of the Ranger was friends with THE Henry’s, so he’s no stranger to canoe hull design. I’d like for you to try this boat before you buy a Quetico since the prices of the Souris have risen to the moon. E-mail me, Rob, as I still have access to the my old Quetico 16. When I sold it it was with the understanding that I could use it anytime I liked. Here’s a link to their website. Also, he has a few on E-nay right now. He’s got a kevlar “Blem” on E-bay for the same as a new 'glass model. Really happy with mine. Let me know, maybe we can meet somewhere and you could try both boats. Take care. WW

Saw a fair number of folks with Hellman canoes last September in British Columbia. I agree, they look nice. Wish I had the chance to test drive one or two.

Thanks for your thoughts on this, Terry. I know you’ve spent time in lots of these boats and owned a number of them. I will drop you an email with some questions.

I remember talking to you a couple of years ago about your Q 16 but forgot that you still had access to it. That is a pretty cool deal keeping the borrow back rights! :wink:

Those Ranger Otters look very interesting. Some of the specs like the low bow and stern hight and small amout of rocker catch my eye. Does it turn OK and ride over waves well enough?

A meet up and paddle sounds wonderful. Lets look into that.

I Prefer Lower Stems
Never been fond of those big 22-24" stems that catch the wind, That said, I like 20" and was a little sqeemish at going down to 19". Then I thought wait a minute, I’ve used a Wenonah Adirondack has a 19.5" bow and I believe 16" stern. I’ve paddled it solo in the BWCAW a half dozen times and about 10-12 times tandem, and sometimes in big stuff, sometimes with a couple big guys. I haven’t had the Ranger to the BWCAW yet, and because of my change in health it probably won’t ever take the kind of trips I used to take. But, having paddled the other boats loaded and unloaded I think the Ranger would have pretty much the same volume as the Quetico 16 and possibly a hair more than the Adirondack, a bit less than the Explorer. IMHO it accelerates from a stopped position quicker than any of those, but it isn’t a Bell! And the lack of rocker isn’t that big a deal unless on a narrow, twisty stream. It would have no problem maneuvering on Village Creek or any of those rivers I paddled in Texas, or most here in the Ozarks except the smaller creek-like rivers. I would say the maneuverability would be similar to the Quetico 16, possibly better. Here’s a link to some pics of mine, Rob. WW

Thanks for all the photos Terry. That is very helpful. What a nice looking canoe – pretty lines. It does look like it would move very well (reminds me a little of my old Sawyer Cruiser).

Your point is well taken on the bow and stern heights. It certainly looks like the cross winds would bother you less.

Tell me about the "combination shallow V/ shallow arch bottom. Does the V carry back farther to the center than most boats but not all the way? I’ve only test paddled Mad Rivers solo at a demo day, and I paddle mainly healed over Texanadian style :slight_smile: so I never really noticed the possible issue of a shallow V rocking from one side to the other as I’ve seen mentioned by some when critiquing the shallow V.

Hey Rob! Paddled most all the Souris

– Last Updated: Jun-26-06 7:43 AM EST –

models and owned a few, The 16 in particular. Will make this short as you have a lot of good info already, especially from Terry.

I liked my Souris 16 tandem, but sold it to make room for some solos as I prefer them. I had tried it solo and was not overly impressed, but it did not have a center seat either. Later when I paddled a new 16 set up as a solo I immediately bought it! What a difference a dedicated center solo seat made!

I tried a 17 for a short paddle, but did not like it's handling as a solo at all. Could see getting into trouble in weather if lone paddling.

Tried the 17.5' Prospector and loved it even in the solo position, BUT several old timers kept telling me normally no more than 16' for soloing. They stated strongly absolutely no more than 16.5' even for advanced (professional was the word they used) solo paddlers! I did listen for a change and passed on the Prospector. :^( I prefer the Prospector as it fits the river stuff I like most. If you like action in your rivers and were to get two boats I would suggest a prospector and a 16 set up with three seats each.

The Souris 16 was the main light pack horse tandem for years in the BWCA and Quetico. It is still just as good as ever. The 17 has taken over as the main back woods horse with a little more speed and capacity, but is too long for a serious solo boat. There is also the restrictions on which canoe you can strap to a bush plane. Remember it being reported here that they were tightening up on maximum canoe size after an increase in problems. Can not remember for sure, but think the small planes can not take the 17s. Up sizing the plane can cost a lot more!

There was some issues expressed here on the boards about service from the importer. My personal experiences are if you are buying a major item they are all over you trying to please. If you want something small, even if a follow up to a large purchase it is difficult. Trying to get extra seat for 16 I was told to go to Souris direct. Souris told me to go to importer. I went to another party after doing without my extra seats for the season. Parts for a pack system finally came after a few calls and a wait.

All the new Souris have taken big leaps in price. (Best educated guess is loss of new business tax breaks and environmental issues drove prices up. The last Duralite 16 I purchased was right at $1,000, but now is $2,000!) I do not even look at the new ones any longer. The used supply has seemed to dried up with the new higher prices in effect. Spring Creek and one of the other outfitters had used Souris canoes every year, year around, especially 16s and 17s, but I have not seem them for the last two years.

If you are going up there anway and can get to Thunder Bay, ON you should find much better prices. I had good quotes for several different Souris models, but ended up not being able to make the trips around the big lake.

Hope helps a little.



Just checked Spring Creek.
They have in stock some used Souris 17s, but no 16s.

The site: look under “canoes” and then both "other"s


Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience Mick. Supports my thinking on the 17’s marginal suitability for soloing.

Good to see those Duralites at Spring Creek. Thats a good reminder of the hull shape. Can’t help but think of the scout trip I was on when we used those. It would be good if those ended up with a troop – or maybe aluminum is the only way to go there! :slight_smile:

Is a good foto of the 17s.
I just went out under the deck to look at my 16. Belly seems a little bit rounder and the V of the bow and sterm steem about a quarter to a third shorter than the 17s.

Think you have the two pegged pretty well.



Try This Again
I’ll make this short and sweet. Had a lengthy post and lost it, I think went off-line for awhile. The hull is a shallower “V” than the Mad River, but is from stem to stem. I’ll take a pic later with the Wenonah Adirondack and it’s shallow arch side by side to compare. WW

Sounds Good
Thanks Terry. Those Ranger pictures on Ebay are helpful also. No bottom shots, but several angles and close ups of the trim.

Did you get another Adirondak? Man, I can’t keep up with whats in your fleet!!:slight_smile: The one I test paddled was nice. I know you had some good times with yours.

'Ol Blue

– Last Updated: Jun-27-06 12:40 AM EST –

My 1st Wenonah. 'Ol Blue actually looks white on the bottom, very little gelcoat left. Boyscout was wanting it, but it's still in the barn. Tried to download pics, but this freakin' @#$%&! HP piece of crap camera won't download! I'll try again tomorrow to retrieve those pics. WW

When Terry wins the lottery …
first he will buy a real camera to replace that “freakin’ @#$%&! HP piece of crap camera”

… then he’ll buy some more canoes