To buy or not to buy, that is the question...

Ok, so I am looking for some advice from some folks who have more experience than I do. I’ve been learning a lot about canoes and have decided it’s time for us to purchase one inestead of continuing to borrow and rent them. Here are the two I’m thinking about and below is what I’ll mainly be using it for:

  1. 17’ Mad River Royalex (1980’s) and I’m afraid to give too many details because I’m afraid someone will read this and go buy it before I can! Lol! Weighs 80lbs $400
  2. Old Town Discovery 174, again, an older boat for $300. Weighs 85lbs-ish

The canoe will mostly be used for remote campsites on lakes and rivers in Maine and therefore, we want a sturdy, big, large capacity, tank that is hard to roll since we have a never ending supply of kids (right now our twins are 14 and older ones are early 20’s) who will be using it as well as my husband and I who are by no means experts when it comes to paddling. But we love being out on the water and searching for the best private campsite there is…with way too much gear! Ha!

The kids will likely paddle right into rocks and in places they’d never want me to know they went when they borrow it…so it needs to be bullet proof. Yes, we know both are heavy and no, I can’t afford a brand new boat made of Kevlar or whatever.

Ok, please advise. Thanks!

Either would do fine… The Mad River is no doubt a better design. “Rolling” is a matter of paddler proficiency as much as boat design…
I’d go for the Royalex if its not been stored in direct sunlignt.
Discos have a tendency to have a hogged bottom which makes steering harder.

kayamedic, thank you for your reply! The MR has been stored inside and looks beautifully taken care of. It’s my top choice but wanted to check with all of you before making a final decision. There are so many canoes out there to choose from and it’s intense trying to figure out what’s what when you’re looking at used…so thank you!

I have a 1989 Mad River 17ft Explorer. Great boat, 75# per the old catalog (if my memory is correct). The one your looking at probably has wood gunnels. Make sure they are not rotted or cracked. I oil mine twice a year (labor of love) and they hold up fine.

If in good shape, get the Mad River.

Tis a good thing you didn’t reveal the location… I have been scouring Uncle Henrys…lol…

@kayamedic said:
Tis a good thing you didn’t reveal the location… I have been scouring Uncle Henrys…lol…

So glad the seller didn’t use Uncle Henry’s…Kayamedic and Cannonball, I rushed down to Auburn, NH in the rain to buy the Mad River! (Well, my husband did the driving and I knit like a badass in the passenger seat…ha!) The seller had no idea what it was. This particular canoe was made for LL Bean in 1983 and has a Bean logo on the side. All wood on the boat is in great shape, beautiful.

I was paranoid that someone else was going to swoop in and buy it while I debated but because the seller didn’t know what it was, they had it listed as “L.L. Bean canoe”. I messaged the ll Bean historians to get more info on the boat before I purchased after getting the VIN from the seller. They were super helpful and confirmed it was sold through them in 1983 as a touring canoe.

Even when speaking to the LL Bean historian, I was cautious not to give too much information because I worried the LL Bean rep would try to buy it out from under me! Ha!

I ended up messaging LL Bean again after I bought the canoe and asked if they could send me that page in the 1983 catalogue, just so I will have it for my records.

Cannonball, would linseed oil be good for the gunnels or is there something else you use?

I use WATCO brand exterior wood finish. That is what Mad River recommended way back. I assume quality any exterior oil would work.