Tripper XL Yes or No

I’m dying to own an Old Town Tripper XL. The regular sized Tripper is second on my list (which I have quite a bit of experience with and love). I already have a Penobscot 17, and eventually I’m going to get a light weight solo. I would use the Tripper XL for all sorts of things. Big water, hauling two to three people with camping gear, general recreation, moderate rivers, day tripping for fun…

What are your thoughts on this? Any owners? Am I crazy? Yeah, I think I can load and unload it solo with some grunting and technique. No portages-ever!

Your opinions are valued! I guess I’m looking for an Old Town Tripper vs. Old Town Tripper XL comparson. Yes, I’ve read the reviews, but would like more first hand info.

Had a Tripper, it was heavy enough.
Consider a Wenonah Itasca. Faster than a Tripper, and about as maneuverable. Flexcore probably best if you intend to do much whitewater. Another dark horse is the Jensen designed Sea-Tripper by Western/Clipper.

Major rock bashing?
The Tripper is great for doing that and hauling a load. But if you’re on lakes or non-rocky rivers, go with a lighter, composite boat. The Clipper Tripper is a great big water boat that hauls as much as the OT Tripper. I agree with g2d that there are better choices if you aren’t running over rocks.

Canoe choices
I won’t be doing any major rock bashing. This would be more of a giant recreational canoe that would be used by me and mine, and a buddy’s teenagers (my fishing buddies). I hate to admit it, but it would also be fitted with a two horse outboard on some occassions (or an electric trolling motor) when heading up large rivers with large loads.

I guess the thinking is “Avoid the weight!” Keep those opinions coming. That’s just what I’m looking for!

Tripper XL’s unique attributes
I’ve often thought about setting up a big boat capable of “doing it all” … i.e. being adaptable to widely differing loads and water conditions. And although the Tripper XL is definitely pushing the “cartoppable” envelope, it DOES offer the crashworthiness of Royalex in a really big boat. There are often times that being able to survive a mistaken collision or other “stress event” IS CRUCIAL … this is where the resilient hull and huge thwarts (structural support) of the XL would stand tall. The XL’s weight (105 lbs) does make it too heavy to portage much at all (unless you set it up for tandem carry or wheeling) … and as I see it, this (and it’s susceptibility to outer vinyl skin abrasion) is it’s biggest drawback. However, if you were to use it for coastal touring (put a cover on it), it would offer the extra security to really jump “out there”. Set it up for rowing and/or use with a 2 hp 4-stroke Honda for covering large distances. It would serve as a big, tough “recreational canoe platform” for casual stuff around home and occasionally, as an unmatched wilderness tripper that could go out for hundreds of miles and a couple months at a time … with the realistic expectation of being tough enough to bring you home. Like climbing mountains, no trip is a success unless you return safely … and this capability would be where the XL would excel due to it’s volume (high freeboard) and flexible hull construction. And if it were mine, I’d consider using those massive thwarts to “post down” to a longitudinal support about 8-10 feet long along it’s belly to firm up it’s shallowarch when loaded heavily in rough waters. Posting down to a single crosscountry ski works great in 16-18 foot Royalex canoes … i.e. for supporting their arch and avoiding any oilcanning.

Another choice … in a slightly smaller, lighter hull … would be Wenonah’s 18 ft. Royalex Champlain. It would serve about the same and weigh 30 lbs less … and be a little less “tough” and voluminous … but still serve as a huge and very useful canoe … and all the while being appreciably FASTER than the XL !!!

Champlain is a great suggestion
Since the durability of a royalex hull seems to count heavily in this selection and volume and seaworthiness are also mentioned, the Champlain is a good choice. It was designed as a superlarge Spirit II and gave up a bit of Wenonah speed for extra stability and capacity. It is ideally suited for really big people and their camping loads. And it is much faster than the Tripper or XL Tripper.

The other choice for a multi-person big boat is the Minnesota III at 20’. It will not have the volume of the XL Tripper, but is much much faster than any of the Royalex Canoes and much much lighter, about half of the XL’s weight.

Since there is already a Tripper in the stable, the Minnesota III gives a second type of canoe, suited to the open water long distance trips. There will still be the Tripper for the rock bashing downriver expeditions. With three people all paddling, the Minnesota III flies, makes a long day into a short fun one. And when traveling with other canoes the people in the Minnesota III can loaf along. It has great seaworthiness.

The above suggestion of putting props down from the thwarts to a ski along the bottom is a good way to keep the bottom stiff, but defeats the flexibility of the royalex if you run over a rock. Wenonah used a center-rib layup for years in their whitewater racers, but connected the thwarts to the center rib with shock absorbers, they were spring loaded enough to prevent oil-canning, but would give under impact and spring back into position when that portion of the hull cleared the obstacle. You may still be able to buy the shocks from Wenonah to install in a Tripper, it would be safer than a fixed prop.


Wenonah Champlain
I’m thinking this is a very reasonable choice for my purposes. What about the durability of Kevlar? I don’t plan on this canoe seeing serious whitewater, and I like the light weight.

What about comparable Souris River or Bell Canoes? Any thoughts on those?

Thanks for your experience/knowledge!


Flexcore Champlain
If you don’t need Royalex for rock insurance, then a flexible Kevlar lay-up (so you don’t have to worry about cracking a foam core) would weigh around 60 lbs. I’d go with wood trim to make it feel more solid and even accept the weight penalty of a gel coat exterior so that it will still look great 10 years from now. A huge composite canoe that looks and performs great at around 62-64 lbs (with wood) is a smart long term investment that will withstand lots of use (just try to “wear it out”) but not “impact abuse”. The advantages of this construction are that it is fast, lightweight and abrasion resistent. This hull will stay fairly “smooth” (even with scratches) throughout it’s life … and will not be compromised by end abrasion like Royalex is when it’s core is exposed … and then requires patches.

I did a paddle several years ago with a local club. About 25-30 yaks, 4 canoes. Wide range of boats. One of the canoes was a 20foot XL tripper. The guy who had loved it. He had fitted up wheels and a hitch so he could tow it with his bike trails permitting. His wife and he had paddled all over the country! Throw every thing in and go. They loved the tripper. What impressed me was that the front boats in the float were a couple of sea yaks, the then me (soloing my sons MCA wood striper) then the XL tripper. It is not a real pig with decent paddlers in it, they were far ahead of most of the yaks… I generally agree with the plaid ones advice but I want to add that the XL impressed me that day.

I need more storage!!! And more money!!!

The Tripper is looking good because Cabelas dropships Old Towns and I get points towards purchase on my Visa. I think for the abuse it will take, it’s the one, but I won’t know for sure until I spend the pesos. I think that one of these days I’ll have a killer kevlar job, but it may have to wait. I’m welcome to all other input for a big, multipurpose canoe, however.

another thing to think about
If the kids you paddle with are prone to stepping into the canoe on land and doing other kid activities in the canoe, the Tripper will hold up to it. Tends to make the day less worrisome. After you train them and they carry the Tripper for a few years, they’ll help pay for the kevlar canoe. lol

the tripper XL isnt a good solo
Having so much mass and momentum it puts tremendous stress on your joints if you ever solo it or plan to pole it.

Dont know what kind of rivers you would use it on. Here where its made its a good up river boat for tidal rivers that are a mile wide

And its little brother the Tripper Normal for rocky river trips where upriver travel is by poling.Have seen motors on both.

It’s heavy!! Think I need a composite!
I was moving some stuff in my house so I can paint and do some remodeling. I have an ampliphier that weighs 90lbs. As I was carrying it out to stash it in my travel trailer, I thought, “Oh my. An Old Town XL is at least 15lbs heavier than this!”

Now I’m back to square one-either an Old Town Tripper 17’, or pop the bucks for a compostite in giant size. Oh well, more to think about now!

There is seldom a need on a trip for the volume available in the XL Tripper. Even a good 17’ canoe will carry all the gear you would want to lug across a portage on a trip. Think about this; 300# of gear is six 50#packs. With two people that amounts to three round trips across every portage trail. And with 50#packs you will be making one more trip for the canoe, paddles, and loose odds and ends. And a 105# canoe even carried double is another trip with a 50# load.

So how much gear will you carry? Most people after one overloaded trip will draw the line at what they can carry in two trips across the carries. Only extended wilderness trips with large food loads and special equipment needs will take more.

My personal trips are made in a 17’ Wenonah Spirit. Even Boy Scout trips where as leader i need to carry all the ‘plan B’ extras are made with the same canoe.

Just one trip with in the Adirondacks with a kevlar boat vs the standard scout issue Grumman is enough to prove the benefits of a light efficient canoe. Trips on whitewater rivers would likely prove the merits of royalex. The obstacles found in the Adirondacks and lakes and rivers in NY. PA. NJ. Ontario, and Quebec that i have frequented have not ruined the cross-rib kevlar hull in the old Spirit after twenty years.

Try out several varieties of canoes that will fit your needs, paddle them, carry them, and load them onto a vehicle or high rack. And for goodness sake, go to a real canoe and kayak shop. The mail order and big box stores may have lower prices on the models that they carry, but the help and assistance you will receive towards finding the ideal canoe for your needs will far outweigh the extra price you will pay. It does cost money for the specialty shop to inventory all the models that the good shops carry, and to maintain test paddling locations.

Nothing replaces a test paddle, especially when you can compare different canoes back to back.


I sure agree with you about canoe volume. However, my love of canoes prohibits me from making an objective decision!

Unfortunately, I live in San Diego in the Peoples’ Republic of Kalifornia, and there are no local canoe shops here with significant inventory-Kayaks are another matter-REI had two canoes the last time I visited, in a county with two million people.

Deals like drop ships from Cabelas with less than $40 shipping are the bomb for guys like me. I dream of having a local, well stocked, highly professional shop in my local that sells canoes. I do most of my canoeing in the Northwest where I was raised. In San Diego, it’s mostly local reservoirs.

Fortunately, I will be returning to the Northwest sometime later this year, for good. I can’t wait to be in a place where I don’t have to make reservations to camp a year in advance on a three day weekend (and I don’t like camping in places like that anyhow).

Gotta run. The wife is hollering!