Submitted: 05-31-2006 by Eridu
Well, we just returned from a 3 day 3 night trip on the Jack's Fork river in Missouri. The Camper performed well on the class I/II river. My wife loves to bring "everything" when we go canoe camping and the boat took it all with freeboard to spare.
I found the handling of the Camper to be reasonable on moving water. The boat did oilcan a bit on wave trains. Perhaps the most interesting tidbit of handling characteristics is that although the initial stability is great (I stood up to get a better view of all turns, riffles and wildlife) secondary seemed impressive. We had a bit of navigational diffuculty after passing the confluence of the Alley Spring (81 million gallons of cold water a day) and we hit a nasty rootwad after a sharp bend. The boat went to the gunwhales and popped back up. Yeah for my team.
Still pool paddling was possible with good tandem technique. The boat tracks and glides reasonable well and the flat bottom allowed enough sideslip when leaned to maneuver tight river conditions.
My camper is the Royalex layup. The Upper Forks was a little below ideal float conditions and we hit just about every rock in the river. I think we left a green trail over 10 miles long =) The boat is no worse for the wear.
As far as capacity goes. I did not weigh all the gear that went with us on our trip but a guesstimate including our weight puts our load out at around 550 pounds. The camper handeled better with the load.
Our first day on the river we kind of lazed about and float-fished the day away not paying attention to the mileage we needed to cover. This put us at a hard 18 miles to our next planned gravel bar. This is when we discovered how well the Camper can scoot down the river. We passed OT Discover169's (outfitters boat of choice for the Jack's Fork) all day long and actually arrived at our next gravel bar in plenty of daylight! Can't say enough about the speed of this boat with a load. Our friends were in their 169 kept commenting on how fast our boat was.
Overall we are impressed with our Camper as a camping canoe. We haven't had it on the lake yet, but it does a supberb job with the little ones on local rivers and creeks. It will hold a ton and get more stable and handle better the more load you put on it. Loading and unloading onto the trailer is a one man operation at 59 pounds. I highly recommend this canoe to a family or someone who likes to canoe camp on rivers and creeks. I would give it a ten but it has no built in cupholders and I have a hell of a time getting the sand out of the hull after a trip. My old Ottawa 17'fiberglass will remain parked in the shed until the Camper breaks!