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Submitted: 08-12-2007 by Alaskasteve
I own two Coleman 17' double enders. One (red) is 27 years old and the other (green) is 25. I bought both new and still use them every season. To say I've gotten my money's worth would be an extreme understatement.
When I bought my first Coleman, I was replacing a homebuilt 18' fiberglass canoe that weighed 105 pounds, so that new Coleman seemed light as a feather. It was years before I learned that a Coleman was supposed to be heavy!
My family, friends, and I have used these canoes in lakes, creeks, and rivers all over the road-accessible parts of Alaska. They carry heavy loads, bounce off rocks, slide over logs, run rapids, and ride out 2-foot lake swells.
On moose hunting trips, I've navigated a river with Class II sections many times with a load of gear and meat in my Coleman that the sissy canoes couldn't even float. To be sure, it takes a lot of adrenalin and heavy paddling to weave around rocks in a Coleman, with or without a big load, but I've logged about 700 miles on that river over the years and only capsized once - when my partner's canoe hit mine and pushed it up against a log jam. (I grabbed the bow line, waded out to shallow water, and pulled the Coleman free. Apart from being full of water, the boat, my gear, and the moose meat were undamaged. After changing clothes and recovering my normal body temperature, we went on as if nothing had happened.)
Together, my two Colemans have racked up well over 1800 miles on Alaskan wilderness lakes and rivers, in sun, rain, wind, and snow. Yet, they just keep right on working!
My life and the lives of family and friends have depended on my Colemans many, many times and they have never failed us. On the other hand, I've seen not a few smashed up Old Town, Mad River, and other high-dollar canoes abandoned along wild rivers, and shivered at the thought of their owners' fates.
There are a lot of canoes out there that are lighter, faster, and prettier (not to mention more expensive!) than Colemans, but I know of none that will do the really hard work better. I'd rate my pair as 11's if your rating scale didn't stop at 10!
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