Submitted: 08-16-2007 by jeff
Me and my buddy went into Academy Sports and got one of these after a year of renting canoes. We wanted something cheap and big enough for camping. We've been very happy with it considering the price.
In flatwater rivers and streams this boat performs fairly well. We always carry two 48 quart coolers, which fit side-by-side behind the middle seat. Add three days of camping gear and we're quite heavy. Never had a stability problem and it tracks very well. Makes a great expedition/fishing/camping boat.
Not a good boat for rapids. This boat is very flat and straight keeled. The keel on the bottom is great on flat water but a bad choice in whitewater. After gaining about three years canoe experience we ventured into big rapids for the first time last fall. On the Rio Grand near Big Bend National park we took this boat on a three-day expedition through class II-IV rapids (Colorado Canyon after big rains). We handled the first Class III rapids just fine. The next class III threw us for a loop. We found that the keeled bottom catches submerged rocks which will throw you in the water faster than you can say oh-sh!t. The boat is not quick to maneuver (not designed for that). Once you get in the rapids there is very little you can do to keep the line you want. When we reached the only class IV section we decided to line the boat through rather than try and run it. Good Decision. We fared OK on most class II and stayed dry on only about 50% of the class III.
I like the boat for flatwater expeditions. We'll need a alternate boat that is designed for the rapids. BTW, this boat has been very durable. In flatwater section with partially submerged fallen trees, we just build up a head of steam and hit it hard. Sometimes we make it all the way over and sometimes we just get 1/3 of the way. But the canoe has always held up to that kind of abuse. Never had a leak or any structural problem.