Submitted: 01-14-2008 by mtbikernate
Some folks have given this boat some pretty scathing reviews and for the life of me I can't figure out why.
I bought the royalex version of this boat used at the end of the summer of 2007 and got several trips in this boat before the season ended.
Now keep in mind that this boat is intended to be versatile. It's meant to handle both light rapids and some open water stretches as well as haul some gear. As such, it cannot excel at anything in particular, although if I had to say what this boat's strength is, it would be river tripping.
I outfitted mine with some bow/stern flotation, a thwart bag for the stern and an under-seat bag for the bow. I plan on adding some gear lashing points for amidships this winter. So far, most of my paddling in this boat has been on flatwater since most rivers were too low by late summer.
This boat has very deep ends that catch the wind easily, so you have to work harder to keep it going straight. With practice, though, it's not so bad. It does glide pretty well for what it is and my wife (who is rather small) and I can actually pick up a fair bit of speed in it.
On the limited moving water use this boat has received, the deep ends helped to keep spray in the river where it belonged. A well used paddle can nearly turn this boat on a dime, so it's nicely maneuverable, at least when lightly loaded. It's a little lively at first, but put this boat on a lean and you find a nice sweet, solid spot. I'm very confident in the boat's stability, although my wife might beg to differ when I'm testing the boat's limits.
I've not yet loaded this boat with its limit of gear or people yet. I've only paddled it with a limited amount of equipment (less than 300lb worth of paddlers plus some food and drinks for lunch). I would suspect that the boat will settle down when loaded. I'm not concerned with pushing the limits on a camping trip. I'm a backpacker with a lot of lightweight gear. I can pack gear and food for two people plus a dog for a week for less than 80lb, so even when I go cushy for a canoe trip, I won't be pushing the capacity limits of this boat.
As long as you keep in mind that this boat is intended to be a versatile canoe and as such will be full of compromises, this canoe performs its intended purpose very well. Nothing is perfect, so I can't in good conscience give it a 10, but I'm more than satisfied with this boat. And if I had the money, I might actually have paid full price for a new one even.