Submitted: 05-07-2008 by mr_canoehead
This is just an initial review, to be followed up with a more thorough one later in the summer.
I just took out my new Hellman Slocan, and was suitably impressed. Compared to my favorite old Trailhead/Mad River 17' Prospector, this canoe meets and exceeds the standard. It is very maneuverable, predictable, and the final stability is fantastic. Dealing with Hellman was a very positive experience, and I would recommend him highly.
The fit and finish of the hull/layup was excellent, and the woodwork was very good (though not quite as nice as the old Bell's, or other "fancy" canoes). The construction feels very solid, the thwarts are well placed, the yoke was balanced and reasonably comfortable, the boat weighed exactly as it was advertised. The seats are mounted on rails riveted to the hull. They are comfortable, and a compromise between higher (for better kneeling) and lower for sitting. Personally, I would have liked them just about an inch higher for whitewater use (especially if you have big feet). Having them low, though, stabilizes the canoe while sitting.
This canoe is claimed to be "twice as fast as a plastic boat". That is an exaggeration. While efficient for a boat of this type, it moved along well, but didn't strike me as being a speed demon.
I have owned over a dozen canoes, and paddled many more. I believe this Hellman is my new favorite for a mixed (flat and whitewater) tripping design. Definitely worthy of consideration if you are looking at an OT Tripper, Mad River Revelation, Bell Alaskan, or Nova Craft Prospector 17. While a bit more expensive, I suspect this canoe will out-perform them all.
As I said - more to follow...