Submitted: 05-22-2008 by Ryan Pfeiffer
The paradox of being a canoe lover is that we buy canoes to escape the world of things, and then we obsess interminably about our canoes. (Is this bad? Is it bad that Iím at work right now, writing this review?)
My Quetico 17 (green Kevlar, le tigre pattern) is the third addition to my fleet, which includes a Wenonah Sundowner 17 (royalex) and a Souris River Tranquility solo (kevlar). My decision to buy a new canoe was catalyzed by the basic fact that my 34-yr old back can no longer endure portages beneath my 65 lb Sundowner.
In the process of demoing canoes, I came very close to purchasing a Wenonah Minnesota II. While empty, the Minnesota II has an absolutely beautiful glide. (I suspect that the canoe actually planes when paddled hard.) Tracking is superb, and much like a train on a track, you point the canoe in the right direction and seem to head directly there.
Ultimately, I decided upon the Quetico 17, and for the following reasons. First, I am a traditional paddler, and I like to feel my canoe respond to my corrective strokes. The Quetico turns on a dime, whereas the MN II is somewhat resistant to the j-stroke. Traditional paddlers will probably prefer the Quetico, whereas NATT-style jocks will probably like the MN II. (As a purely sociological matter, I'll bet that people in MN II's tend to wear fleece, whereas people in Queticos wear checkered wool.)
Second, the Quetico 17 is a more stable platform than the MN II. (I had no problem standing up in the Quetico in a slight breeze, but I didnít dare do so in the MN II.) Stability is important to me because Iím an unstoppable fisherman. I simply cannot afford to capsize in 35-degree water while bringing a lake trout or a gator pike into my boat.
Third (and related to the last), the Quetico has more freeboard than the MN II, which sits very low in the water even with a minimal load. Waves in the Canadian Boundary waters can become quite large, and Iím inclined to think that the MN II would easily take on water. (Iíve read that the Quetico 17ís load capacity exceeds the MN II by over 200 lbs, and I donít doubt it.)
Fourth, Iím inclined to believe that epoxy really is stronger than polyvinyl resin. (Wenonahs are made out of the latter.) I do not EVER want to puncture my canoe when I am in the tundra a week from the nearest town. (I almost punctured my royalex canoe during a 28-degree overnighter, so I know that the danger exists.)
Fifth, I love the aesthetics of green Kevlaróespecially when sunlight is pouring through it. Last week, a 10 or 11 year old girl came up to me as I was launching my Tranquility (made of the same green Kevlar as my Quetico) and told me that ďit is really, really pretty.Ē I agree.
I love my Quetico. Maybe one day I will buy a Minnesota II for its marginal additional speed. But before I do that, it might make sense to have Verlan Kruger build me a custom kevlar job with a sail...