Submitted: 09-02-2008 by Peter Kamper
I have over 25 years of experience with the 17' models of Coleman and now Pelican. I own an outfitting business (Alaska Expedition Service) in Alaska. For teams that do not have to fly out and thereby need a folding canoe, I always used Coleman Canoes, which obviously are now the 'Pelican' canoes.
We outfit for long tours (14-21 days), that demand a canoe you can count on. Even in extremely rocky situations, I have never had a customer who complained about the hull. The 17 foot version of the hull works great for load on extended trips and is pretty much indestructible, which you can't say about fiberglass canoes. If they break, you are in a world of hurt.
We do put down 8 layers of duct tape into the keel before we assemble the canoe, because small rocks punch easily through that area if pressed - once ending up there - through the hull by the center rod. The duct tape creates a buffer zone for rocks that has served us well.
The Coleman/Pelican hulls have impressed me with their ease of repair (Lighter and glue stick).
They spring leaks in shallow rivers (gravel) after about 2000- 3000 miles of bush travel. That's about 8-10 trips or 9 month in shallow rivers; pushing, sliding, pulling them at times with rougly 400 pounds of gear through gravel and rock. Their ability to ride over rocks and bend (flexibility) is great. It's another reason (next to the price) that I prefer them over fiberglass canoes. I will buy more of them, and no .... I'm not getting a discount.
That sounds like a great review, right? So why am I only giving them a '7' rating? The seats Pelican put into the hulls are not, what I need to outfit long distance (up to 600 miles) excursions, and the center seat just takes up unnecessary space. People who wrote before me said, that the seats don't even work. I would not know.
Since the hulls are still the same, I was able to put seats and cross braces from the old Colemans into the new Pelican hulls. Then I repaired the old Coleman hulls for lake use, put the new Pelican seats into the old canoes (you need to drill new holes, but that doesn't take long) and gave them to the boy scouts.
I wish that Pelican would give options on seats and would make the old line of two crossbraces and two seats on it's 17-foot canoe available again. In the meantime, I am exchanging the excellent hulls, but I'm keeping the old hardware.