Submitted: 11-11-2008 by aarong
We bought the canoe from Gander Mountain for about $430 in the spring of 2007 (having thoroughly read these reviews). I thought I'd put it through its paces before writing anything.
Transport was initially an issue because the canoe is a little too wide for our mini-van factory rack ('99 Mercury Villager). It was just wide enough to slide off the curved end of the rack which totally freaked out my wife a few times on the highway. I wasn't handling it all that well myself to be honest. We fixed this by removing the rack and just using the foam pads from a universal carrier kit and haven't had a problem since.
We have 3 small kids and initially my wife sat in the front and the kids sat in lawn chairs in a line. We never had any stability issues, even when all the kids leaned over to one side to look in the water. Since then I've picked up the plastic bench seat from Old Towne that you can pop on and off and they can all fit sitting on the bench.
It is a bit heavy (74 lbs) for my wife to handle so loading it is a bit of a hassle, she is rather petite for this sort of thing. (Incidentally, I'm looking for a canoe loader if anyone has any recommendations) I usually portage it alone if it's off the vehicle and that's not so bad using the factory yoke. I wouldn't want to go on a long portage without pads though, and mosquitoes seem to revel in the shade provided by the canoe.
When I go solo I've found that I can go through some very shallow water when I kneel down sit reversed on the bow seat. I also have all the control I need from that position. I have the formed plastic seats that aren't exactly comfortable when you sit on them backwards.
It is pretty tough to handle in the wind no matter how you sit or how many people you have in the canoe, but I think that's a problem with any canoe. Having grown up with a virtually indestructible Coleman with a keel this is quite a change, but I take it as a challenge to learn good technique and hopefully pass along a love for canoeing that my parents instilled in me.
I've used it on modest sized lakes and relatively tame rivers so far and the only problem I've run into is dealing with the wind.
Overall I would recommend this to any family that wants to have affordable fun and have a durable canoe that can endure mistakes.