Submitted: 01-16-2009 by loucksgl
The Esquif Champlain in kevlar is an absolutely wonderful canoe. It light, fast and responds wonderfully to J Stroking. The 16' craft is easy to paddle solo sitting in the front facing rearward with ballast at opposite end. I fill a dry bag with about 30lb water and stuff it in the nose. Of course a boat loaded with gear will negate need for additional ballast.
This boat is top quality and blemish free. The kevelar is yellow in color. Ash trim was requested for my canoe but aluminum is available. Fit and finish are superb. The 1.5" rocker both ends is perfect for big water. Glide is exceptional and the canoe will turn on a dime and give change. Its light weight, 37lb, does make it sensitive to winds greater than gentle, but it is nothing of concern.
I am 63 years old and loading and unloading are issues of concern. I load and unload this canoe myself onto and off of my truck cap with ease. It is an effortless act. Empty; the boat feels tippy until one gets used to it. Ballast in the nose really firms it up. Secondary is great. I ordered mine with a center seat. I would not, however, do this again. I find it almost impossible to control this canoe from a center seated position. The paddle does not reach back far enough for corrective strokes to be highly effective. Distance across the gunnels is widest in the center and causes paddle contact with the boat.
In summary, there are more expensive canoes out there but I feel none better. I am wondering why the Esquif Champlain hasn't been included in canoe reviews. It's a superb canoe, yet a hard boat to find information about on the internet. I'd put it against many of the well known brands and prove it superior in many areas. And yes, I'd buy another one.