Submitted: 07-21-2009 by Ben Rawls
First and foremost, it was a real pleasure doing business with the Merrimack Canoe Company. I searched through just about every canoe ever made looking for something in preparation for a Boundary Waters trip that I could also use in the Louisiana swamps. I couldn't be more pleased with my Merrimack Prospector.
I've just returned from a two week expedition in the BWCWA and I've been using it solo in the swamps every weekend. My double kevlar hull was a dream to portage, even over back to back 100-200+ rod portages, and handling it solo in the swamps is cake. I even had added weight while portaging due to an unexpected benefit of Merrimack's construction. The inner and outer gunwhales leave small slits between the cherry ribs; perfectly sized for velcro straps which I used to secure my paddles and fishing rods to the boat while portaging.
She swallowed up the biggest, heaviest packs of 2 weeks worth of gear for 4 people no sweat, and as is told in the description, the more weight, the better she tracks. We were amazed how she cut right through the waves. The flip side of that is the canoe's only weakness. Paddling solo with no weight, she's harder to handle in the wind than others. But you can't have your cake and eat it too, it's a deep boat. An experienced paddler can manage.
As far as durability, my Prospector definitely has some "character" now after the Boundary Waters, but nothing like the gouges and planing we started noticing on the keel of my buddy's Royalex hull.
The large seats are so comfortable, we never even once thought about sitting on life jackets or other padding. And of course the sheer beauty of the thing is sure nice for the ego as she's admired everywhere I go.
Bottom line, for those deterred by the price, my Prospector was worth every penny and more.