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Submitted: 01-02-2001 by DPG
This canoe is great if used as is intended by Old Town and that would be for general purpose and light-moderate river use. My wife and I travel and camp northern Maine and wanting a canoe after being canoeless for a few years, we rented a Camper and fell in love with it right away. On our next trip to Maine later in the summer of 98, we went right to the Old Town Outlet Store to pick up our own new Camper.
After a few paddles I realized this canoe needed its rear seat lowered compared to the one we rented (I'm 6' 2"@230lbs which I'm sure plays into this, plus I expect a certain feel from the boat that includes a lowish center of gravity), I did that and have been happily padding this canoe for mild class I- II rivers and walk in lakes. We use this canoe for relaxation, photography and fly fishing and the only reason I downgrade it to a 9 is it requires some paddling skill on the stern paddlers part to keep it tracking properly. I use a constant series of correction strokes to keep it on course and even paddling alone as my wife fishes or photographs in the bow, I rarely switch sides, but someone not aware of this characteristic might find this annoying (thought it was worth mentioning).
In terms of stability, there can't be a much better canoe, never a thought of dumping it, even if hitting a submerged object, unlike some canoes that feel like they will dump if touching something, even lightly. We have used it on fairly rough lakes, it's decent in the wind but has no tracking glide at all, if you power off or stop correcting, it will eventually glide through a full 180 deg. skidding rotation or even 360 degs (unlike the Penobscot 17 which we also now own, that will glide for what seems like miles while staying on track). But what a fishing platform, and what a reasonable easy paddler, not real draggy and it will turn very well if needed. It's great to drift down river with and anchor in an eddy, you never feel the seams in the river or that tugging sensation of water direction changes as the canoe swings over feature changes, under way or while at anchor.
The Camper may not win races but you don't really tire either while lake padding, if you keep moderate power on and keep the boat at or around hull speed, it performs quite well IMO (after all, it has its limits and pushing them does little good!). We do load this canoe fairly well at times and it takes at least what we load in it very well, there are higher dryer canoes, there are specialty canoes but for an all purpose canoe for fishing, camping or photography and carrying in, the Camper may well be hard to beat.