Submitted: 08-06-2004 by PGlassen
I was at first reluctant to offer a review because I am a beginning canoeist. But then I saw some reviews of interest giving new canoeist's first impressions. Besides, despite numerous reviews of Western's classic Tripper model, there was no review of the Tripper "S". Just be aware that this is not a comparison because I have virtually nothing to compare my boat to. The Tripper S is one foot shorter and slightly narrower than Western's classic Tripper. It is a combination (compromise?) solo/tandem. Besides two of Western's highly regarded bucket or tractor seats, it has a sloped kneeling thwart for solo paddling. This encourages, requires, the soloist to assume the traditional kneeling posture. Good for stability - I love that about it. Not so good for tired old knees - I've taken up canoeing at the end of my sixth decade. I found it difficult to get canoe information living in the heart of sea kayak country/waters (Vancouver Island, British Columbia). But I persisted and went to the source, Western's home location in Abbotsford, B.C. Having sold a sailboat because I could not raise a crew in my family, I still vacilated over solo vs. tandem canoe. The Tripper S offered the solution allowing me to get experience both ways. Canoeing has been great this first summer! In the first month I was probably on the water more times than I had been in two and half years of sailboat ownership. The Tripper S afforded a trauma-free start for a beginner guided only by several how-to books. It is reasonably stable solo or tandem. There is a feeling of sea-worthiness with reserve or ultimate stability. Stability degraded only slightly when carrying two large men and 60 or 70 lbs. of water bags for trim ballast with the heavier but less experienced paddler in the bow. Some camping gear in the bottom may have improved it. My boat is a clear kevlar ultra light, 48.5 lbs. Solo and unballasted it accelerates gratifyingly with each stroke. And, all important for the solo paddler, I can easily cartop it by myself. I find it maneuvers well enough to respond as I practice a variety of strokes. And yet it tracks well enough even light that solo cruising is not frustrating and cross winds are manageable. The aforementioned water ballast, distributed fore and aft, is a help if cross winds are anticipated. I love my boat and would rate it higher than an 8 except that it is, after all, trying to cover two bases at once. A dedicated solo would doubtless be narrower, easier to paddle, and probably higher performing whether a flat water or white water specialist. But the all-around aspect of the "S", its large competent feel, is a delight and is opening up a wonderful world of outdoor sport and exercise for me. Did I say I love my boat and the beautiful places it takes me?