Submitted: 12-31-1999 by DMB
My primary concern for critical evaluation of this canoe is how well it performs as a touring canoe for my style of touring in the BWCAW. My son and I have been going there every year for a 7-10 day trip for the last 7 years.
We go there to get away from people, fish and relax. We usually go in as far as we can comfortably get in a fairly aggressive one day paddle, 10 to 20 miles depending on # of portages and the wind. We target lakes and campsites that are not part of primary routes or loops, but offer seclusion, good campsites and good fishing.
We set up a very comfortable camp with a 4-6 man tent with standup and walk around room, hammocks and many creature comforts that the ultra light canoe-camper will forgo. We also take in enough fishing tackle to cover everything from large northerns, deep water lake trout, walleyes and small mouths. If they swim we try to catch'em.
Needless to say we are very heavy going in (4 full size duluth packs plus the food pack)and the Camper handles the load extremely well. It is a little tight but we squeeze em in. We still have plenty of freeboard and the low center of gravity makes for excellent stability. We've been on Sagnaga and across Cache Bay in less than favorable windy weather and the canoe fared far better than my nerves did. It can get real nasty out there real quick and the canoe just took it in stride. I'm not talking 3' swells and white caps here, but it has been far from the kind of weather you hope for.
Once we set up base camp we day trip in every possible direction with light packs and our fishing gear. The Camper is an outstanding fishing platform. The royalex is extremely quite, even when a less than graceful 14 year old bounces his paddle off the side or drops a tackle box, All you get is a soft "tump". Hardly enough to scare even a shy walleye. In addition we do not have to be extremely cautious when it comes to landing the canoe. If we scrape a rock or two the royalex Camper slides right over them.
Along with it's quietness, is the type of stability the flat bottom design offers. I am aware that in extreme conditions a curved or rounded bottom canoe will handle rougher water before it flips, but I am not going out in those conditions. What I am trying to do is keep from getting motion sickness caused by my young fisherman's casting style. At his age he still uses his whole body to cast or set the hook and the constant jerking and rolling motion in a curved bottom canoe makes for a nerve wracking experience. In the Camper I can relax, leaning back in the woven cane back rest, almost to the point of taking a nap, while Mike does battle with the fish up in the front.
The only thing I might like to see is 6" to 8" more in length to help handle the load for an 8-10 day trip. It would add a pound or two in weight but next year Mike will be big enough to carrying the canoe so I don't have to worry.
If you know of a canoe that does what this one does, only better, I would love to know about it. I have not found one but I am always looking.