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Submitted: 06-22-2005 by kgryting
We recently rented a Quetico 18.5 for a family trip to the BWCA. Our family of 5 has outgrown our indestructible cheapo Coleman and we are considering buying a Souris River. No way would we spend that money before giving it a true wilderness test.
We piled in 3 kids (about 40 pounds each), two packs (overloaded to the max), a day/lunch bag and a diaper bag, PLUS the two grown ups (400 pounds together). Freeboard was more than acceptable.
We tried sitting 1 kid in bow and 2 on 3rd seat, or all 3 on 3rd seat. Either way, we were able to trim out pretty well. Bow was narrower than I prefer, but I guess is still better than comparable lightweight models. I was able to sit with two feet together, but felt a bit "pressed" compared to our own canoe. Each of our children did fit sitting or kneeling in the bow as well, but they are very small kids.
Boat was nice and quiet, tracked well and was a bit hard to turn with our usual stern strokes. Stability was not an issue, though we brought along the food pack on day paddles just in case.
Weight (kevlar) was fabulous. I can portage your typical 17' Grumman easy enough, but flipping the heavy canoes I always seem to need a bit of help. Not so with the Quetico. It flipped easily despite its length and portaged like a dream.
We were a bit worried about our first kevlar experience and our tendency to hit rocks despite wet-foot landings. I had visions of duct taping punctures, etc. Luckily, we escaped with mere scratches. Not sure how many were from our trip and how many were from previous renters, but I guess I should consider that a success. I definitely cringed each time we crunched into a landing - and my husband wondered aloud why anyone makes boats that require entering and exiting while already in the water...? Fact of life I guess until the kevlar is replaced by some tank-like material. Anyway, in May I didn't mind the wet feet, though I have to admit I have a new appreciation for the abuse our Coleman takes! Can't complain for 10 busy years with a $200 boat!
Anyway, we loved the Souris River experience and now will be scouring the classifieds for one we can afford. I'd LOVE a woven color one some day...