Submitted: 03-27-2006 by Yaknot
I have owned a kevlar Champlain almost two years now. I have taken it on several trip including the Bowron in BC, the Missouri up in Montana from Ft. Benton to Kipps Landing and on the Takla - Trembler - Stuart lake chain in BC. Itís a great tripping canoe that can easily handle several weeks supplies and still have room for luxuries like a table and chairs etc. On the Takla trip, a big lake trip, it showed itís ability to hold a line while battling wind and waves. I didnít have any trouble quartering waves when on exposed crossings. With my wife and I, our two dogs, two weeks supply of food, a table and chairs and all our other camping equipment, it still had enough freeboard to feel safe in rougher water.
We ran a little white water on the trips up to non-technical class II rapids. It is great in standing waves and rough water, but it doesnít have enough rocker, like a Prospector, to tackle any technical river. If I start paddling more technical rivers, Iíll probably get myself a 17 ft. Royalex Prospector or something similar.
I had much trepidation buying a kevlar canoe instead of Royalex. Iím pleasantly surprised that the canoe can take quite a bit of abuse and not have much damage. A little epoxy and sanding will fix any scrapes. Being light, I can load the canoe myself on my pickup truck. A kevlar canoe is the only way to go when you donít have to deal with many rock gardens.
An unloaded Champlain in the wind is just another name for a sailboat. Itís not a touring canoe unless you go with enough cargo, kids, dogs, etc. to weight it down. Loading makes it an entirely different canoe. I made splash covers for mine and that helps with the wind. Being so large and beamy, it is a very stable canoe, which you have to remind yourself that when switching to another canoe, or youíll be doing some trout scouting when you do something that wouldnít be wise on a less stable canoe. That I learned from personal experience in a very wet way.
A Champlain is big, like the crate they ship a Spirit II in, so if you donít need a big tripping canoe, look somewhere else. However, if you want to take a ten day trip down the Green River in Utah where you have to carry twenty gallons of water, a fire pan, a porta-potty, a variety of food for ten days; the necessities for gracious living like a cooler of beer, a table and chairs, etc., then the Champlain can be just what the doctor ordered.