I'm on my second Loon, so I'll start off with a review of the first. It was actually an Oscoda Loon. Oscoda was a subsidiary of Sawyer, and I understand it was a line of canoes for livery use. The Oscoda was a "Chop Gun" fiberglass boat. Probably gel coat in the mold, then a thick layer of chop gun fiberglass, then an interior layer of a coarse weave cloth. The boat weighed about 68 pounds, and was equipped with a Feathercraft rudder. The seat was adjustable forward and backward and for height, but with a cruder and inferior setup than most other Sawyers. What was nice about it was that you could take out the seat and flip it over and it had portage pads...this is the only Sawyer adjustable seat I have seen with the pads that adjusts in both height and forward backward. The deck was flexy and the cockpit rim was weak and flexy. When paddled, the rudder would hum loudly when deployed, and was only marginal in its effectiveness compared to a Kruger Sea Wind rudder. Titanic like. A long blade type rudder is just inferior to a Kruger style, on this canoe. I'd give this boat only a 6, based on its construction, weight, and choice of rudder.
On to a 1985 Kevlar Sawyer Loon a buddy found for me. Weighs in at a light 45 pounds or so. Is equipped with an early Kruger rudder design. The cockpit rim is still a cheap riveted-on design and it is a bit flexy. The deck is a bit weak too. I added a couple layers of fiberglass in key places and rebuilt the rudder with a new hinge, installed in the original "split stern" style. The seam between the top and bottom halfs of the canoe was covered with a thick vinyl black tape that was in bad shape after 26 years of life. The same tape was used around the edges of the cockpit rim. I removed all the tape and residue. I then used a filler on the seam and covered in a gelcoat stripe painted on. I used basically door-edge guard around the edges of the cockpit.
The Loon is a trimmer boat than the Verlen Kruger redesign licensed to Mad River, the Monarch. Finer entry, slimmer stern. Is is a bit faster. Carries less cargo and a bit more tippy. But as a boat to race in the worlds longest nonstop canoe race, 340 miles from Kansas City to St. Charles on the Missouri River, I preferred the Loon to the Monarch. Loaded with a week's worth of gear or more, the Monarch is more stable, more roomy, and more seaworthy than the Loon. I also own a Kruger Sea Wind. Will I ever part with the Loon? Not likely. It is my go-to solo boat when I'm not packing heavy.
Conclusion:Me, 5'6, 160 lbs. Been paddling solo canoes and kayaks to some extent since about 1993, mostly on lakes and flatwater rivers of central Illinois. I still consider myself a novice.
The Loon was built with many different layups and rudder combinations over the years. I think the mid 80's Kevlar models are the best. Avoid the Oscodas and the ones made in the 90's and later if you can. But get a Loon if you can. They aren't making them any more, of course. They aren't making the Monarch either. The current Expedition boats made by Kruger and Sawyer are awesome, but they are made for a different niche.
Boat, 1996 Sawyer Loon that weighs about 57 lbs. I don't know which construction it is. I bought it used about three years ago. I don't paddle it a lot because I have difficulty with the weight and don't need the capabilities of the Loon for the small lakes that I paddle most of the time, but when I need a canoe for larger lakes with wind and waves, I take the Loon, because it handles those conditions better than any other canoe I've ever paddled, which include Wenonah Advantage and Whisper, Blackhawk Zephyr, royalex Bell Yellowstone, Curtis Ladybug and Sawyer Summersong.
I've been paddling the Loon with the seat on the lower of the two heights, which is about 6" off the bottom and it is extremely stable, but still easy to edge for turning when not using the rudder. I only day paddle, no camping or tripping and don't have over 20 lbs of gear in the boat.
When double blading it, I never use the rudder, because it just doesn't feel right. I might drop the rudder if conditions were bad enough and I was either tired or not looking for a challenge.
When single blading (bent shaft), I sometimes use the rudder and sometimes don't, depending on my mood and conditions. Without the rudder, the Loon is quite maneuverable, especially at slow speeds. It responds very well to leaned turns and sweep strokes and is very fun in situations requiring quick turns, as long as there's room for the over 17' long boat. I'll usually use in-water recovery when paddling relatively slow. Dropping the Feathercraft aluminum rudder allows paddling on one side as long as you can endure it while focusing on pure forward stroke and getting into a great rhythm. The rudder foot controls are the sliding type, not gas pedal type. It's the same rudder blade as on my Sawyer Summersong solo canoe and composite Aquaterra Sea Lion kayak.
The excellent initial and secondary stability make it a great boat for birding and I would also expect it to be great for fishing, but I don't fish these days. It's very confidence inspiring in the wind and waves - I never feel like I'm going to go over.
It seems to be pretty efficient, but I don't have any cruising speed data, because I misplaced my GPS. I find the sliding tractor style seats of the Sawyer canoes to be very comfortable for multiple hours at a time. More comfortable than any other I've tried.
I did have some structural issues with this Loon. The cockpit rim was too flexy for my preference - it flexed when I would pick the boat up by one side of the rim and made carrying the boat more awkward. I remedied that situation by installing a 1"x2" thwart between the two rear seat support brackets using some aluminum "L" brackets and the coaming feels very solid now. The other coaming problem was that it wasn't epoxied all the way around when attached to the deck and some of the rivet heads had pulled through the coaming, which also contributed to the flexy and weak feel of the cockpit rim. I remedied this by drilling out the rivets that had pulled through and resecuring with two-part marine epoxy from the hardware store and relacing the rivets. Other than the shoddy coaming attachment, the rest of the construction quality and the gel coat seem to be first rate.
This Loon also came with a one piece cover that snapped on to the deck and also has shock cord that secures under the rim. It had a dual zipper opening from the top front of the tunnel to about two feet in front of the tunnel. The zipper does leak. I don't know the manufacturer. The cover fits so tight, that I have to wet it to relax it before putting it on. There is adjustable shock cord around the top of the tunnel.
If the Loon weighed 45 lbs or less, instead of 57 lbs, I would use it much more than I do, because I love paddling it. I wish there was a 15', 40 lb junior version of this boat.
Superior Canoes currently has the molds for the Loon and several other Sawyer canoes, but hasn't made any Loons yet, but is building the other solo canoes, with the exception of the Starlight, for which the mold no longer exists.
If you want a cruising canoe for rough conditions, tripping or poking around in dead tree studded inlets, consider the Sawyer Loon.