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This canoe is extremely durable. Yes, it is heavy, but for the price and durability, it is great.
For stability inside floor, I made a screwdown 1/4" plywood floor. Solid for loading & moving around & not very much added weight. For long time in-use, I also added 2 removable fold-down cushioned boat seats. Nice to have a back to lean on & soft on the butt comfort.
I did a lot of night time fishing all over Lake Mead, NV, lakes in AZ., UT. & even the Snake River in ID so I added port/starboard & aft lighting to be night time legal. Has served well, takes a beating & still going strong. Today I purchased a newer version RAM-X 15, as it is much lighter. Will be adding the plywood floor & fold-down seats & taking it out for a weekend run to see how it is compared to the older one. No trolling motor this time.
I bought this canoe because it was inexpensive and big enough for the whole family. It IS heavy, but I built a block and tackle system that allows me to easily hang it in my garage. Loading and unloading is a matter of leverage and proper lifting techniques. I would not want to portage this a long way though. It is great for shuttling the little ones out on the water and/or fishing from.
I loaded my Wenonah Solo Plus (60lb in Royalex) on my trucks roof racks, tossed the gear in the back and headed for Bill's house to pick up his gear. When I first saw the red beast, I was concerned if it would even float upright and when we hoisted it up on my roof racks, I couldn't believe how heavy and cumbersome it was. But, it was what he had and we headed for the lake.
Our trip to the campground was about 1 1/2 miles across a large lake. We paddled into a 10mph headwind and light chop. Both canoes were loaded with about 200lbs of gear. Bill immediately struggled to keep the Ram-X pointed toward our destination and no matter how he paddled it, the bow veered back and forth. Meanwhile, My Solo Plus tracked straight as an arrow. I paddled at a lazy pace with my 9 year old and Bill paddled hard and still I had to stop about every 5 minutes to wait on him. The 1 1/2 mile crossing took 40 minutes because the red beast paddled like a bathtub.
Paddling during the weekend delivered much the same performance on calm water. I paddled the Ram-X for a while and found it completely unacceptable for anything more than a small pond and for kids to learn to paddle. It bobbed like a cork and tracking was nil. It was, however, built like a tank.
I know this is a low price boat so maybe I'm being a bit too hard on it but it is a tank. A reasonably well designed Royalex canoe will cost a bit more but will greatly out perform this barge. Spend a few bucks more and get a real canoe....
So, if you are willing to either build your own carts, carriers, etc., or spend a few dollars, then you can get around the limitations in this particular canoe (oh, did I mention the electric trolling motor?). However, if you really are into canoes, then try to find a Grumman aluminum (many hours on Lake Shasta chasing bass in one of those) or pick a nice Old Towne canoe. I would also recommend kayaks as we went down the Illinois River north of Lake Tenkiller that way and it was a lovely way to travel that river. The problem with acquiring a Grumman is that current owners usually don't want to part with them. Oh, if you really want a red Coleman 15 footer, I'd probably be willing to part with mine as the adult kids don't want it...
... Clunky, heavy, wide turns, ugly: yes.
... Indestructible, buoyant, stable, high carrying capacity: Yes!
I have owned a $200 15ft Coleman Ram-X and also a $2500 kevlar Wenonah. I am currently shopping for canoes to take out on local (Philadelphia-MD-NJ) creeks, rivers, and lakes. Guess what I am shopping for??? A Coleman Ram-X!
I want something that can scrape over rocks, a lot of rocks ... bash into fallen trees ... run up on shore for easy exit, any shore (cement, asphalt, rocks, sand, etc.). I want something large for carrying my cooler full of ice cold beverages. I want something stable so I can stand up and paddle or sit tight while being pounded by 30" waves in windy and choppy waters.
I don't need to go fast, I canoe to get outside and relax on the water, not to race. If I was in a group, that would be an issue though, but I would only want to canoe with leisurely canoists/canoers/folks. If you want to go fast, you should invest in an entirely different knid of canoe, and they are very very nice, but not rugged.
If you have trouble lifting heavier canoes, then don't buy this, you should buy a shorter canoe or a canoe made of a different material. But hey, I have a herniated disc and do not lift more than 25lbs due to this, and I manage all right. Girls can lift it just fine, but not old ladies. Plus, the actual lift takes only a few seconds, not too bad. But really, if you are frail and need to lift the boat, this is not the boat for you.
I will but a Coleman Ram-X and I will load it up as I take a leisurely cruise down local rivers/lakes ... and I will punish it and let it protect me as I take it down Class II creeks, enjoying the quiet ride in calm spots.
It would be a 10 out of 10 if the seats could be a little lower to make paddling more effective, but hey, now you are getting into the fast boat design parameters.
Verdict: If you want a canoe for rivers and you find a good deal on a used Ram-X, and you don't need (or can't afford) a more expensive boat, buy the Ram-X. If you want a boat just for flatwater, you might want to buy something else, but remember that you can't hit many rocks (which is part of paddling many rivers) with aluminum boats without damaging them.
The weight is an issue and if you plan on cartopping it, definitely get or make a swiveling mount for your car. I modified a canoe/ladder rack for a receiver hitch, so that it rotated. All I have to do is drag the canoe to the car, lift one end onto the rack and attach it, then lift the other end and walk it around onto the forward canoe rack or foam blocks.
As for the lousy paddling, I mounted two 10" gate hinges on the inside of the rail so that the long end sticks out just like sculling boat out riggers, mounted oarlocks on the ends... and now I have a boat that can pass any canoe, no mater what my loading is. This allows my wife to deal with our kids, read, or paddle from the stern seat as she feels like. I row from the front seat facing backwards with my feet braced on a bracket I mounted on the center post.
Don't buy the "improved" Pelican version of this boat, when they removed the center keel pole and seat frame poles it took the backbone out of the canoe, the pelican also doesn't have the flotation in the ends like the Coleman and I've heard of a couple sinking when they were rolled. The only time this Coleman was rolled was when I was paddling from the stern with the canoe empty and clowning around, it rolled right out from under me... but this has never happened any other time when I used it, in fact my wife who never was in small boats until we met, thinks this is very stable and has no problem with our three children climbing around in it while we are out. My children hang over the side to drag their hands in the water with out a noticeable tipping, however I notice any out of trim in my back when rowing for a long time. In fact more than once while out rowing on large lakes I have had the local patrol/harbor master come over to get a closer look thinking I had a motor with out a registration number. I guess the Coleman 15' just needs a little more power to get a good speed rating.
30 years and no holes even though it was dropped off the roof of my sisters car going down the road, and it has had many encounters with rocks, trees, and even once I dragged it across a parking lot to get it to my car.
My dad has dived from it many times from it and just had to add a ladder to get back aboard from the ocean. As you can tell we pass the canoe back and forth many times right now it is in his back yard on the edge of the lake waiting for his next paddle.
I could see it as a cheap and reliable duck hunting boat if you mount a motor, but then it wouldn’t be canoeing, would it? Highly recommend it for a Boy Scout camp boat on a small pond without wind. I keep hearing "you get what you pay for". In this case, I think you pay much too much for what you get.
Let’s break it down: $300.00 - $400.00 = an uncomfortable outing, broken back, over worked adventures, and a maintenance free yard ornament.
Now I’ve purchased old beat up canoes for under $100.00. Fixed them up for another $100.00, and had them ALL out perform the RAM X hands down. Sure the other canoes require some maintenance (although not much), but then again, I could own a door mat for a lot less and get more use than I would out of a Coleman RAM. We happily got rid of ours. We now let our friends use other canoes we’ve resurrected, and good canoes for the fiends who know how to canoe. I’d rate this backache barge a -5 if it were possible, since I can’t really equate it to a canoe…but alas, I’ll have to settle for a 1…And I’m being nice.
I just think this beast gets way too much praise without enough research backing its appeal. I fear it will lead to well intentioned buyers being suckered into getting one because well meaning novices don’t know any better.
I'm very impressed with it, the only difference between my uncles and mine is flex (his interior does not include a center seat but instead two aluminum thwarts with down bars which greatly improve hull rigidity). At around 300 dollars it is unbeatable... I can't wait till Spring
I love this canoe. It's perfect for calm waters (I don't do any swift-water running). Never been tipped even in some decent swells from nearby passing boats. I always feel very confident and safe in it with the kids. And with gas what it is, it sure beats anything else!
I'd recommend this as a first boat, but I'm afraid it'd dissuade people from ever actually continuing, because of its clunkiness and weight........
In that canoe we spent many evenings on Delta Lake (near Rome, NY), survived one very nasty blow on some large lake in the Adirondacks, participated several 'races' from Tapawingo island to Camp-of-the-Woods beach, took many cruises with kids, took several 'canoe trips' down Mill Creek in Lancaster County, spent countless fishing afternoons, and paddled for two week-long trips down the West Branch of the Susquehanna.
The Coleman has spent too many winters and summers leaning up against the house outside, yet maintenance consists of hosing out the bugs and dirt. It's a barge, sinks deep in the water with two full-sized adults, and the aluminum struts have corroded and bent.
We're still deciding between a Bell Northwind an Old Town Penobscot. Either way, we'll have a new canoe in a few weeks. But I don't think any canoe will have as many adventures and good memories associated with it as our 15 foot plastic tub. If you're looking for a bargain, have kids, are not an equipment snob, or perhaps can't afford even a used quality canoe, you can't go wrong with a Coleman. It is the ticket to many enjoyable hours out on the water.
It can be a bit unstable when not loaded down with packs. My husband did flip it when fishing solo and casting rather vigorously... But with packs and 2 toddlers in Baby Mississippi whitewater, we bounced off rocks and strainer trees without incident. The RamX hull seems to be fine after scraping over several rocks.
Definitely NOT the fastest canoe around, but I guess that's OK for what we needed. We drilled holes in the center aluminum thwart and made our own portage pads. Just returned from a 4 person BWCA trip with a 17' Grumman and on each and every portage I wished for my own Coleman...
Can't imagine having as much fun for $20 per year as we have had with the Coleman. Will likely upgrade soon, but not because the Coleman is dead - we can better afford it now. Frankly I dread worrying about an expensive canoe - was nice to be able to hit a few rocks and land at a portage without counting the dollars at risk!
Later on I moved to Indiana, and here I have used the canoe on large lakes with lots of boating traffic like Lake Monroe and Patoka Lake, and the White and Blue Rivers. Anyway, after almost 15 years of abuse, this canoe is scratched beyond belief, faded, etc.., but it works as well as it did the day I bought it. I think I paid around 200+ when I got it back in 87 and I can imagine anything that I have paid so little for and gotten so much enjoyment from. I agree it's heavy, and doesn't paddle like a $1000 canoe. I have paddled and portaged aluminum canoes that make you think you are paddling a pontoon boat when you go back to the Coleman. I'm a weightlifter and although I can get the canoe on a truck rack, it's not fun by myself. Still, I have decided that after 15 years I want a little more room and the ability to mount an engine (for long upstream runs), and what am I going to...the Pelican (Coleman) Gamefisher. I'll still have the weight issue, but after all I have been through with my first purchase, I know 100% that I'll get more than my moneys worth from this next purchase. I'll write a review of my new boat as soon as I get it shipped and can get it out on the water.
Whenever I see a Coleman -- which is often because they're inexpensive -- I'm reminded of a group canoeing outing a few years back. On this outing those of us in the upscale canoes were lazily paddling along, leading the pack, while the Coleman canoe crowd was huffing and puffing as if they were in a race, but they were just trying to keep up!
If you want a cheap canoe that'll give you plenty of exercise, this is the canoe for you. For twice the price you can get good looking canoe that'll last you a lifetime and be a joy to use (ask yourself: how many times did reviewers refer to a desire to mount a motor in these Coleman reviews?). Go for quality. You get what you pay for. I'm past the half-century mark and I can envision my heirs fighting over my canoes.
We have taken both our boys (18 mos and 3 years old) out for extended trips on Mission Bay (San Diego, CA), and the boat has performed beyond our expectations. It is stable, tracks well, easy to paddle, and surprisingly fast. For those familiar with Mission Bay, you know how choppy and wake-filled it can be on the weekends (with all the Jet-skis and ski-boats). We cut across several wakes with no problems, it was actually fun! The boys do fine in it, with each one sitting in front of my wife and I. That is, one seated in front of the stern seat, and one in front of the bow seat. We plan to take it camping on a local lake later this season.
Definately a good choice for families with young children, and also a good first canoe. Certainly a bargain for under $300.00. I would also say that it is a better value than a similar Old Town sporting canoe, which are as much as three times the price of the Coleman. Although the Old Towns are constructed of multi-ply poly/foam/poly, I still don't think they are worth the significant increase in price.
I noticed a tendency for people to get excited here and post perfect 10's rather easily. No Coleman canoe product that I have ever seen deserves a 10 because toughness and longevity are two different things. The nature of the Ram-X material makes it decompose badly if left out in the sun for extended periods of time. If it can't sit outside without being pampered it's not a 10. UV light is no friend of a Coleman canoe. I live in Arizona now so we get more than our share of UV and if you don't have a garage or carport to store it under - it's just a matter of time. I realized this to the full extent when I went looking to purchase a Scanoe in Tucson. I for the life of me couldn't find a used boat without at least one gaping crack in it. The melted plastic fixes that the various owners tried where shoddy at best. One anxious seller proceeded to "fix" the boat right before my eyes with a bic lighter and some green weedwhip line. He made a big gummy mess and the crack popped apart a few minutes later. I could have bought a new Coleman for not much more but what's the point. If this is what I'd have to deal with down the road then... no thanks. Bottom line - Ram-X is tough as cobbs but if you leave it out in the sun - forget it. If you own one and truly love it, be nice to it and put some kind of roof over it's head.
I ended up purchasing a Grumman aluminum canoe that spent 24 years outdoors in the sun that remains unscathed - other than the faded drab paint.
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