Length: 15' 11" - Width: 35.3" - Starting at: $1829.00See More Details about this Canoe
Oil-canning is a bit of a problem when paddling empty in swells, but a stick wedged under the center thwart cures it. The only real gripe I have is the weight. At age 62, I'm about to change to a Kevlar boat, just to make life a bit easier on the carries.
One last thing - somewhere along the line, MRC decided to make the seats an inch or two narrower (bow to stern), so when the time came to replace the caned seats, I could not just buy off the shelf replacement seats without re-drilling the rails. The original seat wood was still good, so I ended up re-seating with nylon webbing.
All in all, a great boat I will be sad to part ways with it (although I won't be sad on the portage trail).
This boat was purchased with the intention of introducing my wife and two kids to paddling smaller streams. The boat performs very well on flat water and ate up the class 1 1/2 I took my 13 year old through. I've practiced various strokes solo on moving water and find the boat to be responsive. My wife, kids and I have paddled the boat on the same water in various configurations and all like the manner it handles. I'm comfortable with my kids in the boat and a fisherman can stand in it.
The canoe I am reviewing is 20 years old and going strong, however wood gunnels have to be maintained (this one had some rot in one end). If you only want one canoe for multiple purposes, get an Explorer.
This isn't the fastest boat out there and it's definitely heavy, but it inspires confidence with its 15 inch depth and nimble maneuverability. It's the boat I most often lend because it is so forgiving and durable.
Carry? My pickup guy carried it downstairs to the water himself. He only has 1 leg. He also owns a livery of them and it is the most reliable durable boat he has used.
Loved the MR malecite but chose RavenWorks (sorry closed up) 17' R84. Same form as Malecite but 1' longer. R84 is royalex minus 1 layer with skin of glass for sharper entry.
My 5 yo daughter walks back and forth the length of Daddy's boat. No fear. Generally I teach kids in Mohawk glass Mohawk Royalex or tin cans. (Mohawk folded two years ago.)
Go rent borrow and talk to every canoeist on the river. Go to dealer/ distributor and rent a demo.
Watch craigslist for used boat at half new price.
Bell 17.6' kevlar was the easiest fastest boat I ever paddled.
Before you buy graphite or kevlar think about the emotional toll for spouse and kids when it gets dinged scratched or busted in the garage.
While heavier than many, we still managed to complete all portages in Canada's Provincial Park. It is no Wenonah or Bell, but it was within my price range and is bomb proof (kid proof too). It is an extremely stable boat and is home on both big water and rivers, loaded down or otherwise. It has handled 3 footers across some of Canada's big lakes, some Michigan rivers swollen a few feet higher than normal, scraped across Florida oyster beds and backwater sandbars, and even several miles of the Gulf of Mexico. I would feel confident to journey with this boat anywhere I would care to travel.
The person who said the Explorer 16 is unstable may not fully understand canoe design. Some canoes, especially "family" and lake canoes, have high initial stability -- they feel firm and non-tippy. But once they lean beyond a certain point, they go over in a flash because they have no secondary stability.
The Mad River Explorer is designed for secondary stability because it is a down-river canoe, not really recommended for lake use (although experienced paddlers can handle it just fine on lakes). Secondary stability means it feels tippy, it leans a lot, but you'll find that it's harder to lean it so far that you tip over. It leans a ways, then resists going any farther, because of the way the hull is curved (it's a shallow arch with a soft chine, to be technical).
If you want a river boat that won't tip easily, this is a great boat. I found it to be maneuverable and just tons o' fun. It is family friendly, too...on a river. If you're looking for a boat to fish on the lake, especially if you like to stand up to cast, this won't be your boat.
I give it a 9 instead of 10 because it's heavier than I'd like, and I have to portage too often. But lighter in its Royalex layup than it's TT form.
I feel this boat is best suited for two man down river trips. It can be paddled solo with minimal skill, but you do have to work. Don’t listen to stability or hard to control complaints, those paddlers just need to learn how to paddle. If any one thinks a boat that is almost 3' wide is unstable, I might suggest they take the ferry. As for the width being so wide, it does make the Explorer sluggish.
Then you hear the complaints it is tipsy while paddling solo. Yes it is, this is a 2 man plus gear boat to reach the manufactures recommended displacement. If you want a solo boat, buy one. You want a boat to handle 2 adults, gear, kids and the dog this is the boat. Sure, there are a lot of new models around that are perfect for a particular type of water, but none will handle the large array the Explorer can. The briefest description is they are the Jack-Of-All-Trades and the Master of none. They are simply a rugged workhouse that gets you home.
Winds 20 knots, broke through 2-3 foot waves at the beach. Class 2 rapids and maybe a few yards of class 3, calm ponds, tight twisty creeks, log jam ridden rivers, wind swept lakes and acted on occasion as the ice bin for the back yard barbeque.
Gave a 9 since nothing is perfect.
When I'm in it by myself, or with my 4 year old, it is rock solid. I think it's because the weighting on the canoe is so lopsided, it rides lower in the water and is more stable.
However, when riding with 2 adults, this canoe is very unstable. We didn't dump, but we were on very calm water and still felt uneasy. This is being sold as a "family friendly" canoe, which I disagree with. This is about the exact opposite I want in a family canoe.
It has a lot of good ideas with the integrated seats, cup holders, etc, and is a very attractive canoe. However, stability rules for family, at least it does with my 2 young children.
So far I enjoy the IQ2 system very much. I use to outfit OT, MR, and Wenonah boats back in the day. I have to say... the IQ2 system is just as strong for what I will need to lash in! Besides Mad River won me over with the 2 complimentary cup holders! They work great too!
I am giving this boat an overall 8 for now as I it is handling exactly like advertised. If it was advertised as a fast ride I would give it a 7. If Mad River would have been more careful in pulling the mold I would give it a 9. If Mad River would have taken their time building the boat I would give it a 10. Regardless of blems I love the ride and expect to keep this one around for a long long time!
This has been a great family canoe, for relatively calm waters. It has held up great, despite a particularly tough float on he Vermillion when the water level was too low (we did more walking than floating that day).
Firstly, the boat is extremely slow on flat water. With a heavier bow partner, the boat feels more like a snow plow. My friend compained that he can probably paddle a house faster than my boat. There is a reason why some call this boat, "The Madriver Cow!"
Secondly, I found the hull of this boat flexes too much. Especially for a stern paddler. Every time you make a stroke, it make a squeek sound and the seat moves side to side. My friends and I found this very annoying not to mention lost forward energy. If you get this boat, I would recommend getting rear thwart installed to make the hull more rigid.
Thirdly, I do not recomment the IQ2 gunwale. The reason is they are prone to more damages than the traditional vinyl gunwales. I had the plastic tie downs for the IQ2 but they ended up being pulled out from the gunwale and stretched out the IQ2 channels making them unsightly. Unfortunately IQ2 now comes standard for all vinyl gunwales.
Lastly, I would not recommend this boat for running technical rapids. The shallow V hull make this boat stable and allows it to track well, but it does not turn as well as it should on fast rapids.
My findings for this boat are from 10 day river excursion in northern Ontario and large lake paddling in southern Ontario in both quite and rough waters.
If you are an intermediate paddler and not concerned about primary stability, skip this boat and try a prospector design.
This canoe is also not the cheapest, but you cannot put a price on safety, the feeling of safety, and the knowledge that it will get you home.
If you are looking fo a conoe that is a safe do it all ( within reason ) leave in mirror calm water, and come back in 3 footers, then stop looking and check this one out.
As a side note, I got mine with wood gunwales, which I like the looks of. If you live in a cold climate, make sure you losten the gunwale screws and that will keep the RX from having a tendency to crack when expanding and contracting. I have never had a problem with this, ever.
Well, the recreation is turning into a long-term love and I have been very pleased overall with the MR 14 - at 69 lbs, it is 'manageable' loading, un-loading, portaging, etc. I know there are much lighter canoes out there but not in the $400-$500 range.
However, it does not handle that great in the open lakes, especially when the wind/waves pick up... I have to roll up my sleeves and really bear down on the paddling!!!
I give it a 8-9 rating, and a great choice for the beginner!!!
I didn't test paddle the new boat either figuring what are the chances of getting struck by lightning twice? Since the exchange I have used the new boat and it is everything I expected. Great handling from the rear seat. Nice glide for a heavy boat and very stable. For anyone considering any Royalex boat I recommend that you test paddle the boat before you go home with it. My understanding is that what happened with my boat could happen to any Royalex boat. In my case both the manufacturer and the dealer stepped to the plate and solved the problem quickly. I am a happy customer and user of this canoe.
I paddle solo quite frequently, and paddling from the bow seat (facing the stern), it handles very well in the classic "northwoods" heeled over style. Soloing the Explorer with a load of gear is even better. Paddling tandem the Explorer is much faster than one would expect, and it is a perfect set up for tripping, day paddling or messing about in rapids.
Mad River does a great job in trimming their canoes. The ash woodwork on the Explorer is flawless, and MRC's use and knowledge of canoe construction is great. This canoe is tough as nails. The weight of seventy pounds isn't too bad for your average portage.
Overall the Explorer is an excellent choice for both newcomers and experts wanting a versatile, all around wilderness tripping boat. I won't hesitate to recommend it to any paddler!
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