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I've just returned from a 3 day trip on the River Thames, the second of such trips in 2 years, and the Pathfinder performed incredibly well. She's a great load lugger and even with a stack of camping gear you can certainly get some speed up with tandem paddling. I've no hesitation in recommending the Camper 15 as a great all-rounder. Excellent canoe
I purchased a 15 ft Camper. It is a fine canoe and very stable and leaned over, you can make good time. I LIKE IT. Since I'll be mostly soloing, throwing it up on my Suburban using the yoke is very cumbersome so I removed it and added two thwarts amidship 26 inches apart and what a difference. Better control much easier to load/unload. I believe this boat is the same dimensions as my Old Town Pathfinder that I sold years ago, 36" by 14'10". Anyway, enjoy the outdoors, use your PFDs, stay safe.
This canoe is hard to beat for camping and canoeing. The problem I had was that I like to fish from the canoe. With its short length and slight rocker, it is nearly impossible to paddle slightly and maintain a straight course so I could cast and retrieve. The nimble handling is a detriment to fishing on flat water.
I hated the cheapened look of the nylon web covered seats that Old Town is now offering, (If they would only replace the black nylon with a sand/brown color to compliment the color of the inside of the boat, it would help) so I replaced them with cane seats from Essex Industries before I got her wet. I got the contoured seats and after the first time out, I have no regrets. Wide seating area for the bow and narrow seating area for the stern. (No seat lowering done at this time)
Maiden voyage: Medium flatwater river in Illinois (Rock River)and windy conditions, paddling solo with only a camera dry-box on board. Paddled upstream first and then back down (My normal solo pattern) with a Bending Branches 60" Beavertail paddle. (I'm a 5'-6" male at 165 lbs)
Having no keel, I expected this boat to be more responsive in turning than my keeled aluminums of the past (it was much more responsive). Having upswept, recurved bow and stern, and paddling solo/empty, I expected this to be tough to handle solo in the wind. (It was, from the stern seat, but shifting to the bow seat and paddling backwards worked as expected with a marked improvement in handling) Yes, it still catches the wind more than some of the other styles would, but I'm from the old school and I like the style of the recurved bow and stern and am willing to pay some price in performance to get the look I want.
Having no keel, slight rocker, shorter length, and a hull that's slicker than stuff-on-a-doorknob, I expected a major change in stability as compared to my past crafts. (Not so! This little 15-footer was amazingly stable in a rough chop that was white-capping slightly) I wouldn't hesitate to take small children out in this canoe.
Oil-canning: Something I've never had the chance to witness in my past aluminum hulls, was present but very slightly in the rough chop I encountered. I don't see it as an issue and only mention it here to complete the review.
At 58 lbs, handling to & from the cartop was a breeze. A side lift straight up from the ground level to the shoulders showed that this Camper has perfect portage-balance. With constant pain in my hands at my age, I sprayed the carrying yoke with Krylon Non-Skid Coating (Clear) UPC 724504034001, that came out a very nice satin finish and retained the beauty of the woodgrain. That improved my grip on the yoke ten-fold. Lets face it, trying to lever a 15' long object in the wind by gripping a 2-1/2" wide surface can be challenging. The non-skid coating (Available at Ace Hardware) really improves my odds. I recommend this product for said purpose. Note! Sanding smooth the area that contacts your neck before use is a must. (No, I don't work for either of these, I just am sharing a hint that helps my dry handling of this canoe)
In summary, I cannot speak for long-term dependability, but if this canoe sticks to its initial performance, I will continue to highly recommend it as a good, stable, all-around canoe that handles well in wind and wave. It is in my opinion, a very good looking, classic-styled canoe as well (sans the black nylon web seats).
Always wear your PFD!
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