12-18-2012Submitted by: johnsonsixpac
Reviews for Penobscot 16 Canoe by Old Town Canoe
Based On: 52 Reviews
- Rating: 9 of 10 I used this canoe to paddle the Missouri River; 115 days. I removed the stern seat to make room for gear and paddled from the bow seat. Had room for a 6 man tent, chair, cot, sleeping bags, mats, cookstove, food, water(13 gals max)and more. The royalex is tough. I drug it up out of the water every night. The bottom had scratches, but looked really good considering the abuse it took. It handled well, even in large white-capped swells. Biggest drawback was I had no control until I got up a little forward momentum, which may have to due with the weight of all the gear I had. I've had a Wenonah Voyager and Old town Keneo and kayaks. This canoe did what I needed it to do. Carry a lot of gear and paddle well. The durability was a plus.
11-29-2012Submitted by: Steve Warner
- Rating: 10 of 10 I bought my Penobscot 16 in 1995 from Red Rock Outfitters in Ely, Minnesota (great people by the way) it was a year old and looked brand new. This boat has made 25 plus trips to the Boundary Waters without fail! My son just graduated college and shares the same love of canoeing, maybe even more so, so I gave her to him for a graduation present. Giving her to him would be the only way I would give up my Penobscot. As soon as he graduated he did a 17-day trip with his buddy across the entire Boundary Waters from Crane Lake to lake Superior. Loaded to the brim she made the trip without fail and brought them home safe again. She is a great boat for an experienced paddler!
08-21-2012Submitted by: meanderlee
- Rating: 6 of 10 For the size and weight there are better canoes but ubiquitous OT's are often Used & cheap. OT has a rich history that predates Chestnut Co. but is also a strange company in that they seem to want to make a spectrum of quality, from Walmart to Lexus. Penobscot is a decent all-around canoe for the budget-minded. I've used it guiding down a shallow & gentle river without a problem.
Cons: noisy metal gunwales & some ugly crimping out of shape along gunwales. Some oilpanning, more than other RX canoes like Bell Nwind. At portage it feels heavier that it is, not balanced well?
Pros: loud metal gunwales good for alerting downstream grizzly bears? symmetrical design means it can be maneuvered, used in back ferry, flipped around for solo paddling. Real good freeboard & carry capacity. A stable boat.
06-01-2012Submitted by: Bob
- Rating: 10 of 10 I was given $300 from my family to buy a canoe. Instead I applied it to a used 16' Penobscot and for 18 years have been the happiest canoeist on the river.
Main pro is the low weight. At 60 lbs, I can easily put it over my head and load it onto my van or carry it for a long distance. The ride is so smooth in the water. If a rock is hit, often you can feel the Royalex bend over the rock and slide right off with little worries.
I will say it is a bit tippy, but keeping gear and butts centered will keep it from tipping over. All tip overs have resulted from unseen monster logs underwater with too much water suction for any canoe to avoid. I've replaced seats, added skid plates, but after hundreds of trips - I'd have assumed more wear and tear.
09-23-2011Submitted by: patrick
- Rating: 9 of 10 I've been very happy w/my Penobscot 16. It's handled the white water well, both solo and tandem. All my paddle pals are jealous now that it's 'tricked-out' w/float bags, reinforced bow/stern, and a custom center yoke seat. The royalex keeping it light enough to portage alone... and best of all, I bought it through a "paddling.net" ad!
09-15-2011Submitted by: fotomatt
- Rating: 10 of 10 I found a used Penobscot 16 and figured - at $450 - if it was not RX it was a good deal... if it was RX it was a screaming deal! Bought it and called OT with the serial. SCORE!
I ran this solo on the Colorado in May (Ruby/Horsethief section). Fast flowing water and high volume (volume nearly doubled in one day!). Can't imagine a better boat to do this in! Expedition capable all the way. Had it loaded with gear and it was super stable, very responsive (after a couple of gear position/weight tweaks).
Handled Class II extremely well!
I also put this canoe on the lake, both tandem and solo. Again, stable and responsive! If you're doing any advanced level of canoeing - especially multi-day River, this IS the canoe.
09-13-2011Submitted by: davbart
Thanks Old Town!
- Rating: 9 of 10 I've owned my royalex Penobscot 16 for about 10 years, and I've never seen a more versatile canoe. I've paddled it solo and tandem in everything from flatwater to class 2 rapids. It isn't going to be mistaken for a racing boat, but it has fine entry and for a recreational, royalex boat it has decent speed. It won't perform with a dedicated river runner in the whitewater, it can be a little wet. However, with some backpaddling, and care in the wave trains it performs admirably.
Like I said, a versatile boat, maybe not the best at any one thing, but capable. If I only owned one canoe (heaven forbid), this would be the one.
08-31-2011Submitted by: johnsonsixpac
- Rating: 9 of 10 I paddled the Missouri river in 2008 and purchased this canoe for that purpose. I wanted the cargo capacity for all my gear. That canoe and tent were my home for 4 months. Empty the canoe is a little skittish, but loaded it's quite stable. Major gear included 40lb tent, folding cot, chair, 2 sleeping mats, 2 sleeping bags, coleman campstove, gas, and up to 12 gallons of water with a 4 gallon shower bag. The heavy canoe was unresponsive paddling until I got up a little speed, then it was fine. I removed the stern seat and paddled the canoe backwards from the bow. Being symmetrical it was fine. The royalex impressed me with how tough it was. I got caught by sudden winds and the canoe carried over the waves without taking on any water. For the money this is one tough durable canoe. A solo canoe may have been faster, but this canoe did what I wanted, carried a lot of gear. If I did it again I'd take the same canoe and go slower to enjoy the river more.
07-28-2011Submitted by: LeoFender
- Rating: 10 of 10 We just bought the Penobscot 16 RX (royalex) a couple of days ago and used it yesterday on the Falls Reservoir between Tillery & Badin near Albermarle, NC. My son & I took it out for about 3 hrs. I found it to be quick & well handling. The water was smooth with hardly any breeze. The lack of initial stability did not bother either of us & we quickly got into having him lean a little to aid in turning. He is only 100 lbs & I go 220 so after about 30 min we turned the boat around & I sat in the front seat & he in the back seat. This balanced the boat out a little more & it seemed to handle really well like this. We plan to add a 3rd seat so wife &/or daughter can go also.
My initial impression of the boat is a good one. We plan to river run it in a couple of weeks & I hope to find it equally impressive in a river.
07-27-2011Submitted by: PDP
- Rating: 8 of 10 Great canoe, (*purchased used), smooth and tracks well, stable craft and tough, holds decent amount of gear and handles wind ok.
11-05-2010Submitted by: n7zuq
- Rating: 9 of 10 I have owned an OT Penobscot 16 rx, an OT Camper 16 rx, and a Wenonah 18' Jensen, as well as test paddled a number of other canoes. The Penobscot falls somewhere between our Jensen and our Camper. Compared to the Camper, the Penobscot does feel more "tippy," but it doesn't lean far before it stops feeling so unstable. It paddles much more smoothly and easily than the Camper. It's not as relaxing to just float in, but still a very pleasurable ride. It's not as fast nor does it glide as well as the Jensen, but it comes close. At 61#, it's the easiest of the three that we have to get on and off the car and down to the lake.
In order to help us with weight distribution due to a significant size disparity between myself and my wife, I've also modified the seats, moving one and lowering both. I had written to Old Town about our size difference and they suggested paddling one of their symmetrical canoes (which the Penobscot is) backwards. In other words, have the heaviest person (me in this case) sit in the bow seat facing the wrong way, and the lightest person sit in the stern seat facing the wrong way. This brings me and all my weight closer to the center of the boat. It does leave the lighter person with very little leg room. For which they suggested moving that stern seat in towards the middle of the boat to allow enough leg room. This required the purchase of a new seat, which had to be cut down to fit, as well as drilling a set of holes in the gunwales. By moving the seat back one seat length, I was able to use one existing set of gunwale holes and still create adequate leg room for my wife. While I was moving the seat, I also purchased 4" hangers to replace my stock ones. The Penobscot seats were pretty low to begin with, so this only brought them down about another inch. But it was still noticeable. The lower I can get my center of gravity, the steadier the canoe feels. I'd kneel like the pros do it, but at my size, my knees just can't take it for very long. I'm not especially handy, but this turned out to be a really simple operation.
Picking the right boat for your intended use is important. This is the boat we take when looking to go far, or fast, or on choppy water. For a nice multi-purpose recreational canoe, the Penobscot 16 rx has been a great choice for us.
Pros: Fast, Straight tracking, Maneuverable, Easy to modify
10-29-2010Submitted by: MikeMaxwell
Cons: slightly "tippy"
- Rating: 9 of 10 As I recently completed an 8-day solo canoe trip in my Penobscot 16 (first solo), I was very interested in reading Tom Watson's "double dipping" article. Being used to paddling tandem, I quickly learned that I needed to modify my paddling style. Instead of paddling primarily on one side of the boat and steering with a J-stroke, I switched to the back-and-forth approach: a couple of paddle strokes on the port side followed by a couple on the starboard and so on. In this way I didn't lose forward momentum, and steering was easy: just add an extra stroke on one side or the other as necessary.
It occurred to me that this style of paddling is much closer to double-bladed kayak paddling than my normal canoe paddling approach, which got me to thinking about the possible advantage of using a double-blade paddle when canoeing solo. I don't think I would try it in rapids, but for flat-water cruising, the double blade might make a lot of sense. Aesthetically, I will have a hard time putting aside my classic Old Town wood paddle for a plastic and aluminum job, but the advantages might be worth it. The next time I go on a solo trip, I will probably rent a double-bladed paddle (maybe two in different lengths) and give it a test.
By the way, I was impressed with the Penobscot as a solo boat. (We have mostly used it as a tandem in the past.) I was carrying lots of gear and sat in the bow seat facing the stern so as to be closer to the center of the boat. In this position I was able to arrange my gear to achieve good front-to-back trim. The Penobscot is perfectly symmetrical, so the bow angle is the same facing forwards or back. With a sharp bow entry and a somewhat narrow beam, the Penobscot is a swift canoe, and the narrower profile helped with my reach across the gunnels when paddling. At 58 pounds in Roylex, the Penobscot is a tough boat but easy for one person to handle on land. With the Penobscot configured this way, and paddling on both sides, I was running about as fast as the tandem canoes I encountered on the river, and I was able to maintain good progress even when paddling into stiff upriver winds.
08-17-2010Submitted by: lms
- Rating: 9 of 10 Our 16 is now 21 years old. Indestructible. We bought it for its all-around qualities and it has completely satisfied us. We're often the fastest boat in the group. Took it fearlessly out onto choppy water on a windy ocean bay (Tomales, CA). Got out of a whirlpool bigger than the boat. But we're in our 70s now and loading "Towanda" is challenging. Towanda? Remember when Kathy Bates rammed the VW Beetle in 'Fried Green Tomatoes'? With us guiding it, "Towanda" has rammed trees, rocks, docks, even taken rapids backwards. It will outlast us.
08-11-2010Submitted by: faw33
- Rating: 9 of 10 I bought this canoe used a year ago. An Old Town made Penobscot 16 decaled "LLBean", has wooden gunnels and cane seats. Serial number would indicate a 1980 date of manufacture. Hull is green Royalex and she feels like about 55-60#.
I wanted a nice "work horse" canoe that offered good handling, decent performance and would work well under a broad variety of uses…our use is flat water family fun about 50% (2 adults, with or without 2 kids); and 50% mild whitewater (C1-C2) day trips and 1-2 day overnighters – typically WW is solo or tandem.
I wanted the Royalex hull for sturdiness and weight – I think this hull is 25 years old and it's still kicking! Also, getting older, no canoe ever gets lighter with advancing age. I would strongly recommend that you consider this... weight is a key factor to consider if you don't have a home on the water and your own dock. Think about this when you look at similar models in other hull materials that weigh in at 85+ #. We also have a nice Kevlar canoe... but needed something for rocks and dragging... the Royalex delivers here. I need to add Kevlar strips to bow and stern – or beat my kids more so they will lift/not drag to shore.
The Penobscot offers a blend of hull features that does a lot of "canoe work" well. It is not perhaps the best canoe for any one thing, but a hull that gives you access to the entire range of beginner/intermediate canoeing. I did want some keel/v shape for tracking and also for leaning a bit... this put the OT Discovery model out of the running. Not throwing stones, but the initial stability of a pure flat hull can be quickly "out grown" and the option to put a bit of a lean into your style gives you more paddling options than a wide flat hull.
Our other canoe is a light weight Kevlar solo/tandem 14'... and is of course limited in load carrying. For families, overnight trips, or having more that two on a canoe…go at least 16'. I have found that solo this hull is "light" if empty... a water bag filled with some river water or some gear used for ballast/balance makes the "big P" a good solid handling solo hull (person & gear say 250-300# minimum).
I can't say this is a perfect model for everyone... but it is the best "station wagon" IMP. Best guide is to consider your honest loading requirements and range of use when considering any canoe.
07-20-2009Submitted by: circuitrider
- Rating: 9 of 10 I have been canoeing since I was 8; I am now 49. Well I didn't really canoe when I was 8 - I hung onto a rope with my brother as my Dad paddled our 17 foot Grumman down the Clarion River in PA. I was hooked. When I started actually paddling on canoe trips I loved it even more. All I knew were the trustworthy old work horse Grummans. So I continued to paddle that same Grumman I swam behind at 8.
I kept hearing good things about the Penobscot's. Seeing a good deal at a sporting warehouse. I snatched up a red one with aluminum gunnels. I have since had it back on the Clarion River and have also paddled a calm part of the Youghighaney several times. I love paddling it solo, kneeling just in front of the kneeling thwart. When you heel it over it more or less gives it the foot print of about a 12 foot boat and turns very easily.
I love it and look forward to enjoying for years. Maybe I will get to tow an 8 year old behind me.
04-02-2008Submitted by: Bill S.
- Rating: 9 of 10 I've been paddling a Penob 16 for over four years now. Always solo, except when I have my dog. I kneel using the bow seat for brace when with my dog and using the kneeling thwart when alone. I take this boat on twisting rivers 30-50 feet wide and have no problem turning around obstacles.
When alone I can heel it over almost on it's outwale with great predictability. I find it quite stable. I can stand while paddling without difficulty. I find it a little challenge on open water to keep it tracking straight but the trade off for all else that the canoe is, is worth it. In royalex it's lighter than my friends Mad River Explorer in royalex, and doesn't oil can like his does.
For the price you'll be hard pressed to find a better all-round boat.
08-23-2007Submitted by: grandpa
- Rating: 7 of 10 This canoe is not as versatile as Old Town's blurb suggests; i.e., it's a good tandem but in my experience, paddled solo it is blown about by the wind and is very difficult to control, especially when I sit in the bow seat facing stern. For paddling solo, I recommend sitting not in the bow seat--uncomfortable reach over the gunwale--but in the stern with something heavy in the bow--weight, person, whatever. So it may be good for solo tripping, which I've not done.
It worked pretty well for my son and me on the Moose River-Attean Lake "bow trip" and on the West Branch of the Penobscot River/Chesuncook Lake trip (calm water, fortunately) several years ago. This summer ('07) my wife and I paddled it on Moosehead Lake, a huge body of water, and I was a little unnerved by the small length (16') and the big waves. For such conditions, a larger tandem is better.
A retired desk worker in my late 60's, I wanted a craft under 60 lbs.. Lifting it up by myself to portage it is not as easy as it once was (damn it); my next canoe will be Kevlar. I had also wanted to learn to handle rapids, and thus a Royalex canoe; but running rapids at my age and experience is more and more distant. My wife likes kayaks; I don't. So my next canoe will be a fast and light solo. I rated it 7 based only on my own situation and experience.
In brief, a good tandem but not a particularly good solo, but a big improvement over my previous canoe, a 17' Grumman.
06-27-2007Submitted by: John P.
- Rating: 9 of 10 I have been using my Penobscot 16 for my two trips a year, mostly into the BWCA, for about 8 years now. It's always a rocky trip; many large abrasive rocks to hit. I am large, at 260 lbs, my daughter at less than half of that is usually in the bow. With us, and a weeks worth of gear we always seem to find the rocks the hard way. The bottom of this canoe has taken a lot of scratches, but they are purely cosmetic. After the first couple of years, I could see that the Kevlar skid plates were going to be required.
It's the right choice for us. Rugged yet not horrible to portage and it moves through the water nicely.
04-10-2007Submitted by: mb
- Rating: 8 of 10 The Penobscot 16 has a straight keel and fine ends (for a Royalex canoe). It's a low-ish volume boat for it's length. These design features cause the ends to sit down into the water pretty far with two paddlers on board. River current can really grab the ends, making emergency maneuvers a real challenge. Planning ahead helps. The seats and thwarts are set up so that a solo paddler can paddle from the front seat facing the stern, which helps stability and trim. A plastic 5 gallon pail of water in the front trims the boat out well for solo use. It's more maneuverable solo, especially in a river current. It's a small tandem boat or a big solo boat. It is fast down-river with two dedicated paddlers though. Tandem, this boat is tender, and lake waves make it a scary ride while sitting. Lowering the seats would probably help. I had a Mad River Explorer in Royalex that was more seaworthy and maneuverable but it was a barge to paddle solo.
03-19-2007Submitted by: Slim
- Rating: 10 of 10 Love 'em. Our first was stolen from the canoe rack at Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis. We use ours along with a Bell Northbay Cruiser in the BWCAW, both perform admirably. Best all-around canoe I know of.
12-04-2006Submitted by: Ardy
- Rating: 8 of 10 I'm an experienced paddler with a number of canoes. I bought a Penobscot 16' a few years ago because I wanted a boat that would track better than my Old Town Appalachian and run rapids better than my Wenonah Jensen 17. The Penobscot fit that pretty well. Seemed like a good boat for some of the northern trips I like to do. Reasonably fast on the lakes, reasonably light on the portages, sufficient volume for tripping solo or tandem. Still able to run some rapids while fully loaded. A couple years ago a friend of mine and I were paddling tandem on a 10 day trip on the Petawawa River in Ontario.We were skipping most of the portage trails and running or lineing the rapids.This is what I usually do and even if it's not faster, it's usually more interesting than doing the portages. Well this one rapid inperticular we found very interesting. It was the one that had my Penobscot and all our gear wrapped around a rock right in the middle of the main stream. We had been lining the canoe through this nasty looking, rock studed class III kind of drop, and just when the boat was passing through the main slot the fairly sharp stern stem cought the current wrong, broadsided the curling wave at the bottom of the drop. The upstream gunwale dipped below the surface, filled catching the full current, and in about half a second was compleatly wrapped around a rock. I had to hike up river a ways to find a safe place to swim across. Then was able to approach one end of the canoe from river left, and retrieve a 60 foot piece of rope that I keep for just such a thing, but had never needed for this purpose before. Luckly I was able to position myself in a place where I could tie one end of the rope to the center yoke,pass the other end under the boat, bring it up and over the top and toss it to my paddling partner who was still upstream on river right. After tying the rope to a rock the best he could he pulled on that rope while I pulled on the stern line. Well as unconfortable as the Penobscot looked in that position,it didn't want to budge. We were pretty much in the middle of our 10 day trip with no one around to help and no other canoe, so we didn't have much choise, we had to get this canoe off the rock. So on about the third or forth try the Penobscot started to budge, and then we couldn't stop, we gave it every ounce of strength we had left and she rolled up and came swinging off the rock and to shore on the end of the rope. OK...we had our boat back now but it was mangled. The aluminum gunwale broken in three places. It was obvious we weren't going anywhere soon, but atleast no one was hurt and we didn't loose anything but a water bottle. We went ahead and set up camp for the night right where we were. We were able to stomp the hull while pulling up on the gunwales until it started resembling a canoe again, although still badly twisted. Next we turned it on its side and lashed the stern thwart to a tree, the bow rested against a second tree. Then using a couple carabiners we set up a z-drag pully system tied to the yoke and a third tree perpendicular to the canoe. By pulling this rope we were able to straighten out the twist. The bow seat had ripped out and was hanging by just one bolt and the gunwale still broken in three places. We cut saplings to splint the gunwales. By drilling holes through the royalex just below the gunwales with my leatherman we were able to lash the saplings in place. With enough cordage and a few more holes drilled in the right places we were able to rig a servicable bow seat. The next morning we started off again. I thought we'd be paddling in circles the rest of the trip, but the Penobscot did good. We even found our lost water bottle. It looked like it had been through a war or something and put back together by savages but it paddled just fine. I've been meaning to replace the gunwales with vinyl ones and install a new seat too but I just keep paddling it like it is . Not too bad and its a good reminder of the power of moving water. I never pass a portage trail anymore without thinking about that experience. But back to the review. The Penobscot does alot of things, but nothing real well. That's why I'd only give it a 7 or an 8. I guess I should give it an 8 after all it's been through, poor thing !
05-16-2006Submitted by: bill
- Rating: 9 of 10 For over 10 years, my group which now includes my younger son, has done a week long whitewater trip in Quebec Province. The rivers there are very remote, wild, and free. Never a concern about drinking directly from the river. That also means you're on your own. Nobody around to give you a hand should you need it. We chose 2 16 foot Penobscots because of the durability and the light wieght. They are fast and smooth, and the 56 lbs. is great on portage. The plastic boat also slides over the rocks. Lots of them. Fully loaded, they eat up class II whitewater, and a lot of class III's. But III is right at it's limit. In a long stretch, you tend to slowly fill the boat, and we've overfilled (submerged) it many times. My partner has a Discovery 169 and stays a lot drier. He also is a monster who easily portages the discovery's 95 lbs.
05-08-2006Submitted by: Mick
- Rating: 9 of 10 We had occasion to test paddle a Penobscot and a Camper today. We are average sized, and were the only load at about 310 pounds, so that is light. Interesting thing was that the Camper was sloppy in initial stability, and when we stopped paddling, the wind would blow us across the water like a kite. The Penobscot had a little slop in initial stability, but the secondary stability kicked in remarkably quickly, and it felt much more comfortable. The Penobscot also tracked well, and the wind did not affect us hardly at all in the Penobscot. So, based upon a trial experience, I'm taking the time to write that I would take the Penobscot over the Camper any day, and would advise anyone looking into a Camper to also try the Penobscot. Maybe another 200 pounds of load would change things a little better for the Camper, but I think the Penobscot would stay on top.
04-12-2005Submitted by: Mathias
- Rating: 9 of 10 I first wanted to buy this canoe WAY back in 1990 when Backpacker magazine did a review of a bunch of tandem canoes and spoke very highly of this one. Of course, I had to carefully research the other boats out there... only to come full circle in '93 when the Mrs. and I finally scraped the funds together to special-order one. That way, we got the sliding bow seat, which I highly recommend.
The boat is as fast as a Mad River Malecite; it oil cans less than a Wenonah Adirondack; it works GREAT with a kid when paddled backwards from the bow seat; paddled solo, it outruns an Old Town Pathfinder with two paddlers... all of these are experimental results. I'd buy it again in a heartbeat.
My other boat is a 'glass Sawyer Cruiser, and it is in a different class speed-wise, but when we go somewhere we haven't been before, or for any kind of questionable condition, the Penobscot gets the nod. It sounds cliché, but if you can have only one boat to do everything...
03-14-2005Submitted by: ---
- Rating: 8 of 10 Over 8 years I used a Penobscot 16 for many tandem and solo trips in the BWCA and for solo whitewater in the Mid-Atlantic and New England. It is a great all around boat. Its virtues include: 1) light weight; 2) ease of paddling; 3) good tracking; and 4) durability. Its shortcomings include 1) wobbly feel and 2) insufficient flare for class III whitewater. Awesome durability - I trapped the submerged boat on a rock just below a large standing wave on Esopus creek. The thwarts broke and the boat flattened into a sheet of green ABS. Three of us worked the boat free and I dragged the stiff, flat object ashore. Standing amidship, I pulled up on the gunwales and the hull snapped back in shape and down the creek I went.
10-18-2004Submitted by: kayakangler
- Rating: 10 of 10 I purchased the Penobscot 16 about 3 months ago after doing a lot of research and review reading. I wanted to get back into canoeing after being a kayaker for a number of years. This was an excellent purchase. I've really enjoyed using this canoe both tandem and solo and my kayak hasn't seen much water since I got the Penboscot 16. With its shallow arch hull a novice paddler might feel the initial stability is lacking (it isn't). It is a bit twitchy when you are sitting still and my bowman never fails to get startled when I'm digging for a soda in the cooler. But within a few minutes it all feels natural. The secondary stability feels rock solid, works very well when you are traveling across a wave tossed lake. This canoe tracks quite well and can cover distance quickly with two paddlers. It will hold quite a bit of cargo. I actually prefer to use this canoe solo. It seems to be more stable and tracks even better as a solo, sitting backward in the bow seat. At 58 lbs. it's not too bad to portage, adding pads to the yoke helps tremendously and I find I can portage comfortably this way. The Penobscot 16 is a good all around canoe one you can enjoy on lakes or rivers, solo or tandem, day-tripping or camping. No wonder they've been making them for 30 years.
08-30-2004Submitted by: Steve
- Rating: 9 of 10 I bought this boat about 4 months ago based on these reviews and I am a very happy customer. I was looking for a canoe that could do just about anything I asked of it. It had to be light enought to load on top of the car by myself, tough enough to handle scraping over rocks, able to carry all our camping equipment and then some, fairly quick and straight tracking. It also had to be a relatively stable fly fishing platform, able to handle occasional class II whitewater, and double as either a tandem or solo canoe. The Penobscot 16 does all those things and it looks great doing it. The gold leaf "old school" graphics give the canoe a very classic look, I can't help but to think to myself every time I see it pulled up on the beach, "man, that is one nice looking canoe!" The only gripe I have is the fact that the initial stability is a little shakey, but not bad. However the secondary stability is excellent. Like the reviewer before me stated, you can lean it over until water spills over the gunwale and bring back up again. Try that with a flat bottom boat and it will most likely capsize. Overall the Penobscot 16 is a very versatile and great all-around canoe with classic looks that won't break the bank.
08-03-2004Submitted by: jayp
- Rating: 7 of 10 I have several Royalex boats, and this one gets lots of use - depending. It paddles relatively easily, tracks well, and turning is snappy if you heel it over. The round bottom is great; you can lean it until water comes over the gunwale and bring it back upright again. However, the lack of bow flare allows it to ship water in big waves or even moderate drops. Hence, keep it away from big water. I would not recommend this boat for novice paddlers or family. The lack of initial stability makes it feel tippy to beginners, and it's not enough boat to carry a large load. That said, my Penobscot 16 has been soloed down many Maine rivers - the St. John, Allagash, Machias. All in all, the design is a good compromise between easy flatwater paddling and downriver canoeing, but it's not the best in either category.
07-08-2004Submitted by: StevieWonder
- Rating: 9 of 10 I purchased an OT Penob 16 royalex boat about 2 months ago and have had it on 5 class I/II river trips in CO,UT, NE, and WY this summer. This is my first canoe. Although it is designed as a small tandem, I paddle it solo, sitting in the bow seat with stern facing forward. I am very satisfied with this boat.
I give it high marks for the following: (i) ruggedness, (ii) versatility (tandem or solo), (iii) weight (58 lb is light for a royalex boat this size), (iv) load capacity (easily handles multi-night trips), (v) good bang for buck (reasonably priced). Only two minor complaints: (i) the hull scratches easily, and (ii) the boat is difficult to handle when paddling it solo in windy conditions (this should not be an issue when paddling tandem, and might be less of an issue when paddling solo if the boat is heavily loaded). As a shorter 16 ft tandem, I think this boat would be ideal for one adult paddling with a child on day trips or over-niters of a few nites or even a week.
This boat has pretty good speed and I can keep up with most royalex boats of the same size even while I am soloing and they are tandem-paddled. However, this boat will not paddle as fast as the stream-lined kevlar boats of 16-17 foot length. At a boat weight of 58 lbs, I am able to load and unload it on my car by myself.
05-17-2004Submitted by: charlie stines
- Rating: 9 of 10 This is a pleasant canoe. I have had mine ten years and it has been paddled a lot. The royalex skin has worn thin on the ends and skid plates have been added. The canoe is not as fast as Old Town advertisements imply, but it will keep up. Mine has the third center seat, and it is decent as a solo. The canoe will carry a big load and still handle decently, although I would not dare put the weight in it that Old Town says it will carry. This boat tracks well, but does not turn as easily as more rockered boat will. It easy to portage, although the portage yoke must be removed to use the center seat. The cane seats are hung with long #10 bolts and dowels, which is Old Town's method but leads to bent bolts. This canoe is a favorite of our canoeing group, and is a great choice if you need a tandem but sometimes like to solo. However, as a solo, it falls short of the Wenonah Prism and many other strictly sold boats.
04-05-2004Submitted by: wesvaught
- Rating: 9 of 10 This Royalex slides well over rocks. I enjoy looking at the bottom and the signatures of many rough passages over 10 years. It will last a lifetime. I have paddled it on everything .Very user friendly. All the previous review comments apply. Withal, this boat is a good companion.
10-03-2002Submitted by: pamskee
- Rating: 9 of 10 My hubby and I bought our Penobscot 16 used from some folks who rode it hard over major rocks. Since it came with some scrapes, we didn't feel bad about dragging over rocks occasionally. I even scooted it thru gravel areas in low water on our local river. The only marks added were a few light surface scratches that will disappear with an application of 303 Protectant. We have also run thru Class I rock gardens in low water with no damage. This isn't due to great skill; my husband and I are advanced beginners to intermediate.
The boat is stable, light, keeps up with everybody in the flats, tracks well, turns much better than we expected, and hauls a lot. I was very pleased with the responsiveness.(kept saying "I love this boat!") A light touch and a little lean gets you a good result. We had less than a canoe length between rocks and little water to work with and the boat handled easily and kept us dry. The biggest standing wave train was 18"-20"(not very big), so we'll heed the cautions about big waves.
We noticed that wind affects tracking, but after shifting the load a bit we had no problems. Some of the rivers we paddle get strong,sustained crosswinds(25-30mph)so all of the boats were affected.(Except for our friends' Smokercraft which is solid as a waterbuffalo and just as heavy)
I am pleasantly surprised by the versatility and feel of the boat. Royalex is lovely stuff. We haven't been careful, but you can't tell by looking. A really nice canoe!
09-17-2002Submitted by: tommings
- Rating: 8 of 10 I've had my 16 since 1993 and have put it into a a few different spots. I bought it because it could do a little bit of everything, and that it has done. However, I think that is also what I have come to see as it's handicap as well... For rivers I ran in Missouri I'd recommend the Camper or other model with more initial stability - I have paddled with a group of Campers and Penobscots and the campers definitely were the ticket for non-technical river runs with occasional tough spots, far more maneuverability than the semi-keeled Penobscots. Have been pleased lately with the ride in Minnesota lakes, but it has always been tought to handle with a lighter load and moderate wind - not a shock, but definitely an inconvenience when the wind comes up suddenly and you have a ways yet to paddle. A good place to start, but I'm now looking for something different as I learn better what I want in a canoe.
09-16-2002Submitted by: ---
- Rating: 9 of 10 I chose this canoe to break back into paddling. I have a 7 yr old and this boat allows us to paddle it effortlessly up and down slow rivers and accross windy lakes. I also picked up a center seat for solo'n and it is a blast. A lot of experts tried to push me toward slower more 'stable' boats but I figured ease of paddling and handling would be of greater benefit. We fish from this boat on a regular basis with no problems(and my son loves to hang over the side dragging his hand in the water). This is a great boat and I'm looking forward to trying it in some class 1-2 rapids.
05-17-2002Submitted by: ---
- Rating: 8 of 10 The Penobscot is a great 'all around' design. It has a narrow entry and is light for a Royalex boat - making it easy to paddle and to portage. Moreover, Old Town nicely balanced maneuverability and trackability. In ten years I've used mine for solo and tandem tripping in the BWCA and on the St. John's and for solo class III whitewater. It was marginal for whitewater because of the lack of bow flare.
05-08-2002Submitted by: Bill Kight
- Rating: 8 of 10 I was looking for an all-around boat and so far the Penobscot 16 seems to fit. It's not too long for creeks and it did well on our first over night canoe camping expedition. It handled the load well and had room left over for when we take longer trips. As many have said, it does scratch and dent easily but none so far have made any impression on the inside of the boat. My biggest complaint is the fit and finish of the boat. You can definitely tell this is a mass-produced product.
11-26-2001Submitted by: RK
- Rating: 9 of 10 I've had the Penobscot 16 for two years. It's a great boat--lighter than the Discovery series, and yet it doesn't cost nearly as much as some equivalent models by other manufacturers. The real beauty of this canoe, I think, is how easily it converts from a tandem to a solo. For anyone who's not always sure of finding a paddling partner, but isn't satisfied with a little 12-footer, this is an awfully good choice.
09-06-2001Submitted by: ---
- Rating: 10 of 10 The Penobscot 16 is a fantastic tandem and solo tripping boat! Recently I have rediscovered canoeing after spending several years paddling kayaks (I am an ACA certified instructor). I had been borrowing a friend's Tripper when I decided to shop for my own boat. I spent a bit of time in a Discovery 169 (stable, predictable, heavy and boring) before I bought my Royalex Penobscot. After 1 day with my wife and our dogs on some quickwater (we were thrilled) I spent 3 days solo in the Adirondacks where the Penobscot proved to be agile, quick and very comfortable. I have adopted the Northwoods paddling style and have completely fallen in love with my boat. Besides the great hull design, the light weight means less strains on portages and off and on the truck! I am giving the Penobscot 16 a 9 because a 10 would suggest that this boat is perfect (I doubt that any boat is perfect).
06-26-2001Submitted by: ---
- Rating: 9 of 10 I have had mine for about 3 years. Before that I had a Grumman Eagle and this is a big difference. It is light, agile, fast and easy to paddle solo.
The downside is the boat scratches very easily. This is not just against rocks, but sand, stumps and any other obstruction you will find in the water. If that matters to you, go with a boat that has a harder finish. If you plan to abuse this boat at all, I recommend getting skid plates for the bow and stern. The canoe is also a bit hard to control in a strong wind, especially if it is not loaded with much weight. Some of the other reviews have mentioned that this is not a white water boat. I have had it in class I and II rapids with no problems, outside of the scratches. All and all for the money, it is a great boat. The best I have paddled without getting too expensive.
03-19-2001Submitted by: Wayne_Smith
- Rating: 9 of 10 Fast, light, easy to carry....what more can I ask for? The Penobscot paddles well solo sitting, kneeling, and especially well heeled-over slightly Canadian style. Rough water and winds up to 15 knots are no major problem for it. A great all-around canoe.
03-02-2001Submitted by: ---
- Rating: 10 of 10 I have owned this boat for about 6 years. It does everything well. Fast, stable, and manuverable. Most of my use has been with my 8 to 13 year old sons in Class 2 to occasionally Class 3 whitewater. The boat does a great job. This boat is also considerably lighter than my previous boat which was an Old Town Discovery which makes it a real pleasure when having to portage or load it on my truck.
03-01-2001Submitted by: ---
- Rating: 10 of 10 Growing up in the U.P.of Michigan a great number of lakes and rivers were in my back yard.The canoe I grew up with was a Alumicraft 17 footer which was stable,motor worthy but too heavy for one person to load and unload with ease. As I became older ( mid 50's) weight became a major factor in replacing the tin boat. The Royalex Penobscot 16 was what I was looking for. Realitivly light and a blast to manouver it has taken me on many dream trips and back. For the new paddler this is the rig, solo or with a partner this canoe will bring a smile and let you enjoy the outdoors without a worry about " proper canoeing technique". Buy one you'll see.
01-22-2001Submitted by: Dan Thomsen
- Rating: 10 of 10 This canoe is a real winner! For the price you can't go wrong. It's an extremely capable fun to paddle canoe if you keep it out of whitewater it wasn't intended for. At 58 lbs. it's about the lightest bang-up boat I've come across. It's always a dry warm boat. At 16 ft. I wouldn't recomend any trips longer than 2 weeks unless you are adept at light travel. I'm a avid canoeist who also enjoys a sawyer summersong. I've yet to paddle the penobscot 16 solo, but I've heard it's exceptional also as a large capacity solo tourer with center seat added.
At one time I sailed chestnut prospector type canoes. One of my future projects is to rig the penobscot for sailing. I have the feeling because of it's dryness that it will make an excellent sailing canoe as well. Value wise this is the ultimate all around family, cottage, or short wilderness tripping canoe! If you have special usage such as whitewater or high volume you should look at a different design. Anything else and the penobscot is THE canoe (unless you are rich). This canoe has a good design and is the most resilient and lightest weight canoe in it's price rage.
12-28-2000Submitted by: ---
- Rating: 10 of 10 Owning 6 canoes, I think this is the best. It's great for day trips on all types of rivers, single and tandem - it's as good a boat for solo use as it is for tandem. Its shallow arch design gives it great intial and secondary stability, handles waves and rapids well, and turns with a bit of lean. The straight keel makes it track well. It's light, rigid and a pleasure to paddle. Paddling solo it takes bigger rapids well, especially with solo end float bags. This boat has won solo downriver races. I don't recommend it for heavy loads or two heavy paddlers in whitewater, as there is not enough volume in the bow to ride up on big waves. For occasional lake use it works better than most whitewater boats. Great boat!
12-13-2000Submitted by: JSD
- Rating: 9 of 10 After about 6 months or looking and searching, I finally bought a Pnobscot 16. At first it felt "twichy" compared to flat-bottomed boats, but that soon passed. I usually take 2-3 kids on lakes, slow rivers, etc..the shallow arch bottom is great for stability, we've never tipped it over even with 2 kids leaned way over the edge trying to catch a turtle. This boat is fast, and only takes a few good strokes to get it going. I'm very glad I didn't settle for a less "technical" canoe, this is a great boat for beginners willing to spend a few extra hours to get used to it. The royalex does get scratched pretty easy, but does seem to glide over rocks, stumps, etc... I cant' wait for Spring!
09-22-2000Submitted by: deac
- Rating: 9 of 10 really like this boat. It is fairly light in weight and more stable than I expected it to be. I paddle mostly flat water and it moves pretty fast. I have seen it oil can but not too bad for a plastic boat. Overall it's just a fun boat to run.
03-28-2000Submitted by: AW
- Rating: 9 of 10 For family outings on lakes and calm rivers, you can't go wrong. This canoe has proven to be quite enjoyable for a novice like me.
03-21-2000Submitted by: TEX
- Rating: 9 of 10 I have had this boat for less than a year. It is the first canoe that I have owned although I have paddled quite a few. I have only taken it on slow moving rivers and lakes. I like the boat much more than the other Old Town canoes that I have paddled. I do not like to paddle it solo and have bought a solo boat. It is pretty fast for a rubber boat and I am pleased with it.
12-06-1999Submitted by: DLM
- Rating: 9 of 10 Awesome craft, it is light, very fast, and stable. I have paddled mine on rivers, creeks, and lakes. I strongly recommend this boat.
11-27-1999Submitted by: ---
- Rating: 8 of 10 Old Town hit a 'home run' when they designed this great all around boat. Narrow at the beam, it is fast on flat water and has just the right amount of rocker to turn easily yet track well. At 60 lbs it is light for an ABS canoe - a blessing on long portages. And still it has enough volume to carry two people and gear for week-long trips. One caution - the bow flare is inadequate for large standing waves (class III or more).
07-07-1999Submitted by: ---
- Rating: 8 of 10 I've owned and paddled this boat, tandem and solo, in all types of water. Despite much use and abuse, most of it in whitewater for which it wasn't designed, the Penobscot 16 kept cruising beautifully along. It's light, fast for a boat of its class, and extremely versatile. As a flatwater all-purpose canoe, you can't go wrong. From personal experience, unless there's a good eddy within reach so you can bail, keep it away from significant standing waves.
09-07-1998Submitted by: DGK
- Rating: 8 of 10 I've been paddling this boat for 10+ years and am generally very satisfied. My needs are for a boat that can handle mostly class I and II water, and for general purpose family outings, particularly fishing. The best feature of this boat is that it is very light for a 16 ft ABS canoe. I prefer to paddle it solo or with 2 adults and a light load. It tracks well, is fairly stable, and has been very durable. I prefer it over the less expensive Old Town Discovery series boats because it is about 20 pounds lighter.
It is NOT a heavy whitewater boat, and does not handle large standing waves particularly well, since it has little rocker.
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