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I actually love the way it feels solo in light to moderate airs - a bit like flying or walking on the water. I often stand midships with a long paddle.
I use a trolling motor sometimes and that works well too. It's nice to motor upriver using the bow as a stern, then change seats to the real stern and paddle down. The boat trims nicely with the battery, motor, anchor & chain at the other end.
This Tripper is THE workhorse of expedition canoes. When you build something right, you don't need to change it. The Tripper is a perfect example of what a canoe should be in every way.
It is one tough boat that will carry a big load though most anything you put it through without a problem, it is very forgiving, you can't beat it for a river expedition boat. I have lighter and faster boats, but if the river is rocky and challenging this is my ride.
There's really only two things you need to know about the Tripper - first, when I bought it my canoeing mentor chastised me saying it was too long and too hard to turn. That was in 1987 before he'd ever paddled it. Now that he has paddled it a few times he no longer says such things. Secondly, as an avid canoeing evangelist I have recruited more than a few people to the sport over the years. Many of my paddling friends fell in love with canoeing in the Tripper and I hear them comment all the time that they wish they had one.
I still love taking the Tripper down Class III and low IV, such as the Youghiogheny or French Broad's section IX. I have no idea how many times it has been down Frank Bell's rapid. We've never had a problem other than severe heart palpitations. We've even popped an ender there, which is absolutely terrifying from the stern of a 17' boat.
Probably unique in the Tripper world, our boat has foam saddles with thigh straps, footpegs, and the mandatory drink holders. With a 60" center bag, 36" bow bag and 24" stern bag, it floats high even when rolled. -- Yes, a tripper can even be rolled. A slow roll is surprising easy as long as no one is in the bow, allowing the bow to rise so that you don't have to fight the width at the center.
For whitewater, you definitely have to anticipate required moves in heavy water well in advance. It feels a bit like guiding an aircraft carrier at times, but you can still make it dance with well timed powerful strokes as long as you are not fighting heavy current. There's not much like the feeling of arcing the boat into a massive green tongue at the entrance of a large rapid and feeling the acceleration then slicing through huge holes without slowing down.
Loaded with camping gear, paddling the 2 year old around the lake, or making the bowman scream as we drop over Kayaker's Ledge, the Tripper is truly the most versatile river craft I've ever seen. If I had to select one boat, I'd give up our whitewater and sea kayaks and another canoe for the Tripper. No question. Thanks Old Town.
We have rated it a ten because it performs so well for what it was designed to do. It is superb for carrying two or more people and heavy loads safely through rough conditions. On the other hand, it is not an ideal boat for fast day cruising on large open bodies of water, where speed, lightness and the ability to make headway against strong winds are the primary needs.
We have used the Tripper primarily for day cruising on the Maine coast and we are generally paddling with a light load. The typical conditions in summer are calm with small seas until about 1 or 2 in the afternoon, then there are usually winds up to about 15 mph and seas 1-2 feet until sundown. In the spring and fall, the winds tend to blow all day and night, although there are periods of calm.
The Tripper can handle waves of almost any size so long as they are not actually breaking and the paddlers understand proper bracing and leaning techniques. We have paddled forwards, backwards and in circles in wind driven waves and standing waves without trouble, even with the waves broadside. If broadside to a wave, just brace and lean into the wave if it looks big and steep.
We have thirty years of data that show that our average cruising speed in the Tripper is about 2.3 mph. This is the ground speed, which takes into account the average reduction in overall forward progress due to tidal currents, wave action and the wind. Someone considering the Tripper for use on open bodies of water should know that my wife and I have found that we cannot paddle the Tripper forward against headwinds once whitecaps form, which is about 12-15 mph. Remember, however, that our boat is lightly loaded and that we are not very big people or especially strong.
Some special characteristics of the Tripper are that it is comfortable, stable and dry. We have paddled it all day without getting out of the boat, since it is spacious and stable enough for napping, eating lunch and adjusting clothing when it is anchored in an area of calm water.
We don't recommend the Tripper for open water cruising unless the winds are light, because it makes much more sense to use a faster canoe for this purpose; nor do we recommend the Tripper when there is portaging to be done, since it weighs a hefty 80 pounds. For most other uses, however, it is excellent.
We liked the Penebscot 17 ft, but wanted more initial stability plus more space for gear and leg room. the Camper 16 ft. was more stable, but too small for our needs.
We are very glad we picked the Tripper!. I'm very glad I selected the Aqua Bound Carbon fiber Edge paddles as well, after accurately determining the proper lengths for us. Very light weight , very responsive to "J" and "c" correction strokes when I'm the only one paddling while my wife takes pictures of the eagles or uses the binoculars. With just an average paddling effort, we amazing glide silently PAST fishing boats running their electric trolling motors. Still new at this, sometimes we set a faster pace just to humble some of the louder fisherman breaking the otherwise peaceful beauty of the lake we're on. it's also fun to slowly push deep into the lily pads for some excelent fishing the their electric trolling motors get fouled up on and their boats may bottom out on.
Once, so far, the winds kicked up to 20-25 mph, and we obviously did have to work a little harder, but so did all the trolling motors we PASSED. For safety, I installed the foam outrigger unit in the Cabela's catalog. The stability increase is amazing for the rather small foam floats. We keep them in a maximum up postion because we find we don't ussually rock the canoe too much, and their never in the way while paddling or fishing. The 80# Royalex rides on top of our Suburban, and really isn't too bad to lift with the pull-out helper bar on our Thule rack.
The Tripper's bow is a great combination of a traditional graceful curve plus a rather narrow edge ssimilar to the Penebscot. It tracks well due to it's 17'-2" length, and turns like the Camper which is far easier than the Penebscot. These product reviews helped me a lot, and I hope our comments return the favor. We love our Tripper as equipted because we can relax,have fun, and sneak right up on nature, with minimal effort!
I have paddled my Tripper on parts of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland, Cumby below the Falls, Elkhorn, Obed, Nantahala, Hiwassee, and other area streams in the Kentucky region; mostly class II but some III and one or two IV's. For a long boat, it turns remarkably well. The boat has enough lift in the ends to catch those tight eddies. The high sides are a blessing in staying dry in large waves. However, the sharp entry line of the boat tends to knife into waves and can result in some dampness. I have found that by quartering into the waves at a slight angle I stay quite dry and as a bonus my line of sight is improved as well. With its generous volume and shallow arch hull design, the boat is very stable and remains very stable while leaning into turns. I love, repeat, LOVE the shallow arch design. In addition to maintaining stability while leaned, the shallow arch adds greatly to the rigidity of the hull virtually eliminating any "oil-canning".
I have outfitted my Tripper with solid core foam saddles that I carved with an electric carving knife. (I recently hollowed out a hole in the foam to hold my favorite beverage. Stays cold forever and never spills! It only took me 14 years to make that discovery.)
I think that the Tripper is a great whitewater boat, but where it really shines is on the overnight trips. My wife and I take everything camping. It's embarrassing really. I mean two full size coolers and a smaller one to boot, a huge tent, full size lantern and stove, 5 gal. water jug, a couple of lounge chairs, fishing equipment, food and all the tools - shovel, saw, axe etc. etc. etc..... The Tripper takes it all with ease. The boat is rated at 1100 lbs with 6" of freeboard. In my experience, I think that 1100 lbs is quite conservative. It's 18 wheels short of a semi. It will flat out haul a load.
On flat water the boat paddles easily (due to the sharp entry line) and its length makes it pretty fast. I can't say enough about it. Suffice it to say that I will never get rid of it voluntarily. I'm gonna have to die or somebody's gonna have to steal it under cover of night. God help my wife if we ever divorced and she tried to get my Tripper in the settlement.
To sum up: The 17 foot, 2 inch Old Town Tripper is a great boat for any purpose. Some people may complain about its 80 lb weight, but I rarely go places where long portages are required. If you've never paddled one, then your missing out on a great experience. Happy paddling!
In the northwest we paddle all year but usually in water too cold to swim in, and aside from wood this was the first canoe I'd seen where the cold did not penetrate the hull, similar to the heavy, sea-going cedar canoes made by the Willits brothers in Tacoma I'd paddled as a camp counselor in the San Juan Islands. This is a huge advantage, to have that kind of thermal insulation without the vulnerability and cost of wood in a hull that will only leak if you shoot it first.
I lived on a small river in those days and could canoe anytime I wished, and among other things found the boat to be a great bird-watching platform because of its high-sided (you can lay down out of sight) and quiet hull.
I made my first circuit (100 Km) of the Bowron Lake chain in it without a portaging yoke for some reason, and of course bought one the minute I got home. I cut the old thwart down to use as a second thwart about 2 feet aft of the yoke and found it had much less oil-canning and hull flexing than before. It became stiff enough that I then could add a sail, Old Town's lateen rig which steps through the bow seat and which needs reasonably stiff sides for the lee boards to work right (they mount, of course, on what becomes an additional thwart when clamped onto the gunwhale). It really goes as a sailboat, to the point that I decided to take all that crap along on my next long wilderness trip. It worked beautifully, though my partner wasn't always sure about it. But the high sides allow it to heel and really rip along on a reach.
I down-rate it one point for low bouyancy when capsized, lack of hull stiffness and heaviness compared to what's available today, although not many other boats have survived as long (25 to 30 years) during a period of such intense design development. It's very versatile and a good choice for folks who want to do a lot of different things with the same hull. The stiffness can be increased a bit with a second thwart, and one can install permanent flotation in the bow and stern, although I prefer to always wear a good PFD to float the crew and have long, floating painters to work the boat toward shore for rescue. It's a freighter, after all, and with nearly a half-ton of capacity a loaded boat in capsize is best handled on the beach.
I also have an Old Town "Hunter" in Royalex, a 14'2" hull designed more for moving than flat water, similar in concept to the Tripper and like it a delight to paddle solo or double. Royalex seems ideal for salt water applications, warm and quiet as wood, as durable (or more so) than glass or aluminum. Pity they no longer make this model, though I'd imagine they still have the mold.
I remember crossing Chamberlain Lake when the remnants of hurricane Bob hit us at mid-lake. The Tripper quartered perfectly and kept us dry despite some very BIG rollers. I feel like it saved my life.
It handled the Chase rapids well enough to allow us time to rescue a family with two brand new Malecites wrapped around rocks in midstream. Our two Trippers ferried out to the submerged and fully wrapped Malecites several times until we could rope them up and coax them off the rocks.
On a hundred mile trip up (or down) the Chapleau, the Tripper took so much abuse, I was amazed at how little evidence the Oltonar hull showed of its ordeal. Incredible and indestructible.
Oltonar/Royalex? After paddling next to 14-foot alligator with BIG teeth down in the Everglades, I prefer THICK, slippery Oltonar to thin, tooth-catching Kevlar. Same thing applies to big ole bears... I have much more confidence in thick, slippery Oltonar than thin brittle Kevlar.
Comfort? Forget cane and give me those Old Town vinyl seats any day of the week! Also, the width of the Tripper allows luxury gear that makes canoe camping so much more enjoyable than backpack or kayak camping. I still like a cooler full of steaks or lobster on ice to freeze dried Cacciatore.
Speed? We couldn't beat those Malecites AFTER we pulled them off the rocks and duct-taped them back together! So if you want speed forget the Tripper. But if you want to get to the destination in a reasonable time, in safety and comfort, this is one of the best canoes ever built.
Every canoe is a compromise. The Tripper rates a 10 for wilderness and expedition canoeing. It has the best balance of features that are important to me. I have felt this way for some 20 years and I still highly recommend this boat.
Brianne Elizabeth Corbett
Well, maybe. Remember _The Merchant of Venice_. "All that glisters is not gold." Treasure can sometimes be found even in lead. If your circumstances are such that you have to make one boat do all things, then utilitarian isn't so bad. Consider....
Working a mountain lake for landlocked salmon, just after ice-out. You get a strike on a Grey Ghost. Your rod-tip bends almost double, and you strip line from your reel as fast as you can make your half-frozen hands work. Later, much later, when you horse your fish over to the boat to release the hook, you realize you're just about sitting on the gunwale. There's still ice in the water. The boat is still floating right side up.
A month later. A whitewater weekend. The runoff-swollen river's bank-full, and the standing waves are curling back on themselves with a noise like the jaws of Hell. You look toward the bank. You can see bits of broken boat in the trees. You look forward again, and there's a hole bigger than a bus at the base of the chute. "We're going in!" you scream.... Two heartbeats later, you're parked in an eddy only the bow-paddler saw. You sit quietly, waiting for your pulse to drop below 120.
Another two months pass. A summer picnic with two friends, a fire pan and a full cooler. You load one-third of a ton without worrying about putting the gunwales under. You find a sand beach even the jet-skis can't reach. Chilled chardonnay, baguette and brie. Grilled trout. Fresh fruit and crisp berry tart. Life doesn't get any better than this.
August. You've gone "up North." Everything you need for the next month -- just about everything you own -- is in the boat. It's late afternoon, you're tired, and you've got just one more scratchy little rapid to run. No problem. An hour later, when you've levered your pretzeled boat off a mid-river rock, hauled it into the shore eddy and stomped the bottom out into some semblance of canoe-shape again, you've learned to see the golden treasure hidden in that leaden word "utilitarian."
OK. The Old Town Tripper is utilitarian. It's heavy, unfashionably thick about the middle, and made of that most unromantic of materials -- plastic. It's also stable, capacious, quick to respond to the paddle, and as close to indestructible as anything made by human hands can be. There are prettier boats, there are lighter boats, and there are faster boats. No doubt about it. But there aren't any better boats. Period.
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