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As I say I'm an amateur and still learning as I go but this things been sunk three quarters full at the edge of a lake, dragged out, emptied, reloaded and we just carried on on our way. Its been dragged down low rivers over rocks and dragged a good way down more than one portage and the thing still holds its hull shape and paddles ok although its getting pretty scratched up now.
Although I'm looking into getting a canoe that's lighter and a little better suited to real expedition tripping, for the price I'd buy another of these in a heartbeat. Takes a licking, keeps on ticking and although a little slow to paddle compared to other canoes it tracks well- it has a keel- and will make a great fishing and mucking about boat for a long time to come
The seats have to be replaced. There is no way to fix the old ones. Waiting to hear if the seats are available, as the DLX 15.5 has been discontinued...
We outfit for long tours (14-21 days), that demand a canoe you can count on. Even in extremely rocky situations, I have never had a customer who complained about the hull. The 17 foot version of the hull works great for load on extended trips and is pretty much indestructible, which you can't say about fiberglass canoes. If they break, you are in a world of hurt.
We do put down 8 layers of duct tape into the keel before we assemble the canoe, because small rocks punch easily through that area if pressed - once ending up there - through the hull by the center rod. The duct tape creates a buffer zone for rocks that has served us well.
The Coleman/Pelican hulls have impressed me with their ease of repair (Lighter and glue stick). They spring leaks in shallow rivers (gravel) after about 2000- 3000 miles of bush travel. That's about 8-10 trips or 9 month in shallow rivers; pushing, sliding, pulling them at times with rougly 400 pounds of gear through gravel and rock. Their ability to ride over rocks and bend (flexibility) is great. It's another reason (next to the price) that I prefer them over fiberglass canoes. I will buy more of them, and no .... I'm not getting a discount.
That sounds like a great review, right? So why am I only giving them a '7' rating? The seats Pelican put into the hulls are not, what I need to outfit long distance (up to 600 miles) excursions, and the center seat just takes up unnecessary space. People who wrote before me said, that the seats don't even work. I would not know.
Since the hulls are still the same, I was able to put seats and cross braces from the old Colemans into the new Pelican hulls. Then I repaired the old Coleman hulls for lake use, put the new Pelican seats into the old canoes (you need to drill new holes, but that doesn't take long) and gave them to the boy scouts.
I wish that Pelican would give options on seats and would make the old line of two crossbraces and two seats on it's 17-foot canoe available again. In the meantime, I am exchanging the excellent hulls, but I'm keeping the old hardware.
I thought having to assemble it was lame, that it should really be sold assembled, but unlike other stories I had no problem assembling it, the hardware was identifiable and the holes all lined up easily. I can't really comment on the weight, I am a big guy and 20-30lbs one way or another means pretty much nothing to me, where it might really frustrate others.
I transport the canoe on a Ford Focus and it sits on the racks securely and doesn't cause problems. I have found it to be pretty good while paddling. I have used it solo on big windy lakes and found it to be ok to handle (I used ballast in the front). It is much less quick than the clipper canoe that I have used, and if you are used to higher performance canoes you will not be impressed. I am more pleased with it now than I thought I might be.
To those who say it's 'unstable' I would ask if they know what a canoe is.. They aren't pontoon boats, folks! HOWEVER, you can turn the Pelican Explorer DLX into an unbelievably stable paddling platform by simply investing $200 in a set of (good quality) outrigger floats. I did, and my little Pelican Explorer DLX is ROCK SOLID STABLE and fast because with the outrigger pontoons installed, I can REALLY dig in and paddle hard with my double-bladed paddle without ANY fear of tipping! Translation- I can fly with this baby when she's got her 'water wings' on!!
Here's how to setup the Pelican Explorer DLX for a great paddling experience:, Purchase a set of outrigger floats so you will NOT have to ever fear tipping, add a comfy seatback chair for wonderful back support, and get a nice double-bladed paddle (I recommend 230-270CM, no shorter). Do these things and I GUARANTEE you will enjoy your paddling experience with this boat, and still be at least $300-$400 ahead of the game compared to if you had purchased a much more 'expensive' canoe! (especially a Kevlar!)
I will be stiffing the boat at the gunnels and with a cross member for outriggers, mast foot and cover so it should be fine. A buddy builds beautiful strippers and he thinks the boat is an excellent boat for the money to start a building project with. 800 capacity will carry all the modifications well and it should still be a good camping boat, but then I go pretty light too, using backpacking equipment! Anyone with experience in modifications to this boat (or similar) would be appreciated. Good Paddling and be safe.
Oh, my rating is based on the bang for the buck!
I gave it 8 as I am not a lover of the cool box and one of my holes was mis-aligned as per another reviewer. All this for me, just adds to the magic, the pioneering spirit and the getting to know your boat bit! An engineering friend, Keith, paddled with me the other day, I've put a seat in the wrong way and I'm sitting too high and we were both in the wrong seats, and I still give it a rating of 8, phew eh? £300 from Costco after lining a couple up around £400 on ebay. A very happy Bob and a big fan of Pelican.
I don't understand the mentality behind paying an outrageous price for something just because of the brand name, if you are a professional who can afford $400 to $700 for a canoe then go for it, but don't down a canoe just because it is cheap.
The Explorer does have some issues, I personally don't care for the cooler in mine, I would have rather had a dry storage and a lower middle seat. For all of you people looking to by a canoe, ask yourself these simple questions. What is your experience level? How often do you plan to use it? Where do you plan to use it? Who do you plan to use it with?
If, like me, you have some experience (15-20 years of paddling swamps, rivers, lakes, ocean, and creeks), and you are looking to share good times with family and friends, buy a Pelican. If you don't have any experience go someplace that rents canoes or does guided tours, to see if you will like it, before you buy. Regardless of what the professionals say, or the people that can go out and buy something have a hard time assembling it, and instead of taking it back just cut it in half and trash it (how stupid was this person?), Buying a canoe comes down to budget, personal preference, and experience of the end user.
If I was to decide to buy another canoe it would definitely be a Pelican. Keep up the good work PI.
I will return the kayak and will buy one that really is designed professionally and tried out from the quality control! Very disappointing!
Understand that I'm a BIG guy, and I haven't been in a canoe in about 15 years. I didn't feel like the boat was all that stable when I took it out on the lake, and while I didn't tip it over, it felt pretty scary even heading directly into motorboat wakes. My knees don't allow me to kneel, so I turned the canoe backwards and sat on the front seat to get nearer the center. When I did try kneeling, I found -as did another reviewer- that my size 14s just don't go under the seat at all! I can't blame all my discomfort on the canoe though; I know I'd sit lower and the whole deal would be more stable if I weighed 150 pounds. News flash: I don't.
As for maneuverability, I found that there were times when the Explorer tracked beautifully and slid effortlessly through the water, even against the current. Other times, it steered like a wet sponge and seemed to take loads of effort to propel. Long and short: I feel like the hull is too thin and flexible to offer consistency. I'll take it out every evening this week and find out if I just need to get used to it or if I really made a bad choice.
I traveled 65 miles (one way) to the closest Dick's Sporting Goods to get in on this "great deal".
I spent almost an hour trying to attach the handles (step one), but with the shoddy manufacturing, there was simply no way to get all of the necessary holes and hardware to line up properly. After pondering the 130 mile round trip to Dick's Sporting Goods it would take to recover my money, I cut the boat in half, threw it in the back of my pickup, and took it where it belonged--the dump.
Unfortunately, I can't comment on this boat's performance on the water since I never got to use it.
The moral of the story is this--while it isn't always necessary to buy the absolute best product available in order to have something that will suit your needs, never buy the cheapest thing available.
But my Pelican Explorer DLX 'el 'cheapo from Dick's Sporting Goods (~$300) comes close. Its been years since I was in a canoe, and I didn't want to spend a fortune on something I might use a few times and abandon for my next hobby... but this canoe has made all the difference in getting out on the water. The model I bought had a built in "cooler" in the middle. I take the cooler top off, and use the elastic stretch bands to fasten on a portal stadium seat with a back rest on top of the cooler base. This puts my center of gravity a little lower than the two built in seats on each end, making the canoe even more stable. Its a little easier to paddle from the middle solo too. I sit cross legged or indian style - I don't like kneeling at all - and I can recline back a little. I can paddle and fish all day no problems. I I even felt safe enough to take my dog with me this weekend, and teach him how to sit and lay in the canoe. Even with him moving around at first - I was stable and have never tipped (knock on wood). I bought this last year - used it maybe 20 times, and have really been getting some use of out it this year. I was skeptical about the weight, but so far its not been a problem. I can load and unload it on my low to the ground 72 impala by myself very easily, and with a little more effort I can load it on my 97 dodge ram with 5in lift kit by dropping the tailgate and working it up onto the roof from the truck bed by myself. I've done a couple of overnight river camping trips, and loaded it down with tons of weight, and had no problems. As long as I step in and out on the middle metal keel bar thingy, it stable as can be.
Another poster named "cc" commented on a serious issue related to the Pelican's Explorer's construction and the removal of the keelson. I have seen firsthand an older Pelican Explorer like this, the boat was terribly warped. However, Pelican has now adopted the aluminum keelson design that Coleman has always used. Essentially, the Explorer is almost the same boat as the higher priced Pelican Colorado and Coleman Journey, but sold through Dick's Sporting Goods and maybe others. It's a 15 1/2' canoe with 37" beam. It feels very stable, and while the polyethylene construction makes for a heavy canoe, it paddles and tracks reasonably well. I have taken three children out paddling in this canoe and we felt save. The canoe has a capacity of 800 lb.
Pelican/Coleman canoes serve a valuable purpose in the market for a low-end canoe. Make sure you install your keelson correctly. Mohawk has pictures of beat-up polyethylene canoes from Walmart linked from their web site, but such problems are due to not installing the aluminum keelson. With the keelson properly installed, and the boat properly cared for, such a boat will last for years, as strated by the success of Coleman's canoes. (Pelican has purchased all Coleman's canoe manufacturing and moved it from Texas to Canada. A Coleman canoe is now a Pelican canoe.) I can walk by dozens of canoes on T-racks at the lake where we paddle, and while some of the old Coleman's look terrible, the same holds true for other canoes that have not been cared for, especially aluminum and fiberglass canoes. But there are old Coleman's that are still in great shape after many years of use. If you can afford it, buy something else. But as a starter canoe, a Pelican Ram-X canoe will get you on the water, and be virtually indestructible provided you take reasonable care of your boat.
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