New 2011 Mad River Canoe Models

At the 2010 Summer Outdoor Retailer show, the yearly pilgrimage for gear obsessed outdoor store owners and buyers, Mad River announced the release of five new canoes.

The first two ultralites weigh in at 45 lbs and 43lbs for the Explorer 16 KX Ultralite and the Malecite KX Ultralite, respectively. They range in price from $2,749 to $3,089 depending on the options, like wood gunwales. Both feature resin-infusion w/ something called custom MRC core system. If the MRC core system features a molded-in bunny, like shown in the picture, we hope it doesn’t make it into production boats. Resin-infusion results in a layup with a high fiber/resin ration, which means lighter and stronger. It’s also healthier for the canoe builders. The builders seal the laminate in a vacuum bag and pull the vacuum. Then the resin comes in via feeder tubes and runners. It evenly impregnates the laminate delivering a controlled amount of resin.

Jim Henry designed two triple layer plastic canoes for Mad River. The new Journey 158 and 169 models will put you on the water in something backbreaking for under $950. If that’s all you can afford, then these look like good options.

For canoeists looking for something longer, the Expedition 176 looks promising. When compared to the BWCA standards, like the We-no-nah Minnesota II, the Bell Canoe Works Northwind and the Souris River Quetico II, it’s a bit weighty at 57 lbs. But for the extra weight you get curvy seats, a shaped yoke (hopefully, yoke pads will work on it), and a molded in Mad River rabbit on the floor. I love the Bell-like shouldered tumblehome.

More info on the Confluence Watersports OR Blog.

The Explorer Ultralight looks to be a nice BWCA canoe.

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  • Greetings,

    I’m with Mad River Canoe and was discussing your article with the Mad River Canoe boat designers and we wanted to add a few notes on this article where it compares our new Mad River Expedition 176 to other models on weight.

    Each of these canoes has different dimensions beyond length, such as how narrow or how shallow they are, to be considered, making it a difficult comparison.

    For example the Minnesota II weighs in at 59 lbs. with similar construction and gunwales, but it is both narrower and shallower than the Expedition 176 which weighs in just slightly more at 60 lbs.

    The same is true with the Bell Northwind, which is more shallow than the Expedition 176.

    Since most consider weight as one of many factors, the potential implication that all of these other factors are equal wouldn’t be accurate and it’s not quite an apples to apples comparison.

  • Thanks for the comment Craig. I agree with you.

    Here are the stats for the Minnesota II (18’6″, 35″, 20.5″/13.5″/17″), Souris river’s Quetico 17 (17’3″, 35″, 20″/13.5″/20″) and the Northwind (17’6″, 36″, 21″/14″/19″). I don’t have the exact width and heights for the Expedition, otherwise I’d list them.

    When looking at Wenonah’s Kevlar® Flex-core lay-up, the Expedition 176 and 186 are close in weight, and I think that the Mad River has some nice features that the Wenonah lacks: sculpted gunwales, foot brace, the curved caned seats, wooden seat drops and a sculpted yoke. These extra features are worth the few extra pounds (especially the seats, because Wenonah’s buckets seat are terrible). Bell and Souris River don’t offer a similar layup.

    On weight, I should have been clearer in my reference for people who don’t frequent the BWCA, Quetico or Wabakimi. For these trippers the top three design factors are performance, weight and durability. Many canoe country trippers rank weight equal with performance, because of the frequent and long portages in these areas. And most Kevlar layups are durable enough for this type of lake-hike-lake travel. So, when I think about canoe weight it comes from the mindset of canoe country trippers–if you’re not a frequent reader of Nessmuking, you may not realize this. My reference on weight was to the ultralight layups by the other companies. Perhaps not an apples to apples comparison, but taking in account the ranked design factors for canoe country trippers, I feel it’s a fair comparison. Here are the weights for the boats that are considered the area standards: Minnesota II in Wenonah’s ultralight layup is 42lbs (+4lbs. for all-wood trim), Bell’s Kevlight Northwind weighs 44lbs, and Souris River’s Quetico 17 is 44lbs. I like the Mad River Expedition canoes, and I wish that they were available in this weight range, because I think they’d make a nice BWCA canoe. But, because the Expedition hull isn’t available in an Ultralight layup with aluminum gunwales, it just doesn’t make the cut. For an example, look at the canoe offerings from Sawbill Canoe Outfitters, the premier BWCA outfitter on the eastern side. Not a Kevlar tandem canoe over 42 pounds.

    Price for the same type of layup is also a consideration. Would you be willing to give us a price comparison vs. other companies for the same type of layup?

    Anyway, I like the new Mad River canoes. I think the Explorer 16 Ultralight is gonna be hot–I know someone who wants to replace her old Explorer with something lighter and now that this is available I’ll mention it to her. I bet she orders one. I wish the Expedition 176 came in an ultralight layup, because I’m shopping for a new Kevlar canoe.

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