I've used a lot of canoes over the past 10 years, and many canoes can have very interesting stability characteristics. For being a "touring" canoe, this is one of the most unstable 17 foot canoes I've ever been in. It is just horrible to get in and out of when it is empty, and is only moderately better when loaded.
This canoe is no longer produced, and I think it might be due to the poor design. Just be forewarned before buying one of these, they are unstable, and with no rocker, they aren't all that maneuverable either.I received a new Pelican Touring 17 as a wedding present in the fall of '06, but the actual canoe was built in '04. For reference, I grew up in a Old Town Discovery 17' which is still in the family and going strong.
My wife and I have been very pleased with the Touring. We canoe camp almost every weekend on the rivers in MN and WI and take a few afternoon lake trips. The Touring is stable enough with just the two of us, but really shines when you start packing it full of camp gear. The draft still isn't that bad full loaded and due to the construction you don't really have to worry about the scrapes and bumps.
Overall this is a great 'affordable' canoe for a beginner couple or family just looking for something to take leisurely trips or day paddles with. I've haven't portaged it yet, but have loaded it onto our Subaru wagon and a full size sedan by myself with no problems.
It tracks alright in flat water and turns moderately in current. We've been through numerous Class I-II rapids with ease and my wife is no experienced paddler let me tell you. The keel along the bottom is a bit scary, but you just have to keep her straight or remember it's there and lean up stream if you get sideways and are in the shallows.
The one thing I will warn prospective buyers of is the seats. I built a free standing rack for the canoe to be stored on along the side of my garage. I made it so some 2x6" planks spanned the inside between the gunwales and the seats rested on them. This wasn't such a great idea, as I put the canoe on the rack by myself a few times which wasn't a gentle process. Both the front and rear seat developed cracks in the plastic where they attach to the gunwale. Interestingly enough, the center seat also shows this same cracking in the same spot but the rack doesn't support the canoe there, so it may be more of an issue than my rack...
I've ordered replacement seats (the canoe is out of warranty period, which is determined by manufacture date, not purchase date) and extended the rack so the canoe rests on the gunwales now. Hopefully these new seats hold up better.
The Pelican stadium seat backs are a must. I love being able to lean back, put my feet up on the cooler in front of me and lightly paddle down a calm section and just take it all in.
Yes there are better canoes out there, but they cost a quite bit more and you'll always be worried about that cost as it scrapes and bumps it's way down the river. Buy one of those for the lake, buy Pelican Touring for the river. It'll take anything you dish at it and keep on going.
We plan to enjoy this boat for years to come.