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I ordered my Otter in January of 2013, and had Michael install the optional middle seat as I paddle mostly alone. I took delivery in April 2013 and immediately put her in the water. My initial impression was very good, although I was only on a small pond. Shortly thereafter I packed up for an extended trip to the Turtle-Flambeau flowage in northern Wisconsin. I was there from the time that the ice was just going out (May 1st.) until August 1st. I camped and lived out of this canoe for three months, going to town to resupply every 10 days- 2 weeks. I had this canoe in every type of water from 3ft. heavily windswept waves to perfect glass (no whitewater- she's a lake canoe), and she performed wonderfully in every situation.
There is plenty of room for all my gear even though I always take a lot of bulky "luxury" gear that I really could do without. I think if pressed I could stay out for 1 month in this canoe and at 16ft., 34" beam, 52lbs., it is not a big boat. She almost effortlessly glides through the water,and with a tailwind you're really making time. With a quartering headwind you need only to hold your bearing, and she's easy as pie directly into the wind. The Otter is a dream to fish from and absolutely no problem to load alone. I had an absolutely awesome trip and highly recommend the Ranger Otter to anyone looking for a tripping canoe. I am going back in late September/October for some autumn fishing and class 1 river floating, and am really looking forward to getting her in the water again.
I could have spent a lot more money on a lot less boat and am absolutely in love with my Ranger Otter! Thank you Michael! Happy paddling to everyone!
The only thing I will change is to tip the cane seat a little because I paddle mostly on my knees and the leading edge cuts into my rear end a little, Raising the back edge of the seat about 1 inch will most likely remedy that problem.
We love our new boat. Shipping from back east was no problem. the network of manufacturer to shipper, to delivery here in California was excellent. I met people who were helpful, kind and generous.
Thanks Michael O'Hara!
I cant help myself. I need to comment about the review that rated it 3. That's bizarre. He couldn't hear his buddy 8' away over the creaking? Extremely tippy? I've been paddling with my 55# dog. She wasn't too crazy about it at first... We've managed to slip up to geese, mergansers, ducks, painted and snapping turtles. I've never heard a creak, or thought it was tippy. Ranger hasn't stayed in business nearly 50 years by building 3 star canoes. If you disregarded that review, as well as mine, it would get a rating of 9.66/10. That's pretty good.
We have been quite happy with this purchase. The canoe has taken everything that we could throw at it. It does quite well with big loads (camping gear, two adults, and one child) and is an excellent canoe for our short, local excursions and fishing trips. It tracks quite well. It is fairly maneuverable, but it is a long boat so it is not going to win any slalom races. So far it has held up quite well, and the owner was very fair and nice to us!
Also, it is a beautiful boat. We still get comments on it, and it is still in great shape. I highly recommend this boat and this manufacturer.
My Ranger is a 2004 model, 16' in fiberglass with Kevlar re-inforced bow and stern, slotted ash rails and woven cane suspended seats. I bought it used 2 seasons ago and fell in love with it this first time I put it in the water. It is a great all-around boat with a smooth, flattened-U hull, no keel ridge, 34 inch beam and very slight rocker that makes it very stable and comfortable in the water. I can lean it with gunwalls practically in the water and it will not tip. It is slightly asymmetrical and tracks best going forward. With my buddy with me in the bow, we can make that 55 pound boat fly through the water! Paddling it solo in the backward direction, it did well enough so I did not mind that approach. But on the current refit, I asked Micheal to put in a third seat in the solo position so I could send it the right way through the water. Now, she responds so beautifully going solo that my solo Wenonah Rendezvous will stay in the shed more than in the past.
I really want to comment here on the excellent, helpful, expert, friendly, and reasonable service Michael provided on the refit. He replaced the ash rails, re-cored the stern and bow stems, replaced the thwarts and original seats and added a third seat (all in gorgeous wood and cane). That's what I brought the canoe up to him to do. But he really went above and beyond in his labor and service. He compounded the hull himself by hand before fitting the new rails on, re-cored the ends as I said (a free, extra job), and applied many coats of the 303 anti-ultraviolet treatment. The result of the latter (in addition to the compounding) was that the faded red gelcoat lost its oxidized layer and returned to close to the original color. Michael performed a labor of love on my canoe, and for that I am very grateful. His work was worth every penny of his fair and reasonable price. The result is now I have practically a new canoe, and it is truly a beauty. Unlike in the past, it will now reside permanently in my garage and I look forward to many happy years on the water with it. Thank you, Michael!
Growing up all we had where allumacraft beasts, used during all three trips to canada, my first when I was 13, since I have been in various rentals, and friends canoes of various models, and hands down the Ranger beats them all... 1st trip yesterday, with my buddy, and some fishing gear, seemed real tippy at first, and alls I thought was I made a mistake, then when you get used to it and the motion of her, man is she amazing! Cut through the water like a fish man, tracked great, and we even fished out of her no prob. At one point we both leaned right, and paddled right hard, and had her almost vertical with the water brushing the gunrails, and she still didn't tip!
So then I wrote a review today and was concerned about upkeep and some of the inner fibers seeming dry and rubbing off a bit, just a few, but that doesn't really belong here, and besides after getting wet the fibers on the inside are fine, and stuck back like glue, must of just been dry from not being in the water for a year.
I took her back out today solo, just after a storm front went through, we had tornado warnings so you know the kinda day I'm talking about, but I thought hell. lets really put her to the test.. So I took her out on Lake Normandy (Tennessee) with 1'+/- waves with small white caps, not another soul on the lake, and man did she shine! again, best canoe ever! cut cross wind, against the wind, back with the wind with straight broad side against the waves, I pushed her, and No oil canin, no wobble, it was gorgeous! I am hooked and a Ranger man for life! great boat... Can't wait for the trip this summer!
Rating 9 1/2 out of 10 because I haven't had her in rapids yet....
The owner/builder of Ranger Canoes assured me I would be pleased with the design because its very similar to the Explorer. The Ranger paddles very nicely, maneuvers nimbly, and is a great looking boat. The bow of the canoe is not as high as some, which make paddling in windier weather better than with other boats; the downside is that large waves/ boat wakes may cause the bow paddler to get a little wet.
I've had myself and a friend out in the canoe with a weight of around 420lbs between us and had no noise or flex issues like a previous reviewer had. I have canoed with my three year old golden retriever mix in the bow and me in the stern several times with great success. The boat will feel tippy to some as it is a shallow V and not a rounded/flatter bottom. The shallow V tracks better and has good primary and secondary stability.
The price is reasonable, its a pleasure to paddle, and its a quality piece of equipment. I would recommend it to anyone with canoeing experience. Beginning paddlers may find it a bit tippy, but once they're used to it the shallow V will perform much nicer than any rounded bottom canoe.
What makes a Ranger such a wonderful craft is it's versatility. It handles beautifully as a solo, but is also a fine wilderness tandem canoe. It turns well, glides straight ahead at brisk pace and in general is a responsive, elegant boat. My unique wood/canvas solo canoe is my favorite cane of all I've ever owned or paddled - but the Ranger holds a special place in my heart - and in my memory, given all the places I've paddled it. And it's a pretty QUIET canoe!!
I've paddle in a wide variety of conditions: salt water tidal ponds, bays, harbors, lakes, and rivers. I've encountered big waves and high winds, and have never been disappointed with the Ranger's performance. I regularly fish, while standing, and secondary stability is excellent. Primary stability might be a little deceiving to for the less experienced paddler, but this boat is stable.
Concerns of boat being noisy are likely the result of fiberglass construction. If silence is a priority, try a royalex boat and be prepared to sacrifice performance and add weight. I must admit, I often consider buying another boat - another Ranger (perhaps in kevlar).
I absolutely love this canoe. It performs remarkably in most situations. I've paddled in on slow moving rivers, still lakes, fast moving rivers with class II+ rapids, and severely wind blown lakes. The only time it wasn't fantastic was in the heavy rapids and to be fair, that is not what it's meant for. On a three day trip on Lake Umbagog in NH, I took on some water, but the waves were about 2 1/2-3ft. and the canoe was fully loaded, so no real surprise there.
I think this canoe really shines in wind versus any other canoe I've owned or paddled. I love how low its profile is on the water, which helps to keep it from being blown around. In general, this is a very fast canoe (we easily keep up with kayakers on trips). It is a little tipsy for initial stability, but once she's moving she's like a rock. that being said, she's not really a great canoe for fishing (although we have fished very comfortably from her, and caught many fish without scaring them as in the other review!)
As for the other reviewer saying that he wouldn't even take his dog out in an Otter, well he probably doesn't have a very well behaved dog. My 65lbs. dog has been on every trip that we've taken in this canoe, even when it's fully loaded and it's never been a problem.
I also think it works great as a solo canoe either reversed or with my dog weighing down the bow. I love this canoe and would recommend it to anyone that knows anything about canoeing. It probably wouldn't be a good canoe for someone who has never canoed before or plans to use it primarily for hunting or fishing. I even have a friend who is considering selling his fancy 17' sea kayak for one of these next season. He's been on 4 or 5 trips with us and can't believe how sweet this canoe is.
So, no I don't work for Ranger Canoe, but I really do love this canoe that much.
I am very happy with the design and performance of my first canoe. It looks elegant even next to my sleek kayaks, and I know it's going to get a lot of use.
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