Research Canoes in the Buyers' Guide!
Select Canoe to View in Buyers' Guide
The reason I bought it was based on price. It was what I could afford. But after using it for years and 'competing' with the aluminum canoes, I've learned that the only people that 'smack' the Coleman are those that don't own one. That's not to say it as fast and maneuverable as more expensive canoes, because it's not. But it is way quieter than the aluminum canoes and just as tough. It gleans over rocks quietly and will not bottom out on the rocks like the aluminum canoes will.
Whatever Ram-X is made of, it's durable. I store mine inside so it still is not faded. The keel is straight and the skin is still flat.
I'd rate this boat a 9 based on all we've put it through. It's heavy, but a great buy for anyone who can't pay the price of the lighter brands.
I wished I had more time to go in the water with it, however I was able to do some nice river exploration with it. Didn't try whitewater, though - however, the previous owner (a recreational club) did a lot of mountain river descents, and the bottom of the canoe is all scraped up - of course, given that this is RAM-X, I'm not worried with the dents, which are at most 1 mm deep. They used the canoes (there were 4 for sale, now I believe they still have 2 left!) extensively, and that is noticeable - both buoyancy compartment covers are missing (I'll probably stick some wood panels there, once I get the measurements right), seats are a little cracked, but nothing serious!
With me and my younger brother paddling, it moved fairly fast, and when stopped one notices it is extremely stable.
I still plan on doing larger outings with the canoe (especially some which involve camping, given the large cargo compartment it has...), but first I need to get some proper vehicle mounts! :)
Works as expected, and it is doable for two men to carry for *short* distances - portaging it for more than 500 m is out of the question!
However when it comes to handling, it sucks - it took three or more strokes before it responded - a serious liability! So I fixed it - and here's how. The problem is that it has a keel and it's flat - what a person has to do is put some rocker into the boat - put some curve into the keel. You don't have to go over the top like I did and install a tube steel frame. Simply support the canoe at the stern and bow so it's completely off the ground and install a shim (3-4" advised) between the stay and keel pipe. The result is a canoe that turns easier and is less affected by cross channel currents.
I do a lot of river tripping and I'll gladly put my Coleman up against any craft on the market. The main thing is: Get on the water but do it safely - you won't be disappointed!
My boys were quite young, read small, then and were not heavy enough to keep the bow down if I was on the back seat. I nearly always had to paddle backwards on the front seat. It was symmetrical so that was no trouble. I did that till my Bow man weighed 100 lbs or so.
The flat bottom meant that we could hardly get away from side waves and leaning was out of the question. I have seen the newer versions. I am not impressed with their interior set ups. My boat is now with Boy Scouts in Iowa. I don't know how it held up but that plastic is very sensitive to UV deterioration.
I got my money's worth from that boat and it instilled a love for paddling in my 4 Children. I car topped it to Colorado several times and it liked mountain lakes, but not mountain streams. It was a good "learning experience" boat which trained the kids and me so that when we moved up to Old Town Discovery 12 years ago we didn't even know that they were supposed to feel tippy. We now have canoed from Illinois to Colorado, and into Canada and Minnesota. The Colman was an excellent starter boat and I am glad that we had it.
When I bought my first Coleman, I was replacing a homebuilt 18' fiberglass canoe that weighed 105 pounds, so that new Coleman seemed light as a feather. It was years before I learned that a Coleman was supposed to be heavy!
My family, friends, and I have used these canoes in lakes, creeks, and rivers all over the road-accessible parts of Alaska. They carry heavy loads, bounce off rocks, slide over logs, run rapids, and ride out 2-foot lake swells.
On moose hunting trips, I've navigated a river with Class II sections many times with a load of gear and meat in my Coleman that the sissy canoes couldn't even float. To be sure, it takes a lot of adrenalin and heavy paddling to weave around rocks in a Coleman, with or without a big load, but I've logged about 700 miles on that river over the years and only capsized once - when my partner's canoe hit mine and pushed it up against a log jam. (I grabbed the bow line, waded out to shallow water, and pulled the Coleman free. Apart from being full of water, the boat, my gear, and the moose meat were undamaged. After changing clothes and recovering my normal body temperature, we went on as if nothing had happened.)
Together, my two Colemans have racked up well over 1800 miles on Alaskan wilderness lakes and rivers, in sun, rain, wind, and snow. Yet, they just keep right on working!
My life and the lives of family and friends have depended on my Colemans many, many times and they have never failed us. On the other hand, I've seen not a few smashed up Old Town, Mad River, and other high-dollar canoes abandoned along wild rivers, and shivered at the thought of their owners' fates.
There are a lot of canoes out there that are lighter, faster, and prettier (not to mention more expensive!) than Colemans, but I know of none that will do the really hard work better. I'd rate my pair as 11's if your rating scale didn't stop at 10!
Well after it's maiden voyage (without the wife and son) I was a little impressed, or better yet comforted. I've since taken her out several times with the family, and aside from being heavy and awkward portaging & loading(the aluminum thwarts sit higher than the gunnels - so when cartopping or truck topping, kiss your paint goodbye! GET FOAM TUBING to cover the gunnels and thwarts... oh yeah, and watch the handles too - they'll drop down & take a good chunk out of your paint if you're not watching).. aside from that, the canoe is actually pretty great.
It really does track well thanks to the keel. It isn't the fastest canoe by far - but it's not a bear to paddle either. Won't turn on a dime, but considering it's size and the keel, it turns a heck of a lot better than I was expecting.
I thought it felt a little unstable the first couple minutes I was in it, but after giving it the shake-and-rock-and-wiggle, it wasn't flipping over. My son walks around in the boat while we're out and you barely notice it (then again he's only 50 pounds).
The previous owners beat this old canoe on lots of rivers - there's more miles on this beast than I could imagine. (I wouldn't dare take it out an anything that looks like more than a I.) But I gotta say, if you're looking for a canoe to just get on the water, if you find one of these at a yard sale or what not - you can't go wrong.
It's not the canoe I want, but all considered - this canoe does a fine job as a "family wagon" so to speak. Don't know what they cost new, or even how the new models perform (saw a new one & it didn't look anything like my dinosaur), but 100 bucks used - I give this an 8 simply for its performance and value....
..and someday when I have money, I'll treat myself to a nice light solo canoe ;)
I owned a Grumman 17 (aluminum) that weighed 80# (=RAMX) 30 years ago. I like my Coleman better!!! The Grumman cost big $$$ and had no better performance features. I've made my cheap used beat-up RAM-X into a "Escalade" lake, slow stream, river or moderate bay primo explorer, fish hunter and cruiser. I am very :-) with this craft.
P.S. My wife thinks I'm a little "over the edge" on this boat ... but it's far more fun to add lil' neat junk to it than to catch up on all those "honey do's". luv it
My son's only 15, but he's a 2nd Dan black belt and I thought he'd be all I needed to hold up the other end, but we had to rope in 'her indoors' to help and were so exhausted by the time we reached the lake I had to drink half the beer that should have lasted the whole expedition.
A neat trick to try is make a mount on rear platform that will axle two push mower wheels mount them about 4 inches above platform, when boat is to heavy to carry flip it and pull it, if mount is fabricated right you could leave excess metal out to one side to mount a trolling motor. you can also buy at any hardware store a broomstick clip, mount two on both sides, inside canoe to mount you're paddles (works better with aluminum paddles) try these neat tricks to make you're next outing more enjoyable.
I still love my 17 footer, very stable, unsinkable canoe.
The only thing Iíve later altered is reinforcing the side with some hang glider alu so itís more stable when Iím roving with my homemade paddlers, also made of hang glider alu. If it has been some inches wider and a little bit higher in the stern (front), it would be a perfect rowing boat for fishermanís (trolling?).
John is asking for a permanent repair kit that fits this boat. When I bought this boat I also bought a repair kit (but hasnít had use for it, in spite of numerous stones that has ripped against the bottom) from Sweden (canít get this boat in Norway). The repair kit has some plates with the same ram X material that the boat is made of and 2 component Scotch-Weld (3M) with the number 3532 B/A urethane adhesive tube (118,2 ml). Iím not sure where the instruction are, but I remember that one has to use a heat gun to nearly melt the surface before applying the adhesive and joining the surfaces.
When I need a new boat I surely would by the new scanoe that looks even nicer.
I've done a lot of tripping... but never with this old friend.
120,000+ people can't be wrong!
The Paddling.net Newsletter is a must if you like to canoe or kayak! Each week it is packed with great articles, photos, product reviews, and special features. Better yet, we promise not to sell your email address to anyone; that's right ZERO spam! Sign up today and find out what you've been missing!