I spent a lot of time researching canoes, before I purchased my Penobscot 164, 3 poly canoe. I have previous experience with an Old Town Appalachia with Royalex and was pleased with the weight and rigid hull. I called Old Town customer service to ask about the Penobscot canoe with Royalex and 3 poly, she mentioned the difference in weight, and said 'oil canning' was not a characteristic of the 3 poly Penobscot. After 70 miles of flat river, the middle of the hull seems to flex more than it did when new. When I solo, I can see a permanent water 'bulge' toward the center of the canoe. This may not have a significant affect, but I don't like it. I think the definition of oil canning is when the hull flexs back and forth when paddling, but this 3 poly keeps the bottom of the hull 'bulged'. The female Old Town customer service rep. also mentioned that their most efficient hull was the Charles River. This is news to me and every Old Town dealer I have spoken to.
As for the ride, the boat is moderately faster than the Appalachia and it turns good enough for me. With a slight lean and bent paddle the boat tracks good.
Did I mention I am pissed about the hull and the bad Old Town customer advice!!I live in western Colorado and have had a Penobscot 164 for two years now. It is Polylink 3 which is heavier but slightly more durable than Royalex. I rarely run this boat on anything less than Class 2 because that is about all I have access to.
It is a fantastic boat for extended trips because it has a huge capacity for gear. It does not lose much in responsiveness when fully loaded down. Unfortunately, I don't find it to be ultra responsive to begin with (for whitewater purposes). I do not recommend this boat for Class 3 without float bags because it is a beast to horse out of a rapid when swamped and it will swamp easily due to the shallow rocker. This is a great boat for flat-water and rapids up to Class 2 but is best kept out of the Class 3 unless you are well experienced and equipped. It has proven to be very durable and as an "all around" boat I still give it an 8.