I'm on my second Hellman Prospector. The first was Duralite, my current is ultralight Kevlar layup. This is a superb canoe. I just returned from a trip where I carried 1000+ lbs of Moose and other gear twice in a week in long paddles in rough waves on a large lake. On one trip I made a mistake and got caught mid lake in a squall that I would not have taken a 20' boat out into. I've been paddling for many years and have never had a scarier experience but this canoe just blew me away how it handled the situation. Handled incredibly well and predictably. The hull just seems to get faster with more weight onboard.
This is a modified Prospector - symmetrical, shallow arch hull, fine entry, epoxy kevlar layup. The epoxy layup takes a hell of a blow and bounces back without cracking, remarkable. Mine, in ultralight layup (a custom version they don't advertise but will custom build for you) only weighs about 45lbs. By the way, I think this is built on the same form as Souris River uses. The epoxy Kevlar layup and and design are essentially identical.
Another reviewer complained about seats riveted through hull. I too don't like this, but I have to say they work and there never seem to be any problems with them.
This is a very fast and lively hull. With the narrow beam and shallow arch it will feel initially "tippy" to inexperienced paddlers. After 5 minutes you will feel comfortable and realize how seaworthy the design is. The hull is very very seaworthy, and amazingly fast. It is great for river, ocean or lake use and to my mind is the ultimate tripper.
I think this is the best all around canoe on the market and would buy another in a heartbeat. Also, Bob Hellman is a great guy to deal with and will customize your personal canoe as you want. All in all, when I shop around, I can't find a better deal or a better canoe.We bought our Hellman Prospector 5 years ago after renting one a couple times and don't regret it. We do a fair amount of multi-day wilderness tripping and this canoe has handled everything we have thrown at it from moving water to flat lakes. We generally travel with a loaded canoe and it handles very well. It turns quickly needed and the speed is good (we have friends in a Clipper Prospector and they have trouble keeping up to us - is it the canoe or paddling, we're not sure).
For quick day trip we have taken this canoe on rivers up to grade II and it has handled the rapids and quick maneuvers needed with ease. The Duralite layup has held up well over the rocks and barnacles we have pulled our canoe over. Yes, we have scratches but nothing that we've had to repair.
This is a good all-around boat from day trips to multi-day tripping, it can handle just about anything you can throw at it.The Hellman Prospector is a good-sized tripping canoe with minimal build and options. After owning one for three years I can say this, while I was initially impressed with the canoe, I am ready to replace it with something else. I am still not convinced that their material (duralite) is any more durable than fibreglass, and worth the extra price. It is light for a big canoe, but easy to gouge and even some heavy scratches show right through the hull.
The main problems are loose and poorly space rivets on the gunnels (one is actually loose because the rivets only clipped the top of the composite). The seats are actually riveted to the hull rather than hung which, in my opinion, is a joke. The rivets on the stern seat are a bit loose and I can see that they will eventually wear through or pull out. Also, for close to $2000 price tag it doesn't have a comfortable carrying yoke - just a shaped board. But the biggest problem is that it's just plain SLOW. For such a long canoe (17'6") it really drags. Paddling it feels like pushing a bus.
Overall I'd say it's an adequate canoe, but there are better boats you can buy for your dollar. I don't recommend the Hellman Prospector for touring.Bought this boat used but in new condition in Duralite with aluminum gunwales. My first impressions were that the boat was slow and doggy on flat water. I have since run it whitewater and on a long flatwater river trip and I now really like this boat.
It handles well loaded or empty. It is really tough. Has sustained some severe blows and the only damage is missing paint. At 17 1/2 feet it is big enough for most trips and at 55lbs. is not too heavy. I have paddled this boat in extreme wind and it ate it up. Controlled and responsive not a wind vane. If you want a good all-round tripping boat to handle river and lake travel this boat fits the bill.I have had my Helman Prospector for over 5 years now. It is in a Dura-lite layup with wooden gunwales and trim. This is an extremely tough and forgiving layup, having ridden it upon many a river rock.
Its narrower bow does help it cut through water a bit faster then other Prospectors, but it also gives the bow paddler a better bath when going through rapids and heavy chop.
The workmanship of the hull was great, my only nitpick though was in the craftsmanship of the wood decks. They were planted on in what looks like an afterthought. Overall a very good build though.
I have done lots of tripping both on flat and bumpy water with it. Other then the aforementioned narrow bow, it does great on river travel, and is very responsive. On flat water it is OK, quite good for a Prospector design. I did however retire it from flat water in for a much faster Swift Winisk, and now use it for all my river travel.Just a quick review of a test-paddle, and a few points.
The hull has significant arch to it, and is really stiff. This gives the canoe a lively feel. Speed is excellent, for a prospector type design. Maneuverability is good too. Paddling stations were comfortable and construction was well done. I really liked this canoe.
On the negative side, it is longer and narrower than some prospectors, so I don't think it would run as dry through the huge waves (I bought a Slocan instead). It would be great for mixed water tripping, as the capacity is good, the speed is good, and the weight/toughness are perfect for portaging and whitewater mixed in equal proportions.
Please take the 8 and this review for what it is - an impression based on 30 minutes of test driving solo and with a couple partners. I wouldn't buy this one, just because I would rather own both the Slocan and the Scout. If you want one good tripper, though, consider this.