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Reviews for Explorer 16 Canoe by Mad River Canoe


Rated: 9.04/10 Based On: 68 Reviews


Explorer 16 Canoe by Mad River Canoe

Length: 15' 11" - Width: 35.3" - Starting at: $1905.00
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09-23-2014
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Caved in to an impulsive purchase and ended up with a 16' Explorer in Royalex before I knew how to execute a J-Stroke. A year later and after around 30 outings, I'm really glad I made the purchase.

The canoe is not only indestructible but is stable and beginner friendly. Haven't even flipped it once despite some nasty waves on some big lakes. It's not the lightest canoe but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to a beginner like me.

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09-04-2014
Submitted by: Jim BoggsSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     This is a great canoe. It will carry two people and all of the gear you would need for a two week trip with no problems. It handles really well even in the roughest of waters.

I highly recommend this canoe for those with adventure in your spirit. It is easily loaded and unloaded even from rooftop. I can't say enough good about this canoe.

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09-04-2014
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     The Mad River Explorer canoe is a great all-around canoe. It is roomy and can easily fit 2 (or 3 people with a middle cushion or seat) and your gear. It has great secondary buoyancy, so when you start to tip, the canoe often stops before the gunwhale touches the water. The keel allows you to lean to the opposite side you are paddling on for quicker turns. It is also decent in the weight category. Mine has held up great for over 9 years now.
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08-23-2014
Submitted by: CSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     The Explorer 16 is everything the other reviewers state. My Explorer 16 is composite, built in 1988 and great to paddle. It has a very sharp entry and exit, holds lots of gear, and has a pronounced V hull compared to other boats. The best aspect of this boat compared to other similar purpose canoes is its V hull. I paddled greenland kayaks with V hulls and hard chines for 10 years and transitioned to the canoe when kids entered the picture. Compared to shallow arch and flat hulls I found the edge easily and was almost immediately confident in chop, rollers, and currents. The rock of the boat was similar to my kayaks and handling as similar as a can be in a canoe. The 16 is so nice I just got the 15 in Royalex for solo paddling. I am sure other brands and hulls are fine but the hull on these boats make the difference for me.
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07-05-2014
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Owned this boat for 15 years. Its one of the standards for tripping. It holds a lot of gear, comfortable to paddle, handles some rough water too. With it's shallow "V" hull it's great in Class 2 and some 3...especially if its loaded with weight. The more gear the more stable it seems. I often stand in the boat while paddling to get a better view downstream.

We have wood gunnels and the Royalex material.... Make sure you LOSEN or even remove the gunnel screws in the winter as the cold temps WILL cause the royalex to shrink...but the gunnels DON"T...these you could end up with a cracked hull. We also have the cane seats which one of them eventually weakened and we went through it. It was an easy fix with webbing replacement and a staple gun. I like the webbing better. We also bought a spray cover for it which helps with rain and rough water.

The boat is not the best straight line tracker....such as lakes but it does ok. Its great for day trips or extended trips. I would take this easily on a two month trip in N. Canada for sure. A great boat!!!!

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06-30-2014
Submitted by: NorthPaddleSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I picked up a Mad River Explorer this summer at REI. I couldn't be happier. It started with a smoking deal as they had it on sale for only $995.
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05-06-2014
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I am on my second Mad River Explorer canoe. The first one I bought new in the 17" Royalex with wood bright work through out. It was beautiful but heavy and the wood rotted off twice. It was a bullet proof canoe that could take on heavy water. I liked that it floated half way out of the water when full of water. But I sold it for a lighter boat. I then found a used 16' in Kevlar last fall. Again the wood gunnels were broken and rotten. So I switched it to aluminum to save weight.

The handling characteristics are excellent with good secondary stability. When lightly loaded there is a little rock blip from side to side when paddling. The paddlers should just rock there hips with it. Although no boat is ideal in all conditions, this design is the best all around design still available. It tracks well and is fast, takes whitewater or large lakes with heavy seas, bounces off rocks, and its light. It will haul over 1/2 a ton, that is about 20 times its own weight.

As I enter geezerhood a light canoe is a real helper when out in the sticks. I also have a seat/yoke mid thwart from Spring Creek so it is easier to solo and can be set up to row like a scull. In large lakes with lots of wind (i.e. BWCA) this is a good way to go as well as use for sculling for exercise.

When selecting a model just pick how much you want to carry. If you choose wood bright work be advised the hull with outlast the wood by several times and you can switch to aluminum.

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08-07-2013
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     This is a solid and reliable boat. I've floated slowly downriver with it as well as downriver raced with racing partners ages 4 to 79. It's ability to sit comfortably on it's edge is amazing in rough water. That secondary stability allows it to deflect big waves and stay dry all while keeping the paddlers in control. I had a tree fall on it, popped it back into shape and sealed it and it's back to racing.
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07-23-2013
Submitted by: DWMVTSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I have had a royalex Explorer since 1978. I rate it a 10, even though I replaced the ash rails twice before I threw in the towel and had vinyl rails installed. Except for the wood, it is bulletproof. It is stable, carries a big load, truly an all purpose canoe.

Oil-canning is a bit of a problem when paddling empty in swells, but a stick wedged under the center thwart cures it. The only real gripe I have is the weight. At age 62, I'm about to change to a Kevlar boat, just to make life a bit easier on the carries.

One last thing - somewhere along the line, MRC decided to make the seats an inch or two narrower (bow to stern), so when the time came to replace the caned seats, I could not just buy off the shelf replacement seats without re-drilling the rails. The original seat wood was still good, so I ended up re-seating with nylon webbing.

All in all, a great boat I will be sad to part ways with it (although I won't be sad on the portage trail).

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06-10-2013
Submitted by: MMSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Like the previous reviewer, I recently bought a 1992 version in RX. It deserves skid plates as may expected for being 21 years old. The cane seats are in excellent condition but when compelled I will cut some new Ash frames and add nylon webbing. I have not yet added lashing, D rings or knee pads but will do so.

This boat was purchased with the intention of introducing my wife and two kids to paddling smaller streams. The boat performs very well on flat water and ate up the class 1 1/2 I took my 13 year old through. I've practiced various strokes solo on moving water and find the boat to be responsive. My wife, kids and I have paddled the boat on the same water in various configurations and all like the manner it handles. I'm comfortable with my kids in the boat and a fisherman can stand in it.

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06-04-2013
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Reviewing a 1990's Mad River Explorer in Fiberglass with Kevlar reinforcement, wooden gunnels. This is an excellent canoe for all around use, doesn't excel at any one thing but does everything very well. Easy to steer, but not super fast - however not a dog by any means.

The canoe I am reviewing is 20 years old and going strong, however wood gunnels have to be maintained (this one had some rot in one end). If you only want one canoe for multiple purposes, get an Explorer.

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07-12-2012
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     This canoe rocks!! Tough, steerable, forgiving, good looking.....and did I say tough?! It's tough!! Love it. From river to ocean, swamp to crick (yes I said crick) it's a great all around canoe. I even sleep in it.
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11-06-2011
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Mad River Explorer 16 Royalex with wood trim - performance and comfort. A perfect blend of stability and responsiveness.
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07-27-2010
Submitted by: TCSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     This is perhaps the best all round boat out there. Mine is a 1983 model purchased new in green royalex with ash trim. It's been down countless creeks and rivers as well on lakes large and small. I wrapped it once in high water on the Jump River in northern Wisconsin. Snapped the right gunnel and seriously stretched and creased but did not tear the royalex. After we freed it, it returned to acceptable form and we completed the trip. I had it repaired and except for a few character enhancing blemishes, it's good as new.

This isn't the fastest boat out there and it's definitely heavy, but it inspires confidence with its 15 inch depth and nimble maneuverability. It's the boat I most often lend because it is so forgiving and durable.

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04-13-2009
Submitted by: swSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     No boat can do everything.
In 48 yrs have paddled kevlar, R84 (current favorite boat), royalex, glass, aluminum, wannabe glass, john boat, and 23' sailboat (miles vs tide when becalmed.) Paddled the MR rx explorer on class 1 ww. Double and solo. For me it paddled well solo u/s into bottom of class 4 falls.

Carry? My pickup guy carried it downstairs to the water himself. He only has 1 leg. He also owns a livery of them and it is the most reliable durable boat he has used.

Loved the MR malecite but chose RavenWorks (sorry closed up) 17' R84. Same form as Malecite but 1' longer. R84 is royalex minus 1 layer with skin of glass for sharper entry.

My 5 yo daughter walks back and forth the length of Daddy's boat. No fear. Generally I teach kids in Mohawk glass Mohawk Royalex or tin cans. (Mohawk folded two years ago.)

Go rent borrow and talk to every canoeist on the river. Go to dealer/ distributor and rent a demo.
Watch craigslist for used boat at half new price.

Bell 17.6' kevlar was the easiest fastest boat I ever paddled.
Before you buy graphite or kevlar think about the emotional toll for spouse and kids when it gets dinged scratched or busted in the garage.

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08-06-2008
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     With a family of six, you obviously need more than one canoe (which we do). One happens to be the Mad River Explorer 16 (royalex).
We paid a fair price at Ohio Canoe/Backpacker shop in Sheffield Lake, Ohio. A superb outfitter with excellent service and knowledgeable staff. For the most part, our canoes are pack mules. Three persons, plus gear and the occasional family lab. We too, have used this boat as a fishing vessel and a Sunday play boat, a long river tripper and longer flat water tripper. It is versatile.

While heavier than many, we still managed to complete all portages in Canada's Provincial Park. It is no Wenonah or Bell, but it was within my price range and is bomb proof (kid proof too). It is an extremely stable boat and is home on both big water and rivers, loaded down or otherwise. It has handled 3 footers across some of Canada's big lakes, some Michigan rivers swollen a few feet higher than normal, scraped across Florida oyster beds and backwater sandbars, and even several miles of the Gulf of Mexico. I would feel confident to journey with this boat anywhere I would care to travel.

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12-11-2007
Submitted by: JamesHSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I do not own a Mad River Explorer, but have used them on both the John Day River in Oregon and the North Platte in Wyoming -- rivers where problems can lead to a long, long, hike out.

The person who said the Explorer 16 is unstable may not fully understand canoe design. Some canoes, especially "family" and lake canoes, have high initial stability -- they feel firm and non-tippy. But once they lean beyond a certain point, they go over in a flash because they have no secondary stability.

The Mad River Explorer is designed for secondary stability because it is a down-river canoe, not really recommended for lake use (although experienced paddlers can handle it just fine on lakes). Secondary stability means it feels tippy, it leans a lot, but you'll find that it's harder to lean it so far that you tip over. It leans a ways, then resists going any farther, because of the way the hull is curved (it's a shallow arch with a soft chine, to be technical).

If you want a river boat that won't tip easily, this is a great boat. I found it to be maneuverable and just tons o' fun. It is family friendly, too...on a river. If you're looking for a boat to fish on the lake, especially if you like to stand up to cast, this won't be your boat.

I give it a 9 instead of 10 because it's heavier than I'd like, and I have to portage too often. But lighter in its Royalex layup than it's TT form.

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10-01-2007
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I purchased my Explorer 16 TT last year and have enjoyed it on the rivers of MO. immensely. It handles on moving water quite well with gear and 2 paddlers. My son and I took it to the BWCA for a week this spring and I was impressed with its stability in big water. It was heavy to portage and the yoke broke on us but, we were quite pleased and would take it back for another trip
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09-25-2007
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I bought my Royalex Explorer 16 in 1988. This was the best all around boat, one could buy at the time. I bought mine for camping and fishing. Though its service in my fleet it was a fish platform for ponds and small lakes. It served as a gear platform while diving off the New Jersey coast. In the fall, she was armed with twin 12 gauge guns and sometimes a center 10 gauge and retrieval lab. Rabid as she was known has seen the Delaware River from Hancock NY to Washington’s Crossing in NJ plus many weekend trips. She has also done a many a local runs down near by streams and creeks.

I feel this boat is best suited for two man down river trips. It can be paddled solo with minimal skill, but you do have to work. Don’t listen to stability or hard to control complaints, those paddlers just need to learn how to paddle. If any one thinks a boat that is almost 3' wide is unstable, I might suggest they take the ferry. As for the width being so wide, it does make the Explorer sluggish.

Then you hear the complaints it is tipsy while paddling solo. Yes it is, this is a 2 man plus gear boat to reach the manufactures recommended displacement. If you want a solo boat, buy one. You want a boat to handle 2 adults, gear, kids and the dog this is the boat. Sure, there are a lot of new models around that are perfect for a particular type of water, but none will handle the large array the Explorer can. The briefest description is they are the Jack-Of-All-Trades and the Master of none. They are simply a rugged workhouse that gets you home.

Conditions seen:
Winds 20 knots, broke through 2-3 foot waves at the beach. Class 2 rapids and maybe a few yards of class 3, calm ponds, tight twisty creeks, log jam ridden rivers, wind swept lakes and acted on occasion as the ice bin for the back yard barbeque.

Gave a 9 since nothing is perfect.

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08-09-2007
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 6 of 10

     I had the chance to borrow one of these from a friend before purchase... glad I did. I've been in a decent amount of different canoes from different manufacturers (maybe 20 total), and this is one of the least stable canoes I've been in.

When I'm in it by myself, or with my 4 year old, it is rock solid. I think it's because the weighting on the canoe is so lopsided, it rides lower in the water and is more stable.

However, when riding with 2 adults, this canoe is very unstable. We didn't dump, but we were on very calm water and still felt uneasy. This is being sold as a "family friendly" canoe, which I disagree with. This is about the exact opposite I want in a family canoe.

It has a lot of good ideas with the integrated seats, cup holders, etc, and is a very attractive canoe. However, stability rules for family, at least it does with my 2 young children.

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03-28-2007
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I recently purchased the Explorer 16' in Royalex with IQ2 and cane seats from REI. The purchase was made easy through REI and the shipping company was a pleasure to work with (Yellow Freight). The boat had to be shipped from WA to NC and it arrived with very minimal damage (I actually expected more). I was a little upset that the boat had so many factory blemishes. While I know it is still considered "1st Quality" it has more blemishes than I would like out of a boat. But what the hey, if I wanted this boat I had to order REI without seeing it first. Regardless the boat is a pleasure to paddle so far and I can't imagine ever growing out of it. While it's not the fastest boat on flat water it is very stable. My first time in it was with my wife and she is very ancy about tipping in a canoe. Her remark was that the boat is much more stable than she ever expected. My second trip out in the boat was with my 80lb 2 year old lab. He had never been in a canoe before but he enjoyed the heck out of it!!! The boat did amazingly well with just the two of us.

So far I enjoy the IQ2 system very much. I use to outfit OT, MR, and Wenonah boats back in the day. I have to say... the IQ2 system is just as strong for what I will need to lash in! Besides Mad River won me over with the 2 complimentary cup holders! They work great too!

I am giving this boat an overall 8 for now as I it is handling exactly like advertised. If it was advertised as a fast ride I would give it a 7. If Mad River would have been more careful in pulling the mold I would give it a 9. If Mad River would have taken their time building the boat I would give it a 10. Regardless of blems I love the ride and expect to keep this one around for a long long time!

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02-19-2007
Submitted by: GregSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I have a 16' in Royalex bought several years ago. My 2 boys and I were on a camping weekend, and stopped by a flea market sort of store. They were having a big close out sale and were selling off all of their boats. I had sort of thought about buying a canoe, but was not seriously looking. But the prices were right and I decided to look around. They had a lot of cheap boats (not MR), and finally I got the guy to show me a rack of Mad River canoes. I picked up the 16' Explorer and have had lots of fun with it over the years. I have paddled it solo,taken my buys for a spirited float down the Vermillion and loaded it with 4 people for a quiet Sunday afternoon cruise down the Kankakee River.

This has been a great family canoe, for relatively calm waters. It has held up great, despite a particularly tough float on he Vermillion when the water level was too low (we did more walking than floating that day).

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02-13-2007
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Great canoe in Kevlar w/wood trim. Looks great, paddles perfectly, stable, fast enough. Safe and beautiful...talk about STYLE...glenn
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01-26-2007
Submitted by: PeteSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Review of Explorer 16 RX. I purchased a 2002 16' royalex explorer new from a dealer. Since then I have used it on local lakes and done 2 multi-day trips on the New River (28 miles) and James River (43 miles) in Virginia. Everything from multiple Class II and III rapids while loaded down with camping gear, to very windy conditions on the lakes were done with this boat. I don't consider myself "Mr. Canoer," but I have never tipped in this boat. This a testament to its stability. It is not quick, and does not track well, but there are other boats that are designed more for that. This boat is designed to be durable- On the James I once hit a boulder squarely with the bow at around 5mph with it loaded with around 700lbs including paddlers and gear. It stopped the boat cold, and the only damage was some rock flakes embedded in the bow. No dent, no wrinkling, nothing. A speedier, better-tracking canoe would have been severely damaged or at the bottom, so there's your trade-off. This boat is a tank, and a stable one at that.
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10-02-2006
Submitted by: robvandykeSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Regarding the Explorer 16: The canoe handles well in most situations. It is fairly easy to solo.
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07-05-2006
Submitted by: EricSend Email
Rating: 6 of 10

     This spring I purchased a Madriver Explorer 16' Royalex with IQ2 gunwale. This is a great family boat as mentioned by many reviewers. The shallow "V" makes this boat extremely stable and flared hull design makes the boat very dry; however, there are few things I do not like about this canoe.

Firstly, the boat is extremely slow on flat water. With a heavier bow partner, the boat feels more like a snow plow. My friend compained that he can probably paddle a house faster than my boat. There is a reason why some call this boat, "The Madriver Cow!"

Secondly, I found the hull of this boat flexes too much. Especially for a stern paddler. Every time you make a stroke, it make a squeek sound and the seat moves side to side. My friends and I found this very annoying not to mention lost forward energy. If you get this boat, I would recommend getting rear thwart installed to make the hull more rigid.

Thirdly, I do not recomment the IQ2 gunwale. The reason is they are prone to more damages than the traditional vinyl gunwales. I had the plastic tie downs for the IQ2 but they ended up being pulled out from the gunwale and stretched out the IQ2 channels making them unsightly. Unfortunately IQ2 now comes standard for all vinyl gunwales.

Lastly, I would not recommend this boat for running technical rapids. The shallow V hull make this boat stable and allows it to track well, but it does not turn as well as it should on fast rapids.

My findings for this boat are from 10 day river excursion in northern Ontario and large lake paddling in southern Ontario in both quite and rough waters.

If you are an intermediate paddler and not concerned about primary stability, skip this boat and try a prospector design.

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06-19-2006
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     My wife and I exchanged the Adventure 14 we had purchased (stability issues - see review) for an Explorer 16 tt. We just took it out for the first time yesterday, and I was VERY impressed. We had it out in windy conditions, on a lake where the waves were 2 - 3 feet. The canoe crashed through the waves head-on with no issues. The sides being a little high, it does catch the wind, so we found ourselves lateral to the waves a few times, and I am convinced that it would be nearly impossible to flip this canoe. Primary and ultimate stability are AWESOME, making this a great family canoe. It's heavy, but that's the trade-off for this very tough hull (also great for families - you don't have to be all that careful around rocks, etc.) The only downside is the tracking - the shallow V hull makes it a little tough to keep this canoe on a straight course. Even this isn't bad, just not as good as some other canoes, and it could have been partly the wind blowing us off-course. Highly recommended for a great, fun, family canoe!
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05-15-2006
Submitted by: MNSend Email
Rating: 7 of 10

     14 foot tt explorer..don't know what to say...bought a new explorer about 8 weeks ago, handled really well in our estuary conditions, and i was delighted with it, until, last week with two adults, the bottom literally collapsed upwards about 4"!! I took it back to our excellent dealer who immediately replaced it with a supposedly identical canoe, the point being that the hull on the new one is an entirely diferent shape!! The original was a fairly flat V, this one is round like a barrel, Have got the hang of it now and am enjoying it, but what does it say about mad river's quality control?
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05-04-2006
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Review of the TT version of the 16ft Explorer - I noticed the stability of the canoe was better than with other canoes I have owned. Two adults fishing, with all of the fishing gear, anchors, cooler, posed no problems. The canoe performed flawlessly. I think the speed of the canoe was very good. I'm sure there are a lot of faster canoes available, however, for fishing and cruising around, its great. We were dragging around two stringers of fish and a minnow bucket, and we still were able to move around with plenty of speed. If your looking for an all around canoe, I think you can't go wrong with the explorer. Look no further.
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04-19-2006
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     We have a 16' Kevlar/fiberglas Explorer canoe which has been our best quiet river canoe yet. The canoe's stability and tacking make it perfect for Florida's rivers. It's roomy for plenty of gear. You get what you pay for with this boat!
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01-04-2006
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I purchased the Explorer 16 RX Sp Edition a few years ago when I lived in Maryland. I have had this canoe in everything from class 2+ to 3+ waves in the Chessapeake, to lazy rivers, and have never had a thought of trading it. Obviously, when in white water or open water, common sense should prevale. This thing will take everything you can give it and then some. While it may not be the lightest boat afloat, it tracks, handles well, and the speed is quite impressive. Speed is a relative term. I would classify this canoe as an SUV in the Jeep/BMW class. It will almost go anywhere, do anything, and do it safely and in style.

This canoe is also not the cheapest, but you cannot put a price on safety, the feeling of safety, and the knowledge that it will get you home.

If you are looking fo a conoe that is a safe do it all ( within reason ) leave in mirror calm water, and come back in 3 footers, then stop looking and check this one out.

As a side note, I got mine with wood gunwales, which I like the looks of. If you live in a cold climate, make sure you losten the gunwale screws and that will keep the RX from having a tendency to crack when expanding and contracting. I have never had a problem with this, ever.

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10-19-2005
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I have to say that the Mad River Explorer 17 is one fine boat. I have an O.T. which I also love, but the big boat is a dream for the wife and our child. It paddles great, but is really a tandem boat, just a little big for solo. The frequent treatments with amour-all has kept it looking like brand new for many seasons.
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09-21-2005
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     My first canoe - and being new to canoeing and camping-by-canoe I was looking for something versatile, and light-weight, without sinking a lot of money into a recreation I wasn't sure was going to be long-term.

Well, the recreation is turning into a long-term love and I have been very pleased overall with the MR 14 - at 69 lbs, it is 'manageable' loading, un-loading, portaging, etc. I know there are much lighter canoes out there but not in the $400-$500 range.

However, it does not handle that great in the open lakes, especially when the wind/waves pick up... I have to roll up my sleeves and really bear down on the paddling!!!

I give it a 8-9 rating, and a great choice for the beginner!!!

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09-07-2005
Submitted by: MattSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Nice canoe. It tracks well in the water and is easy to maneuver. It is heavy, but the stability of the canoe is what makes it great for a family or new paddler. It is tough as nails with the "tripletough" trihull design. The model reviewed here is the Explorer 16TT. It is a great canoe for fishing because of its stability in the water, which is primarily what we bought it for. While heavy, my wife and I moved it around pretty easily. I can highly recommend as one of the best buys under $600. I paid $485 new, on sale.
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06-20-2005
Submitted by: TCSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I bought a Royalex Explorer about a year ago. When I bought it I went on reputation only and did not test paddle the boat. Big mistake! When I loaded it with two people and some gear the boat seemed to have a lot of flex in the bottom. Too much flex! I used it a few times and based on experience determined that the flexing was more severe than should be expected, even for a Royalex boat. I contacted Confluence and the dealer, Jersey Paddler, who told me to bring the boat back to exchange for another boat. Turns out that the dealer had had just this same problem with an Explorer at a test paddle years ago. No hassle, I brought the boat back, unloaded it and loaded up a new one.

I didn't test paddle the new boat either figuring what are the chances of getting struck by lightning twice? Since the exchange I have used the new boat and it is everything I expected. Great handling from the rear seat. Nice glide for a heavy boat and very stable. For anyone considering any Royalex boat I recommend that you test paddle the boat before you go home with it. My understanding is that what happened with my boat could happen to any Royalex boat. In my case both the manufacturer and the dealer stepped to the plate and solved the problem quickly. I am a happy customer and user of this canoe.

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06-09-2005
Submitted by: GWSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     This spring I purchased a Mad River Royalex 17 with ash gunwales. Have been out in about 10 times and absolutely love it. It is a joy to handle for two people and I'm able to solo if I kneel down.
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05-18-2005
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     My husband and I recently purchased a 1991 Explorer 16'4" fiberglass w/kevlar. I read many reviews on this website prior to selecting a brand and model. When I advertised at work for a used canoe I was delighted to find this one for $300. (It retailed new for $1100). We have taken it out on one to two new lakes every week since we purchased it 2 months ago. It deserves the "10" rating because we feel so secure in it. It is the perfect recreational canoe for stability and ease to paddle. I'm amazed at how well it glides on the small lakes. (I am 55 and my husband is 63). This is the 1st time he has been in a canoe and I haven't paddled since I was in Girl Scouts. We are so glad we bought it. We plan to get a small motor soon for trolling so we won't get so much exercise when we fish. (ha ha).
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04-11-2005
Submitted by: TPSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I want out yesterday 4/9/05 with my new Explorer 16 TT. I had owned 2 canoes in the past. We did a winding river with many obstructions, me being rusty and not experienced in moving water and my partner with no experience were brushbusting and hitting everything in site with this boat. We did have a few close calls but never went in the water, which is saying a lot for the stability of this boat. I had researched many boats before settling on the Explorer in TT which is a 3 layer poly. Great price great boat. Highly recommended.
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12-01-2004
Submitted by: JOHN J.Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I have owned a green kevlar Explorer since 1998. I use the boat both solo and tandem. I use it to guide saltwater fly fisher-folks in the marshes surrounding Long Island Sound. It is a stable boat. Easy to maintain and has served me well. Have had several offers from clients who want to buy it....but it is my boat!!
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08-25-2004
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     royalex sand explorer 17, with ash gunwales, cane seats, extra thwart and mr medallion. bought in 1989 and it has held up extremely well; is one rugged boat. used mainly on tame lakes and rivers in michigan's lower peninsula. boat handles well, even with some soloing, and gets up a head of steam but can be unwieldy at times. boat is fit to go to hudson bay or on the albany or mckenzie river for a major trip; you can take it anywhere in the world. only regret is that i did not buy a kevlar explorer 16, as i am now in my mid-50's and the explorer 17 weighs in at about 74 lbs. and is one heavy boat. i recommend the explorer 17, if you can find one, as it is a premier tripping wilderness boat which can be used for family recreation or couples' cruising as well.
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08-09-2004
Submitted by: rickSend Email
Rating: 1 of 10

     The Explorer Orion TT. The 14'6" square back tub, that these people in customer service...Miriam and Tony call quality. Twisted stern, and oarlocks that did not work...did they care? Nope...told me if I didn't like it, to take it back...I did, and bought a Nova Craft Canoe, which is the real thing...Check them out! I would not recommend doing business with Mad River. They are arrogant, know little about the product they sell, and were not civil. A waste of time and money.
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06-15-2004
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Just purchased an Explorer 16 TT at Naturally Outdoors in Florence SC. Great store, very helpful customer service. Took the boat out last night on the saluda river with my son. Very impressed with the ease of paddling and stability. Much easier to paddle and turn then my old town discover 169. I am very happy with it.
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06-08-2004
Submitted by: Ryan H
Rating: 10 of 10

     Royalex 16' Heavy but balanced and indestructable. I solo turned backwards with a three year old daughter (with 2' paddle of course) all day. Get flotation bags if your in deep open water or moving water. Royalex won't float at high when swamped.
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03-09-2004
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     I have 2 mad river explorers 1 with ash trim $500 2nd hand in super shape and a brand new with vinyl trim for $800. They are great overall and very stable. They have been very loaded for week long trips but are very balanced for portaging---I find them easier to portage for long distances than my 13 ft 48 lb springbok. I dream of finding a kev exp.tho.
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01-07-2004
Submitted by: Ed LeahySend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I've owned a royalex explorer for 5 1/2 years. It is an excellent all-round canoe. I use it mainly on rivers and it works well up to class 3(Chattooga section 3) conditions. Its a bit slow on flat water but OK for occasional lake use. Easy to portage despite its weight due to excellent balance. Very good primary and secondary stability as well. Good manueverability for a 16 footer.
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06-12-2003
Submitted by: ruddSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Have a fiberglass Explorer since 1986. Quality boat, great paddling. Just glides down the lake with little effort. Good on slow rivers too. Stable, beautiful hull design. Ash gunwales are great.
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06-06-2003
Submitted by: Ted SlawinskiSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Awesome canoe. I bought the Explorer TT for myself and liked it so much I bought another for my kids. Very stable and great manouverability. Have paddled many canoes. This one is very user friendly. Sure it's a bit heavier but I can live with that given its lower price tag.
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06-03-2003
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     This canoe is very good compromise between stability (especially final stability), forward speed and agility. This is definitely the most stable canoe I have ever paddled. You can even stand in canoe. It handles class I rapids easily. Due to it's flared hull you don't get spray inside canoe. Downside of this canoe is that it captures too much wind when paddling in lakes. It is also too short and wide for only flatwater purpose. I guess there much better canoes available for only flatwater purpose. But as stable canoe for mixed-water use it is hard to beat.
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05-20-2003
Submitted by: JimSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I'm well past my mid sixties, have been a passionate soloer for my entire life and over the years, I've moved from traditional canvas on cedar, through Royalex and now to Kevlar Light. All of this is in aid of weight - portaging and ease of handling. The Explorer is everything and more that I'd hoped to find in a 2000 era canoe! It tracks and handles like a dream and allows me to "go anywhere at any time". It is amazingly quiet and ideal for nature day paddles or extended trips in central New Brunswick's lakes and rivers.
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05-12-2003
Submitted by: FRB
Rating: 10 of 10

     Explorer 16 TT Slate in color, first time out today. its a 10. the weight, sure its not light, but thats my choice and i still give it a 10. its tracks well and stable (very stable) i have owned a Discovery 174 and it too is a 10 had a Old Town Camper and i give it a 6-7 not as stable as they claim. i really wanted the stillwater 16 fiberglass, but went with my instints and i'm i glad. i pulled up to gravel twice today and yes scratches. this is the first day out with it (solo). i just know it will do even better with two.
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01-09-2002
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I aquired my explorer through neglitic family members. It sat for about 7 years. The beautiful ash gunwhales were practically rotting off. The cane seats were anything but seats. Fortunatly the royalex was fine! I claimed it two years ago! Replaced the gunwhales with mahagony(ash and oak were too exspensive and hard to find in length), had the seats re-caned(a local antique expert did it for practically nothing). bought a new yoke. and reassembled it. On multiday river trips it can't be beat! extremely stable and can carry enough gear for weeks! Ee've also paddled class III with no problem. Open lakes are another story. it is often referred to as the mad river cow. It tracks great, but speed, it has not. Kayak paddles are used by both paddlers and other boats still move ahead with just bevertails. Call me weak, but 70lbs. is too much for portages. I own two kayaks and am sure the mad river will be around longer. I plan on keeping it around forever.
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11-16-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     I got my explorer for a song $400. Worth every penny and then some. I have paddled it on South Georgia blackwater and North Geogia whitewater. This boat handles like a dream and will carry a load of gear like you wouldn't believe. While I may some day get a new boat I will never get rid of this boat. I would highly recomend this boat to anyone who is looking for what is probably the best all around boat their is.
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10-24-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     I have had my Royalex Explorer 16' with Plastic/Aluminum gunwhales for about 5 years or so and LOVE IT!!! I am constantly amazed at how stable and strong it is. I have taken it crabbing on the Eastern shore, given "rides" to my two labs (they swam a lot anyways but never tipped the boat when they jumped off!), took it for a six day camping trip to the Boundary waters and taken it through some whitewater in West Virginia. It truly is a workhorse, I have had it loaded to the hilt and it was still easy to steer and paddle. On my trip to the BWCA the guys all said the Mad River was by far the best out of the 4 canoes we took (the others were Old Towns. It was a tad heavy on some killer portages of 50-100 rods, but some of the rocks would have killed Kevlar. Get the Kevlar skid plates!
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09-07-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     We just bought a Royalex 16' with vinyl gunwals. The weight is not too bad (72? pounds) so I can throw it on the van racks by myself. My 2 boys and I have taken it in quiet lake waters and on some rivers. It handles well even with kids helping paddle, and it is a lot of fun. For our first canoe, we feel like we have a winner and look forward to many years of paddling fun.
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05-22-2001
Submitted by: J.H.Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I rented an Explorer and spent several days on the North Platte with it. I found that it tracked well enough to make good speed in flat water and had enough agility to handle rapids easily. Every canoe is a tradeoff between tracking and agility, and the Explorer is, in that sense, a technological marvel. Our put in point on the North Platte involved a steep descent, but I didn't find the weight of the Royalex version to be too much to bear because the boat is well balanced (I'm only 5 '9" & 150 lbs). If you're considering going on any river with rocks, take the extra weight and avoid Kevlar. The big drawback for me is the price, but when Uniroyal's patent on Royalex runs out, the price will probably come down and be competitive with Old Town's cross-linked polyethylene.
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04-13-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     We love our Mad River Explorer. It moves through the water with less effort and we are able to keep at all day because of the efficiency. Not to mention that the canoe is a beauty to behold.
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03-08-2001
Submitted by: C.MihellSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I have a Royalex Explorer with ash gunwales. It is an extremely versatile canoe and excels in most conditions. It works well on the river because with slight lean it becomes maneuverable. For lake paddling the Explorer is also good; the shallow vee hull tracks very well for a moderately rockered canoe. I am sure that the composite version would be even more efficient. Stability is great all around, in waves and rapids. Windage can be a problem, however, but this can be overcome by carrying a load or skillful paddling. The depth that causes this wind problem gives the canoe super capacity and keeps it dry in all but the biggest waves.

I paddle solo quite frequently, and paddling from the bow seat (facing the stern), it handles very well in the classic "northwoods" heeled over style. Soloing the Explorer with a load of gear is even better. Paddling tandem the Explorer is much faster than one would expect, and it is a perfect set up for tripping, day paddling or messing about in rapids.

Mad River does a great job in trimming their canoes. The ash woodwork on the Explorer is flawless, and MRC's use and knowledge of canoe construction is great. This canoe is tough as nails. The weight of seventy pounds isn't too bad for your average portage.

Overall the Explorer is an excellent choice for both newcomers and experts wanting a versatile, all around wilderness tripping boat. I won't hesitate to recommend it to any paddler!

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02-24-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 8 of 10

     I purchased this boat used in May of 2000. It is a fiberglass layup nice color, eggplant I believe it is called. We used it for a wilderness trip down the Buffalo River, Ark. in October. We were on the river for 5 days and four nights. It is a work horse tracks well and carrys a heck of a load. The river was very low and boney resulting in numerous scratches (like a bear got hold of it) I would recommend that it be purchased in Kevelar or plastic to hold up better in rocky areas.
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02-21-2001
Submitted by: K. FearsSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Mad River Explorer, 16' ABS, my good friend for 20 years has tracked truly and pivoted into eddies with a lean and a stroke. The only drawback is that the high gunwales, which keep you dry in rough stuff, catch the wind in flat stuff. Where do your priorities lie? For white water, or for lake paddling with lots of gear it is a great boat. For solo lake day trips, something that sheds the wind better might be more appealing.
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12-28-2000
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 7 of 10

     17 FT. EXPLORER - It's a great boat, but I'm sorry I bought the 17' version - now called the Duck Hunter. While it may track better and hold more gear than the standard 16' Explorer, it doesn't handle rapids as well - harder to turn and less bouyancy in the bow due to the longer keel. It's unacceptable for solo use. The 17' version would be better only with a great amount of gear and smaller rapids.
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04-07-2000
Submitted by: DebSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     There's a big difference between kevlar weight and royalex weight on the Explorer. It depends on what you're looking for. Now that I'm near 50 yrs. old, I'm looking at the new light-weight kevlar, 43 lbs. (I won't play in whitewater with the almost see-through hull, but it will take me hundreds of easy miles on quiet water and long portage, with great tracking and safe cargo haul in wind and wave) Royalex will slip, slide and bounce all the way through whitewater and boulder gardens and big scrapes, but the regular kevlar is right behind it for a weekend playboat. The only problem is that the boat becomes such an old friend, you can't stand to see and hear it take a beating. You will become protective and restrict it to yourself and mature family members use only.
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04-06-2000
Submitted by: J. FewSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I love the canoe. Eggplant colored Royalex with Ash gunwales. It handles well, turns well, tracks well. Great all-around canoe. The only drawback I see is that it is not perfectly quiet. Perhaps the wide entry point of Royalex is the culprit. Maybe a Kevlar would be quieter.
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03-13-2000
Submitted by: WilcoSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Our royalex mad river has yet to let us down. From weekend whitewater trips in Alberta and British Columbia, to month long trips in the Arctic we have never had a problem. Its 16 feet is ample room for two people, gear and a 80 lbs dog on a month long trip in the Arctic. I'd never buy a longer boat. 16 hour portages are quite do able. But get a good padded carrying yoke. The only prolem to watch out for are the cane seats. We replaced ours with webbing in the first year.
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02-08-2000
Submitted by: DebSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Our kevlar explorer is an old friend. It's never let us down. From 2 week trips into the BWCA as a cargo hauler with dog in tow (so easy to portage), to weekend springtime Wisconsin whitewater adventures and summer low-water boulder gardens, its gel coat strenght is remarkable, holding up to visious scrapes and chips. I love the stability and manuverability it shows in different moods and trust its action in big water waves and wind. A great all around family boat.
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06-13-1999
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     I've been paddling my kevlar Explorer w/ ash trim for 9 yrs. and has thousands of miles on it. It has been wrapped, like inverting an orange peel, with the bottom of the boat pushed past the thwart. The ash gunnals didn't break like aluminum and become a weapon, or crease and weaken like vinyl/plastic. Once dislodged, the boat popped into shape,and we continued. After some gelcoat repairs and reinforcing some stress, along with taking an hour to oil the trim once once a year, it has done New River Gorge, the Allagash, Bog River to Cranberry, Old Forge to Tupper, rec. raced and on and on and on. I feed it a pint of gelcoat every couple of years, a Watco the gunnals annually. I would certainly been on my third or fourth boat by now, had it been of any other materials.
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05-04-1999
Submitted by: RPDSend Email
Rating: 7 of 10

     Well made, nice design for recreational all purpose use. My royalex with ash gunnels and cane seats was way too heavy for my needs, and the ash gunnels require annual upkeep. Jealous local redneck outfitters with 30" necks from carrying Old Townes snubbed mine the Yuppie cruiser, so maybe i should have kept it anyway. If you have to carry alot, go with kevlar and skip the ash trimmins.
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04-12-1999
Submitted by: Sid NapierSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     The Mad River Explorer is a very stable workhorse. Handles well on the flatwater, yet gives you enough spiritness, to make your trip worthwhile.
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03-25-1999
Submitted by: Martin ErkelaSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Review of Royalex Model: Probably the best "all around" canoe on the market. Does everything well, from week long expeditions to class two whitewater. Room for kids, gear and float bags. Almost indestructable. Only draw back is it's a 70 pound portage. A safe, stable boat that will get you there and back! Very forgiving.
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