We bought the pre-Royalex Pathfinder USED from a canoe outfitter in Ely in 1981 (30 years ago). And it is still one of my favorite canoes in a stable full of 9 canoes and kayaks. It is not fast, nor track straight as an arrow like a good tripping canoe. I like it because it is very comfortable, stable, great for fishing and tough as nails (compared to any fiber composite).
This past summer it was my go-to canoe for a trip to some islands in Lake Superior. It is safe, secure and plenty seaworthy in an ice cold lake.
This is my favorite canoe when I don't have to cover lots of miles quickly. It is a joy to take down twisty rivers and handles nasty weather nicely. The wide flat bottom gives it great initial stability for fly fishing, photography and friends that don't canoe. Don't try to use an electric trolling motor for the same reason, the flat bottom will just get you spinning in circles.
I don't use it for Boundary Waters canoe tripping, but love it for every day use. This is a great canoe to have around the cabin for everyday use, for kids to use, bouncing down a rocky river (not serious rapids) or someone looking for a stable fishing canoe.
Unfortunately the old canoe made Oltonar (sp? - plastic predecessor to Royalex) weighs over 70 pounds, or I would use it even more. On the other hand, it still has at least another 30 years of hard use left in it without any need for repairs. No kevlar canoe could take the abuse this canoe has seen over the past 30+ years and still be floating without patches and a few major repairs.Bought my Pathfinder new back in 1993, so I've had 15 years of solid use on which to base my opinion. Have paddled this great canoe both solo and tandem. Have fished from it and used it as a great platform for wildlife photography. It has taken me all over the New Jersey pine barrens, the Adirondacks and into the interior of Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. I have paddled it deep in the wilderness and it has performed beautifully on expansive lakes as well as rivers.
The tough Royalex hull is durable and has never been punctured after 15 years sliding over rocks in wild rivers. I have used it in class II whitewater, but that may be the comfortable limit for this versatile craft. On big lakes, its higher profile requires skill to keep it quartered into the wind. For solo paddling it is a little wide (36 inches), but I have learned to live it by hugging one side and not switching too often.
The Pathfinder has exceptional initial stability, and moderate secondary stability, considering it's flat bottom. The 14'10" length coupled with the 820 pound load capacity make it a great solo wilderness tripper. At 57 pounds, it's not tough on the shoulders when portaging.