STRENGTHS: This boat is an excellent canoe for family, fishing, & heavy tripping on Class I-II rivers. This canoe has tons of initial and final stability and incredible room and weight capacity for camping gear. The little ones and/or a dog will have a hard time turning this canoe over. It's great for fishing - nice and stable when someone gets excited. This boat is at its best when floating class I-II rivers - it is very dry in waves (due to flair) and stable when running ledges (due to 37"+ width). This boat is very manueverable for a 17' tandem due to generous rocker. I like standing in the boat to read the upcoming rapids. Mine is cherry red with ash gunnels and it's beautiful to look at. Mad River makes a fine looking boat. This is our second canoe and we use it for river trips and as a guest canoe when friends come along - this boat is great for beginners on a river.
WEAKNESSES: As is always the case in canoe design there are always tradeoffs. Lots of room, capacity, and stability mean this boat is BIG, HEAVY, and SLOW. We call ours "MOBY". You need a strong back for loading and handling this boat. This boat is not a good flatwater tripping boat unless you're going on short trips or need a ton of room for kids/dogs/gear. The extra width in the front causes paddling to be uncomfortable in the bow for long flatwater tripping (unless the bow paddler is tall) and also slows the boat on flat water. This canoe is definitely not a cruiser - it needs current. Generous rocker means that flatwater tracking suffers. Heavy wind and waves really slow the boat on a lake.
VERDICT: Mad River lists this canoe in the "Moving Water" section of their catalog and state that it is great for families. That is an accurate description and it delivers exactly what is promised. This canoe is PERFECT for heavy figity loads (dogs,kids,excited fishermen) and is TERRIFIC for running all types of class I-II rapids. The stabilty is also handy for non-canoeing friends, kids, dogs, etc. on short flatwater trips. Be sure you can handle the 78 lb weight before purchasing.The first thing to know before buying the Revelation is to realize that it is designed for RIVER tripping. It will not track (or go in a straight line) well because it has 3" of rocker (raised bow and stern). This boat is designed to give the paddler a mix of quick maneuverability, stability, and tracking. What that means is that it will do all of these things well, it will not excel at any of them.
With that said, If you want a canoe with acceptable speed and tracking, and very good maneuverability, intial stability, and secondary stability, than this is the boat for you. This boat will gobble up gear, and never lose a bit of it's performance. However, do not plan on paddling this boat by yourself. With a freeboard capacity of 1200 lbs, its like a cork with only one person. I have owned this boat for year and have used it on many trips, both flatwater and moving. Although it is slow compared to my friends' flatwater boats, I can run rivers without the arm strain of trying to turn a boat with a keel.
The only thing I don't love about this boat was that it was only available with wooden or aluminum gunwales. I would have been much happier with vinyl because it is easier to care for and more indestructable than wood, and much better looking than aluminum. Mine is the color cherry, with ash gunwales, and it looks like a piece of art.
Below you will see this boat compared to a log, and a diving platform. If you want straight line tracking and speed, buy a composite boat with a full keel and slight to no rocker (From Mad River, look at the Lamoille, or the Malicite). But if you want to trip on moving water (I have had mine in class III whitewater), than definately look at this boat.
By all means, you should paddle every boat before you buy it. Buying a boat before you've paddled it, is like buying a car without driving it. Most companies do demos all over the country throughout the summer.
P.S. I am not a Mad River representative, I do however work in a store that sells boats (although not Mad River canoes), and love their products.This royalex canoe is beautifully crafted, with nicely carved woodwork. One would think it an art piece. Paddling it on flatwater even down stream is a different story and one without much pleasure. My paddling partner described it as giving her the same feel as she gets from paddling over a dense mat of aquatic weeds. For me it is like paddling a log. In a good cruiser the canoe glides, but this is more like a slow ardourous process.
I have noted reviews where it would make a good diving platform. And would be a good freighter, but I would not recommend it to someone who likes to cruise. It might serve as a barge carrying a large load.
A really good friend got one in mint condition for $500.00 and sold it for $500.00 within a year. He would not paddle it when he had it when he had a choice; avoiding it like the plague. He has many boats and has never sold one that I know. When he and his girlfriend were paddling with us they had a hard time keeping up, something that never happened before.
I am sure there are things it would be good at but one of them is not paddling for pleasure or cruising that is for sure. I cannot believe the high numbers of the previous reviews. And strongly recommend you paddle this before you buy it. There are many great canoes out there that will bring your great pleasure, this one is not one I would recommend.
The rating of a 5 is mostly because of the craftsmanship and the woodwork. I give it a 0 for the design and paddling pleasure.