This is by far the best all purpose canoe for BWCA and Quetico produced. Stability: 10. Design: 10. Speed: 10. Weight: 10. Capacity: 10. I have guided in Quetico for almost 7 years now and this the best canoe to fish out of. Unlike the Wenonah 18ft. MNII, there is AMPLE foot space for the paddler in the front of the canoe, a huge benefit when fishing (needing to unhook a 30" pike, etc). It also allows for a tackle box to be easily accessible from when placed under the seat. Another huge advantage is the resin used on the exterior, with a light sanding and reapplication of marine grade resin...it looks literally brand new. I've added kevlar skid plates on mine and another for added protection against rocks.
I bought 2 used Souris River Quetico 17s over the year second hand from outfitters and those retiring from canoeing (You can usually get used ones for around 1000...WELL WORTH IT!). Old or new, this is a solid buy, and with TLC, you can make these canoes last decades. If you want a canoe that will reliable for years to come...go Souris.A canoe is not unlike a lover in that affection springs from trust and dependence. I've taken my Quetico 17 to Woodlands Caribou, Quetico (many times), and Isle Royale--and I've used it and depended on it in rain, hail, big winds, and other adverse conditions. I've also fished from it a ton and caught BIG FISH.
Just before my last trip to Isle Royale I installed a shoot-through-hull transducer that I attached to a portable, battery-powered Hummingbird fish finder. I caught so many lake trout that I lost count! (I also became so transfixed by bottom contours that I forgot to look for moose!) Any serious fisherman should consider doing this. I had a blast.The paradox of being a canoe lover is that we buy canoes to escape the world of things, and then we obsess interminably about our canoes. (Is this bad? Is it bad that Iím at work right now, writing this review?)
My Quetico 17 (green Kevlar, le tigre pattern) is the third addition to my fleet, which includes a Wenonah Sundowner 17 (royalex) and a Souris River Tranquility solo (kevlar). My decision to buy a new canoe was catalyzed by the basic fact that my 34-yr old back can no longer endure portages beneath my 65 lb Sundowner.
In the process of demoing canoes, I came very close to purchasing a Wenonah Minnesota II. While empty, the Minnesota II has an absolutely beautiful glide. (I suspect that the canoe actually planes when paddled hard.) Tracking is superb, and much like a train on a track, you point the canoe in the right direction and seem to head directly there.
Ultimately, I decided upon the Quetico 17, and for the following reasons. First, I am a traditional paddler, and I like to feel my canoe respond to my corrective strokes. The Quetico turns on a dime, whereas the MN II is somewhat resistant to the j-stroke. Traditional paddlers will probably prefer the Quetico, whereas NATT-style jocks will probably like the MN II. (As a purely sociological matter, I'll bet that people in MN II's tend to wear fleece, whereas people in Queticos wear checkered wool.)
Second, the Quetico 17 is a more stable platform than the MN II. (I had no problem standing up in the Quetico in a slight breeze, but I didnít dare do so in the MN II.) Stability is important to me because Iím an unstoppable fisherman. I simply cannot afford to capsize in 35-degree water while bringing a lake trout or a gator pike into my boat.
Third (and related to the last), the Quetico has more freeboard than the MN II, which sits very low in the water even with a minimal load. Waves in the Canadian Boundary waters can become quite large, and Iím inclined to think that the MN II would easily take on water. (Iíve read that the Quetico 17ís load capacity exceeds the MN II by over 200 lbs, and I donít doubt it.)
Fourth, Iím inclined to believe that epoxy really is stronger than polyvinyl resin. (Wenonahs are made out of the latter.) I do not EVER want to puncture my canoe when I am in the tundra a week from the nearest town. (I almost punctured my royalex canoe during a 28-degree overnighter, so I know that the danger exists.)
Fifth, I love the aesthetics of green Kevlaróespecially when sunlight is pouring through it. Last week, a 10 or 11 year old girl came up to me as I was launching my Tranquility (made of the same green Kevlar as my Quetico) and told me that ďit is really, really pretty.Ē I agree.
I love my Quetico. Maybe one day I will buy a Minnesota II for its marginal additional speed. But before I do that, it might make sense to have Verlan Kruger build me a custom kevlar job with a sail...I purchased the Limited Edition El Tigre kevlar version with black trim this summer and have used it on local lakes and one BWCA trip.
In researching this purchase, I had read that the Souris River build quality was supposed to be very good but I would describe mine as merely average. It had several minor cosmetic defects such as runs in the varnish on the seats, internal skidplates not quite centered, and black coating peeled off of many of the rivets. Nothing that would effect performance, but a little disappointing considering the price.
For comparison, I owned a MNII for a few years before the Q17. The Q17 seems to be a good all around canoe for tripping. It handles well both empty and with a load and steers easily even in a wind. It is very stable and comfortable to fish out of. In the MNII, my back often tired as I felt the need to make adjustments based my paddling partners movements. The Q17 portages very easily - seems to almost want to balance itself when shouldering it. The only area it really seems to fall short is in speed. It is not slow, but has nowhere near the glide of the MNII.
Overall, I'm happy with the purchase. Canoe design requires compromising in some areas to get gains in others and I think that the Q17 offers a good balance of stability, manuverability, capacity, and speed that will please most paddlers.My purchase of my Souris River Quetico 17 wasn't without research. I'd read many good reviews from folks who knew their canoes before even going to look at one. I wasn't let down. This canoe is a great balance between stability, load hauling, speed and being sea worthy. All of this is done with a light hull that gives you confidence and doesn't oil can.
I use this boat for work and play. I do portage and trail clearing in the BWCAW and these trips can involve hauling some pretty good loads around. I chose to use the 'Antler' style yoke from gearforportaging.com as it makes the canoe easier to shoulder when there are tools strapped into it. I don't baby this canoe and it holds up none the less. I did have a Wilderness 18 first and liked it for its speed but the Quetico better suits its purpose and the one foot shorter canoe IS a little easier to portage.
I have had a little difficulty holding this canoe on course and it loses a point because of that. Otherwise I consider an 8 a high rating if a 10 is perfect.