I have paddled my Tripper on parts of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland, Cumby below the Falls, Elkhorn, Obed, Nantahala, Hiwassee, and other area streams in the Kentucky region; mostly class II but some III and one or two IV’s. For a long boat, it turns remarkably well. The boat has enough lift in the ends to catch those tight eddies. The high sides are a blessing in staying dry in large waves. However, the sharp entry line of the boat tends to knife into waves and can result in some dampness. I have found that by quartering into the waves at a slight angle I stay quite dry and as a bonus my line of sight is improved as well. With its generous volume and shallow arch hull design, the boat is very stable and remains very stable while leaning into turns. I love, repeat, LOVE the shallow arch design. In addition to maintaining stability while leaned, the shallow arch adds greatly to the rigidity of the hull virtually eliminating any “oil-canning”.
I have outfitted my Tripper with solid core foam saddles that I carved with an electric carving knife. (I recently hollowed out a hole in the foam to hold my favorite beverage. Stays cold forever and never spills! It only took me 14 years to make that discovery.)
I think that the Tripper is a great whitewater boat, but where it really shines is on the overnight trips. My wife and I take everything camping. It’s embarrassing really. I mean two full size coolers and a smaller one to boot, a huge tent, full size lantern and stove, 5 gal. water jug, a couple of lounge chairs, fishing equipment, food and all the tools – shovel, saw, axe etc. etc. etc….. The Tripper takes it all with ease. The boat is rated at 1100 lbs with 6″ of freeboard. In my experience, I think that 1100 lbs is quite conservative. It’s 18 wheels short of a semi. It will flat out haul a load.
On flat water the boat paddles easily (due to the sharp entry line) and its length makes it pretty fast. I can’t say enough about it. Suffice it to say that I will never get rid of it voluntarily. I’m gonna have to die or somebody’s gonna have to steal it under cover of night. God help my wife if we ever divorced and she tried to get my Tripper in the settlement.
To sum up: The 17 foot, 2 inch Old Town Tripper is a great boat for any purpose. Some people may complain about its 80 lb weight, but I rarely go places where long portages are required. If you’ve never paddled one, then your missing out on a great experience. Happy paddling!