Mad River canoe buying advice
There are three models most recently produced by Mad River: The Adventure, Journey and Explorer.
Mad River’s Adventure is their recreational canoe, and it’s available in two sizes, 14 and 16 feet. Recreational canoes are a great choice for new paddlers or those who value stability over speed. There is little worry about capsizing in calm conditions with the Adventure’s wide, flat hull.
These canoes are ideal for anglers or families who are just beginning to dip their paddles.
The Journey and Explorer qualify as versatile touring canoes. These canoes are a step beyond recreational canoes. They are not as wide, meaning they won’t have the same initial stability. Their hulls have a rounder, “shallow-arch” shape, in contrast to the flatter bottom of the Adventure.
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This gives the Journey and Explorer more secondary stability, which helps the canoe recover if it’s on its edge in more dynamic water.
The Journey has a minimal rocker, making it track (move straight) much better than the Explorer. The tradeoff is that it does not maneuver as readily. Like the Adventure, the Journey is made with three-layer polyethylene.
It has bench seats and a symmetrical hull so that solo or tandem paddlers can paddle the Journey. It’s available in two sizes, 16.5 and 15.5 feet.
The 16-foot Explorer is the flagship model, and Mad River’s bestselling canoe. It’s an all-around canoe, suited for most uses. You can take it for a week-long backcountry adventure or a float down a local river with your family. Different materials match different needs, and Mad River makes the Explorer in T-Formex, Kevlar Fusion or Carbon. T-Formex is the most rugged material.
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It was conceived as a replacement for Royalex, long considered the gold standard for bombproof canoes. Quebec-based canoe manufacturer Esquif produces T-Formex and builds this iteration of the Explorer.
T-Formex is a stiff, durable material. It consists of three distinct layers. In the centre is a closed-cell foam which gives the canoe buoyancy. ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic layers encase both sides of the foam to protect it and add stiffness to the shape. Beyond the ABS is a proprietary abrasion-resistant outer layer. The exterior of the canoe is reinforced for resistance against impacts. A UV-resistant coating provides additional sun protection.
Kevlar Fusion and carbon are composite renditions of the Explorer. Swift Canoes made these for Mad River at their factory in South River, Ontario. These are lightweight options well suited for portaging trips, as they are easier to carry. The Kevlar Fusion weighs 44 pounds.
It’s a beautiful canoe with graceful lines, Swift’s classic two-tone color scheme and features like cherry seats and yokes. The equally attractive carbon fiber version is an airy 40 pounds.
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Want to know more? View our answers to common questions below.
Mad River canoe models
Throughout the company’s history, Mad River has introduced and phased out different canoe models. Most recently, three models have been built: the recreational Adventure and the touring/all-around Journey and Explorer. You can find some information about discontinued Mad River canoe models on their website.
Mad River canoe weight
Mad River’s canoes range in weight depending on the materials used to build them. Using 16-foot canoes as a baseline to compare, you can see the weight differences. Their heaviest boats are made from polyethylene, like the 85-pound Adventure 16.
The T-Formex Explorer is a bit lighter at 77 pounds. The composite editions of the Explorer are much lighter, at 44 pounds for the Kevlar Fusion and 40 for the carbon version.