Explorer 16

by  Mad River
16' 3"
Width (in)
Weight (lb)

Explorer 16 Options

  • FGX

    61 lb
    Fiberglass Composite
  • Ultralite

    45 lb
    Kevlar/aramid Composite

    Explorer 16 Description

    Jim Henry's original Explorer design is an icon when it comes to versatile canoes. With assurance in its long history of proven performance, canoeists have chosen the Explorer as a family cruiser, fisherman's canoe, compact tripper, and for many other types of on-water activities. The shallow-vee shaped hull makes it extraordinarily seaworthy, while this stiff yet lightweight fiberglass composite hull option offers durability and efficiency for budget conscious canoeists. The combination of paddling versatility, capacity, seaworthiness and superior paddling performance make this canoe as close to an “all-purpose” canoe as you'll get.

    Explorer 16 Specs and Features

    • Structure: Rigid / Hard Shell
    • Seating Configuration: Tandem
    • Ideal Paddler Size: Average Adult, Larger Adult
    • Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate
    • Ideal Paddler Size: Average Adult, Larger Adult
    • Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate

    Additional Attributes

    • Moderate Rocker
    • Side Profile: Flared
    • Web Seats w/ Aluminum Gunwales
    • Flat Natural Ash Yoke
    • Wood Handles

    Where to Buy the Explorer 16

    Mad River
    Explorer 16 Reviews

    Read reviews for the Explorer 16 by Mad River as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!

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    We have the Explorer in…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 10/28/2022

    We have the Explorer in Royalex. The serial number on the hull indicates it was built in 1987. I bought it from a guy that bought it from another guy in 2007. It has been a member of our family ever since. We bought it to float class II rivers with our dog and a cooler. We did that, it was awesome. Then we had a child and it sat patiently waiting for a few years until it became our lake day boat when we moved. It is not fast but we once made the mistake of heading out on the lake with it on Memorial Day weekend. At first we didn't realize how busy it was out there with motor boats and yachts and got pretty far out into open water then we got hit by a yacht wake. I saw it coming, we had our 4 year old in the boat and I was sure we were getting swamped. She bobbed up, over the wave, my wife in the bow seat first dropped down a bit then shot 6 or 7 feet up with the bow and again, and again, and then it was past and she was laughing and smiling. I was just starting to unclench after that I wasn't so worried about how slow she was, she takes care of the family and gets home safe. I have listed her for sale several times but I always end up keeping her in the end. I have a 3 boat quiver that 2 boats rotate in and out of but that one is a keeper. I may, someday, grab one in Kevlar if I find it at a great price because she is a tank. I am guessing ours pushes 90 lbs with wood outfitting and an added center seat for the 3 of us. These days she comes out on days when we feel like heading up to the river or when we will be camping in our RV near moving water.


    The Mad River Explorer 16 is…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 10/11/2022

    The Mad River Explorer 16 is a great all around canoe. It isn't great at any thing, but it is good at everything.

    It is too short to be a great tripping canoe, but it is good enough you could enjoy a flat water trip.

    It isn't the best whitewater boat, but it can handle mild rivers.

    In my view a rounded bottom canoe, like the Old Town Penobscot is better. However, the Explorers shallow vee is far superior to a flat bottom, especially for canoes made of Royalex or other plastic.

    The Explorer 16 has been available in a lot of layups. The fiberglass layup is good. The Royalex layup is excellent. The current T-formex at 77 lb should serve most paddlers well. I would not recommend any of the rotomolded polypropylene versions, they are both heavy and soft. Finally, the Kevlar version is fine, but if you're looking for a nice lake canoe I'd suggest something longer.

    The Explorer is a great first or only canoe, and a great choice for beginning paddlers.


    I bought my Mad River RX…

    Submitted by: paddler1649030 on 8/16/2021

    I bought my Mad River RX Explorer in 1981 when I was stationed at the Pentagon. It traveled with me for many assignments later. I paddled it on rivers and lakes from Virginia to Alaska.I used it for,fishing, camping, and river running. I fly fished standing in lakes. I learned white water techniques in Utah. I made weeklong river trips in Alaska.I even learned how to run class 1 and 2 water while standing with a long paddle. The boat was bulletproof. It never let me down. It slid right over river rocks where aluminum boats crashed and banged and stuck. Initial stability was good and secondary was excellent. It paddles really well leaned about 30 degrees while kneeling. I installed closed cell foam kneeling pads. I changed the cane in the seats for cedar strips that were more comfy. I used Watco oil on the gunnels, every winter. I eventually got too old to car top it and stupidly sold it. I should have just bought a small trailer like I now have for my kayaks and fly fishing pram. Every boat is a compromise, but the Explorer is the most versatile and reliable compromise you will ever find.


    This the best big water…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 5/26/2021

    This the best big water canoe I have ever paddled, and I have been in many.

    It is fast and stable. My wife and I have paddled in saltwater alongside kyayks with ease. I solo in this boat, sitting in the center, in saltwater against incoming tides easily. It weighs nothing and can carry a heavy load. Great for tripping.

    Bought mine in '95.


    It doesn't track well and is…

    Submitted by: paddler880433 on 9/25/2020
    It doesn't track well and is slow. I suspect the people that gave it great reviews haven't paddled many other brands. All of my Wenonah's were better all around canoes.

    Excellent and very versatile…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/24/2020
    Excellent and very versatile boat... great for fishing, lakes, class I-II rivers (and higher depending on your skill). Pros: can get back into it by myself if I fall out (seaworthy)... overall a fun and versatile boat, built like a tank. Cons: on the heavy side (compared to my OT Appalachian, and on the slow side for a 16ft boat, and it does oil can if there no load in the middle, thought it does not seem to affect performance. note: I've owned about 6 different canoes in my life, 4 of them Royalex. This is one my top 2 favorites, with the OT Appy being my favorite.

    I have had three - a 1987…

    Submitted by: hnhinc on 6/29/2020
    I have had three - a 1987 Royalex 16.5 for over 30 years - a 1992 Royalex 16 that I sold last year and a 2009 16 Kevlar that replaced it. Love the hull, slips around corners on the river with ease - Royalex will take a beating and shrug it off. Have run low class 3s in the old one, not going to do that with the Kevlar. A number of years ago I lent the 1992 one to a friend that "knew how to paddle" We were approaching the takeout just above a 7 mile long canyon of mostly class 3s, he and his partner flipped the canoe and it went down the canyon on its own. A couple of weeks later I got a call, a guy who rafted the canyon found my canoe at the outlet stuck in a tree. I picked it up, had to sand some of the gunnel and clean it - but no damage :) Great canoe!

    I agree with most of what has…

    Submitted by: paddler797479 on 6/14/2020
    I agree with most of what has been said. Great canoe. Good all rounder whether paddling up a canal or bouncing off the rocks in white water. It can hold two people plus all the gear or you can easily solo it (i fitted a kneeling thwart which gave more control). It is a little heavy (mine is the plastic one, not the fancy Roylex). I struggle to put it onto the car on my own, but a second pair of hands, even young ones, makes it an easy job. It does not track as well as my old Selway Fisher stitch and glue canoe but it isnt too bad and has the added advantage of not shattering when it hits something. I bought my Explorer 2nd or 3rd hand from a club. It had already had a long and tough life with the scratches to show. But it is still going strong and Ill probably never get rid of it. They are bullet proof and can sit in the garden under a tarp for decades and be ready for action in minutes.

    I've had mine for 15 years,…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 6/11/2020
    I've had mine for 15 years, its paddled several thousand kilometers, caught thousands of fish, and hauled several metric tons of moose and elk meat out of the bush. I've used mine for hunting quite a bit and it looks pretty beaten up from hauling 1000 lb loads down rocky rivers, in the fall when they often don't have quite enough water. I've also spent countless hours fishing and paddling it solo, while I have a number of other boats and canoes, I have yet to find one that is quite so well suited to such a wide range of adventures. If I could only own one toy, it would be the Explorer.

    This canoe is up for…

    Submitted by: thekayaker on 9/4/2019

    This canoe is up for anything. 
    It’s been great for our family. My daughters both learned how to paddle in this boat. I’ve taken it on heavily packed, 10 day solo river trips and dozens of weekend and overnights with a 100lb dog. 
    I’ve filled it full of blankets and slid down under the thwarts to sleep in the middle of a lake under a star filled sky.
    It’s been all over Minnesota, from going through the locks of the Mississippi River and even rigged up with a rowing kit for a week messing around on bigger lakes in the Boundary Waters.
    I mostly paddle it loaded, and it’s never let me down in big waves or long sets of boulder fields. 
    If I somehow lost it today, I would absolutely be looking for another one just like it. It’s that good.


    This is the Toyota Tacoma of…

    Submitted by: Obiwan_Canoebi on 8/30/2019

    This is the Toyota Tacoma of canoes. It is just the best all around rig on the market and holds its value. It may not be great in any conditions but it works for everything. I have had mine in up to Class IV shutes and on lakes. It works best in a moderate moving river with some gear or another person loaded in front. Spend the time before any trip moving things around. When I paddle solo or just with my dog I flip it and ride it "backwards". Just an amazing all around boat.


    This is the one canoe to…

    Submitted by: BrianSnat on 6/4/2018

    This is the one canoe to have when you can have only one. It does everything reasonably well but few things great. Being symmetrical, you can flip it around and paddle from the "front" seat and control the canoe quite well. If in difficult conditions, specifically wind, you might want to move forward a bit more, perhaps with a drop in seat or kneeling. It's not an ideal solo boat but I have many hours of paddling this solo and it works.

    It is a very stable boat. I fish from it and can stand with little difficulty. I have no problem moving about the boat to grab things without feeling like I'm going to tip and I'm 250 lbs. which gives me a high center of gravity.

    Speed is probably the worst aspect. It is not a particularly fast boat. I recall a canoe camping trip on Lake George where most of the group was in Bell Northstars that they rented. Though we had two strong paddlers, we couldn't keep up with some novice paddlers in the Northstars. Granted that we weren't traveling light, but it was amazing how the Northstars left us in the dust regardless of the paddler's ability. Though compared with rec kayaks it does well as far as speed. I've paddled solo and tandem in an unloaded canoe with groups of kayakers, largely with rec kayaks and had no problem keeping up and sometimes lead the pack.

    But I learned a lot about the seaworthiness of the Explorer on that Lake George trip. On the return 8 mile paddle we experienced high winds and large swells and the Explorer handled them with ease, even though heavily loaded. Many members of our group in the Northstars flipped and had to be rescued. I've also negotiated class II water easily in the Explorer. I suspect that it can deal with easier class III waters, but I haven't taken it there.

    Where this canoe really excels is in its load capacity. Though mfr's. stated capacity of 1,100 lbs may be a bit overstated, I've packed my Explorer to the gills with camping gear. People plus gear probably approached 900 lbs on some trips and the boat handled that with ease and there was still plenty of freeboard. It is a load monster.

    There are way better canoes out there for specific applications. If you can afford to purchase several canoes that excel in various aspects of paddling, you probably have no need for MR Explorer. If you can only buy one canoe that will do pretty much everything, the MR Explorer should be at the top of your shopping list.


    3,800 miles by Explorer

    Submitted by: Kris_Laurie on 8/3/2017

    This review is of a 16' MR Explorer in Royalex. I'm fairly confident the year of manufacture was 2004. I paid $800 for it on Craigslist in 2016. It sported ash trim with beautiful walnut decks. It looked new when I bought it. I never had or used a spray skirt with this boat.

    In 2016 I purchased this canoe to paddle from Montana to the Gulf of Mexico on the Missouri/Mississippi. This is a trip of 3,800 miles. I lived in and out of this boat for 177 days. I paddled some aggressive class II and I soloed the 235 mile long Lake Oahe in South Dakota. I paddled tandem approximately 1/4 of the time and solo the rest. More a kayaker than a canoeist, I consider myself an intermediate canoeist when this trip began. I'm 6' 2" and 175lbs. And I owned this Explorer for less than a year; I sold it immediately after my trip, which was no fault of the hers.

    I needed a boat that can handle big water and small creeks; one that can be paddled solo as easily as tandem, and handle that weight variation well. I needed a boat that was tough as nails and would require minimal maintenance, and I needed a boat I was comfortable in for back to back to back days, sometimes spending 16 hours or more in my canoe at a time.

    Comfort: Immense. I could spend all day in this canoe in comfort, largely because it's easy to stand in. I would do squats in the boat to keep my legs in shape. I would put my feet and hands on the gunwales and do pushups from time to time. When solo, I could move around the Explorer with relative ease. While never comfortable, I did sleep in the bottom of this canoe on several occasions. The absence of thwarts on the Royalex version made this a manageable feat in the fetal position, the more pathetic looking the better.

    The comfort of this canoe has much to do with its stability. I found both initial and secondary to be great. The shallow v-hull might feel odd to someone not used to it, and it certainly felt odd to me if the boat was empty, but it only takes a few hours to settle into this. I never tipped the boat. We came close on two occasions on the lower Mississippi and both times with an inexperienced paddler in the bow; once from a whirlpool and once from a wing dike. Both were scary and in both instances the gunwale was an inch or less from the water. The boat felt miraculous in righting itself. I can't recall with certainty now whether or not I braced on either occasion. The bottom line is that it's a very stable boat.

    Durability. This is more a testament to Royalex than to Mad River, but it was truly awesome. I dragged this canoe for miles on the Red Rock River and Beaverhead in Montana as I was making my way out of the Rocky Mountains to the Missouri proper (it was early spring and the ranchers diverted most of the water out of the rivers for flood irrigation). The v-hull does concentrate the abuse along that V, but the Royalex laughed it all off. Portaging a dam in South Dakota on a 110° day, my heavily loaded boat did deform around my portage cart. I did some cursing, emptied the boat, pushed the hull back into shape the best I could with my hands, shrugged my shoulders, and finished the portage. The hull still wears a crease there, but it's fine otherwise.

    Speed. The Explorer is a pig of a boat. In one day I soloed this thing 35 miles on the flatwater of Lake Sakakawea and it must have cost me an ungodly number of calories. For the same time and energy, I bet I could have paddled 50-55 miles in my kayak on that day. Maybe I could have had better speed with sit and switch paddling, but it seems more energy-intensive overall. I always j-stroked this boat, even when solo with my *gasp* bent-shaft paddle. Because it has a symmetrical hull, the boat paddles as well with a solo paddler in the bow seat facing the stern. In short, you can solo this boat fully loaded on flatwater reasonably well if you're unreasonable enough.

    The Explorer liked mild whitewater. In all of the trip, I don't think any of it was class III, certainly not difficult class III. The Explorer handled all rough water between Montana and the Gulf like a champion. We took water over the bow in 3' standing waves, but that stability really shines here, especially with a competent bow paddler.

    On the massive reservoirs of the Dakotas I found myself constantly among headwinds and big waves. I'm not sure I saw the true boundaries of what this boat can handle because I would invariably get spooked and get off the water, but I do know it can handle conditions way beyond what I ever imagined a 16' open canoe was capable of. I suspect breaking waves over 4' could be problematic, but even steep, lake rollers of that height are fine with patience, a moderate load, and a well-trimmed canoe. The boat is voluminous and the full bow and stern pops it over waves easily, the bigger concern on waves of that size is midship, where the crests might kiss the gunwales from time to time.

    Weight capacity. MR's stated capacity of 1100 lbs is a misleading lie. I would never consider loading 1100lbs into this boat and setting off into the wilderness. At maximum I had 750lbs in the boat, and I would be reluctant to exceed that by much if you're on anything more than a swimming pool with a light breeze.

    In conclusion. If you're only tripping, buy a tripping boat. If you're a whitewater fiend, get a ww boat. If you can only have one boat and you need something really versatile that solos pretty well, I don't think there's a better option than the Explorer. It is an amazing amalgamation of many needs. I say this knowing I'll probably never own one again, but I have no reservations opting for its little brother, the Malecite. These hulls serve a definite purpose in the canoe world.


    I paddled extensively in the…

    Submitted by: nelges on 10/9/2016
    I paddled extensively in the explorer 16 triple layer polypropylene(no longer available in this layup I believe). Leading youth trips with completely inexperienced canoeist. I found this canoe very stable and hard to capsize. The youth that were new to canoeing managed these boats well. For the experienced canoeist these boats handle all situations very well from white water to lakes and rivers. Not the fastest boat available but still very efficient. I would not hesitate to purchase this canoe.

    I bought a green 16 ft…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 6/14/2016
    I bought a green 16 ft Royalex with ash seats and gunnels in 1987. It was brand new but the dealer had had it for several years unsold. Seems like I bought it for $835.00 which I thought was a lot of money at that time. I had sold my trusty 17 foot aluminum Gruman and had been told this would be much better. I was told the truth! My son who will soon turn 35 years old was 5 years old at the time and I was looking for a light car topable that we could fish from. We had many wonderful trips with it.

    It has a lot of scratches on the bottom from rocks but is as sound today as it was when I bought it. I have stored it inside since I bought it and the wood and seats are still perfectly fine as is the Royalex. I am nearly 70 now and have not used it in a while but will likely keep it and give it to my grandson when he is old enough!


    Twenty years ago I bought a…

    Submitted by: paddler236390 on 7/27/2015
    Twenty years ago I bought a 16' Royalex Explorer with wood trim and it is perhaps my all time favorite possession. I bought it at the Waitsfield Vt factory as a "second" for about $600. The hull is absolutely bulletproof. It absorbs great punishment in white water, has tremendous secondary stability and performs technical manuevers in white water as well as any general purpose canoe I've ever paddled.

    It's a great tripping boat that handles Class III rapids with a full load. Yes, it's heavy, but that's the price you pay for not worrying about bouncing off rocks, and I added a Teal yoke which greatly eases the carrying and looks terrific. The wood trim does require regular maintenance with teak oil but in 20 years I've only had to replace half of an outwale. And yes, the cane seats do break down, but I discovered a permanent and aesthetically pleasing fix: there is a family snowshoe maker in Williamstown, Vt. called Boutin Snowshoes that will take the seat frames and re-string them with snowshoe gut webbing. They look great and are indestructible.

    All in all this is a great canoe and if taken care of will give great service for decades while drawing many admiring comments. It's like driving an SUV with Porsche performance.


    I bought my Mad River…

    Submitted by: jcdavis081 on 7/10/2015
    I bought my Mad River Explorer 16 about a year ago off of a Craigslist add. This is an older model Roylex and weighs about 80 pounds. It is manageable to car top and carry most of the time. This has been a great all purpose canoe. I've had it on large lakes and navigable rivers. The wind is probably this thing's biggest enemy especially when not loaded down with gear. However, I've never found it to be unmanageable. I've had five people in it short term with no problem (wife and three kids). I've gone fishing in it and find it to be very stable and with ample space to move around and switch positions. Glad I got this canoe and will probably never let it go!

    Caved in to an impulsive…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 9/23/2014
    Caved in to an impulsive purchase and ended up with a 16' Explorer in Royalex before I knew how to execute a J-Stroke. A year later and after around 30 outings, I'm really glad I made the purchase.

    The canoe is not only indestructible but is stable and beginner friendly. Haven't even flipped it once despite some nasty waves on some big lakes. It's not the lightest canoe but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to a beginner like me.


    This is a great canoe. It…

    Submitted by: paddler235927 on 9/4/2014
    This is a great canoe. It will carry two people and all of the gear you would need for a two week trip with no problems. It handles really well even in the roughest of waters.

    I highly recommend this canoe for those with adventure in your spirit. It is easily loaded and unloaded even from rooftop. I can't say enough good about this canoe.


    The Mad River Explorer canoe…

    Submitted by: sharkfood on 9/4/2014
    The Mad River Explorer canoe is a great all-around canoe. It is roomy and can easily fit 2 (or 3 people with a middle cushion or seat) and your gear. It has great secondary buoyancy, so when you start to tip, the canoe often stops before the gunwhale touches the water. The keel allows you to lean to the opposite side you are paddling on for quicker turns. It is also decent in the weight category. Mine has held up great for over 9 years now.

    The Explorer 16 is everything…

    Submitted by: Uwusfwoo on 8/23/2014
    The Explorer 16 is everything the other reviewers state. My Explorer 16 is composite, built in 1988 and great to paddle. It has a very sharp entry and exit, holds lots of gear, and has a pronounced V hull compared to other boats. The best aspect of this boat compared to other similar purpose canoes is its V hull. I paddled greenland kayaks with V hulls and hard chines for 10 years and transitioned to the canoe when kids entered the picture. Compared to shallow arch and flat hulls I found the edge easily and was almost immediately confident in chop, rollers, and currents. The rock of the boat was similar to my kayaks and handling as similar as a can be in a canoe. The 16 is so nice I just got the 15 in Royalex for solo paddling. I am sure other brands and hulls are fine but the hull on these boats make the difference for me.

    Owned this boat for 15 years.…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/5/2014
    Owned this boat for 15 years. Its one of the standards for tripping. It holds a lot of gear, comfortable to paddle, handles some rough water too. With it's shallow "V" hull it's great in Class 2 and some 3...especially if its loaded with weight. The more gear the more stable it seems. I often stand in the boat while paddling to get a better view downstream.

    We have wood gunnels and the Royalex material.... Make sure you LOSEN or even remove the gunnel screws in the winter as the cold temps WILL cause the royalex to shrink...but the gunnels DON"T...these you could end up with a cracked hull. We also have the cane seats which one of them eventually weakened and we went through it. It was an easy fix with webbing replacement and a staple gun. I like the webbing better. We also bought a spray cover for it which helps with rain and rough water.

    The boat is not the best straight line tracker....such as lakes but it does ok. Its great for day trips or extended trips. I would take this easily on a two month trip in N. Canada for sure. A great boat!!!!


    I picked up a Mad River…

    Submitted by: Marty1 on 6/30/2014
    I picked up a Mad River Explorer this summer at REI. I couldn't be happier. It started with a smoking deal as they had it on sale for only $995.

    I am on my second Mad River…

    Submitted by: dfix1 on 5/6/2014
    I am on my second Mad River Explorer canoe. The first one I bought new in the 17" Royalex with wood bright work through out. It was beautiful but heavy and the wood rotted off twice. It was a bullet proof canoe that could take on heavy water. I liked that it floated half way out of the water when full of water. But I sold it for a lighter boat. I then found a used 16' in Kevlar last fall. Again the wood gunnels were broken and rotten. So I switched it to aluminum to save weight.

    The handling characteristics are excellent with good secondary stability. When lightly loaded there is a little rock blip from side to side when paddling. The paddlers should just rock there hips with it. Although no boat is ideal in all conditions, this design is the best all around design still available. It tracks well and is fast, takes whitewater or large lakes with heavy seas, bounces off rocks, and its light. It will haul over 1/2 a ton, that is about 20 times its own weight.

    As I enter geezerhood a light canoe is a real helper when out in the sticks. I also have a seat/yoke mid thwart from Spring Creek so it is easier to solo and can be set up to row like a scull. In large lakes with lots of wind (i.e. BWCA) this is a good way to go as well as use for sculling for exercise.

    When selecting a model just pick how much you want to carry. If you choose wood bright work be advised the hull with outlast the wood by several times and you can switch to aluminum.


    This is a solid and reliable…

    Submitted by: deanbat on 8/7/2013
    This is a solid and reliable boat. I've floated slowly downriver with it as well as downriver raced with racing partners ages 4 to 79. It's ability to sit comfortably on it's edge is amazing in rough water. That secondary stability allows it to deflect big waves and stay dry all while keeping the paddlers in control. I had a tree fall on it, popped it back into shape and sealed it and it's back to racing.

    I have had a royalex Explorer…

    Submitted by: paddler235131 on 7/23/2013
    I have had a royalex Explorer since 1978. I rate it a 10, even though I replaced the ash rails twice before I threw in the towel and had vinyl rails installed. Except for the wood, it is bulletproof. It is stable, carries a big load, truly an all purpose canoe.

    Oil-canning is a bit of a problem when paddling empty in swells, but a stick wedged under the center thwart cures it. The only real gripe I have is the weight. At age 62, I'm about to change to a Kevlar boat, just to make life a bit easier on the carries.

    One last thing - somewhere along the line, MRC decided to make the seats an inch or two narrower (bow to stern), so when the time came to replace the caned seats, I could not just buy off the shelf replacement seats without re-drilling the rails. The original seat wood was still good, so I ended up re-seating with nylon webbing.

    All in all, a great boat I will be sad to part ways with it (although I won't be sad on the portage trail).


    Like the previous reviewer, I…

    Submitted by: paddler235039 on 6/10/2013
    Like the previous reviewer, I recently bought a 1992 version in RX. It deserves skid plates as may expected for being 21 years old. The cane seats are in excellent condition but when compelled I will cut some new Ash frames and add nylon webbing. I have not yet added lashing, D rings or knee pads but will do so.

    This boat was purchased with the intention of introducing my wife and two kids to paddling smaller streams. The boat performs very well on flat water and ate up the class 1 1/2 I took my 13 year old through. I've practiced various strokes solo on moving water and find the boat to be responsive. My wife, kids and I have paddled the boat on the same water in various configurations and all like the manner it handles. I'm comfortable with my kids in the boat and a fisherman can stand in it.


    Reviewing a 1990's Mad River…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 6/4/2013
    Reviewing a 1990's Mad River Explorer in Fiberglass with Kevlar reinforcement, wooden gunnels. This is an excellent canoe for all around use, doesn't excel at any one thing but does everything very well. Easy to steer, but not super fast - however not a dog by any means.

    The canoe I am reviewing is 20 years old and going strong, however wood gunnels have to be maintained (this one had some rot in one end). If you only want one canoe for multiple purposes, get an Explorer.


    This canoe rocks!! Tough,…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/12/2012
    This canoe rocks!! Tough, steerable, forgiving, good looking.....and did I say tough?! It's tough!! Love it. From river to ocean, swamp to crick (yes I said crick) it's a great all around canoe. I even sleep in it.

    Mad River Explorer 16 Royalex…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 11/6/2011
    Mad River Explorer 16 Royalex with wood trim - performance and comfort. A perfect blend of stability and responsiveness.

    This is perhaps the best all…

    Submitted by: paddler233718 on 7/27/2010
    This is perhaps the best all round boat out there. Mine is a 1983 model purchased new in green royalex with ash trim. It's been down countless creeks and rivers as well on lakes large and small. I wrapped it once in high water on the Jump River in northern Wisconsin. Snapped the right gunnel and seriously stretched and creased but did not tear the royalex. After we freed it, it returned to acceptable form and we completed the trip. I had it repaired and except for a few character enhancing blemishes, it's good as new.

    This isn't the fastest boat out there and it's definitely heavy, but it inspires confidence with its 15 inch depth and nimble maneuverability. It's the boat I most often lend because it is so forgiving and durable.


    No boat can do everything. In 48 yrs have paddled kevlar, R84 (current…

    Submitted by: paddler233066 on 4/13/2009
    No boat can do everything.
    In 48 yrs have paddled kevlar, R84 (current favorite boat), royalex, glass, aluminum, wannabe glass, john boat, and 23' sailboat (miles vs tide when becalmed.) Paddled the MR rx explorer on class 1 ww. Double and solo. For me it paddled well solo u/s into bottom of class 4 falls.

    Carry? My pickup guy carried it downstairs to the water himself. He only has 1 leg. He also owns a livery of them and it is the most reliable durable boat he has used.

    Loved the MR malecite but chose RavenWorks (sorry closed up) 17' R84. Same form as Malecite but 1' longer. R84 is royalex minus 1 layer with skin of glass for sharper entry.

    My 5 yo daughter walks back and forth the length of Daddy's boat. No fear. Generally I teach kids in Mohawk glass Mohawk Royalex or tin cans. (Mohawk folded two years ago.)

    Go rent borrow and talk to every canoeist on the river. Go to dealer/ distributor and rent a demo.
    Watch craigslist for used boat at half new price.

    Bell 17.6' kevlar was the easiest fastest boat I ever paddled.
    Before you buy graphite or kevlar think about the emotional toll for spouse and kids when it gets dinged scratched or busted in the garage.


    With a family of six, you…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 8/6/2008
    With a family of six, you obviously need more than one canoe (which we do). One happens to be the Mad River Explorer 16 (royalex).
    We paid a fair price at Ohio Canoe/Backpacker shop in Sheffield Lake, Ohio. A superb outfitter with excellent service and knowledgeable staff. For the most part, our canoes are pack mules. Three persons, plus gear and the occasional family lab. We too, have used this boat as a fishing vessel and a Sunday play boat, a long river tripper and longer flat water tripper. It is versatile.

    While heavier than many, we still managed to complete all portages in Canada's Provincial Park. It is no Wenonah or Bell, but it was within my price range and is bomb proof (kid proof too). It is an extremely stable boat and is home on both big water and rivers, loaded down or otherwise. It has handled 3 footers across some of Canada's big lakes, some Michigan rivers swollen a few feet higher than normal, scraped across Florida oyster beds and backwater sandbars, and even several miles of the Gulf of Mexico. I would feel confident to journey with this boat anywhere I would care to travel.


    I do not own a Mad River…

    Submitted by: paddler232405 on 12/11/2007
    I do not own a Mad River Explorer, but have used them on both the John Day River in Oregon and the North Platte in Wyoming -- rivers where problems can lead to a long, long, hike out.

    The person who said the Explorer 16 is unstable may not fully understand canoe design. Some canoes, especially "family" and lake canoes, have high initial stability -- they feel firm and non-tippy. But once they lean beyond a certain point, they go over in a flash because they have no secondary stability.

    The Mad River Explorer is designed for secondary stability because it is a down-river canoe, not really recommended for lake use (although experienced paddlers can handle it just fine on lakes). Secondary stability means it feels tippy, it leans a lot, but you'll find that it's harder to lean it so far that you tip over. It leans a ways, then resists going any farther, because of the way the hull is curved (it's a shallow arch with a soft chine, to be technical).

    If you want a river boat that won't tip easily, this is a great boat. I found it to be maneuverable and just tons o' fun. It is family friendly, too...on a river. If you're looking for a boat to fish on the lake, especially if you like to stand up to cast, this won't be your boat.

    I give it a 9 instead of 10 because it's heavier than I'd like, and I have to portage too often. But lighter in its Royalex layup than it's TT form.


    I purchased my Explorer 16 TT…

    Submitted by: crmcclelland on 10/1/2007
    I purchased my Explorer 16 TT last year and have enjoyed it on the rivers of MO. immensely. It handles on moving water quite well with gear and 2 paddlers. My son and I took it to the BWCA for a week this spring and I was impressed with its stability in big water. It was heavy to portage and the yoke broke on us but, we were quite pleased and would take it back for another trip

    I bought my Royalex Explorer…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 9/25/2007
    I bought my Royalex Explorer 16 in 1988. This was the best all around boat, one could buy at the time. I bought mine for camping and fishing. Though its service in my fleet it was a fish platform for ponds and small lakes. It served as a gear platform while diving off the New Jersey coast. In the fall, she was armed with twin 12 gauge guns and sometimes a center 10 gauge and retrieval lab. Rabid as she was known has seen the Delaware River from Hancock NY to Washington’s Crossing in NJ plus many weekend trips. She has also done a many a local runs down near by streams and creeks.

    I feel this boat is best suited for two man down river trips. It can be paddled solo with minimal skill, but you do have to work. Don’t listen to stability or hard to control complaints, those paddlers just need to learn how to paddle. If any one thinks a boat that is almost 3' wide is unstable, I might suggest they take the ferry. As for the width being so wide, it does make the Explorer sluggish.

    Then you hear the complaints it is tipsy while paddling solo. Yes it is, this is a 2 man plus gear boat to reach the manufactures recommended displacement. If you want a solo boat, buy one. You want a boat to handle 2 adults, gear, kids and the dog this is the boat. Sure, there are a lot of new models around that are perfect for a particular type of water, but none will handle the large array the Explorer can. The briefest description is they are the Jack-Of-All-Trades and the Master of none. They are simply a rugged workhouse that gets you home.

    Conditions seen:
    Winds 20 knots, broke through 2-3 foot waves at the beach. Class 2 rapids and maybe a few yards of class 3, calm ponds, tight twisty creeks, log jam ridden rivers, wind swept lakes and acted on occasion as the ice bin for the back yard barbeque.

    Gave a 9 since nothing is perfect.


    I had the chance to borrow…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 8/9/2007
    I had the chance to borrow one of these from a friend before purchase... glad I did. I've been in a decent amount of different canoes from different manufacturers (maybe 20 total), and this is one of the least stable canoes I've been in.

    When I'm in it by myself, or with my 4 year old, it is rock solid. I think it's because the weighting on the canoe is so lopsided, it rides lower in the water and is more stable.

    However, when riding with 2 adults, this canoe is very unstable. We didn't dump, but we were on very calm water and still felt uneasy. This is being sold as a "family friendly" canoe, which I disagree with. This is about the exact opposite I want in a family canoe.

    It has a lot of good ideas with the integrated seats, cup holders, etc, and is a very attractive canoe. However, stability rules for family, at least it does with my 2 young children.


    I recently purchased the…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 3/28/2007
    I recently purchased the Explorer 16' in Royalex with IQ2 and cane seats from REI. The purchase was made easy through REI and the shipping company was a pleasure to work with (Yellow Freight). The boat had to be shipped from WA to NC and it arrived with very minimal damage (I actually expected more). I was a little upset that the boat had so many factory blemishes. While I know it is still considered "1st Quality" it has more blemishes than I would like out of a boat. But what the hey, if I wanted this boat I had to order REI without seeing it first. Regardless the boat is a pleasure to paddle so far and I can't imagine ever growing out of it. While it's not the fastest boat on flat water it is very stable. My first time in it was with my wife and she is very ancy about tipping in a canoe. Her remark was that the boat is much more stable than she ever expected. My second trip out in the boat was with my 80lb 2 year old lab. He had never been in a canoe before but he enjoyed the heck out of it!!! The boat did amazingly well with just the two of us.

    So far I enjoy the IQ2 system very much. I use to outfit OT, MR, and Wenonah boats back in the day. I have to say... the IQ2 system is just as strong for what I will need to lash in! Besides Mad River won me over with the 2 complimentary cup holders! They work great too!

    I am giving this boat an overall 8 for now as I it is handling exactly like advertised. If it was advertised as a fast ride I would give it a 7. If Mad River would have been more careful in pulling the mold I would give it a 9. If Mad River would have taken their time building the boat I would give it a 10. Regardless of blems I love the ride and expect to keep this one around for a long long time!


    I have a 16' in Royalex…

    Submitted by: paddler231153 on 2/19/2007
    I have a 16' in Royalex bought several years ago. My 2 boys and I were on a camping weekend, and stopped by a flea market sort of store. They were having a big close out sale and were selling off all of their boats. I had sort of thought about buying a canoe, but was not seriously looking. But the prices were right and I decided to look around. They had a lot of cheap boats (not MR), and finally I got the guy to show me a rack of Mad River canoes. I picked up the 16' Explorer and have had lots of fun with it over the years. I have paddled it solo,taken my buys for a spirited float down the Vermillion and loaded it with 4 people for a quiet Sunday afternoon cruise down the Kankakee River.

    This has been a great family canoe, for relatively calm waters. It has held up great, despite a particularly tough float on he Vermillion when the water level was too low (we did more walking than floating that day).


    Great canoe in Kevlar w/wood…

    Submitted by: Wildwater on 2/13/2007
    Great canoe in Kevlar w/wood trim. Looks great, paddles perfectly, stable, fast enough. Safe and beautiful...talk about STYLE...glenn

    Review of Explorer 16 RX. I…

    Submitted by: paddler231921 on 1/26/2007
    Review of Explorer 16 RX. I purchased a 2002 16' royalex explorer new from a dealer. Since then I have used it on local lakes and done 2 multi-day trips on the New River (28 miles) and James River (43 miles) in Virginia. Everything from multiple Class II and III rapids while loaded down with camping gear, to very windy conditions on the lakes were done with this boat. I don't consider myself "Mr. Canoer," but I have never tipped in this boat. This a testament to its stability. It is not quick, and does not track well, but there are other boats that are designed more for that. This boat is designed to be durable- On the James I once hit a boulder squarely with the bow at around 5mph with it loaded with around 700lbs including paddlers and gear. It stopped the boat cold, and the only damage was some rock flakes embedded in the bow. No dent, no wrinkling, nothing. A speedier, better-tracking canoe would have been severely damaged or at the bottom, so there's your trade-off. This boat is a tank, and a stable one at that.

    Regarding the Explorer 16:…

    Submitted by: paddler231825 on 10/2/2006
    Regarding the Explorer 16: The canoe handles well in most situations. It is fairly easy to solo.

    This spring I purchased a…

    Submitted by: paddler231662 on 7/5/2006
    This spring I purchased a Madriver Explorer 16' Royalex with IQ2 gunwale. This is a great family boat as mentioned by many reviewers. The shallow "V" makes this boat extremely stable and flared hull design makes the boat very dry; however, there are few things I do not like about this canoe.

    Firstly, the boat is extremely slow on flat water. With a heavier bow partner, the boat feels more like a snow plow. My friend compained that he can probably paddle a house faster than my boat. There is a reason why some call this boat, "The Madriver Cow!"

    Secondly, I found the hull of this boat flexes too much. Especially for a stern paddler. Every time you make a stroke, it make a squeek sound and the seat moves side to side. My friends and I found this very annoying not to mention lost forward energy. If you get this boat, I would recommend getting rear thwart installed to make the hull more rigid.

    Thirdly, I do not recomment the IQ2 gunwale. The reason is they are prone to more damages than the traditional vinyl gunwales. I had the plastic tie downs for the IQ2 but they ended up being pulled out from the gunwale and stretched out the IQ2 channels making them unsightly. Unfortunately IQ2 now comes standard for all vinyl gunwales.

    Lastly, I would not recommend this boat for running technical rapids. The shallow V hull make this boat stable and allows it to track well, but it does not turn as well as it should on fast rapids.

    My findings for this boat are from 10 day river excursion in northern Ontario and large lake paddling in southern Ontario in both quite and rough waters.

    If you are an intermediate paddler and not concerned about primary stability, skip this boat and try a prospector design.


    My wife and I exchanged the…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 6/19/2006
    My wife and I exchanged the Adventure 14 we had purchased (stability issues - see review) for an Explorer 16 tt. We just took it out for the first time yesterday, and I was VERY impressed. We had it out in windy conditions, on a lake where the waves were 2 - 3 feet. The canoe crashed through the waves head-on with no issues. The sides being a little high, it does catch the wind, so we found ourselves lateral to the waves a few times, and I am convinced that it would be nearly impossible to flip this canoe. Primary and ultimate stability are AWESOME, making this a great family canoe. It's heavy, but that's the trade-off for this very tough hull (also great for families - you don't have to be all that careful around rocks, etc.) The only downside is the tracking - the shallow V hull makes it a little tough to keep this canoe on a straight course. Even this isn't bad, just not as good as some other canoes, and it could have been partly the wind blowing us off-course. Highly recommended for a great, fun, family canoe!

    14 foot tt explorer..don't…

    Submitted by: paddler231563 on 5/15/2006
    14 foot tt explorer..don't know what to say...bought a new explorer about 8 weeks ago, handled really well in our estuary conditions, and i was delighted with it, until, last week with two adults, the bottom literally collapsed upwards about 4"!! I took it back to our excellent dealer who immediately replaced it with a supposedly identical canoe, the point being that the hull on the new one is an entirely diferent shape!! The original was a fairly flat V, this one is round like a barrel, Have got the hang of it now and am enjoying it, but what does it say about mad river's quality control?

    Review of the TT version of…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 5/4/2006
    Review of the TT version of the 16ft Explorer - I noticed the stability of the canoe was better than with other canoes I have owned. Two adults fishing, with all of the fishing gear, anchors, cooler, posed no problems. The canoe performed flawlessly. I think the speed of the canoe was very good. I'm sure there are a lot of faster canoes available, however, for fishing and cruising around, its great. We were dragging around two stringers of fish and a minnow bucket, and we still were able to move around with plenty of speed. If your looking for an all around canoe, I think you can't go wrong with the explorer. Look no further.

    We have a 16'…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 4/19/2006
    We have a 16' Kevlar/fiberglas Explorer canoe which has been our best quiet river canoe yet. The canoe's stability and tacking make it perfect for Florida's rivers. It's roomy for plenty of gear. You get what you pay for with this boat!

    I purchased the Explorer 16…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 1/4/2006
    I purchased the Explorer 16 RX Sp Edition a few years ago when I lived in Maryland. I have had this canoe in everything from class 2+ to 3+ waves in the Chessapeake, to lazy rivers, and have never had a thought of trading it. Obviously, when in white water or open water, common sense should prevale. This thing will take everything you can give it and then some. While it may not be the lightest boat afloat, it tracks, handles well, and the speed is quite impressive. Speed is a relative term. I would classify this canoe as an SUV in the Jeep/BMW class. It will almost go anywhere, do anything, and do it safely and in style.

    This canoe is also not the cheapest, but you cannot put a price on safety, the feeling of safety, and the knowledge that it will get you home.

    If you are looking fo a conoe that is a safe do it all ( within reason ) leave in mirror calm water, and come back in 3 footers, then stop looking and check this one out.

    As a side note, I got mine with wood gunwales, which I like the looks of. If you live in a cold climate, make sure you losten the gunwale screws and that will keep the RX from having a tendency to crack when expanding and contracting. I have never had a problem with this, ever.


    I have to say that the Mad…

    Submitted by: paddler204981 on 10/19/2005
    I have to say that the Mad River Explorer 17 is one fine boat. I have an O.T. which I also love, but the big boat is a dream for the wife and our child. It paddles great, but is really a tandem boat, just a little big for solo. The frequent treatments with amour-all has kept it looking like brand new for many seasons.

    My first canoe - and being…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 9/21/2005
    My first canoe - and being new to canoeing and camping-by-canoe I was looking for something versatile, and light-weight, without sinking a lot of money into a recreation I wasn't sure was going to be long-term.

    Well, the recreation is turning into a long-term love and I have been very pleased overall with the MR 14 - at 69 lbs, it is 'manageable' loading, un-loading, portaging, etc. I know there are much lighter canoes out there but not in the $400-$500 range.

    However, it does not handle that great in the open lakes, especially when the wind/waves pick up... I have to roll up my sleeves and really bear down on the paddling!!!

    I give it a 8-9 rating, and a great choice for the beginner!!!


    Nice canoe. It tracks well in…

    Submitted by: paddler231300 on 9/7/2005
    Nice canoe. It tracks well in the water and is easy to maneuver. It is heavy, but the stability of the canoe is what makes it great for a family or new paddler. It is tough as nails with the "tripletough" trihull design. The model reviewed here is the Explorer 16TT. It is a great canoe for fishing because of its stability in the water, which is primarily what we bought it for. While heavy, my wife and I moved it around pretty easily. I can highly recommend as one of the best buys under $600. I paid $485 new, on sale.

    I bought a Royalex Explorer…

    Submitted by: paddler231146 on 6/20/2005
    I bought a Royalex Explorer about a year ago. When I bought it I went on reputation only and did not test paddle the boat. Big mistake! When I loaded it with two people and some gear the boat seemed to have a lot of flex in the bottom. Too much flex! I used it a few times and based on experience determined that the flexing was more severe than should be expected, even for a Royalex boat. I contacted Confluence and the dealer, Jersey Paddler, who told me to bring the boat back to exchange for another boat. Turns out that the dealer had had just this same problem with an Explorer at a test paddle years ago. No hassle, I brought the boat back, unloaded it and loaded up a new one.

    I didn't test paddle the new boat either figuring what are the chances of getting struck by lightning twice? Since the exchange I have used the new boat and it is everything I expected. Great handling from the rear seat. Nice glide for a heavy boat and very stable. For anyone considering any Royalex boat I recommend that you test paddle the boat before you go home with it. My understanding is that what happened with my boat could happen to any Royalex boat. In my case both the manufacturer and the dealer stepped to the plate and solved the problem quickly. I am a happy customer and user of this canoe.


    This spring I purchased a Mad…

    Submitted by: paddler231121 on 6/9/2005
    This spring I purchased a Mad River Royalex 17 with ash gunwales. Have been out in about 10 times and absolutely love it. It is a joy to handle for two people and I'm able to solo if I kneel down.

    My husband and I recently…

    Submitted by: CLUTINGER on 5/18/2005
    My husband and I recently purchased a 1991 Explorer 16'4" fiberglass w/kevlar. I read many reviews on this website prior to selecting a brand and model. When I advertised at work for a used canoe I was delighted to find this one for $300. (It retailed new for $1100). We have taken it out on one to two new lakes every week since we purchased it 2 months ago. It deserves the "10" rating because we feel so secure in it. It is the perfect recreational canoe for stability and ease to paddle. I'm amazed at how well it glides on the small lakes. (I am 55 and my husband is 63). This is the 1st time he has been in a canoe and I haven't paddled since I was in Girl Scouts. We are so glad we bought it. We plan to get a small motor soon for trolling so we won't get so much exercise when we fish. (ha ha).

    I want out yesterday 4/9/05…

    Submitted by: paddler231030 on 4/11/2005
    I want out yesterday 4/9/05 with my new Explorer 16 TT. I had owned 2 canoes in the past. We did a winding river with many obstructions, me being rusty and not experienced in moving water and my partner with no experience were brushbusting and hitting everything in site with this boat. We did have a few close calls but never went in the water, which is saying a lot for the stability of this boat. I had researched many boats before settling on the Explorer in TT which is a 3 layer poly. Great price great boat. Highly recommended.

    I have owned a green kevlar…

    Submitted by: paddler230894 on 12/1/2004
    I have owned a green kevlar Explorer since 1998. I use the boat both solo and tandem. I use it to guide saltwater fly fisher-folks in the marshes surrounding Long Island Sound. It is a stable boat. Easy to maintain and has served me well. Have had several offers from clients who want to buy it....but it is my boat!!

    royalex sand explorer 17,…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 8/25/2004
    royalex sand explorer 17, with ash gunwales, cane seats, extra thwart and mr medallion. bought in 1989 and it has held up extremely well; is one rugged boat. used mainly on tame lakes and rivers in michigan's lower peninsula. boat handles well, even with some soloing, and gets up a head of steam but can be unwieldy at times. boat is fit to go to hudson bay or on the albany or mckenzie river for a major trip; you can take it anywhere in the world. only regret is that i did not buy a kevlar explorer 16, as i am now in my mid-50's and the explorer 17 weighs in at about 74 lbs. and is one heavy boat. i recommend the explorer 17, if you can find one, as it is a premier tripping wilderness boat which can be used for family recreation or couples' cruising as well.

    The Explorer Orion TT. The…

    Submitted by: paddler230730 on 8/9/2004
    The Explorer Orion TT. The 14'6" square back tub, that these people in customer service...Miriam and Tony call quality. Twisted stern, and oarlocks that did not work...did they care? Nope...told me if I didn't like it, to take it back...I did, and bought a Nova Craft Canoe, which is the real thing...Check them out! I would not recommend doing business with Mad River. They are arrogant, know little about the product they sell, and were not civil. A waste of time and money.

    Just purchased an Explorer 16…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 6/15/2004
    Just purchased an Explorer 16 TT at Naturally Outdoors in Florence SC. Great store, very helpful customer service. Took the boat out last night on the saluda river with my son. Very impressed with the ease of paddling and stability. Much easier to paddle and turn then my old town discover 169. I am very happy with it.

    Royalex 16' Heavy but…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 6/8/2004
    Royalex 16' Heavy but balanced and indestructable. I solo turned backwards with a three year old daughter (with 2' paddle of course) all day. Get flotation bags if your in deep open water or moving water. Royalex won't float at high when swamped.

    I have 2 mad river explorers…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 3/9/2004
    I have 2 mad river explorers 1 with ash trim $500 2nd hand in super shape and a brand new with vinyl trim for $800. They are great overall and very stable. They have been very loaded for week long trips but are very balanced for portaging---I find them easier to portage for long distances than my 13 ft 48 lb springbok. I dream of finding a kev exp.tho.

    I've owned a royalex explorer…

    Submitted by: paddler230444 on 1/7/2004
    I've owned a royalex explorer for 5 1/2 years. It is an excellent all-round canoe. I use it mainly on rivers and it works well up to class 3(Chattooga section 3) conditions. Its a bit slow on flat water but OK for occasional lake use. Easy to portage despite its weight due to excellent balance. Very good primary and secondary stability as well. Good manueverability for a 16 footer.

    Have a fiberglass Explorer…

    Submitted by: paddler230192 on 6/12/2003
    Have a fiberglass Explorer since 1986. Quality boat, great paddling. Just glides down the lake with little effort. Good on slow rivers too. Stable, beautiful hull design. Ash gunwales are great.

    Awesome canoe. I bought the…

    Submitted by: paddler230169 on 6/6/2003
    Awesome canoe. I bought the Explorer TT for myself and liked it so much I bought another for my kids. Very stable and great manouverability. Have paddled many canoes. This one is very user friendly. Sure it's a bit heavier but I can live with that given its lower price tag.

    This canoe is very good…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 6/3/2003
    This canoe is very good compromise between stability (especially final stability), forward speed and agility. This is definitely the most stable canoe I have ever paddled. You can even stand in canoe. It handles class I rapids easily. Due to it's flared hull you don't get spray inside canoe. Downside of this canoe is that it captures too much wind when paddling in lakes. It is also too short and wide for only flatwater purpose. I guess there much better canoes available for only flatwater purpose. But as stable canoe for mixed-water use it is hard to beat.

    I'm well past my mid sixties,…

    Submitted by: paddler230130 on 5/20/2003
    I'm well past my mid sixties, have been a passionate soloer for my entire life and over the years, I've moved from traditional canvas on cedar, through Royalex and now to Kevlar Light. All of this is in aid of weight - portaging and ease of handling. The Explorer is everything and more that I'd hoped to find in a 2000 era canoe! It tracks and handles like a dream and allows me to "go anywhere at any time". It is amazingly quiet and ideal for nature day paddles or extended trips in central New Brunswick's lakes and rivers.

    Explorer 16 TT Slate in…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 5/12/2003
    Explorer 16 TT Slate in color, first time out today. its a 10. the weight, sure its not light, but thats my choice and i still give it a 10. its tracks well and stable (very stable) i have owned a Discovery 174 and it too is a 10 had a Old Town Camper and i give it a 6-7 not as stable as they claim. i really wanted the stillwater 16 fiberglass, but went with my instints and i'm i glad. i pulled up to gravel twice today and yes scratches. this is the first day out with it (solo). i just know it will do even better with two.

    I aquired my explorer through…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 1/9/2002
    I aquired my explorer through neglitic family members. It sat for about 7 years. The beautiful ash gunwhales were practically rotting off. The cane seats were anything but seats. Fortunatly the royalex was fine! I claimed it two years ago! Replaced the gunwhales with mahagony(ash and oak were too exspensive and hard to find in length), had the seats re-caned(a local antique expert did it for practically nothing). bought a new yoke. and reassembled it. On multiday river trips it can't be beat! extremely stable and can carry enough gear for weeks! Ee've also paddled class III with no problem. Open lakes are another story. it is often referred to as the mad river cow. It tracks great, but speed, it has not. Kayak paddles are used by both paddlers and other boats still move ahead with just bevertails. Call me weak, but 70lbs. is too much for portages. I own two kayaks and am sure the mad river will be around longer. I plan on keeping it around forever.

    I got my explorer for a song…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 11/16/2001
    I got my explorer for a song $400. Worth every penny and then some. I have paddled it on South Georgia blackwater and North Geogia whitewater. This boat handles like a dream and will carry a load of gear like you wouldn't believe. While I may some day get a new boat I will never get rid of this boat. I would highly recomend this boat to anyone who is looking for what is probably the best all around boat their is.

    I have had my Royalex…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 10/24/2001
    I have had my Royalex Explorer 16' with Plastic/Aluminum gunwhales for about 5 years or so and LOVE IT!!! I am constantly amazed at how stable and strong it is. I have taken it crabbing on the Eastern shore, given "rides" to my two labs (they swam a lot anyways but never tipped the boat when they jumped off!), took it for a six day camping trip to the Boundary waters and taken it through some whitewater in West Virginia. It truly is a workhorse, I have had it loaded to the hilt and it was still easy to steer and paddle. On my trip to the BWCA the guys all said the Mad River was by far the best out of the 4 canoes we took (the others were Old Towns. It was a tad heavy on some killer portages of 50-100 rods, but some of the rocks would have killed Kevlar. Get the Kevlar skid plates!

    We just bought a Royalex 16'…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 9/7/2001
    We just bought a Royalex 16' with vinyl gunwals. The weight is not too bad (72? pounds) so I can throw it on the van racks by myself. My 2 boys and I have taken it in quiet lake waters and on some rivers. It handles well even with kids helping paddle, and it is a lot of fun. For our first canoe, we feel like we have a winner and look forward to many years of paddling fun.

    I rented an Explorer and…

    Submitted by: paddler229246 on 5/22/2001
    I rented an Explorer and spent several days on the North Platte with it. I found that it tracked well enough to make good speed in flat water and had enough agility to handle rapids easily. Every canoe is a tradeoff between tracking and agility, and the Explorer is, in that sense, a technological marvel. Our put in point on the North Platte involved a steep descent, but I didn't find the weight of the Royalex version to be too much to bear because the boat is well balanced (I'm only 5 '9" & 150 lbs). If you're considering going on any river with rocks, take the extra weight and avoid Kevlar. The big drawback for me is the price, but when Uniroyal's patent on Royalex runs out, the price will probably come down and be competitive with Old Town's cross-linked polyethylene.

    We love our Mad River…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 4/13/2001
    We love our Mad River Explorer. It moves through the water with less effort and we are able to keep at all day because of the efficiency. Not to mention that the canoe is a beauty to behold.

    I have a Royalex Explorer…

    Submitted by: paddler229138 on 3/8/2001
    I have a Royalex Explorer with ash gunwales. It is an extremely versatile canoe and excels in most conditions. It works well on the river because with slight lean it becomes maneuverable. For lake paddling the Explorer is also good; the shallow vee hull tracks very well for a moderately rockered canoe. I am sure that the composite version would be even more efficient. Stability is great all around, in waves and rapids. Windage can be a problem, however, but this can be overcome by carrying a load or skillful paddling. The depth that causes this wind problem gives the canoe super capacity and keeps it dry in all but the biggest waves.

    I paddle solo quite frequently, and paddling from the bow seat (facing the stern), it handles very well in the classic "northwoods" heeled over style. Soloing the Explorer with a load of gear is even better. Paddling tandem the Explorer is much faster than one would expect, and it is a perfect set up for tripping, day paddling or messing about in rapids.

    Mad River does a great job in trimming their canoes. The ash woodwork on the Explorer is flawless, and MRC's use and knowledge of canoe construction is great. This canoe is tough as nails. The weight of seventy pounds isn't too bad for your average portage.

    Overall the Explorer is an excellent choice for both newcomers and experts wanting a versatile, all around wilderness tripping boat. I won't hesitate to recommend it to any paddler!


    I purchased this boat used in…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 2/24/2001
    I purchased this boat used in May of 2000. It is a fiberglass layup nice color, eggplant I believe it is called. We used it for a wilderness trip down the Buffalo River, Ark. in October. We were on the river for 5 days and four nights. It is a work horse tracks well and carrys a heck of a load. The river was very low and boney resulting in numerous scratches (like a bear got hold of it) I would recommend that it be purchased in Kevelar or plastic to hold up better in rocky areas.

    Mad River Explorer, 16' ABS,…

    Submitted by: paddler229120 on 2/21/2001
    Mad River Explorer, 16' ABS, my good friend for 20 years has tracked truly and pivoted into eddies with a lean and a stroke. The only drawback is that the high gunwales, which keep you dry in rough stuff, catch the wind in flat stuff. Where do your priorities lie? For white water, or for lake paddling with lots of gear it is a great boat. For solo lake day trips, something that sheds the wind better might be more appealing.

    17 FT. EXPLORER - It's a…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 12/28/2000
    17 FT. EXPLORER - It's a great boat, but I'm sorry I bought the 17' version - now called the Duck Hunter. While it may track better and hold more gear than the standard 16' Explorer, it doesn't handle rapids as well - harder to turn and less bouyancy in the bow due to the longer keel. It's unacceptable for solo use. The 17' version would be better only with a great amount of gear and smaller rapids.

    There's a big difference…

    Submitted by: paddler228527 on 4/7/2000
    There's a big difference between kevlar weight and royalex weight on the Explorer. It depends on what you're looking for. Now that I'm near 50 yrs. old, I'm looking at the new light-weight kevlar, 43 lbs. (I won't play in whitewater with the almost see-through hull, but it will take me hundreds of easy miles on quiet water and long portage, with great tracking and safe cargo haul in wind and wave) Royalex will slip, slide and bounce all the way through whitewater and boulder gardens and big scrapes, but the regular kevlar is right behind it for a weekend playboat. The only problem is that the boat becomes such an old friend, you can't stand to see and hear it take a beating. You will become protective and restrict it to yourself and mature family members use only.

    I love the canoe. Eggplant…

    Submitted by: paddler228525 on 4/6/2000
    I love the canoe. Eggplant colored Royalex with Ash gunwales. It handles well, turns well, tracks well. Great all-around canoe. The only drawback I see is that it is not perfectly quiet. Perhaps the wide entry point of Royalex is the culprit. Maybe a Kevlar would be quieter.

    Our royalex mad river has yet…

    Submitted by: paddler228481 on 3/13/2000
    Our royalex mad river has yet to let us down. From weekend whitewater trips in Alberta and British Columbia, to month long trips in the Arctic we have never had a problem. Its 16 feet is ample room for two people, gear and a 80 lbs dog on a month long trip in the Arctic. I'd never buy a longer boat. 16 hour portages are quite do able. But get a good padded carrying yoke. The only prolem to watch out for are the cane seats. We replaced ours with webbing in the first year.

    Our kevlar explorer is an old…

    Submitted by: paddler228446 on 2/8/2000
    Our kevlar explorer is an old friend. It's never let us down. From 2 week trips into the BWCA as a cargo hauler with dog in tow (so easy to portage), to weekend springtime Wisconsin whitewater adventures and summer low-water boulder gardens, its gel coat strenght is remarkable, holding up to visious scrapes and chips. I love the stability and manuverability it shows in different moods and trust its action in big water waves and wind. A great all around family boat.

    I've been paddling my kevlar…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 6/13/1999
    I've been paddling my kevlar Explorer w/ ash trim for 9 yrs. and has thousands of miles on it. It has been wrapped, like inverting an orange peel, with the bottom of the boat pushed past the thwart. The ash gunnals didn't break like aluminum and become a weapon, or crease and weaken like vinyl/plastic. Once dislodged, the boat popped into shape,and we continued. After some gelcoat repairs and reinforcing some stress, along with taking an hour to oil the trim once once a year, it has done New River Gorge, the Allagash, Bog River to Cranberry, Old Forge to Tupper, rec. raced and on and on and on. I feed it a pint of gelcoat every couple of years, a Watco the gunnals annually. I would certainly been on my third or fourth boat by now, had it been of any other materials.

    Well made, nice design for…

    Submitted by: paddler228084 on 5/4/1999
    Well made, nice design for recreational all purpose use. My royalex with ash gunnels and cane seats was way too heavy for my needs, and the ash gunnels require annual upkeep. Jealous local redneck outfitters with 30" necks from carrying Old Townes snubbed mine the Yuppie cruiser, so maybe i should have kept it anyway. If you have to carry alot, go with kevlar and skip the ash trimmins.

    The Mad River Explorer is a…

    Submitted by: paddler228060 on 4/12/1999
    The Mad River Explorer is a very stable workhorse. Handles well on the flatwater, yet gives you enough spiritness, to make your trip worthwhile.

    Review of Royalex Model:…

    Submitted by: paddler228031 on 3/25/1999
    Review of Royalex Model: Probably the best "all around" canoe on the market. Does everything well, from week long expeditions to class two whitewater. Room for kids, gear and float bags. Almost indestructable. Only draw back is it's a 70 pound portage. A safe, stable boat that will get you there and back! Very forgiving.