by  Mad River

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Guide Description

The Guide is a canoe brought to you by Mad River. Read Guide reviews or submit your own review to share with the paddling community. Check out a few other canoe recommendations below or explore all canoes to find the perfect one for you!

Mad River
Guide Reviews

Read reviews for the Guide 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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I purchased this boat in 2015…

Submitted by: Twotripper on 5/4/2020
I purchased this boat in 2015 for an upcoming solo touring and trout trip into the BWCA. I paddled it a few times on the St. Croix River. I think this is an excellent creek or class I boat. As others have noted the boat has poor primary stability and good secondary stability. I weigh 215 lbs so I have a decent ballast. After owning the boat for 5 years I have opted to upgrade to something lighter. I wouldn't consider this boat good for touring(5+) miles in the bwca. Can it be done, of course as I used it on Moose - Ensign - Vera and back.

I've had my Guide for more…

Submitted by: jtitone on 5/19/2016
I've had my Guide for more than 15 years and love it for my favorite kind of river, Class 1- to II-plus. It turns well, tracks acceptably, and bounces happily through waves. I keep air bags in it except when I'm boat camping and need room for gear. I've outfitted it with foam for kneeling and use a Crazy Creek canoe seat for times when I want to sit upright. Great solo boat!

Too bad I can't rate the…

Submitted by: jtitone on 9/9/2015
Too bad I can't rate the Guide an 11. I love this solo boat. I outfitted it with airbags and, though it doesn't have a high whitewater bow, it has taken me through lots of fun 2-plus rapids. It's a bit long for rock garden turns, but maneuvers well. It wasn't made for tracking, but is respectable on a lake. Perfect for class I-II moving water.

I'm an older guy that got…

Submitted by: paddler236178 on 4/9/2015
I'm an older guy that got this boat new many years ago. This canoe needs a very experienced paddler. It is tippy! It can also go through class 4 white water if u can keep it up right.

I have enjoyed it for the time I have owned it. I am almost 60 now n m gonna give It away. The thing that makes this canoe nice is if u r going for an expedition trip an u have some ballast for gear loaded in the bottom of the canoe. It will ride over really big waves. I liked it. It is like a mad horse. It will dump u so fast u will not know what happened. But if u don't tip, u will say wow!


I have had my Guide about 6…

Submitted by: meeced on 7/3/2014
I have had my Guide about 6 years, bought it used and have paddled on weeklong canoe camping trips and day trips on small whitewater, swamps, narrow creeks, and wide rivers. I love it as it turns on a dime and gives you 9 cent change. It holds enough gear for a week, including water, cooler and all camping gear and food. The Royalex is almost indestructible and have the Kevlar pads on both bow and stern. Love the boat.

I used this boat for…

Submitted by: paddler234884 on 2/10/2013
I used this boat for thru-paddling the NFCT and as my go to pond fishing boat while I served as an Allagash Ranger. (For lake inspection I used a MR Traveler). The Guide is perhaps the signature boat for the 750-mile route (in Royalex). While this boat drove me nuts on flatwater for its sluggishness, it was reassuringly agile in tight whitewater. The thing I loved about it was that I showed the boat zero respect and nothing happened to it. I dragged it across slash piles, dragged it down carries and rock embankments, and on occasion dragged it over guard rails and across highways. Still, very little wear and tear. It is ugly in vinyl trim, but you don't have to babysit it as you would have to do with wood.

In general I feel that life is too short to look at vinyl gunwales, but there are times when you have to make compromises. Again, I can't stress enough that this boat is a little bathtub on the flats..keep the trip short and you may not feel it that much, but a ten mile lake paddle? Torture.


I love this boat! I have…

Submitted by: canoevt on 8/24/2012
I love this boat! I have paddled it on whitewater up to class III with ease and find that after the first few strokes to get it moving I can zip right along on large open water. I paddle this boat every day. I would love a faster boat on the lakes but I know I would sacrifice the maneuverability of my guide for the rivers. The key word is versatile! From calm ocean (Acadia, Maine) to class III this boat does it all!

The 14'6" Guide model is…

Submitted by: meeced on 5/26/2011
The 14'6" Guide model is perfect for weekend and week-long canoe camping trips. It is agile and easy to turn and hold my weight (220) plus camping gear, cooler, tent, food, water for week long trip with ease. Love it.

I'm sorry but I do not feel…

Submitted by: paddler233923 on 3/29/2011
I'm sorry but I do not feel that this canoe is safe for family use! I have owned the 14' for two summers now and have used it on small lakes more times than I can count. I have found it to be too "Tippy" to trust it with family members especially your younger children!! IT IS TOO NARROW FOR GOOD STABILITY! Please consider you purchase carefully before you invest in this canoe - your family's lives will depend on it!

This review is for a 2004…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 5/3/2004
This review is for a 2004 model Guide or "Freedom Solo" as it has been renamed, w/ vinyl trim. A little about me: I'm 30 years old 6'3" tall and 210lbs. I paddle Ozark streams and carry between 30 and 80 lbs. of gear on overnighters and week long river trips.

I've paddled the boat on two, three day trips on class I and II rivers and through a class III rock garden w/ an 80 lb. load. I love the way this boat eddy turns and spins on and off the eddy line. The hull feels so loose on the water compared to my Dagger Legend 15 Solo. The Guide can catch the smallest eddies too. It's a little shakey initially but not bad. Turning completely around while seated took a little getting use too. But standing is no problem. Underway it responds to leans nicely and firms up at the gunwales. I did take on a little more water than expected. It has a sharp entry and punches through standing waves and haystacks with speed but you get a little wet, not a big deal. On flats I feel like it accelerated quickly but hits it's top speed quickly as well, which isn't very fast. It has OK glide but it can get away from you if your not used to it. On my first day in it, it started to carve a turn on it's own and it was suprisingly difficult to convince it to do otherwise. I learned quickly to use this to my advantage and carve beuatiful smooth turns paddleing on the inside. Which is totally my style. I like to cruz in and out of the vegatation on the flats and this boat is perfect for that.

With that said, as far as build quality goes; I had the boat shipped freight to me. When I got it home the first thing I noticed was the seat was 2 inches off to one side. The seat holes and the holes in the gunwales didn't match up(I like the seat right at the gunwales(no hangers)). I had a new uncut seat so it was a quick fix. The second thing I noticed was the decks are ugly and I kind of wished for the all wood set up. The hull is beautiful. The rivets, gunwales and thwarts look good too.

I will say it does oilcan a little with a 300 lbs. total load and a little bouncing. But, the trade off is the nice, light weight. Overall I could only wish for more speed but I would have to pay in playablility.


I'd describe this as a rough…

Submitted by: paddler230275 on 7/22/2003
I'd describe this as a rough water, light tripping canoe. Definitely designed for moving water, I think this would be a very different boat with a load. I have only used it on the Slippery Rock Creek in PA, but I got through everywhere high and dry. It turns easily (but no like my Dagger Encore), was comfortable for an 8 hour day, caught eddies and tracked straight enough for moving water. It's light weight (compared to my MR Freedom) made it a pleasure to be enjoyed. I was fishing a lot of the day and it was easy to place anywhere and went upstream easily to unsnag lures. I wouldn't hesitate to use this on class III (airbags, natch) or near shore lake trips. I think the wind would play havoc on open water. The boat responds well to proper and efficient strokes. For the experienced paddler, it just goes without thinking too much.

I have a Guide Rx, (wood…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 5/6/2002
I have a Guide Rx, (wood trim)that I use for canoe trips on the Middle Fork Salmon when I want to carry a lot of gear ... e.g., more food when other people come along, more clothing for late season trips, etc. It works fine as a solo, wilderness tripper. Handles whitewater with ease. It's not as fast as a my Wenonah Rendevous but it's easier to maneuver and you can haul more.

I have had a Royalex Guide…

Submitted by: paddler229601 on 2/26/2002
I have had a Royalex Guide for about 6 years. I am somewhat ambivalent about its performance. I find its best as a detuned playboat. I like to use it to play on class II rivers. For a touring boat, it will surf and side surf very easily. It ferries OK. My ambivalence comes in its performance in slowly moving and flat water. I feel it to be very sluggish. I have found the tandem equivalents (like the Explorer) just as easy to paddle as a solo. The Guide has virtually no glide and does not accelerate quickly like a true white water boat. I still have had a lot of fun in it and my reservations might be that I paddle flat and slow water with a Wenonah Advantage, a boat that moves like a rocket.

I bought a used one about a…

Submitted by: paddler229363 on 7/23/2001
I bought a used one about a month ago. It's a 1997 model and the woodwork had not been touched since it was new. I bought the Mad River stain and wood finish and redid the woodwork with a dark finish. The canoe is sand colored and the dark wood really sets it off. I took it for it's first paddle this weekend. I weigh 200 pounds and had about 60 pounds of camping gear. I have a bad right shoulder so I have to use a double paddle (240cm). The river had quite a few riffles and some class I and one class II. Many, many long slow pools. With the double paddle, it moves right along. In the class I and II, pick a good line and the boat won't disappoint you. Being as it is made with Royalex I consider it a super river tripping solo boat if you use common sense and realize that no loaded tripping boat is a whitewater boat. I look forward to many more river trips in it.

I agree with everything…

Submitted by: choxley on 5/29/2001
I agree with everything above, but would add that this is not a boat for a heavier paddler. I've had a guide for two years now and have decided to sell it. I weigh 250, and the guide is just a shade too light to have that much weight above the rails ( I know, "loose weight" but I'm just being realistic here.) Also, the seat seems to be place just a tad too far forward for me. When you kneel, you're really more in the bow of the boat.

I paddled a Mad River Freedom at the local paddle shop's big You-Can-Paddl-Too days and have one on order now. For a bigger paddler who needs a little more "beam," consider this boat.


Great canoe for a single…

Submitted by: solorider on 5/18/2000
Great canoe for a single person. Very good secondary stability. I've owned it for 4-5 years and use it on a local reservoir. It is slightly rockered for use on Class I whitewater. Mad River helped me out when I lost some seat pieces and screws - gave me a replacement kit without charge.

This is a boat that is best…

Submitted by: pknoerr on 1/11/2000
This is a boat that is best enjoyed by a relatively advanced paddler with a good J-stroke. The inherent charateristics that make the Guide one of the best (if not the best) river canoe through class II, makes it track poor relative to a true flatwater boat...rocker and a relatively short keeline. However, the boat responds very well to a vertical stroke, with cross strokes used to pull the boat back on course. The Guide bow surfs like a charm, catches eddies like a dream and has plenty of speed for most attainment moves. Side surfing, the Guide is relatively grabby due to it's hardish chines and length. In addition due to the length, it is difficult to spin on small waves and stay on the wave. The Guide also has the capacity to trip in it, however, like most canoes is quite affected by trim.

The Guide is far from slow, but is propelled at it's greatest speed with a short stroke ending before reaching the hip. An advanced paddler can get up to about 5 strokes on one side before needing a correction following this method.

Overall, if you are looking for a great river canoe and light whitewater canoe or a solo river tripping canoe. This one really is without peer.


This canoe turns,heels,draws…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 12/5/1999
This canoe turns,heels,draws and keeps you dry- but does not track on flat, especially in the wind. It is more responsive than any boat I've used, good in narrow rivers up to classII, but needs flotation for that. It's 10/10 on easy whitewater and twisty water, but 6/10 on open lakes and sloughs. A good playful boat.

A terrific canoe, incredibly…

Submitted by: paddler229212 on 4/6/1999
A terrific canoe, incredibly responsive to traditional paddle strokes. I just sold mine last summer and am regretting it. I will probably buy another. It was just plain fun to fool around in. They turn on a dime, have good speed for a short boat with ample rocker, will carry significant weight, is bomb-proof in royalex, will handle rapids above class II (add floatation), and can handle crossing large lakes in rough conditions. They do not track well for those that want a boat that'll go straight with ease (they do track better with a load as the stems are deeper in the water). You need a somewhat intuitive J-stroke to enjoy one on flatwater. If you're a "hit and switch" bent shaft paddler you'd only get a stroke or two on each side.