Malecite KX

by  Mad River
16' 5"
Width (in)
Weight (lb)

Malecite KX Description

Mad River Canoe’s original and much revered classic is truly a timeless design that is an unforgettable experience. Experience the canoe that started it all on the rivers of Vermont executed in state of the art modern materials. Mad River Canoe's original and much revered classic has proven to be truly timeless. Designed originally as a tandem the Malecite also excels as a solo, making for a truly versatile touring canoe. A carefully engineered matrix of aramid, fiberglass, carbon and core yields a hull that is lighter, faster, more responsive than earlier editions yet has retained in full measure the stability, surprising seaworthiness, and “spark” that has endeared the Malecite to multiple generations of paddlers, tandem or solo. It's a design that has been referred to as “Poetry in motion” by those who have paddled it.

Malecite KX Specs and Features

  • Structure: Rigid / Hard Shell
  • Seating Configuration: Solo, 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

  • Contoured Web
  • Seats with Aluminum Gunwales
  • Contoured Natural Ash Yoke
  • Wood Handles

Mad River
Malecite KX Reviews

Read reviews for the Malecite KX 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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True Love at First…

Submitted by: LarryO on 2/24/2020

True Love at First Paddle. Bought a used Malecite in Kevlar recently and took it to a small lake nearby. This one has the center seat for solo paddlers and when I used that position with a 52" bent paddle the canoe took off like the space shuttle. I was shocked. Twice! Not only does this 16'6" canoe get up and go, but it also turns easy when I want it too. With the missus up front and me in the back, combined weight of 330 lbs, the canoe feels fine but not spectacular. No the shocker is how well it rips with just a solo paddler in the middle with a bent shaft paddle, what a perfect combination that makes!


I bought a fiberglass…

Submitted by: paddler488554 on 1/31/2019

I bought a fiberglass Malecite in 1976. Traded it for a kevlar in 1985.


As an 80 y/o paddler and…

Submitted by: tlanka on 8/2/2016
As an 80 y/o paddler and fisherman I've enjoyed my Kevlar Malecite for about 10 years. It handles well solo or tandem and with a bit of TLC still looks great.. The wicker center rest is starting to sag and may son need replacement. No complaints to offer.

I was given the shell of a…

Submitted by: Nigel on 1/11/2016
I was given the shell of a Malecite a few years ago for a project boat. After replacing the wood gunnels, seats and decks, I have discovered one of the best boats I've ever been in. I trimmed the bow seat back a little so I can paddle it backward when solo. There is a little flex with each stroke that concerned me a bit at first but I've come to love it so much I had to upgrade my paddle to a bent-shaft. When I paddle my Malecite now, it feels like an extension of myself. It is the pride of my boat barn. Rather loaded with gear and a buddy or out of a quick solo trip, the Malecite has good initial and secondary stability, tracks well but can turn pretty easily for 16'. It's also one of my lightest boats, so it's easy on this old man's back and shoulders.

So, as I stated in my earlier…

Submitted by: Steve_in_Idaho on 7/29/2015
So, as I stated in my earlier review [07-20-2010] - the only reason I would part with my fiberglass Malicite would be if I found a nice kevlar version or its equivalent. So that's exactly what I did. This one, a '97 model with slotted rails and contoured seats. Can't say enough good about this canoe! Everything I wrote about my previous Malicite applies to this one - but lighter weight. Can't see ever replacing this one.

I give it a 9 for South…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 10/14/2013
I give it a 9 for South Florida. It has the low freeboard, which works great for coastal tandem paddling and poling in the sawgrasses in the Everglades. It's a very comfortable boat. I have the expedition Kevlar. Just redid gunnels, added yoke instead of center seat, etc. Speaking of the center seat I found it to be off balance, at least for me. Probably would have felt pretty nice it if had been back 6 or 8 inches.

I only rate it a 8 for South Florida. Can't say it's attributes would be good or bad in other locations. Probably wouldn't be my first choice of tandems for Tennessee, where I grew up paddling aluminum tanks. Having the shorter length 16'4 allows for pretty sold maneuvering when I kneel in the stern. We have lots of twisty creeks, and I rarely paddled with a second paddler who can/wants to paddle 20 miles a day for a week.

It does oil can, which isn't that big a deal when loaded or paddling solo from center positions. It does lose efficiency when fast cruising for race training. It's certainly no Wenonah MN II. It also feels a bit weird have more rocker in the stern than the bow. Does seem loose into 600 cfs or so, but that can be a good thing if you adapt to it and not make the boat adapt to you and your style.

It's OK solo -- very comfortable for poling, standing, fishing and short distance paddles on flat water with little to no breeze. I'll do an update in a year or so to see what else I've learned/experienced.


The Mad River Malecite is the…

Submitted by: Nigel on 8/13/2013
The Mad River Malecite is the best boat I've ever bought. It's carbon/fiberglass/kevlar hull is strong and lightweight. Combined with classic wood gunnels and seats, the Malacite gives you a paddling experience like no other. It's light and comfortable enough to put down the miles, day after day. The boat has a flex that I found odd at first but after a few minutes, it felt more like living being than a boat. Paddling the Malacite is like walking in your most comfortable shoes.

I adjusted my front seat back to trim it for my heavier bow partner and it works perfectly for a longer solo boat now for me - paddled backwards.

Out of my four canoes (2 OT poly, 1 OT fiberglass & 1 MR Malacite), the Malacite is by far my favorite. I can easily pick it up, carry & load it by myself - even after paddling all day


I've owned a kevlar Malecite…

Submitted by: paddler234933 on 3/24/2013
I've owned a kevlar Malecite since I bought it new in '96. Incredible canoe. I paddle it solo 80% of the time using the optional 3rd seat. I've taken it to the BWCA numerous times with 2 people and a week's worth of gear. Everyone who has accompanied me is blown away by the handling and performance. Our last trip was a 3 man trip which included a kayak with my canoe carrying 2 guys and the bulk of the gear. The friend paddling the kayak could not believe how fast the Malecite was, especially in the windy conditions we encountered.

I believe this canoe is the perfect blend of capacity and performance for day paddling and short back country trips that don't require a huge amount of gear. It is an incredibly fast and beautiful boat for average sized paddlers with a weeks worth of gear; my 12 year old daughter and I can really make this thing dance when we're out together.


I can't say how accurate this…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 3/15/2013
I can't say how accurate this is on the new production models of the Malecite. We got ours in 1985 and have paddled it through the Boundary Waters many times, the lakes and rivers of the Adirondacks, the Snake River near the Tetons, through Florida mangroves, and countless other places, including the calm waters of lakes and rivers near home in Michigan. Whenever we've had to rent canoes (in Alaska, the Yukon, and Hawaii), they all pale in comparison to our own Malecite. Maybe that's because this is what we're used to, but that in itself is a good reason.

It's fiberglass, and I've patched up the gel coat many times, but some of the scratches are left on there as testimonials to the places they were earned. It will do gentle rapids well; it's fast on the flatwater, and for two of us out for a day, a weekend, or even a week, it's been a joy to paddle.

If I ever get another canoe, it will most likely be the same canoe in kevlar, just to save some weight.


For a canoe that has been…

Submitted by: Steve_in_Idaho on 7/20/2010
For a canoe that has been around as long as the Malecite has, I'm surprised there aren't more reviews here. Maybe that's because this boat is already so well known and loved.

We bought a used fiberglass Malecite last year - a '97 model, I believe. Ours has the third (solo) seat option and "eggplant" color finish. For a couple our size (165lbs and 120lbs) it seems the perfect fit for light cruising. My wife and I had only been seriously paddling canoes for a little more than two years when we got the Malecite, and we immediately found it to be very easy to manage and confidence-inspiring, in spite of it's apparent (from the reviews here) reputation of "tippiness".

This boat tracks easily, yet it also turns easily when paddled tandem. I find it to track well, once you get it moving, when used as a solo too - and although it takes a little more effort and some edging to do so, it turns well enough when paddled solo so long as you don't have to make quick maneuvers. At 35" wide and 65lbs, it is definitely best used as a tandem, but it makes a passable solo if you are fairly limber and not in a hurry.

I have also poled the Malecite upstream on class one streams. It is very easy to stand in and goes against the current with ease compared to my royalex Nova craft Prospector. But it is not as easy to turn nor as dry as the NC Prospector, nor is it quite as steady when edged to the gunn'l to spin it around. But if the water is relatively flat, not very twisty, and not too shallow and boney - the Malecite is a much nicer upstream ride than the Prospector, or even our Old Town Penobscot.

I like that the Malecite has a low profile - especially when I'm fishing on a breezy lake - and I find the shallow profile to be much less of a problem than one would expect, even when the wind kicks up fast rollers of a foot or so or when taking on big boat wakes. I like it's efficiency and glide (it easily beats our Penobscot), although I am aware that similar boats of newer design may be a little faster. I like the classic lines and wood features (ours has wood seat frames, gunn'ls, and decks).
Everyone who's paddled it likes the stability - even those who weren't used to canoes.

The fiberglass lay-up with gel-coat finish seems tougher than I expected. While there are plenty of surface scratches on the bottom after 13 years of use, the gel-coat does not seem to chip or gouge easily. The seats are hung on truss-style hangers and since the hull is fairly shallow, there isn't much drop to them. I would say that this adds to the strength and stiffness of the boat - which there seems to be plenty of. All the woodwork and fasteners seem to be holding up very well, with routine yearly maintenance of the finish.

The floor does "oil can" slightly when paddled tandem on moderately choppy water. I don't know if it's enough to have any significant effect on efficiency, and it is very slight - but noticeable. I suspect that is due to the flattish areas in the shallow "vee" hull. The hull doesn't flex at all at the keel line - only in a small part of the flat areas on either side.

It would be interesting to compare the Malecite side-by-side to, say, a Bell Northstar. I suspect the Bell might be more efficient and maybe more maneuverable. But I doubt the difference could be great. We have clocked our tandem speed by GPS on a flat windless lake and find it pretty easy to maintain about 4.5 mph with a light load, even with our sloppy technique.

At ~65lbs, this Malecite isn't overly heavy and certainly not too much weight for me to deal with for the foreseeable future - even when loading/unloading it by myself. But as I approach retirement age, it would be better if this boat weighed about 20lbs less. And that is the only reason I would seek to replace it with something else. While I might go for something like a Black-Gold Northstar - if I found another used Malecite in kevlar, I wouldn't hesitate to grab it and probably hang onto it until we wear it out.

In short - while maybe no longer the cutting edge in canoe design, the Malecite is one sweet ride that isn't likely to get boring. It's a great all-around design for anyone not looking to haul a big load or to tackle more than class 1 water (although I'm sure that more advanced paddlers could take it far beyond that).


I bought a kevlar 2005…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 11/21/2008
I bought a kevlar 2005 Malecite. I have had it out two dozen times, and here are my impressions. I usually paddle alone, I am 6'4" and 235 pounds. I've had my wife and two kids inside as well.

The canoe has a fairly pronounced "V" hull. When I paddle it solo, even with my weight, the "V" hull can move side to side. It doesn't roll, it's a pronounced change that at first, I wondered if I'd be thrown overboard. Not to worry. I've learned to love this aspect of the boat, as it makes really sharp turns possible depending on how you shift your body weight, and paddle. It is a very responsive and rewarding canoe to a good handler.

It is better than most canoes in the wind. Still, over 20 mph winds in open water will make where you want to go difficult. That is solo. Weighted down it probably would do OK in 25 mph winds. Seating positions on the boat should be changed a little, in my experience. Lower both seats two inches, and for big-guy solo use, just plant a seat on the floor. This is mostly for the pronounced V of the boat, great for one person, but if you have a partner, they might react differently than you do, and even two experienced paddlers sometimes can't dance together.

I highly recommend the Malecite. Yet, the Bell Northstar is undeniably more refined, yet I can't decide which I like better. The Malecite really improved my paddling skills, not from necessity but because it accommodates.


A bit slow as a solo, this…

Submitted by: Wildwater on 2/13/2007
A bit slow as a solo, this would make a good, stable solo for a bigger person to paddle and fish from. I have a Kevlar Malecite, and it's very nice as a tandem, though I believe the composite Explorers (16'4") are a better choice. The Malecite's a GREAT choice as a tandem/solo for a family, but I think it would take on water in bigger rivers. The bow and freeboards seem somewhat low for big water.

This is a great boat for both…

Submitted by: paddler231242 on 8/7/2005
This is a great boat for both solo and tandem paddling. It is very fast and easy to handle solo despite the length. I have the Kevlar version so it is very light and easy to carry. I recommend this boat to everyone. I love this boat.

My first canoe: a real…

Submitted by: stevebaker on 8/26/2004
My first canoe: a real charmer in 1976 and badly missed after I got the high performance bug and sold it. I picked up another one last Fall and it's still the best paddling light tripper out there. My latest is in Kevlar (no such thing in '76) so it's easy to carry as well. It's quick, dry, and has that firming action as it rolls that inspires confidence. I'm never selling this one!

This is easily the best…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 5/24/2004
This is easily the best design ever to come out of the mind of Jim Henry and the Mad River Canoe Company. I've owned a fiberglass version as well as the Royalex "Eclipse" which was designed as the RX version of the Malecite. The boat was discontinued a few years ago...the story goes that Jim Henry didn't feel that it paddled as well as a vinyl Malecite should. I wholeheartedly disagree with that opinion and love mine. It's the second one that I've owned. The first one flew off my Jeep during a collision with an idiot in a Nissan Pathfinder. Yakima rack and all flew off the car.

I bought to kevlar layup in…

Submitted by: paddler229108 on 2/12/2001
I bought to kevlar layup in 94. Six years of use and I have beat the heck out of it having worn through the first layer of kevlar into the foam core. A little glass and filler and get this, a coat of paint and it looks great. I use this boat solo for mostly fishing and hunting. I get a huge kick out of standing up in the boat while I go down small trout streams. You can stand and cast a dry fly rather well too. The boat did not survive being dragged over beaver dams and such, but I am hard on it. Truth be told, I own five canoes and this is my nostalgic favorite.

The first canoe that I have…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 1/18/2001
The first canoe that I have ever owned, but I have spent plenty of time in other canoes, being a duck hunter. I have paddled large, light aluminum; and old heavy fiberglass. The Malecite is by far the best I have been in so far. I found mine at a garage sale for $60. It needed a little work but now it works and looks great. I was a little leary about not having much depth but I haven't had a problem because of them so far.

I first tried out a Malecite…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 11/11/2000
I first tried out a Malecite in 1974 and loved the boat at first paddle. Recently ran into a good used one at a bargain price and snapped it up. Although I haven't put on many miles yet, I am very pleased with the boat's performance. She tracks straight as a dime and yet turns very quickly - especially if you lean her over. While not "fast" by today's standards, the Malecite is certainly a good deal quicker than the average flat bottom recreational canoe, and she moves very easily though the water with a minimum of paddler effort. Although I remembered thinking of her as being a bit "tender" when I paddled her in the 70s, I would not call her that today. In fact, once you get used to the liveliness caused by her v bottom she feels quite stable. Her sides, however, are quite low and when I first hopped in there was a feeling of vulnerablity to splash caused by powerboat wakes etc. Haven't done enough paddling yet to access this. All in all a lovely boat, well put together and a joy to paddle!

I have had about 10 canoes,…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 6/29/2000
I have had about 10 canoes, but the Malcite is my hands down favorite! A little heavy in fiberglass, but a dream on the water either solo or tandem. My wife is not a "power stroker" but she doesn't need to be in a Malecite. If I had a Kevlar model, I'd give it an 11!

What a sweetheart of a…

Submitted by: paddler228571 on 4/27/2000
What a sweetheart of a canoe!! Does almost everything well. Not much for III plus whitewater, but on slow rivers and big water it really shines. I paddle solo most of the time and with a slight J to your stroke or a relaxed hit-and swith style it covers the miles effortlessly. With a low sheer line it is hardly affected by wind on larger more open water. It has enough flare in the ends that wind driven waves and speedboat wakes rarely splash in. The semi-vee shape hull handles waves from the side without feeling unstable like so many flat bottom boats I've paddled. And lean it over a little and it turns rather amazingly quick for exploring flooded backwaters and swamps. I have the optional center seat with the "karri-yoke" system which works very well even on the 65lb fiberglass model.

The one and only original ww…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 11/1/1999
The one and only original ww downriver racer. Now a great solo or tandem cruiser up to class III. Not a whitewater boat by today's standards but still an excellent performer in skilled hands. I paddle this boat solo next to my wife's Independence - see Review - and heads turn everywhere. Very traditional in wood trim. Use a beavertail stick for traditional style or a 5 degree bent for cruising. Will freestyle tandem. Fast out of the hole and moves good at speed. Turns on a dime with the rail in the water and carries large quantities of gear and dogs.

I owned a Malecite and am…

Submitted by: paddler228166 on 7/7/1999
I owned a Malecite and am still kicking myself for ever having sold it. A beautiful finished boat and responsive - price is a little high, especially in kevlar.

This is a great boat for…

Submitted by: paddler228079 on 4/29/1999
This is a great boat for flatwater. Fast and easy to paddle. With no rocker, it takes waves over the bow and into the boat.

Jim Henry's 1'st canoe, this…

Submitted by: paddler227993 on 1/26/1999
Jim Henry's 1'st canoe, this one is still hard to beat. Fast and responsive, it is a good boat for solo or tandem paddling. It is also over priced.