Prospector 17

Width (in)
Weight (lb)

Prospector 17 Options

  • TuffStuff Expedition

    65 lb
    Innegra Composite
  • Fiberglass

    70 lb
    Fiberglass Composite
  • Aramid Lite

    48 lb
    Kevlar/aramid Composite
  • Blue Steel

    52 lb
    Carbon Composite

    Prospector 17 Description

    If you want a canoe that will handle a month’s worth of supplies to head out on a wilderness adventure, this canoe is for you. In the Prospector 17’ you’ll find all the great characteristics that have made this canoe a paddling legend in places like the Yukon and Canadian Arctic. With lots of volume to keep you and your gear dry in whitewater or waves it still tracks well with good hull speed on flatwater. Our durable materials and classic Prospector lines make the P17 the ultimate wilderness extended tripping canoe. Shown in TuffStuff and Blue Steel.

    Prospector 17 Specs and Features

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

    Nova Craft Canoe
    Prospector 17 Reviews

    Read reviews for the Prospector 17 by Nova Craft Canoe 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 have owned this canoe for…

    Submitted by: Old-Guy on 8/12/2019

    I have owned this canoe for eight years. It handles very well, takes a heavy load, and stands up to all the abuse I can dish out.


    I've been paddling for over…

    Submitted by: jstefany on 5/15/2019

    I've been paddling for over 40 years and done most of it in Canada's north.  I have a Trailhead canoe which is a great canoe but I had the opportunity to do a couple of trips with my bud who has a 17' Nova Craft Prospector Lightweight. Wow...!!!I Was jealous immediately. The canoe tracked well, was responsive in rapids, and was a joy to portage. My next canoe will definitely be a Nova Craft... I just finished watching the canoe fall 100 in the promo video... Amazing! And a perfect fit for the ruggedness of Canada's north.


    I have had two of these…

    Submitted by: paddler449218 on 7/5/2018

    I have had two of these Prospector 17's, one a lightweight ABS, the other a heavyweight ABS. I usually paddle solo, sometimes almost empty, sometimes on extended river trips fully loaded, and sometimes in Class 3-4 whitewater. I have also owned several Mad River canoes and a couple of Mohawk canoes.

    I read some reviews from less than pleased Mad River Rendezvous owners who were happy when they moved into these Prospectors, so I went that way, too. Good move, for me.

    Being an engineer, I always have a better idea. I mounted my own carbon fiber seats on aluminum tube thwarts, so I can reverse the front seat and paddle solo with a long, large-bladed custom made double paddle designed for a large canoe. It's energy-efficient and powerful (but most others who tried this paddle don't particularly like it).

    My first Nova Craft Prospector replaced a Mad River 17' Rendezvous/Adventurer, and the difference was immediately apparent to me. That boat didn't paddle well fully loaded. It wouldn't "move out", It took more energy to cruise, to maintain speed, and it would ship water too easily. Strong quartering headwinds caused that boat to skid sideways excessively, so no matter how hard one paddled, it just would not move forward well in a quartering headwind - or at all in those conditions. Several times I had to "tack" to make headway. Not so with the Nova Craft.

    I am not an expert on canoe design, but the Nova Craft Prospector hull design works better than any others I have owned or borrowed. I have paddled these Nova Crafts thousands of miles and used them in Class 3+ whitewater. They're keepers!

    It takes less work to paddle these Prospectors fully loaded than other canoes I have owned and borrowed. I know several other Nova Craft Propector owners, and their response to their canoes is similar to mine. When I used other canoes, I kept an eye open for a better canoe.

    My first Prospector had a manufacturing defect. I thought I would have a big hassle with the manufacturer, but no. He looked over my documentation then volunteered to replace the canoe forthright.

    These canoes don't come cheap, but I feel I got significantly greater value with the Nova Craft Prospector than with any of the other canoes I have owned over the last 25 years or so.

    This may be only a testimonial, but my experience with Nova Craft and their Prospector Canoes couldn't have been better. Maybe there are other canoes out there that perform a bit better, but I am unaware. Others are happy with their boats, too.


    The Nova Craft Prospector 17…

    Submitted by: shodon on 7/23/2013
    The Nova Craft Prospector 17 has served me well for several years. Loaded, with gear and paddlers to a weight of 1000+ pounds and the Prospector 17 remains stable yet easily controlled, even through Class II rapids. On 5 day swamp trips, the fully loaded Nova Craft canoe still remains maneuverable and responsive on the tight water trail of the swamp. On open waters the canoe tracks well and is a pleasure to be in as it responds as if it's a part of the paddler.

    Nova Craft Prospector 17 is the canoe for all loads big or small but always yields "big" paddling fun!


    My wife and I own 8 canoes…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 3/12/2013
    My wife and I own 8 canoes including an assortment of solo and tandem canoes for river running and tripping. The Nova Craft 17 Prospector has been on many wilderness adventures with me including 6 trips on the Pukaskwa River in Ontario. It comes off of rocks from glancing blows and boofs better than any large canoe I have paddled in my 40 years of river running and it holds a lot of gear and is stable and predictable.

    I had sold my 17 ft Nova…

    Submitted by: paddler210485 on 12/4/2007
    I had sold my 17 ft Nova Craft Propector and my 16 ft Nova Craft Prospector when I bought new boats in the past. I just traded a Wenonah Ultra Light Minnesota II to get my 17 ft Nova Craft Prospector back. The Wenonah was fast but I just love the Nova Craft Prospector line. They use strong Aluminum gunnels and beautiful ash furniture. Looking back on years of canoing and several different models I think the Nova Craft Prospectors in Royalite are the best bang for the buck and the most versatile and beautiful canoes out there. If I could only have one boat it would be the 16 ft because I paddle solo most of the time but I never hesitate paddling the 17 ft solo either. Great Company and a great boat.

    Novacraft Blue Steel…

    Submitted by: paddler232044 on 5/29/2007
    Novacraft Blue Steel Prospector 16. My 3rd season with this boat. My gel coat skills have improved immensely. The scuffing and scratching is painful, take a knife to your Lexus paintwork, it's the same. However dont fret, this is aesthetic only. The boat is light, strong turns well, and is fast and man handleable. Impresses the pants off fellow UK paddlers

    In May of 2006 I purchased a…

    Submitted by: paddler231863 on 10/25/2006
    In May of 2006 I purchased a Nova Craft,17 ft. prospector, kevlar/spectra, canoe from The Wilderness Supply Co. Ltd. in Thunder Bay, Ont. Canada.

    In July of 2006 while canoeing on Bedivere Lake in Northwestern Ontario, Canada, we headed diagonally into oncoming waves with a chop of approximately one ft. After about 3 to 4 minutes into these waves, the wave action forced the bottom of the canoe to bulge upward midway between the front and rear seats. At the right and left extremities of the bulge the canoe hull fractured and water started entering the canoe.

    This was a dangerous, shocking and frightening experience when your in the middle of a wilderness lake. We managed to get back to our base camp without sinking, where I was able to make some temporary field repairs with duct tape and other materials found in the field that allowed us to return to our point of entry.

    I hope by relating my experience with a canoe manufactured by Nova Craft Canoes, future potential canoe buyers will be careful in the selection process!


    Update after 11 days in the…

    Submitted by: paddler231792 on 9/13/2006
    Update after 11 days in the Adirondacks. The boat handled really well. Just what I expected. Family of four with all of our gear, no problem. Paddling around solo at dusk, lots of fun. Bent shaft paddle gets you moving on flat water. Previously I stated that I moved the seats 4" to the center...that wasn't enough. I ended up moving both seats 9" to the center. To do this i ordered a center seat ($45) and put it in the front. Front seat moved to the back. I really like this arrangement. Wood gunwales are good, but not as nice as others I've seen. R-lite has worn some...if we keep doing rough landings and drag-outs I'll need skid plates in three years.

    I've paddled a bunch of…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/7/2006
    I've paddled a bunch of rental canoes and sold my Penobscot 16' to buy a prospector 17' r-lite wood gunwales. This is a large capacity boat that handles best with some weight in it. Paddling solo I fill a few dry bags with water. Some flexing on the bottom...expect this with R-lite. I pulled off the gunwales and gave them a coat of tung oil (this is what they use at the factory)...I cut an inch and a half off the center thwart to make it 34.5 inches wide with more tumblehome...I shimmed the center thwart to tilt back and it feels better (less slide) when I tilt the front of the boat up when portaging...(at 67lbs this is about the limit of what I want to carry these days) I moved the seats four inches toward the center. Reinstalling the seats I snapped a few bolts (got tung oil on the threads, oops!) I drilled half inch holes into both ends of the decks for drainage (when the boat is flipped upside down the water now has a way to drain) I may add wood spacers to the inwales for drainage...still thinking about it. Changing the shape of the boat voids the warranty so I am not recommending this. So far I just paddled in the pine barrens...heading to the Adirondacks in August. I'll write a follow-up after that.

    I reported on Nova Crafts 17'…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 10/14/2004
    I reported on Nova Crafts 17' Blue Steel Prospector Canoe back in June. Since then my wife Barbara and some friends paddled two of them for 45 days and 1000 km down the Dubawnt River and Thelon River to Baker Lake in Nunavut. We ran rapids, paddled big lakes, dragged over ice and every landing the heavily loaded canoes were dragged over rocks, gravel and sand. The scratching looks horrific but in no way is the integrity of the canoes compromised. Their handling qualities were superb both in rapids and storm tossed lakes. They are singularly the best tripping canoe that Barbara and I have ever paddled. Blue Steel made with Nova Craft’s Infusion Process is definitely the way to go. They are both light and incredibly strong. They are aptly named.

    Just paddled Black Canyon of…

    Submitted by: paddler210485 on 10/2/2004
    Just paddled Black Canyon of the Colorado from Willow Beach to Arizona Hotsprings. 8 miles up and 8 miles back. This was a solo paddle but the new 17' Prospector did great. Started out paddling from the bow seat with canoe facing backwards. When the wind came up I moved to the center kneeling and paddled with bow front. The canoe was very easy to manage even in strong quartering headwind. A lot of boat solo but still very manageable. Used my new Bending Branches Explorer Plus Paddles. The trip took 2hrs and 40 min upstream and 2hr 20 mins downstream in headwinds. Can't wait to get the canoe in some good whitewater. It has just the right amount of rocker to give you the best of both worlds. Bought my boat at Sierra Outdoor Center in Auburn, CA. Great shop and a great boat.

    Since 1971 and a trip down…

    Submitted by: paddler230635 on 6/18/2004
    Since 1971 and a trip down the Eastmain, i have paddled prospectors. In 1971, they were wood and canvas from Chestnut Canoe Company. Since the early Eighties, I have paddled Nova Craft's model 17'. Like its wood and canvas predecessor, it can handle all sorts of water. It does just as good a job on small narrow twisty shallow streams as on the big lakes and the wide fast rivers. For one boat for one trip i would always take a prospector.

    For many years Nova Craft…

    Submitted by: guest-paddler on 6/4/2004
    For many years Nova Craft Canoe has supported us in film making projects in the Canadian Arctic. Always with 17' Royalex Prospector canoes. They are a truly versatile canoe and large enough to support us for a complete six week trip. This year we are going with a new 17'Prospector from Nova Craft called "Blue Steel" wich promises to be the best long distance river tripping canoe that we have ever paddled. It weighs in at 58 lbs and the initial tests done on Lake Water paddling only, have proved to be a real treat. No! It is not Kevlar! Rather it is a completely new layup of a core material of Spectre Cloth. Then for stiffening it is sandwiched between a blended Carbon Fibre and Kevlar Cloth. It gives the canoe a unique blue/black to black appearance depending on the light. Because of its narrow entry lines, it was much faster than a royalex canoe and because of its rigidity it is incredibly responsive in the water. This year we will have two of them on the Dubawnt River in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. A six week 1000 km trip without food replenishment to Baker Lake. It will be an excellent test for these new canoes, and I will report again when we return at the end of August.

    I ordered my Nova Craft…

    Submitted by: LGraubner on 9/24/2003
    I ordered my Nova Craft Prospector 17 from Canada and had it shipped to Tennessee where I live. I've had it out several times and I am very pleased. At 64 lbs. it is 20 lbs. less than my Old Town Discovery 169 so the portaging is much better.

    The seats are laced with hiking boot material and are very comfortable. The yoke is sculpted and has a notch for your neck vertebrae which does make it more comfortable for portaging. The boat paddles well solo in the front seat facing rearward. It does well heeled over also if you prefer that paddling style.

    It is not as responsive as a Prospector 16 with more rocker, but as I wanted a boat for river trips of a week in duration, this is the canoe for me. The boat is deep enough to handle whitewater, light enough to carry and the 1,200 lb. payload will let you bring the kitchen sink if so desired.

    I bought mine in Royalite and had Kevlar skid plates installed at the factory. The boat will see many more years of use, but all in all, this is the best boat in my fleet of 4 canoes and 5 kayaks. I highly recommend it and the quality and craftsmanship put into the boat by NovaCraft are outstanding.