This Chestnut Canoe was originally built with the outdoorsman of the early 1900s in mind. Chestnut’s mission was to design a craft that would enable outdoorsmen to paddle small creeks as well as large lakes and be small enough to get through the then nonexistent portage trails at the same time. To meet these unique needs, The Chestnut Canoe Company brought something efficient yet maneuverable into production.
For the modern canoeist, both the primary and secondary stability of the Trapper are reassuring, though its stability does not sacrifice its speed. It has lots of space, for everything from a day of fishing to a week of tripping in the back country. It is a great canoe to use for improving your “J” stroke and can also be used with a double blade paddle. The Trapper combines the enjoyment of a stable fishing platform with the benefits of a small and light craft for portaging into small productive lakes.
I was a bit dubious when talked into trying this little boat out. My prior experience with my XXL 6'2 frame in a 12 foot canoe was less than pleasurable. But, I gingerly climbed into the little boat and pushed off figuring it would be a submarine or a tub? It was neither, it is a pleasant little boat. The shallow arch hull emphasizes secondary more than initial stability. It turned predictably and didn't spin like a top as I thought it might at that length? It has just enough rocker to make for easy, predictable turning while not so little that the stems "Dig in" with a heavy load.
As I gained confidence that my size would not sink the diminutive canoe, I began testing it's limits. I took it out into some significant boat wakes on the Chattanooga riverfront and it handled them like a champ. I could lean it almost to the gunwale and it felt reassuring.
A few months later and I was in the boat again, this time having bought it. I've had it on both ponds and rivers now and it excels on both. Most folks look at the 12' x 32" specs and think it would have to paddle like a pool toy or spin like a top. But the narrow (for royalex) stems and shallow arch seem to overcome the width to length issues? You wont win any races in it, but you will enjoy paddling it if you don't plan to be doing any 20-30 mile per day slogs.
Now, I've already explained that I'm a big, tall guy and it suits me for day tripping even in winter with extra gear. I would also have no problems doing an overnight in this in summertime. But, also, my much smaller wife also likes the boat. She's tried it sitting from the seat and using a double blade and kneeling with a single and she prefers to use a double blade in it. And the friend whom I bought it from is also a small guy and found it enjoyable. He too used a single blade. So "Size" doesn't seem to be a big issue on enjoyment or useability? I've had close to 400lbs (probably top end for the boat) with gear. My friend and wife as little as a 130lb load. While it would work with a double blade, I think kneeling with an Ottertail paddle is the perfect way to enjoy this little boat?
If you are looking for a nice, small boat to toss in the back of your truck or sling over your shoulder for small rivers and ponds, I highly recommend it. It is a unique little boat that I think I will keep for a long time