Read reviews for the Charles River 158 by Old Town Canoe and Kayak 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!
When I returned to my farm last summer, the canoe was secured so tight it looked like a large red bowtie. It still handled well in the modest (shallow) flow of the river even with a pronounced crease in the bottoms center. I returned to So. California for it to rest on two wood horses in the hot sun and after a time outside (120°+) it returned to its shape with only a very slight hard to see dimple on the bottom. Fantastic, as it will probably return to shape completely this summer with use and SC sun strobe.
I rate this canoe bomb proof and it never oilcans like other royalex canoes that I have owned. An overall great boat awesome to handle on moving and still water alike.
I love this canoe!! It is extremely stable, even on choppy water. Our expedition used three Old Town models, a Penobscot, a Discovery, and my Charles River. The CR is definitely the most pleasing to the eye on the water; though the Penobscot is built for tripping and glides through the water more easily, my Charles River was exceptional and I can't wait to take it out again. I highly recommend this canoe for anyone who is looking for excellent stability and versatility.
This boat is fast, tracks beautifully, and has excellent initial and secondary stability. I would highly recommend it to any one in the market for a solid, great looking river running canoe at a fair price!!
It is taking some getting used to, as it paddles very differently from the old canoe, and is much faster, quicker to turn, and after a stroke of the paddle, glides nicely. (the old laker was like running in glue compared to this boat). I am so pleased with it that I am welding up a new canoe trailer just to haul it around with! All in all, I am a 'happy camper'.
I will post impressions after a few test paddles, but everyone says the new CR will be like night and day from my old hog bottomed 'glass laker... we'll see...
A week later, I returned the Bell and bought an Old Town Charles River. The canoe was new, and looked great. The Royalex hull felt much stiffer than the Penobscot, so on the roof rack it went. I should have demo'ed the Charles River, however: its bottom flexes up and down with each paddle stroke or body movement. It wasn't the same sort of oil-canning that the Mad River exhibited. That boat's bottom came up and stayed up. The Charles River's bottom pumps, as if it wants to retain its shape. The bottom doesn't travel very far up and down, but it's constant and the entire hull bottom moves....Bummer!
It does paddle well tandem and solo, and has great initial and secondary stability. My wife and I left the factory stickers on the Charles River, and the dealer told us that we are welcome to exchange it for another model. We've been debating what to do for the past week, and still don't know what to do! We've had it out twice (don't want to put any scratches on it, in case it gets returned) and have enjoyed everything but the flexy hull...
After narrowing it down between the OT Charles River vs. the Mad River Explorer 16 tt (both plastic for around $750) I decided on the OT.
Although the Mad River Explorer tt was a tad cheaper,a little wider and 5 inches longer, (stabiltiy factors) I decided that after either canoe gets scratched up, faded, and the emblems wear off, what remains is as simple cheap plastic canoe. So I fiqured the OT would look better at that stage - with the upswept ends and "classic" design.
The upswept bow/stern do catch the wind but no more than it would with somebody sitting up front. I also plan on hooking up a small motor (35 thrust trolling motor) so the wind issue may not matter.
The OT is very stable, I have maxed out the weight limit and probably even went over it by a few pounds. With a max load weight the bottom did flex a little bit, but no more than any other plastic canoe would.
One drawback I noticed with the curved stern & bow, is that when I anchor the canoe in the current the anchor rope does not slide over the ends (from side to side) as easily as it would with a canoe that has flatter ends. The rope sort of pulls against the sides when at a slight angle. This results in the canoe doggtracking a little bit while sationary in current, however it's no big deal.
It's sort of impossible to sit on the ends....and anything mounted to them will be at a 45 deg. angle.
Turning, back paddeling, tracking and even ruddering down river is easy to do. It handles well in 3 mph currents and it slices waves/wakes fairly well. The vinal gunwhales are beefy enough to clamp on rod holders,can holders, and maybe even orelocks. As with all the plastic canoes it is heavier to lug around. $500 can shave off about 20 lbs going with the royalax material, but from what I gather, royalax can be problematic with flexing and somewhat of a bitch to care for. The largest problem Iv'e read about is the famed "IQ" gunwhales are nothing more than channeled aluminum, therefore flexing and bending to the point that anything slid into the channeling will bind up.
The OT CR is a good canoe for what I use it for. And I have also had comments on how good the canoe looks, leading me to believe that in ten years I could still sell it easily.