Sincerely, The Pelican Team
Yes, the polyethylene is soft and scratches... so what. I have carried as much as 500 pounds of gear with no ill consequences. On one trip she took on some serious water after a series of waves came over the bow (note well, next time put the heavy guy in the stern seat) aside from not responding to paddle she floated nicely to shore. This despite a strong wind out of the west kicking up some nasty surf.
The seat attachments are horrible and I have had to repair all of them (after I called for a new seat Pelican was very nice and sent a new one, that one broke too). The repairs were pretty easy and have held up better than new.
Overall this is a great boat, not real pretty and sleek but a real work horse. I have caught hundreds of bass, pike and trout using this little craft. We have weathered storms and week long deer hunting trips,I have dropped her off the top of my truck more than once and she still holds up. I trust her with mine and my kids life.
You gotta buy this one!!!
For solo paddling from the front seat facing the stern, I have found that you will need a little weight in the front to trim it out. Otherwise it will rise in the front and you will be subject to wind. I mounted a dock cleat to the inner gunwhale for tying off my anchor while fishing. I hang the anchor out the front of the boat and run the line through the hole in the carry handle deck. This makes for a great pully system for raising/lowering the anchor, and while underway the anchor makes the perfect weight to trim the front of the canoe while soloing.
While a little heavy, any male should be able to easily lift this boat on top of a truck or suv by themselves, I do it all the time.
The boat can get more responsive and turn quicker by aggressively leaning it while turning. Again, I have no idea why people complain about it being "Tippy".
And as for the scratching - polyethylene scratches. That's the nature of the material. It will take a beating and keep going. The only thing I would worry about with this boat is the seat mounts. They look as if they might be the first thing in the boat to break.
If you are looking for a super-fast boat, well pony up the money for a boat that is designed for it. For the money, this is a great all-around boat.
This boat for less that $300 is perfect for the 'average' user. No you aren't going to win any races, no it isn't some graphite/carbon super canoe, no it isn't even meant for white water. Up to about class II is as high as I would risk it, maybe a class III if the water's deep.
I've really enjoyed this little boat. A tad heavy, but all of my experience was with metal and wooden boats, so it wasn't much of a stretch. If you're out for speed, well, go buy a racing canoe, as this boats clearly designed for exactly what I like, to let the current carry me where it wants to go. I have to disagree with the folks who claim its nature unresponsive. Again, this isn't a kayak, but it took to turns as I needed them to, nothing fancy.
I took the wife out for the first time ever in a canoe on a river that worked out to be one of the hardest I've ever had to manage. We got through it fine, though she did make the comment, "You didn't tell me I was going to have to be in shape for this!" It was hard, and would have been in any boat, IF you could have even gotten through all the snarls and thickets in the water. I had no idea it was going to be like that, but we made it, in just slightly more time than we had planned, had a nice time and the one time we got wet was when we had to portage over trees in the middle of the river (it was bad, I mean really, but heck, we didn't fall in, we didn't dump, and we got the boat portaged just as easily as the folks in front of us in the Mad River rental). The flimsy/plastic hull made me nervous, but if you don't mind some scratches (as all boats get) you should be fine.
Great for the money, I really enjoy the boat. Key words are, "good buy for the money". IF you want to win races or hit the rapids regularly, save up. IF you just want a little paddler to take the family out camping or on a nice easy stroll, like say on the Buffalo, or the White, it's an inexpensive way to do so. Pays for itself after 4 trips (at $50 a rental boat around here). If you have the bucks for a Ferrari, buy the Ferrari, if you only have the bucks for the Bug, buy the Bug. Both are fun in their own right.
We'd rented a Mad River 16TT a while back and, I must admit here, that was the first canoe either of us had been in, so keep in mind this review is from the raw novice perspective. But, that's what I was when I was seeking reviews here so I'll pay it forward. The first thing I noted from the hundreds of reviews I read was that they canceled each other out, even on the same model: one said "most stable canoe I've ever been in and I've canoed for x years", the next one said "I've never experienced such horrendous instability in all my x years of canoeing". Frustrating for a beginner, to say the least. So I'll describe our personal experience with stability in tangible terms you can equate to your own knowledge and experience level. Same with all other aspects of evaluation: it’ll either be related to my power boating experience or to the MR, or from just plain common sense.
First, Dick’s sales staff was great, but they could have been more knowledgeable of the products they sell. So when they offer to “do you a favor” by leaving your new, un-assembled plastic canoe in the shipping plastic on a 100 degree day and offer to help you strap it to your trailer for the 2-hour ride home, tell them thank you and dismiss them. Imagine the impact when we got home and pulled the limp, severely oil-canned canoe out of said trailer only to be greeted by a warning in huge lettering on the inside of the canoe stating ”DO NOT LEAVE CANOE IN PLASTIC OR STRAPPED DOWN IN DIRECT SUNLIGHT”. Fortunately it popped right back out because it was still hot and left no lasting marks save the slight discoloration where the crease from one of the cargo straps had been. Their ad said “assembled”. I should have held them to it, because as some have said, it was not fun getting some of the seat mount holes to line up. I probably would’ve had an easier time had it not been over 100 degrees by then and I wasn’t still fuming over not being smarter about not leaving the canoe wrapped.
Some further advice for beginners that I never read anywhere: take your new, assembled canoe to a warm, shallow lake and at least establish the canoe’s limitations if not your own. We both had brand new PFD’s and tried them out in the water before even launching the canoe. Hey, if I may have to entrust my life to a device, I want to know it’s going to work! Then, in swimsuits and wading shoes with nothing in the canoe but us and our paddles, we paddled out a ways and intentionally rolled the canoe till it capsized. I won’t get into technical details about initial and secondary stability since I don’t possess the experience to expound on either, but I will say this in layman’s terms: Imagine yourself the small hand on a clock. Straight up is noon. If you tip the Colorado beyond 10 o’clock or 2 o’clock, you’re going swimming. The Mad River seemed very tipsy at first, as I imagine most flat-bottomed canoes do. The river we were on when we rented it was low and cluttered with trees, and it was only a matter of time before we caught a strainer that flipped us broadside. We didn’t capsize, but it was close. Same situation in the Pelican, we’d have been swimmers.
Someone mentioned their Colorado sank. While we were in 3’ of water with a capsized craft, I intentionally filled the hull the rest of the way full while standing beside it. There is no way this one would sink unless it were loaded with a ton of gear.
My other near faux pas when assembling the canoe was mistakenly leaving some packing foam in the box with the rest of the “trash”. A quick scan through the installation instructions revealed the three pieces of Styrofoam had to be installed in the seat towers to provide buoyancy. Now, if I worked in a discount sporting goods store and had just completed a less-than-pleasant assembly, and THEN discovered I’d omitted a couple of invisible parts, I have to wonder if I’d be tempted to compromise my integrity and make the parts disappear rather than dismantling the whole thing and starting over. Just saying it could happen. Caveat emptor.
Back at the lake, after dragging the swamped canoe back to shore and draining it out, we loaded the 25 lb cooler and full dry bag and shoved off. We paddled around the lake for a good five hours, beaching and resting occasionally, and never had a single stability issue. Being a Sunday, everybody and their brother had their power boats out, and of course the only way to traverse the lake is full throttle, so we had a steady supply of wake swells to contend with. Taken bow on, there were still no issues, although I did notice the canoe flexes in the middle enough that the hull almost seemed to conform to the shape of the waves. Probably not a good thing, but it didn’t seem to pose a problem either. It paddled effortlessly, far easier than the MR, turned quickly, and tracked well. We found a couple of calm coves and had that canoe moving!
It goes in the river this weekend (the one with no rapids), so if I discover anything life-altering I’ll add to this. Otherwise, we’re very happy with it, especially considering we were about to spend $800 on a Mad River 16TT. With the canoe, truck bed extender, loading kit, PFDs, paddles, dry bag, and seat backers, we spent just over $650, Still saved enough for the gas to the lake and back and lunch. Can’t beat that. I noticed when we got it home that the hull bottom had scratches and gouges from the small gravel at the launch site, so it’s obviously not going to last forever. But then, who would expect it to? If I’d spent $3000 on a kevlar rapids missile I’d expect it to last forever.
In summary, if you want a cheap, light, fun canoe, buy it.
As far as stability goes I would remind anyone that, "...it’s a canoe, they’re inherently unstable." If you’re looking for stable I would suggest a pontoon boat.
Slap on a couple wood reinforced PVC tubs and some 4" pool foam outriggers and you have a rock solid platform capable of being stood on. I am 6'5" 340lbs and I can stand in it now in comfort. As for drag, well the canoe is not overly easy to paddle to start with and the small extra drag of these outrigger/sponsons is really no big change. Lets just say the stability of the outriggers more than make up for the small amount of drag they add. Now I am starting to work on a sail for it.
So for a stable sturdy fishing platform that is very forgiven, I would recommend this canoe, but only with attached outriggers either made yourself (about $100) or purchased (about $200 - 1200). I know you are going to say for the extra 100 or 200 I could have purchased a much better canoe and to that I say no way would that better canoe be anywhere near this stable without its own outriggers.
BTW my setup is tri-hull (outriggers on both sides) when I add the sail I will most likely switch to something more Proa(sp?) like.
Again as a project canoe for those who like to tinker, this is a nice CHEAP place to start. Rugged, good load for its size and easy to work with.
This boat is very unstable and catches wind like a sail. It is a very uncomfortable canoe because you spend most of the time trying to remain out of the water and hiding from the wind and choppy waves, it was as tiring as walking a tight rope, hardly a relaxing time spent fishing. Do yourself a favor and spend a little more money on something else and you will get onto the water more often.
I acquired it cheap enough, hardly used with all new goodies, trolling motor w/ mount, paddles, PFD's and 2 anchors for $250. My Gal and I took it out, we both weigh around 150, no gear aboard. it was just a shake down cruise. Very, Very Spooky, The smallest side to side movement had me double checking my PFD buckles, I was getting ready to go in at any time. Even changing over paddling sides, made for a heart skipping adventure. We didn't tip, but we are moderately experienced canoeist and were on very calm water.
It is decent as far as weight, it truck top loads okay and carries well with the handles. No Portage Yoke. The seats are lousy, we both kept sliding forward as we paddled. It made for the scariest incidents of the trip... to routinely try and scoot back up the seat without swamping the boat.
My family and I recently rented 3 similar length boats to canoe down the Cheat River in West Virginia. BlackWater Outdoor Adventures supplied us with Old Town Discovery 15.8's. My parents hadn't been in a canoe 25 years, my brother and his wife took their 2 1/2 yr.old daughter and no one had any complaints of stability. There is a massive difference in the Old Town and The Pelican, though 3 inches separate them in length. There is substantial cost difference also and I am thinking that any Old Town is better at this point. I don't like being nervous on the water and I took some flak from The Girl also. She never got comfortable in the boat and neither did I.
We have taken my brother's ancient/warped 17 foot Coleman out many times and it is very stable under all conditions. The Pelican looks all the world like a smaller version of that boat so I thought it would feel somewhat similar. At this time I am looking hard at the Rouge River/Old Town 14.3 for $350 (new) for our creek explorations and ultimately an Old Town Camper or Charles River to accompany it for camping and lake excursions.
If you're thinking of a Pelican and you're a lighter paddler I would save your money up and go Old Town when you can afford it, it is no fun to be nervous about something that is supposed to be recreational in nature.
In flatwater rivers and streams this boat performs fairly well. We always carry two 48 quart coolers, which fit side-by-side behind the middle seat. Add three days of camping gear and we're quite heavy. Never had a stability problem and it tracks very well. Makes a great expedition/fishing/camping boat.
Not a good boat for rapids. This boat is very flat and straight keeled. The keel on the bottom is great on flat water but a bad choice in whitewater. After gaining about three years canoe experience we ventured into big rapids for the first time last fall. On the Rio Grand near Big Bend National park we took this boat on a three-day expedition through class II-IV rapids (Colorado Canyon after big rains). We handled the first Class III rapids just fine. The next class III threw us for a loop. We found that the keeled bottom catches submerged rocks which will throw you in the water faster than you can say oh-sh!t. The boat is not quick to maneuver (not designed for that). Once you get in the rapids there is very little you can do to keep the line you want. When we reached the only class IV section we decided to line the boat through rather than try and run it. Good Decision. We fared OK on most class II and stayed dry on only about 50% of the class III.
I like the boat for flatwater expeditions. We'll need a alternate boat that is designed for the rapids. BTW, this boat has been very durable. In flatwater section with partially submerged fallen trees, we just build up a head of steam and hit it hard. Sometimes we make it all the way over and sometimes we just get 1/3 of the way. But the canoe has always held up to that kind of abuse. Never had a leak or any structural problem.
Other complaints, It is a BARGE to paddle. It is slow, but with two adults we can get where we want to go when we go fishing. Also it catches wind like a sail. The lake we go on is pretty windy, so I do not take it out with just my son and I. I always have someone with me. (hope to remedy this problem with trolling motor). It is great for small wind protected ponds and lakes though. It is heavy at 77 pounds, but I can load and unload it myself onto our minivan, I just don't look forward to it much.
Benefits- CHEAP - great deal if you want to get on the water on a budget, or are just starting and want to try something cheap first before buying something nicer later. Lots of room. Great for camping/fishing. A note on the built in rod holders. They hold your rod straight up, so they are ok to store rods out of the way (unless your paddling they are right in the way of your elbows) but don't expect to paddle and troll with a rod pointed straight up, the line will catch on everything in the canoe. You will still want to get adjustable rod holders. The cupholders are not actually deep enough to hold a drink without it being knocked over very easily. These are minor details though. Most canoes don't have rod holders or cup holders anyway, so you're not losing anything anyway.
Definitely recommend the canoe to a budget oriented or beginning canoer. Plenty stable, and fine for fishing for two adults.
One of these days I might upgrade to a lighter boat, but for 300 bucks, this is a terrific value, and I have had SO much enjoyment with this boat.
This canoe does not appear to be a strong/tough as the Old Town Discovery 169 I have rented from outfitters for overnight river trips over the years so I doubt it would hold up long under heavy river trip use.
This 15 and a half foot model is perfect for two people and equipment for an overnight campout. It's easy for one person to manage and load, and the weight capacity is more than enough. It's a little heavy, but maybe that helps with the easy handling and straight tracking in the water. The hull is very strong and durable, the RAM-X material is very tough, I know this because we had our Coleman fly off our truck years ago on the freeway, (fortunately no other cars around) and other than some scratches and a few small dents, easily fixed, no real damage to the canoe. We also ran some pretty rough whitewater rapids in the Coleman, not recommended, but no damage to the hull after banging against some pretty sharp rocks on our way down river. The Ram-X is real strong stuff.
Overall I'm real happy with the Pelican and plan on keeping it for a very long time, going to try a overnight campout soon, next on the list I'm buying a electric trolling motor for it with in the next month.
Since originally writing my review of this boat, I have found that the seat mounts are dramatically insufficient to support the weight of an adult paddler. The first person that sat in the center seat of the boat snapped the seat clean off of its mounts. I found Pelican's Customer Service department to be deplorable to work with as I attempted to contact them for the better part of a week and was unable to reach anybody, calls, and emails were not returned.
I do wish to extend my appreciation to my local Academy Sports and Outdoors Marine department manager for approving the exchange of the boat for a different model. I traded this boat in for a 2004 Excursion 146 DLX, which appears to be built of much more solid materials. Of course these come at a distinct penalty in weight, but that is the subject of another review altogether.
Since there appear to be very few reviews of these boats online, and the ones I have seen have all been for previous year’s models, I felt I should give folks a review of the 2005 model boat.
Purchased less than a month from this writing, I cannot give you a fair assessment of the durability of the boat, but on usability etc... Well here goes.
The Colorado 155 is 15'6" in length, and is virtually the same boat as the Coleman "Journey" aside from difference in the color of the plastic hull. (Pelican makes the boats for Coleman).
At a weight of 70lbs, this boat is fairly easy for me to get onto and off of the rack on my truck, and to portage to and from the water.
Once in the water the keeled hull make for excellent tracking in open waters, or slow rivers, which was the purpose this boat was acquired for as I am not about to run into any very technical rapids here on the Texas Gulf Coast.
The 800lb capacity has already come in handy to haul two large paddlers, supplies, and gear on a 4 day paddling trip into the Bayou country.
This boat is built with 3 seats, but aside from hull rigidity, or a seat for a solo paddler in this boat, it is not recommended that this boat be used for 3 adults. It just isn't big or stable enough for that use. And at the price of these boats, go buy another one!
The Polyethylene hull is very impact resistant, but does not resist abrasion or nicks at all well. This is very true of any Poly boat however, this was discovered after repeatedly drifting into submerged obstacles. You don't have to be super wary of what you bump into, but accept the scratches and nicks that will happen.
The fishing pole holders and cup holders are clear hints at the intended use for this boat, and it has served the purpose of a sportsman’s canoe very well so far.
So if you are looking for a good boat for not a lot of money, this is a GREAT boat. I would put this up against boats twice its price in a heartbeat. So grab one, heck grab two for the price of a boat with a better known name. One for you and your paddling partner, and one for another couple of friends so you can take your trips together... And get out there and paddle to your hearts content.