This canoe is near and dear to my heart. I made the drive to Ashland last spring while I was in the midst of planning a thru-paddle on the Northern Forest Canoe trail. Mike was great, helped me load the canoe, and gave good advice on maintenance and repair supplies. Our canoe survived the 740 mile journey and performed like a champion. She was a speed demon on glassy lakes, could handle herself in wind blown conditions, and was tough enough for class III rapids, strenuous upstream travel, and the more than occasional scraping through low water. And her light weight made the hundred plus miles of portaging a little easier. And when we crunched her on a rock coming through the rapids in Plattsburg and chipped her gel coat Mike was more than happy to take multiple calls and help walk us through the repair process. We've since relocated to Colorado and can't wait to take her through her paces on western waters. The Otter is a versatile craft, and Mike knows his trade and is happy to help his customers.
My wife and I made the drive to Ranger Canoe in Ashland, NH last week and wow was it ever worth it! We have been researching canoes for quite some time, wanting a canoe that could track well, be lightweight, stable, steer easily, and be the right size for the two of us along with some day-tripping gear. Our checking brought us upon the Ranger Canoe Company. The information on the company's website detailed the canoe with great depth and the reviews that we read were all positive. I called Mike, the owner / builder and we chatted at great length about his design, canoeing in general and following my conversation, we decided this is the boat for us. When we arrived, Mike brought us into his workshop and pointed out all the features of the boat. Aside it being an incredible design, the overall craftsmanship is amazing. Mike has great attention to detail from bow to stern! After we decided to purchase the 'stately' Hunter Green boat, Mike took the extra time to explain and physically show us the little ins and outs for the proper maintenance on the boat to keep it in tip top shape for years to come. He also talked to us about a pair of bent-shaft paddles…. and hooked us up with a great set on-line. We can't say enough positive things about the canoe and our entire experience with Ranger Canoe. The canoe far exceeds that of a Mad River and blows an Old Town offering. We love our new canoe and would recommend a Ranger Otter canoe all day. The owner/builder has a wealth of knowledge, making you feel welcome and the boat speaks for itself.
Bought a Ranger Canoe last year mid-summer, and got out on the water nearly every weekend exploring ponds, lakes, and rivers in Vermont. It was great to be able to buy from a local business, and work with a real person, Michael, owner-builder. We have extensive paddling experience in the Boundary Waters and multiple Canadian Provincial Parks, but for this purchase were looking for something primarily oriented to day-trips on local lakes while also being able to handle the occasional short camping trip. Ranger fit the bill. I've built several cedar strip canoes, so know a bit about canoe design and construction, and appreciated talking with Michael about his build techniques, materials, etc.
Unfortunately, we found gel-coat cracks after winter storage, but Michael was great to work with and promptly offered to provide a repair. He did great work to carefully repair the gel coat where it had cracked, and we're back on the water.
If you seek quality craftsmanship from someone who knows canoes and truly stands behind their work, you can't go wrong with Ranger Canoes.
The canoe itself was worth its weight in gold (which was a cool 52 lbs to be exact). It handled everything we threw at her with ease; which is saying something since we were crazy enough to take her down the entire Mississippi River from Lake Itasca, Minnesota to New Orleans, Louisiana. Ranger owner/craftsman Mike could not have been more helpful in the buying process, and I can't tell you how many people along the way marveled at his craftsmanship. We left him with not only a quality boat but new found knowledge on canoes, paddling techniques, and transporting the canoe.
However, the reason for the four stars comes with our issue with the seats. Three days into our journey the webbing started to come undone, and a few weeks later two of the screws holding the seats snapped in half. Thankfully we were able to find makeshift fixes, but this experience left a slight sour taste in our mouths.
Overall, a fine canoe for a reasonable price.
Simply a beautiful boat.
From looking at its fine woodwork in the garage, to carrying it to the van on a yoke comfortable without padding, to gentle strokes across a sunset-soaked lake, to zipping down a quick river this canoe is just plain enjoyable.
BMW's mottos have been 'Ultimate Driving Machine' and 'Designed For Driving Pleasure' which focus the driver's joy. Ranger canoes do the same on water.
Overall I prefer the versatility of a canoe over a Kayak; cargo, passengers, fishing, camping and under a variety of paddling conditions, the Ranger Otter 16 does them all well.
I reached out to Michael(Ranger Canoe) and ordered one. It took roughly 2 weeks from the date of order until it was ready for pickup. During that time I consulted with Michael on paddles as well as the roof racks I was about to order. I am glad I did as he changed my mind on the racks I was about to purchase. I spent a bit more money to get a better well known brand that has a canoe portage kit. So glad I did! It makes transportation easy and secure. After consulting with Michael on paddles he talked me into purchasing some bent shaft paddles(Fox W orx). I had never used bent shaft paddles but was extremely happy I purchased them. When I picked up the canoe Michael helped fit me with the right size paddle for my wife and I. This was very helpful and I am super impressed with these paddles.
I have been out in the canoe several times now with the whole family of 4 (including 4&6 year old children). The canoe is great! It handles well, moves fast, and is stable enough to handle 2 younger children moving about. One of my favorite parts of this Canoe is the weight. I love being able to move and store it without help. For the price this boat is a great value given what other brands/retailers charge for similar features. Don't forget the excellent customer service as well.
Disadvantages are mainly due to it's smaller dimensions meaning that paddling next to a 17 or 18 footer it's a little more challenging to keep up, and it does not have the capacity to handle trips much longer than 10 days. It's capable of shooting rapids, but not specialized as a white water boat. I've given it plenty of good bumps/scratches and moved it down some questionable river sections - but you should do so with the care one would take in any kevlar boat.
Concluding here, this boat has outstanding value - maybe the best at $1,500. I would recommend it for all but for the most extreme tripper who may need more space or those focusing on running rivers and rapids. Mine is primarily for moderate trips in the 7-10 day range on lakes and rivers where portaging needs to be accomplished at a minimum effort. No shame - I'll skip most rapids over a class 2 to avoid damage.
Ranger Canoes are hand-built by the owner in his workshop in New Hampshire. What a rare treat to go over and meet Michael last week and learn about how he builds them, then return to pick up our new boat this week. I understand he ships them nationally, but for those of us in the NY, and New England region, the trip is worth it. Oh, and the price is right; actually, more than right. His price is well under most other companies' comparable boats, especially buying direct, while the quality is well above.
In a world of mass-produced low quality imported junk, hand-built Ranger Canoes are rare gems. I am so glad to be able to own a new second one.
When we arrived, Mike brought us into his workshop and pointed out all the features of the boat. I have been around canoes my whole life as my parents have been avid paddlers since the early 70's and never have I seen a boat with such a perfect blend of a versatile and touring canoe. The incredible design aside, the overall craftsmanship is amazing. Mike has great attention to detail from bow to stern! After we decided to purchase the boat, Mike took the extra time to explain and physically show us the little ins and outs for the proper maintenance on the boat to keep it in tip top shape for years to come. He also talked to us about paddles….We have always used straight shaft paddles and honestly thought that the bent shaft were for racing only. Mike explained how much more beneficial the bent shaft paddles are, but we wanted to try first hand. Mike let us borrow his own paddles and utilize his dock on Little Squam Lake to try out the paddles (and the new canoe!).
The canoe handled even better than we ever would have expected, both in the quiet water and out in the middle of the lake with power boat wake and strong winds. Never once did the boat feel unstable, it excelled in tracking, and glided through the water with ease. And to add, what a difference the paddles make! We ended up purchasing 2 bent shaft paddles before we left as the type Mike has available far exceed the quality you will find elsewhere.
We can't say enough positive things about the canoe and our entire experience with Ranger Canoe. The canoe far exceeds that of a Mad River Explorer (my parents have one they bought when the company was still in Vermont) and blows the old Grumman out of the water! We love our new canoe and would recommend a Ranger Otter canoe all day. The owner/builder has a wealth of knowledge, makes you feel welcome and the boat speaks for itself within 5 minutes on the water.
Normally I don't leave reviews but I hope this review has and will help many other paddlers looking for a tip-top canoe and an unbeatable price. The drive to get there is worth it and then some (there was even a family from Florida and Canada looking at the canoes the same day as well)! I myself do my research and read reviews before purchasing so I know how important a detailed review is.
I stopped by the Ranger shop in NH and could've hung out there for days - the owner was welcoming and showed me around while we talked about any and everything. If you're looking for a canoe you won't go wrong with the Otter 16 - it's everything the website says it is and more. VERY HAPPY with my purchase! (and the paddles he sells are excellent too!)
The Otter (fiberglass layup) is clean, appealing to the fussy, strong in areas that need it, and minimal in areas that count for a light weight boat. Shouldering the boat (50lbs) is appreciated getting it to and from portages or the racks. The ash wood is finely fit and sanded to a quality furniture finish. The boat is eye candy.
Paddling it solo is a pleasure. Mind you, the boat had an added third seat for specific purpose. Also nice as a makeshift table when two up paddling. Head to wind the boat likes it's nose up, what boat doesn't? In 1 foot chop, 8 knots of true wind, I felt confident and unthreatened with 35lbs of gear. Padding for the knees would have been helpful while kneeling/bracing against the sides. A few creaks here and there from the new wood settling into the fitment, but after wet, it all went away.
This Otter by Ranger was a nice find. Made in NH by a "REAL" artisan, hell yea USA! and reasonable. Yep reasonable, I'll repeat it once more, "reasonable" cause a comparable boat of the same quality, add another grand. Shooting photography from the water, well, lets say there's nothing to shoot? Then shoot the boat, it's that nice.
A great find and a passionate Builder, Michael from Ranger and his Otter is well worth a consideration for purchase.
In 1998 we bought a new Ranger 16 (at 64lbs, also state-of-the-art in it's day). While they say there is no perfect canoe for all conditions, this Ranger comes about as close as you are going to get. It has traveled from coast to coast several times, been in the ocean, glacial lakes in upper Alberta, the Everglades, sounds of North Carolina, and countless rivers and streams in between. It always puts a smile on our faces.
In virtually all other respects, we LOVE this boat and are thinking about moving up to the kevlar model. We've had it out on wide lakes with strong winds and 2-foot waves with no problem. Have also bounced off a few rocks in some riffles in light river rapids. In flat water it tracks like a dream.
After all the flat-bottom beasts of my youth, we also found it a little tippy at first, but quickly got the feel for it.
Great boat, great value.
I ordered my Otter in January of 2013, and had Michael install the optional middle seat as I paddle mostly alone. I took delivery in April 2013 and immediately put her in the water. My initial impression was very good, although I was only on a small pond. Shortly thereafter I packed up for an extended trip to the Turtle-Flambeau flowage in northern Wisconsin. I was there from the time that the ice was just going out (May 1st.) until August 1st. I camped and lived out of this canoe for three months, going to town to resupply every 10 days- 2 weeks. I had this canoe in every type of water from 3ft. heavily windswept waves to perfect glass (no whitewater- she's a lake canoe), and she performed wonderfully in every situation.
There is plenty of room for all my gear even though I always take a lot of bulky "luxury" gear that I really could do without. I think if pressed I could stay out for 1 month in this canoe and at 16ft., 34" beam, 52lbs., it is not a big boat. She almost effortlessly glides through the water,and with a tailwind you're really making time. With a quartering headwind you need only to hold your bearing, and she's easy as pie directly into the wind. The Otter is a dream to fish from and absolutely no problem to load alone. I had an absolutely awesome trip and highly recommend the Ranger Otter to anyone looking for a tripping canoe. I am going back in late September/October for some autumn fishing and class 1 river floating, and am really looking forward to getting her in the water again.
I could have spent a lot more money on a lot less boat and am absolutely in love with my Ranger Otter! Thank you Michael! Happy paddling to everyone!
The only thing I will change is to tip the cane seat a little because I paddle mostly on my knees and the leading edge cuts into my rear end a little, Raising the back edge of the seat about 1 inch will most likely remedy that problem.
We love our new boat. Shipping from back east was no problem. the network of manufacturer to shipper, to delivery here in California was excellent. I met people who were helpful, kind and generous.
Thanks Michael O'Hara!
I cant help myself. I need to comment about the review that rated it 3. That's bizarre. He couldn't hear his buddy 8' away over the creaking? Extremely tippy? I've been paddling with my 55# dog. She wasn't too crazy about it at first... We've managed to slip up to geese, mergansers, ducks, painted and snapping turtles. I've never heard a creak, or thought it was tippy. Ranger hasn't stayed in business nearly 50 years by building 3 star canoes. If you disregarded that review, as well as mine, it would get a rating of 9.66/10. That's pretty good.
We have been quite happy with this purchase. The canoe has taken everything that we could throw at it. It does quite well with big loads (camping gear, two adults, and one child) and is an excellent canoe for our short, local excursions and fishing trips. It tracks quite well. It is fairly maneuverable, but it is a long boat so it is not going to win any slalom races. So far it has held up quite well, and the owner was very fair and nice to us!
Also, it is a beautiful boat. We still get comments on it, and it is still in great shape. I highly recommend this boat and this manufacturer.
My Ranger is a 2004 model, 16' in fiberglass with Kevlar re-inforced bow and stern, slotted ash rails and woven cane suspended seats. I bought it used 2 seasons ago and fell in love with it this first time I put it in the water. It is a great all-around boat with a smooth, flattened-U hull, no keel ridge, 34 inch beam and very slight rocker that makes it very stable and comfortable in the water. I can lean it with gunwalls practically in the water and it will not tip. It is slightly asymmetrical and tracks best going forward. With my buddy with me in the bow, we can make that 55 pound boat fly through the water! Paddling it solo in the backward direction, it did well enough so I did not mind that approach. But on the current refit, I asked Micheal to put in a third seat in the solo position so I could send it the right way through the water. Now, she responds so beautifully going solo that my solo Wenonah Rendezvous will stay in the shed more than in the past.
I really want to comment here on the excellent, helpful, expert, friendly, and reasonable service Michael provided on the refit. He replaced the ash rails, re-cored the stern and bow stems, replaced the thwarts and original seats and added a third seat (all in gorgeous wood and cane). That's what I brought the canoe up to him to do. But he really went above and beyond in his labor and service. He compounded the hull himself by hand before fitting the new rails on, re-cored the ends as I said (a free, extra job), and applied many coats of the 303 anti-ultraviolet treatment. The result of the latter (in addition to the compounding) was that the faded red gelcoat lost its oxidized layer and returned to close to the original color. Michael performed a labor of love on my canoe, and for that I am very grateful. His work was worth every penny of his fair and reasonable price. The result is now I have practically a new canoe, and it is truly a beauty. Unlike in the past, it will now reside permanently in my garage and I look forward to many happy years on the water with it. Thank you, Michael!
Growing up all we had where allumacraft beasts, used during all three trips to canada, my first when I was 13, since I have been in various rentals, and friends canoes of various models, and hands down the Ranger beats them all... 1st trip yesterday, with my buddy, and some fishing gear, seemed real tippy at first, and alls I thought was I made a mistake, then when you get used to it and the motion of her, man is she amazing! Cut through the water like a fish man, tracked great, and we even fished out of her no prob. At one point we both leaned right, and paddled right hard, and had her almost vertical with the water brushing the gunrails, and she still didn't tip!
So then I wrote a review today and was concerned about upkeep and some of the inner fibers seeming dry and rubbing off a bit, just a few, but that doesn't really belong here, and besides after getting wet the fibers on the inside are fine, and stuck back like glue, must of just been dry from not being in the water for a year.
I took her back out today solo, just after a storm front went through, we had tornado warnings so you know the kinda day I'm talking about, but I thought hell. lets really put her to the test.. So I took her out on Lake Normandy (Tennessee) with 1'+/- waves with small white caps, not another soul on the lake, and man did she shine! again, best canoe ever! cut cross wind, against the wind, back with the wind with straight broad side against the waves, I pushed her, and No oil canin, no wobble, it was gorgeous! I am hooked and a Ranger man for life! great boat... Can't wait for the trip this summer!
Rating 9 1/2 out of 10 because I haven't had her in rapids yet....
The owner/builder of Ranger Canoes assured me I would be pleased with the design because its very similar to the Explorer. The Ranger paddles very nicely, maneuvers nimbly, and is a great looking boat. The bow of the canoe is not as high as some, which make paddling in windier weather better than with other boats; the downside is that large waves/ boat wakes may cause the bow paddler to get a little wet.
I've had myself and a friend out in the canoe with a weight of around 420lbs between us and had no noise or flex issues like a previous reviewer had. I have canoed with my three year old golden retriever mix in the bow and me in the stern several times with great success. The boat will feel tippy to some as it is a shallow V and not a rounded/flatter bottom. The shallow V tracks better and has good primary and secondary stability.
The price is reasonable, its a pleasure to paddle, and its a quality piece of equipment. I would recommend it to anyone with canoeing experience. Beginning paddlers may find it a bit tippy, but once they're used to it the shallow V will perform much nicer than any rounded bottom canoe.
What makes a Ranger such a wonderful craft is it's versatility. It handles beautifully as a solo, but is also a fine wilderness tandem canoe. It turns well, glides straight ahead at brisk pace and in general is a responsive, elegant boat. My unique wood/canvas solo canoe is my favorite cane of all I've ever owned or paddled - but the Ranger holds a special place in my heart - and in my memory, given all the places I've paddled it. And it's a pretty QUIET canoe!!
I've paddle in a wide variety of conditions: salt water tidal ponds, bays, harbors, lakes, and rivers. I've encountered big waves and high winds, and have never been disappointed with the Ranger's performance. I regularly fish, while standing, and secondary stability is excellent. Primary stability might be a little deceiving to for the less experienced paddler, but this boat is stable.
Concerns of boat being noisy are likely the result of fiberglass construction. If silence is a priority, try a royalex boat and be prepared to sacrifice performance and add weight. I must admit, I often consider buying another boat - another Ranger (perhaps in kevlar).
I absolutely love this canoe. It performs remarkably in most situations. I've paddled in on slow moving rivers, still lakes, fast moving rivers with class II+ rapids, and severely wind blown lakes. The only time it wasn't fantastic was in the heavy rapids and to be fair, that is not what it's meant for. On a three day trip on Lake Umbagog in NH, I took on some water, but the waves were about 2 1/2-3ft. and the canoe was fully loaded, so no real surprise there.
I think this canoe really shines in wind versus any other canoe I've owned or paddled. I love how low its profile is on the water, which helps to keep it from being blown around. In general, this is a very fast canoe (we easily keep up with kayakers on trips). It is a little tipsy for initial stability, but once she's moving she's like a rock. that being said, she's not really a great canoe for fishing (although we have fished very comfortably from her, and caught many fish without scaring them as in the other review!)
As for the other reviewer saying that he wouldn't even take his dog out in an Otter, well he probably doesn't have a very well behaved dog. My 65lbs. dog has been on every trip that we've taken in this canoe, even when it's fully loaded and it's never been a problem.
I also think it works great as a solo canoe either reversed or with my dog weighing down the bow. I love this canoe and would recommend it to anyone that knows anything about canoeing. It probably wouldn't be a good canoe for someone who has never canoed before or plans to use it primarily for hunting or fishing. I even have a friend who is considering selling his fancy 17' sea kayak for one of these next season. He's been on 4 or 5 trips with us and can't believe how sweet this canoe is.
So, no I don't work for Ranger Canoe, but I really do love this canoe that much.
I am very happy with the design and performance of my first canoe. It looks elegant even next to my sleek kayaks, and I know it's going to get a lot of use.