Most Recent Reviews
There is no doubt, this is the last filter I will ever have to buy. Couldn't say that about many of the other models out there. I use it for 2-3 people on 9 day trips, twice a year, in BWCA/Quetico. Hate the price, love the filter.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Falcon is the best. Best design, best materials, best customer service, best performance, you name it. I'm not affiliated with Falcon sails at all. But I put one on my Kruger Sea Wind, tried it out a couple times, then raced and won in my class, the Everglades Challenge 300 mile event. The Falcon was a big part of that!
The sail is just a piece of art. Carbon mast and boom. CNC machined aluminum U-joint at the base of the mast. It comes complete with everything needed, down to the last pad eye, cleat, nut, washer, and bolt. Patrick Forester provides excellent customer service and is an experienced kayak sailor himself. The Falcon is also built right here in the USA. It hands-down gets 10/10 and smokes the competition.
OK, before I go into the virtues of this boat, first, you have to know why you would want a decked expedition canoe. Its about the seaworthiness. Perhaps you are in a kayak but you need something more comfortable, less confining, or perhaps more cargo capacity. The expedition canoes, are, well, CANOES. The seat is higher off the floor. You best paddle them with a single blade. Gone are the numb toes, sore back, aching wrists of the kayak. Expedition canoes are fast and easy to paddle. No corrective strokes needed, no sit and switch. Get away from the thought that a double blade paddle makes it easier to control the boat. A RUDDER makes it easier to control the boat, and you aren't swinging around that big stick in the wind. Every stroke is a power stroke. Fast and efficient, and EASY. A newbie in a expedition canoe can leave behind those poor souls who paddle in the wind in their solo, open, non-ruddered boat. With no frustration in the wind nor concern about the waves.
You aren't going to swamp this boat in any kind of conditions a sane person would consider "paddle-able". you won't be windbound. You won't find yourself stranded if the wind picks up and the waves approach or exceed four feet high. You just paddle home.
Ok, that said, all this praise of expedition boats can be heaped on the Clipper Sea 1, but also the Sawyer Loon, Mad River Monarch, and Kruger Sea Wind. And the Superior Expedition. See my reviews for those boats as well.
The boat is big. However, it paddles easy and much like a smaller canoe. Actually easier. Don't worry about its size on the water, you won't need to. Easy to control, and fast.
If you are looking at getting out of a kayak, or looking for a quality canoe that is seaworthy and fast, here it is. If you really want to have a blast, put a Falcon 1 meter sail on it. This boat really excels in this department. The hard chines and straight tracking make it the best sailing decked expedition canoe out there, bar none.
I'm a fan of the Kruger designs. I like to consider the Clipper the Canadian version of the expedition canoe. I think it is equal to the Krugers in many aspects. Except for the price. Grab one up NOW when the Canadian dollar is weak! you can get one for about half the price of a Kruger Sea Wind.
Ok, the Clipper is NOT a Kruger and does have a couple drawbacks, hence my 9/10 score. One, the hull is a V bottom, and it is a wide, 28" hull. With the rudder pedals mounted to the sides, MY feet are all splayed out, as my heels slide to the middle of the hull. Might not be a problem for you, but it was a non-starter for me. I put on stronger Yakima rudder pedals and tracks, and installed aluminum rudder pedal extensions. I added a closed cell foam "floor" that I laminated together, to give my heels a nice, flat, soft surface. No now my heels are more towards the middle of the boat and my feet aren't splayed out to reach the rudder pedals. My legs are closer together. I padded the edges of the cockpit where my knees are. After padding the seat with closed cell foam, and adding a Molle 2 belt as a backrest, the boat is now really comfortable and I can really "lock in" when dealing with waves and wind. And I can really put the power to the hull.
The cockpit is more confining than a Kruger. It is narrower in front of the paddler, and since my knees are closer together than in the Kruger, it is harder to get to gear when paddling. At the same time, there is a lot less "under deck" area in the Clipper than there is in a Kruger. The boats are the same size and approximate volume, but the gear stowed in a Clipper is a lot more accessible and easier to load and unload. You can easily fit a huge pack behind the paddler. The paddling position is about 18" aft of the position in a Kruger...meaning that you should use all that space in front of you for gear as well. The sliding seat is a good alternative if you don't want to pack for and aft so much...just slide the seat forward for trim.
The only other "con" of the Clipper is really a wash. It does NOT have the wonderful seat/portage yoke combo of the Monarch and Sea Wind. You can attach a nice carry yoke to it, but you need to use bolts and wing nuts... The seat height is adjustable only with tools. Of course the Monarch and Sea Wind seat is instantly adjustable for height and instantly flips over for portaging. I don't see this Clipper going to the BWCA/Quetico with me. Of course, the sliding seat of the Clipper is great for adjusting trim, something the Monarch and Sea Wind you have to accomplish by moving gear around in the boat. It is a tradeoff. Now realize the seating arrangement in Loons varies. Some factory arrangements slide, some don't. All are adjustable for height, not instant and may require tools depending on the setup. Lots of folks just scrap the factory setup in a Loon in favor of a Kruger setup, as I have done on my Loon. But the Clipper, I'm probably going to keep the sliding seat setup. It works well for me at its lowest setting, especially since I put about an inch of padding on the seat.
The hard chines and lack of rocker make the Clipper track straight as an arrow. So much so, the little Feathercraft solo kayak rudder blade is not up to the task, especially for sailing. I installed a Feathercraft tandem kayak rudder blade and all is well. The wonderfully straight tracking makes the Clipper sail like a dream, when the Kruger tends to skate sideways in a beam reach, without the benefit of a centerboard, leeboard, or dagger board.
The swept back bow of the Clipper never gets leaves, sticks, or aquatic vegetation stuck on it. While I really like the looks of the vertical bows of the Epic kayaks vs. the old Greenland style bows...there is a lot to be said for a swept back bow!!
So, I love the boat. Because of its better behavior under the sail, it is my go-to sailing expedition canoe, and I'll race it in the Everglades Challenge over the Kruger. It won't head to Quetico with me though. But if you
1) want to get out of a kayak, and/or
2) want a most-seaworthy canoe that is easy to paddle and control, then you need to look at a decked expedition canoe.
The Clipper Sea 1 is an option that is probably a lot more economical for you. You can order one and have it in a month or two. It has a slightly different niche than the Kruger. In any case, just get a decked expedition canoe, any decked expedition canoe!! Just know, as with any canoe, no one canoe is perfect for everything. That is why I have 5 in my garage.
So I own all three. The Loon is the lightest and trimmest, and I prefer it for day trips, packing light, and ultra marathon racing on protected waters. I'm taking the Sea Wind on the Everglades Challenge in March, no questions asked. I only own the Monarch so I can cat it up with the Sea Wind. The Monarch and the Sea Wind fill the exact same niche, with the exception that the Sea Wind is gonna be tougher in the worst conditions.
I should mention that there are two OTHER decked expedition canoes that deserve mention in the context of this review. One is the Superior Expedition. This boat, to me, is the bigger brother of the Sea Wind. If you want a fuller, drier, and larger boat, built to the utmost quality and durability, you should consider an Expedition. An Expedition is better compared to the "Deep Dish" Sea Wind than to the regular hull, that I own.
The other boat is the Clipper Sea 1. I have never paddled one or seen one in person. c2g reviewed it as well, and I watched the six Youtube clips. While I'm enthralled with all things expedition canoe, I doubt I'll ever try to buy a Sea 1. Strange cockpit shape, no rim on the cockpit makes spray skirt use mandatory much more often. Don't like the bulkhead or the way the seat height is adjustable only with tools, and doesn't have a built in portage yoke. Don't like the feathercraft rudder design on such a large boat either...
Back to the Sea Wind...10/10. IF I had to find a single fault or improvement that could be made, I would like to see a rudder design that allows the the paddler to PULL DOWN the rudder instead of relying solely on gravity. Sometimes sand and grit can be an issue.
Mark P. is building them just like Verlen did. One made today is just like mine, made 17 years ago. I can wrap this up by telling you that if my Sea Wind got stolen tomorrow, I'd be finding me a replacement Sea Wind, tomorrow night!
I found the canoe to be OUTSTANDING quality. Just beautiful. Very well finished. Built extremely tough. Nice, smooth rudder. The boat has a good glide and turn of speed. It has an amazing load carrying capacity. I cannot comment on the attributes of the canoe that would make it great for a sail rig, as I'm not into that kind of thing. But if I was to take off with a full month's worth of provisions for an excursion down the Yukon River, I could then kill and quarter a bull Moose, put it in the canoe, and still have room to spare.
This boat fills a different niche than the Sea Wind--of a slightly larger boat. I'm impressed. If I need one, I would have no second thoughts of buying one. See my equally glowing reviews of the Sea Wind and its predecessors. All great canoes. I want them all.
On to a 1985 Kevlar Sawyer Loon a buddy found for me. Weighs in at a light 45 pounds or so. Is equipped with an early Kruger rudder design. The cockpit rim is still a cheap riveted-on design and it is a bit flexy. The deck is a bit weak too. I added a couple layers of fiberglass in key places and rebuilt the rudder with a new hinge, installed in the original "split stern" style. The seam between the top and bottom halfs of the canoe was covered with a thick vinyl black tape that was in bad shape after 26 years of life. The same tape was used around the edges of the cockpit rim. I removed all the tape and residue. I then used a filler on the seam and covered in a gelcoat stripe painted on. I used basically door-edge guard around the edges of the cockpit.
The Loon is a trimmer boat than the Verlen Kruger redesign licensed to Mad River, the Monarch. Finer entry, slimmer stern. Is is a bit faster. Carries less cargo and a bit more tippy. But as a boat to race in the worlds longest nonstop canoe race, 340 miles from Kansas City to St. Charles on the Missouri River, I preferred the Loon to the Monarch. Loaded with a week's worth of gear or more, the Monarch is more stable, more roomy, and more seaworthy than the Loon. I also own a Kruger Sea Wind. Will I ever part with the Loon? Not likely. It is my go-to solo boat when I'm not packing heavy.
The Loon was built with many different layups and rudder combinations over the years. I think the mid 80's Kevlar models are the best. Avoid the Oscodas and the ones made in the 90's and later if you can. But get a Loon if you can. They aren't making them any more, of course. They aren't making the Monarch either. The current Expedition boats made by Kruger and Sawyer are awesome, but they are made for a different niche.
This boat has a couple evident weaknesses compared to the Kruger Sea Wind. 1) the rudder is weak. the cable attachments are too close together and so you lack the torque to turn the dang thing at higher speeds. A simple modification that spreads the cable attachment points, increasing the lever's length, will greatly improve this. The other problem with the rudder is that instead of the cables attaching to a flat aluminum plate, they attach on the end of a complexly bent 1/4" stainless steel rods. Strength and flex are both issues. To solve both issues cheaply, I think I'm replacing the 1/4" stainless rod with a 3/8" rod with a wider cable attachment spacing.
Second, the decks at the front and rear of the cockpit are weak and flexy. This is especially noticeable when you cartop the boat. These areas need to be beefed up to stop the flex and avoid damaging the boat after repeated and continuous cartop trips. I may bring my boat to an expert to get it beefed up.
Now, on to the bright side!
This boat was previously owned by WildernessWeb/Ozark Paddler, and then by McWood the author of the previous post...and he taught me the ways of the Monarch vs the Sea Wind. So I wrested this canoe back from Mick and got it back to Missouri. Yesterday, I took an excursion down the Whitewater River in SE Missouri. It is a flat, muddy, woody stream, not like it sounds. So as I watch my car drive out of sight, I start my trip downstream not knowing what I may face in the next 32 miles downstream to the Diversion Channel boat ramp at Cape Girardeau. Can you say "large woody debris"? Oh yeah, I dragged the canoe over, under, around, and through no less than a dozen or so logjams, and bumped and grinded over many other woody obstacles. About halfway down the trip, I hit backwater of the Mississippi river and encountered no more obstacles. The trip was a mile longer than I calculated...My GPS told me that during my "Missouri Whitewater River Safari", I managed a 4 mph moving average, was stopped about 1/2 hour (negotiating logjams) and averaged like 3.7 over the whole trip. This was very impressive. I LOVE how you can just set the rudder a tiny bit and paddle paddle paddle with a single bent shaft on the same side of the canoe, no hit and switch. When you tire and want to switch, hit the rudder just a tad and go at it. It makes for a very comfortable, efficient run.
Did I say the boat is INCREDIBLY stable? I mean, I climbed inside and out of the canoe a dozen times in some pretty precarious situations and never took on water. It never once spooked me as far as stability. No wonder Verlen traveled 100,000 miles in the Loon/Monarch/Sea Wind series of boats and never upset one.
I'm doing the Gritty Fitty race next weekend, and the MO340 in this boat next month. This is an awesome boat, it will be impossible for me to even think of ever parting with it...it will only happen if I trade up to its successor, the Kruger Sea Wind.
So..back to my adventure yesterday. This was probably the toughest run this Kevlar boat has ever endured. I'm sure at the end of the day, the canoe was sitting happily on the roof of the car, smiling just like a good ole' hound dog after a great hunt!
If you are in the market for an expedition canoe and find an old Monarch...Buy IT! A couple hundred bucks of improvements and you will have a boat you'd never want to let go of.