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Warning: This is a long review but well deserved!!! My wife and I…
My wife and I made the drive to Ranger Canoe in Ashland, NH yesterday and wow, was it ever worth it! We have been researching canoes for quite some time now as we were looking to make a paddling change from kayaking to canoeing. Wanting a canoe that could track well, be lightweight (yet not incredibly fragile), stable, steer easily, and be the right size for the two of us and some gear for an overnight paddle, we stumbled 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 and builder, about a month ago and we chatted at great length about his design and 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. 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.