The Cooper performed as described and as advertised… quite the feat in today's exaggerated world of marketing hype. From entry to exit, the Cooper behaved smoothly and I was pleased to find its cruising "sweet spot" was a nice respectable pace. I haven't GPS'd it yet but in comparison to the multitude of other boats I've experienced in my lifetime, the Cooper was more than adequate – it was a good time.
How can a 16.5 foot boat be only 39 lbs? Let me rephrase that, "How can a 16.5 foot production-grade kayak be only 39 lbs and still provide years and years of service life?" As a product developer, I constantly run across similar customer needs i.e. make it quicker, faster, lighter and stronger…and make it cheaper too! The Cooper is a solid design made of quality components and clearly assembled to a high level of tolerance and standardization. This approach doesn't necessarily represent a high profit margin but it does guarantee a strong, loyal customer base.
My first time assembling the Cooper was less than perfect (I still took it out on the water anyway!) whereas the second assembly was significantly improved. This was more of a reflection on me and my urgency to hit the water. Specifically and as a system, the assembly is easy going and natural. I found myself working ahead of the instructions, making assumptions and for the most part, the correct assumptions. This reflects the intuitive nature of the design and once experienced, repeat performances no doubt improve dramatically.
Dis-assembly was unremarkable and if anything, it was a depressing event. I mean really, who wants to pack up and store away a Cooper? If I was to have any recommendations for Folbot it would be to include a few more photos in the instructions that correlate with the step-by-step assembly procedure. Perhaps add captions to the photos for guys like me who only look at the pictures.
No problems found or identified in the design or delivered product worth mentioning. I hear of various nit-picks and find them to be rather nitpicky. However, I'm not so naïve as to think things don't happen and neither is Folbot. That takes me to the next category – customer service.
What a wonderful world it would be if my telephone, cable TV, car, HVAC or any other aftercare service provider could be as good as Folbot's! Real people answer the phone – customers come first – simple solutions offered to solve complex needs.
Summary: OK, I'm done - two thumbs up - it's a keeper!
Since purchasing I've added a Wenonah footbrace. When sitting in a canoe I like to have a footbrace as it allows one to wedge into the canoe and feel a part of the canoe much like kneeling does. Also since purchasing I've added a Kevlar skidplate which was more for assurance/confidence than anything else.
In closing I highly recommend the Argosy for those looking for a canoe to perform on both flat and moving water. If I was limited to having only one canoe it'd more than likely be the Argosy. By the way, the Argosy in Royalex isn't that heavy either. I have a full-size truck with camper shell that I have Yakima's on top. With all that height, I still have no problem getting the Argosy up and down by myself.
While sorting through the many canoes, I wasn't concerned with price but rather selecting the most appropriate canoe for our uses. I kept coming back to the aluminum canoe based on its durability, design and overall outstanding performance characteristics. I visited many rental sites to find they either use aluminum or use plastic and if using plastic, they're thinking of going back to aluminum. I do know that those rental shops that use aluminum, have had their inventory for many, many years.
To make a long story short, I called the Marathon Boat company and talked to one of the managers. We talked canoes for a long time! I was very impressed with his knowledge and willingness to discuss his product and other customers’ products as well. Last week I drove 5 hours into the state of West Virginia to the only Grumman dealer in the state located in Ripley, WV. They had about five Grumman models to choose from, gave me a great price and I walked away with a sweet G1540C Lightweight 15'. It weighs in at about 59 pounds where my 15 year old son and I can easily manage it on and off my F-150 Ford with a topper/shell.
Today, we took it on its maiden voyage. What a beauty! It tracked well yet was easy to turn and we were also able to kick up some decent speed. It was quite stable with a nice blend of initial and secondary stability. Tomorrow morning we're getting up and taking it out on our favorite lake for some early morning bass fishing and some lake touring.
Based on its performance today, I would rate this canoe an 8/9 of 10. I take a point off for no portage thwart. I think this accessory should be standard issue and not an optional purchase.