Most Recent Reviews
The crosslinked PVC hull is tough. The ones we had had kevlar bang strips, but no other protection, had been in service at Churchill River Outfitters for two years, and still looked good.
They are heavy: Something like 70 lbs for the 169 and close to 80 for the 174. This makes them a tough solo portage, but on trips we never get all the gear over in one go, so it's one trip for the canoe, one trip for the gear. Portaging with 2 is not difficult.
The 174 at 5" longer sounds like a trivial size difference. It's not. That 5" is all in the middle. It also has a couple inches more beam. On our trips this made a good match for some of the bigger people in our group. (240+ lbs) This would really come home when guys were puttering around solo in the bay after supper fishing and just cruising. The 174 seems to be about twice as much boat to horse around.
Not recommended for day trips where you are portaging a rapid multiple times to reshoot it. That's when a light canoe comes into it's own. But for trips where you are carrying 200 lbs of gear the difference between an 80 lb canoe and a 55 lb one is inconsequential.
Not recommended as a solo short trip canoe. The straight keel line makes them hard to turn. If you are into that niche, the solo expedition, might be worth a test drive.
They are tough. Sandpaper, A can of CPVC solvent cement and some scraps of CPVC could be the only repair kit you need. In terms of speed, they are intermediate between the fine lines of a fiber layup, and the bluntness forced on you by a royalex layup. The hulls are rigid, with little oilcanning. (I don't remember any)
They get a 9 because of the weight.