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Name: MNColtonAdventureNorth

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This canoe was short-lived in production but an absolute delight. Despite being 20-30 years old it's still lightning fast for a tripper.

I took it 350 miles along the MN-Canada border in 12 days, across massive water (3 five mile crossings on Rainy Lake) and it was perfect. Its 50 pound carry-weight was just as critical as its speed and capacity on this route given the many, many portages.

The next summer we paddled it from Minneapolis to Winnipeg along the muddy Minnesota and Red Rivers; I couldn't imagine a better boat for paddling up the Minnesota or down the lazy Red. Both rivers are almost rock-free and rapidless, so needing a more durable Royalex (or comparable plastic-foam sandwich materials) boat isn't a concern, the Kevlar-gelcoat combo is just fine. What's better, we longed for the wilder Lake Winnipeg and Hayes Rivers further along our expedition (where we used the Bell Alaskan) and the Northbay allowed us to maintain a cruise at 4+ mph over long distances, getting us to the wilderness faster.

Google the Northbay and you'll get that it has a rep for tippyness; weigh it down and you'll find it's much more stable. I've watched it tipped by my father and buddy's dad, but the boat was empty except fishing gear. My buddy and I have better balance and agility than them, sure, but it's tippyness has never really been a concern of ours either. Critically, what it lacks in initial stability it makes up for in secondary, so assuming you're quite practiced in the boat and in tune with your partner, you'll be fine.

All in all if you're practiced, the speed x capacity x weight is highly beneficial to covering large distances expedition style without support.

Value: Picked up this playboat this spring for $175 on CraigsList. Liked the value, good condition and price for a playboat. Already sold it to a lady who will better fit in it - same price, too.

Design: seems like a good boat despite being from the early 2000s; its design is a bit dated now though compared to playboats just a five years more recent. From a side profile view it has a very narrow tip and tail compared to more 'blown out' playboat design. Which leads me to:

Size/Fit: I wish I had bought the Perception Amp, which is the Shock's slightly larger twin. At the time Perception said the Shock handled people up to 150lbs - I wish there was a corresponding height suggestion, too. I'm 5'8" and the slim tip of the boat made me squash my not-huge mens size 8.5 feet into very particular positions in order to fit; ie couldn't move them at all so that they'd fall asleep. I'm pretty athletic and have paddled tons so posture wasn't a problem. I couldn't stay in the boat more than 90 minutes at a time (in the 20 times I paddled it this summer) b/c the fit was uncomfortable. I need to emphasize that this was a fit issue! I would suggest a 5'6", 140 lbs max. If a paddler was within that range I'm sure it would be a great playboat to use in beginner conditions and learning to roll etc.

Rating: 3 stars, not because it was a bad boat back in its day, but its thoroughly dated design means its best as an entry-level value-based white water experience. For a beginner in the proper size range and buying in the $150-225 range I'd say go for it.