Recently purchased this boat from Sagebrush Canoes in Shoshone, Idaho. Intended to use for an upcoming float down the Green River in Canyonlands, National Park. Our trip was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but at least we got a new boat out of the process!
Purchased the SP3 over Novacraft's other hull materials due to its indestructibility and low price. I grew up paddling the rivers and streams of the Lake States in Royalex boats, and to me, SP3 seemed a worthy, if not superior substitute to the material. The boat is styled almost identically to a Bill Mason - esque Prospector, which likely influenced me to purchase my boat in red.
Similar to the Royalex boats, the SP3 prospector is heavy at about 85lbs, though it can be portaged alone by a relatively strong individual. The gunwales are vinyl, and are surviving transport atop aluminum truck racks and wear from paddle strikes well. The thwart, yolk, carrying handles and seat frames all seem to be of high quality ash with a very nice finish. The yolk is considerably ergonomic as compared to my other boat, an Old Town Discovery, tailoring to my neck and shoulders quite well. The boat came with painter lines, as opposed to the metal eyelets that some of the newer Nova Crafts appear to come equipped with. Kelvin at Sagebrush has had the boat in storage for over ten years, before my purchase in early 2020, so these features may have changed since this time.
The boat paddles well, and is as responsive as one might expect a prospector to be. That said, the rockered keel design does not track exceptionally well in flatwater with two paddlers weighing approximately 300lbs. With more balast however, the canoe does track remarkably better.
A symmetric design, the Nova Craft prospector enables solo paddling from the bow seat paddling stern forward. I've had the best luck solo paddling with some sort of balast placed in front.
Overall, I do not believe one can find a better all around canoe for the money. I'm excited to equip the boat with bow and stern flotation to test its durability on moderate whitewater in the Pacific Northwest. If weight is not a concern, and your goal is to have a responsive canoe in fast moving water and enhanced maneuverability in big water, then this craft is ideal. I would not be extremely eager to use this boat on long, flatwater trips with lots of portages, but on northern rivers with whitewater and shorter portages, I do not believe one can do better. The SP3 material is bomb and worry proof.
I am currently a graduate student in forestry, and finances are tight. I needed to have a single canoe for numerous uses. The prospector has been fairly dubbed "the workhorse of the north" and like many workhorses, this boat may not excel in all areas, but it is certainly serviceable, reliable and darn good looking.