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Courier

by Mad River

Reviews

I just lucked into a 33 year old Mad River Courier in…

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I just lucked into a 33 year old Mad River Courier in amazingly good condition and I'm doing a happy dance. I've been looking for one of these for a while now. Essentially the Courier is a shrunken, solo-ized Explorer. Not the fastest canoe, but such a joy on the water. I've had it out in 3+ foot chop and swells on the Columbia River and it didn't even feel close to tender. I swear I turned side on to those waves to stop and take pictures and just bobbed along. Bow or stern into the waves, quartering, it just didn't matter. This is just the characteristic I've always loved in the Explorer, though the Explorer is too much of a handful when soloed in the wind.

The Courier doesn't have a huge amount of rocker, yet maneuvers with ease. It's the magic of Jim Henry's shallow vee: does everything well. I thought of knocking the Courier for not being a faster canoe, but then, if it were, it would lose some of what makes it such a joy to paddle. Please Mad River, make this boat again, perhaps in S-glass and Kevlar!

I bought a used Courier in 1989 and my first solo trip…

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I bought a used Courier in 1989 and my first solo trip was section 3 of the Chatooga (didn't swim once). This boat has been down sections 3 and 4 of the Chatooga many times, as well as the Ocoee, Nantahala, the Arkansas and Colorado rivers in Colorado, the salmon in Idaho. Also the copper river in Alaska and the Yukon , Stewart , and McQuesten in the Yukon and others too numerous to mention from Georgia to Alaska. It rocked on all these rivers - anyone who says it is not suitable for the Chatooga must not know how to paddle. Great boat to learn in and to keep learning in after 16 years. It can handle class 5 WW or take me and my girlfriend and 50 lb dog and camping gear down class 2-3. Great boat - I wouldn't trade it for any other boat out there as an all around canoe. It does suck on flat water.

The Courier is a great solo river tripping boat that can also…

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The Courier is a great solo river tripping boat that can also be used for short tandem trips. I have used mine on class 3 and 4 rivers without problem. It is a narrow V hull so tracks well but is slower to turn than a flat hulled boat. It has excellent secondary stability and good primary. A great boat for flatwater and whitewater tripping.

I don't see how anyone could possibly have GOOD trips on Chattooga…

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I don't see how anyone could possibly have GOOD trips on Chattooga 4, the Ocoee, or other class 3 or 4 rivers in a Mad River Courier. I say that as an owner of a Mad River Compatriot, predecessor to the Courier, and of a Mad River Guide, the successor. I have no idea what standards for swamping, bailing, eddy turns, etc., previous reviewers are using, but the Courier and the Guide are totally unsuitable for Five Falls and the Ocoee.

I believe this design has been discontinued for some time now. I…

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I believe this design has been discontinued for some time now. I bought one and my paddling buddy got one too. We paddled the Southeastern rivers from Atlanta in these boats for many years. The Chattogga, section III & IV and the Ocoee mostly, but many others as well, They are great boats for places like section IV, pooling river with a lake to cross at the end. We ran these boats through "Five Falls" on section IV (5 class 4-5 rapids in a row) many times.

These boats underwent about the toughest treatment you can imagine in those often shallow rocky rivers. My friend got a little left of Launching Pad, in Sockem Dog (last and probably the toughest rapid). He hit Hankerchief rock (because it has broken the nose of so many boats) so hard that both thwarts broke and he and the saddle he had between those thwarts flew over Hamkerchief rock. Watching him float past the eddy below still sitting in his saddle, with his boat tagging along behind will always be at the top of my paddling list of memories.

I lent mine to two women who entered it in a race on the Chattahochee River starting at the headwaters, crossing the lakes and ending up in Atlanta, 60 or so miles I believe. They did great, one of them ended up buying it when I switched to Kayaks. Its my understanding that both boats are still making trips with their second set of owners.

I don't guess I could bring myself to say much negative about a boat that proved itself so many times in so many ways.

This boat was replaced by the Guide model in Mad Rivers lineup…

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This boat was replaced by the Guide model in Mad Rivers lineup. It was their solo equivalent to the tandem Explorer. Wider than the Guide by an inch at the waterline and 2.5 inches at the gunwale as well as 3/4 inch at the ends it is a dryer more stable boat. Those attributes come at a "price" of course so it is a bit slower on the flats and in turns. I have the Royalex version with end bags and knee cups and it rides right through class 3 standing waves without any input! The boat responds equally well to "hit and switch" kneeling or sitting as well as side kneeling. Little faster with a bent shaft of course but either will do. The boat with its wider beam is more suitable to a larger paddlers reach. I have paddled multiple solos and it is hard to rate any one quality boat unless it is being rated to like models from other manufactures. This boat has the highest primary and secondary stability of any boat I've paddled which is to be expected from a "little Explorer". One nice thing about the depth of the Courier and the Guide is that you can actually get your feet under the seat easily.