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Explorer 14TT

by Mad River

Reviews

My current canoe is a bright blue Madriver 14TT Explorer which is…

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My current canoe is a bright blue Madriver 14TT Explorer which is made out of a triple tough plastic. It weighs around 75 lbs. but is easy to handle. It is stable, maneuvers well, and can be trimmed easily for one person use by simply siting in the bow. It is great for fishing or day trips with a family member or a buddy. It has been a pleasure to own. I would highly recommend this canoe for an individual or a couple. GOD bless!!!

The Mad River Explorer 14 is a surprisingly great canoe. I…

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The Mad River Explorer 14 is a surprisingly great canoe. I paddle primarily solo, and have paddled a number of well known "great" canoes, yet when waters get rough, or flow downhill I always return to this canoe as my favorite. To qualify, know that I am a large paddler, 240lb, and strong. Also, I pulled my Explorer 14's gunwales in 2 inches and moved the forward seat 10 inches closer to the center of the canoe for reversed, solo paddling.

I have found that no other canoe paddles as well as this canoe for any conditions other than smooth open water. For me, the Explorer 14 combines the perfect blend of maneuverability, tracking, stability, and capacity. And I have found that nothing I have ever paddled comes close to Mad River's shallow vee hull for handling rough choppy waters and down-river turbulence. Admittedly, I don't paddle this boat above class II, though I have had it in 3' chop on the Columbia River (I promise you this is not an exaggeration) with confidence.

When perched on the seat I am stable yet still have great control. Kneeling provides near limitless stability. The shallow vee hull is the best I've tried in handling confused and rough water, hands down. For small and twisty water, I paddle Canadian style; with the hull up on one side of the vee it spins on a dime and dances like a graceful partner (a somewhat heavy, graceful partner, admittedly).

While the hull is quite heavy, I find I love being able to forget and abuse the boat. I bounce off of and scrape over rocks, pull alongside trees and pilings, and drag the canoe onto concrete ramps and rocky beaches all without concern. I have not had any issues with oil-canning or deformation; I store this canoe inside.

Because this canoe is plastic and so heavy, for a long time I tried to find a better "quality" canoe to solo, yet nothing else has ever put the same smile on my face or given me the same level of confidence as the Explorer 14. Now if I could find someone making this hull in S-Glass and Kevlar, I'd be a very happy paddler indeed.

14TT great solo canoe with gear very stable on river, bobs about…

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14TT great solo canoe with gear very stable on river, bobs about on lake crossings, when the swells pick up, 2 up on river was a little unstable at times, have considered moving front seat back a notch to see if that improves the weight distribution, would be interested to hear if anyone has done this for the same reasons, bearing in mind front passenger was large guy and boat was very flat in water perhaps front heavy ! 2 up on lake when swell kicked in was hard work on several occasions, and very unstable crossing on side wind, but did not flip over, taking bigger waves head on where possible, very bobby, would recommend 16 foot for lake and would recommend if taking on a lake to look at some kind of outrigger as a precaution. Otherwise, I love it and know its limitations, and as long as you know them its a very fine craft, a little heavy to lift, but manageable. I have kitted out with covers and the usual floatation front and back.

All in all Very happy with my 14TT. Best solo I've had, no warping hull contrary to some reviews I've heard.

Paddles well, is very stable, tracks well, and handles reasonably well. I…

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Paddles well, is very stable, tracks well, and handles reasonably well.
I don't like the cheap seats, and after only 2 somewhat lengthy river trips the scratches on the bottom resembled more a canoe that had been used for many years. The plastic seems to groove out far more easily than the various other plastic boats I've owned. It was a good value, but I would not recommend this boat if you're going to use a canoe alot.

I got this canoe at the beginning of last summer. About the…

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I got this canoe at the beginning of last summer. About the 6th time out, the bottom began to warp upwards, or what I've learned is called oil-canning. Not a very good outcome, but based on other comments I've seen on the web, this is not uncommon with polyethylene boats, as least to some degree. The boat was very nice to paddle until this happened.

The Mad River folks have assured me that it is not normal and the canoe should be returned for warranty replacement. I got the canoe through REI, so I have no worries about getting a replacement, as long as one is available through the distribution chain.

Great boat to paddle. I have owned this boat for 5 years…

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Great boat to paddle. I have owned this boat for 5 years but the bottom is warping. Typical polyethylene from Mad River. Mad Rivers customer service is the worst. The dealer that sold me this boat said that Mad River has had a lot of trouble with there polyethylene boats. Also said he would not purchase a Mad River brand right now. I saw 2 Mad River boats on his rack that had warping, and molding defects. Mad Rivers warranty states Lifetime on materials and workmanship. That's a lie.

Have owned the Explorer 14 TT for two years and used it…

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Have owned the Explorer 14 TT for two years and used it mainly on lakes, and a few rivers; only class I and maybe a few class II rapids. Have used canoes all my life but this is my first one to own. Bought for family to use and for fishing. Uses Mad River's Triple Tough (TT) polyethylene-foam-polyethylene construction. Bought on recommendation of our local canoe dealer, who was tired of playing warranty repair rep for Old Town Explorer canoes that warp badly in the sun or phase of the moon. (OT Guide 14 not so bad, OT Discovery 16 WILL warp according to my dealer). Thus I paid the extra $250 and got the Mad River Explorer 14.

I now realize that the Mad River Exp 14 flat strap seats are much better than any molded seats. To go solo simply reverse the canoe and sit in the bow seat backwards (try that with a molded seat) and you are positioned great for solo paddling. Have seen a MD Exp 14 with very stretched straps once, but mine are doing just fine. You can put a padded seatbacker in any position or direction whereas with a molded seat you are going to have problems on both of these issues. The strap seats, despite their looks, really seem to be more comfortable in the long run.

I regularly take my two boys (8 and 10 years old) with me and by putting an Old Town plastic removable third middle seat (it fits the Mad River Exp 14 almost perfectly) just ahead of the yoke strut, I have tons of leg room and the boys do fine. (The MD exp 16 TT has another strut that might hinder this).

The Mad River Canoe catalog goes into a lot of detail explaining canoe hull shape that can really guide the beginner in choosing their first canoe. The MD Exp 14 is rated pretty close to an all purpose canoe that works reasonably well on lakes or rivers and from my experience that is very true. Does beautifully on rivers with the very moderate rapids we have run and well on lakes. You will have trouble keeping the canoe on a straight line against a stiff breeze on a lake, and particularly if you run solo or with a very light front passenger like my son, but then again that is the trade-off you pay for getting great river performance. It will oil can a little and flex at the middle bottom if you get grounded on a rock running a river, but it immediately bounces back as soon as you get off and shows no sign of damage once you get the canoe out of the water.

After two years we have never tipped the canoe over, though my son (or me?) did manage to dump me out of the canoe when I leaned back over the end of the canoe to tend my fly line, (the canoe stayed upright). The canoe appears to be quite stable, though I would not stand up in the middle of it like some reviewers say they have done with other canoes. My son and I have exchanged paddling positions in the middle of the lake by using the I-crouch-in-the-middle-of-the-canoe-and-grab-the-gunwales-while-he-ducks-under-my-legs method.

Weight at 72 lbs is heavy for one though a tough soloist can portage this one alone. The portage yoke is positioned for perfect balance. A Fulton canoe trailer hitch swivel loader or equivalent; or a trailer will make your life a lot easier. I can still load this canoe with a swivel type loader on top of the car with a bum left shoulder though I prefer the home-built canoe trailer I made. We store it outside under shade upside down on saw-horses. After two years, no cracks, no warps, no loose seats, no problems at all. The only change from new is some shallow scratches typical of use.

The canoe appears to be very tough and durable. Two adults and 4 kids are pushing the limits for this canoe weight-wise (~900 lbs max, don't do it!) but we have done it on the lake several times without tipping (but gunwales 3 inches above water line at that weight) to the great amusement of those on shore.

We are low on cash but trying to get another canoe. What are we planning on getting: a OT Guide 14 for $400 or a Mad River explorer 14 TT for $700? The Mad River Explorer 14, I believe the extra $250 is worth it, particularly in the long haul.

First river trip was solo overnight on the Rappahannock River, near Fredericksburg…

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First river trip was solo overnight on the Rappahannock River, near Fredericksburg, VA. I sat on the bow seat and laid my big bag up front. It handled great, especially on the riffles. I picked up the lashing system and some tie-downs that slide into the IQ gunwale. Makes life easier when you can strap stuff down where it sits. I got this to replace an Old Town Guide, which is also a great boat. The IQ system makes this boat worth the $120 more than the Guide. If you're looking for a 1-2 person canoe, definitely check this one out.

This boat is definitely a river boat. Don't make the mistake…

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This boat is definitely a river boat. Don't make the mistake I did and try to solo this boat on a lake. Oh, it was fine when the weather was calm. I had no problem sitting backwards on the bow seat and solo paddling this boat around. It was a joy. But once the wind picked up to about 15mph, severe weather cocking ensued.

Seats are just about the right height. Nice and low. Too low for me to comfortably paddle kneeling (can't get my size 13's underneath the seat) but my knees are shot anyway so I spend 95% of my time in the seat anyway.

Portaging this canoe solo is a pain. It weighs in the neighborhood of 70 pounds which I personally think is too much for solo use. I imagine this boat would be a heck of a good time though on the rapids.