Read reviews for the Camper 16 by Old Town Canoe and Kayak as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!
I took it down the Yukon (Whitehorse to Dawson) twice via Lake Labarge. For that kind of a trip I have to lower the rating to a (6.5) The canoe never swapped or flipped but we did get tossed out of it once. The wide & flat bottom requires you lower your center of gravity more in rough water than you would have to with a narrow/rounded hull. It also requires more physical effort in rougher water to go where you want.
The negative is because of the high load limit, it rides high and has a bit too much rocker for fishing while unloaded. One light stroke intended to straighten out the travel direction would result in a 180 degree turn if uncorrected quickly. More time was spent correcting the trajectory of the canoe than fishing. A big negative in my book.
I suspect this canoe would do well in relatively fast water because it is so responsive and extremely stable.
Overall, a great loaded tripping canoe, but a poor choice for fishing unless you have some willing soul to steer while you fish.
It is light, pretty, and can take a beating. The trade off is that it just doesn't meet my expectations of performance. Mind you, this is not necessarily a fault with the boat. But my expectations may have been too high. The hull is light and flat on the bottom giving it wonderful stability. But the result is that it oil cans too much. I really can't stand hulls that oil can! I also found that for my kids to learn to paddle, the width made it difficult for them to do a good paddle stroke.
The boat is very maneuverable and I like that a lot. Wind definitely makes tracking on a heading difficult with the flat bottom, naturally. My plan is to go back to the Penobscot 16. It is a stiffer hull, about the same weight, and only a little less in capacity. It will be a better all around canoe and stable enough for me.
If stability with family is the #1, I would get the Camper. But if you expect some performance, I'd look at the Penobscot. I still like the Camper for what it is, and in fact may keep it for lake picnics and float parties. It is a pretty canoe and I like that too.
My Old Town Camper really is the canoe to own and though there are other boats I would enjoy for specific purposes, the Camper has not been replaced because it just keeps delivering great all around performance. Yes there are faster canoes and better canoes built for flat and whitewater, but no single canoe that I have ever paddled delivers the overall performance of the Camper. It is a classic!
This boat is ideal for just tooling around with the family. I often use my kayak paddle in the back seat and do all the paddling and navigation for the family (me, wife, 3 kids, and golden retriever all fit fine with a cooler and gear), and this is also a great boar for taking my son fishing. This is a long canoe with a pretty flat bottom, so if you are looking to navigate a more technical river, then I would look for something with a little more rocker.
Lastly, make sure you have plenty of room for storage. At 16', I had to build a raised deck on my old house to keep it out of the elements. I now have a hoist system in my new house's garage to get it out of the way.
The royalex hull is incredibly durable. I don't have to baby it like I do my Kevlar boats, and it still looks good. The vinyl exterior picks up lots of dings and scrapes, but these cosmetic blemishes are all that've come from some pretty heavy use. Royalex is such a great balance between durability and weight. Old Town has kept the weight down on the Camper and it is light enough for a single person to car top without an extraordinary effort.
The Camper is a great canoe. It's our family boat that doesn't get near the use it used to when the kids were younger. It's also my fishing boat when I want a steady platform. And it's also the one I loan out to friends who haven’t much paddling experience. It's near perfect for all of these situations, and probably a few others I've not considered.
The Camper is not fast, but for maneuvering around and floating amongst ducks and geese and just hanging out on the lake taking pictures, it's been a lot of fun. Just don't be in a hurry. At about 60#, it's still manageable to get on top of the car with out too much effort. Though the width that makes it so stable in the water, makes it a little ungainly on land.
Picking the right boat for your intended use is important. For a nice stable recreational canoe, the Camper 16rx has been a great choice for us.
Pros: Stable, Maneuverable
Cons: Slow, Tracking could be better
We've used this canoe on all sorts of water including class I to II rapids, and have never felt we were near turning bottom up. The Royalex seems to slide off of the rocks and the flat bottom can be made to skid sideways in fast water with a bit of practice.
With two in the boat, tracking doesn't seem to be a problem except in a very high wind.
All in all, the best all-purpose canoe there is.
It has been a very durable canoe on eastern rocky rivers. Many gouges and scrapes over rocks, but no holes. Handles Class 1 well with a load. Lack of rocker, and a flat bottom does not lend itself to more than Class 2 if loaded. Low sides has it shipping water in waves on rivers and lakes. Good initial stability. I also have an Old Town Discovery 174, a Wenonah Spirit 2, and a Mad River Guide, and the Camper is most frequently taken as a good all around choice for light loads on the local rivers and ponds.
I'm still wondering about the durability of Royalex. It seems to scratch when you look at it, but I haven't had any major damage thus far. The weight advantage is awesome when you are loading it onto the car by yourself, which I am most of the time.
I'd buy it again, although I'd like it to be part of a "quiver" of boats, rather than my one and only. I'd take it out solo in anything, but I'd probably prefer a shallow V with a partner in rough water.
In all the years I have used it I have only tipped over once and that was in a fast moving brook in early Spring with a drop in elevation and was because we encountered a fallen tree over the brook around a corner and had to maneuver sharply....After all these years of severe abuse the ends just started to wear...I simple laid a patch of fiberglass cloth down and some resin and she is good to go again...
I might retire it to my cottage on a remote lake and perhaps pick up Old Town's Discovery 169 model.
In spite of what one might expect, we found the Camper to be better on rivers than on lakes. It turns well and sideslips easily, but straight tracking requires more attention to technique - and with a light load, the boat is easily pushed around by the wind. We found it best used on the nearby shallow class 1 river, where it handled tight turns well and slid easily through riffles and mini-rapids over shallow gravel bars.
The Camper also made a pretty good poling platform on that same river. It's very easy to learn to stand in and tracks well upstream when trimmed heavy to stern, and compared to the Nova Craft Prospector that we replaced it with, the Camper glides easier over extreme shallows and carves a turn with less "offside lean" when poling (though not quite as easy to turn with paddles). But it lacks secondary stability to tackle the rough stuff or the turbulence found under even class 1+ drops and the powerful eddies around wing-dikes, when poling upstream.
For the average novice paddler, or for anyone not interested in anything above class 1 and calm lakes, the Camper should serve well - but I find a boat that relies heavily on primary stability to be too limiting. Of the boats that we have owned, for flat water, I prefer the Old Town Penobscot, and in rivers with any excitement to them, I prefer the Nova Craft Prospector. We also have a Wenonah Fisherman that does as well as the Camper in extreme shallows while also providing good secondary stability and easier flat water tracking - although it's a bit slower and doesn't track as well going upstream while poling.
In short - the Camper is a pretty good class 1 river boat and pretty good for fishing and such on small (windless) lakes - especially for novices who are intimidated by a livelier hull. Easy to carry and car-top while still very durable. And good-looking, as well. But for anyone that might want to get into more exciting waters with comfortable control, I would advise to skip to something designed to lean more toward secondary stability and take the time to get accustomed to the "tippiness".
I believe these numerical ratings should reflect how well the manufacturer's design fits it's intention, the quality of construction, choice of materials, and it's ease of use - without comparing boats of different performance categories on the water. I give the Camper a 9, because Old Town could pay a little more attention to grain quality in it's wood seat frames - not a big deal.
I found the handling of the Camper to be reasonable on moving water. The boat did oilcan a bit on wave trains. Perhaps the most interesting tidbit of handling characteristics is that although the initial stability is great (I stood up to get a better view of all turns, riffles and wildlife) secondary seemed impressive. We had a bit of navigational diffuculty after passing the confluence of the Alley Spring (81 million gallons of cold water a day) and we hit a nasty rootwad after a sharp bend. The boat went to the gunwhales and popped back up. Yeah for my team.
Still pool paddling was possible with good tandem technique. The boat tracks and glides reasonable well and the flat bottom allowed enough sideslip when leaned to maneuver tight river conditions.
My camper is the Royalex layup. The Upper Forks was a little below ideal float conditions and we hit just about every rock in the river. I think we left a green trail over 10 miles long =) The boat is no worse for the wear.
As far as capacity goes. I did not weigh all the gear that went with us on our trip but a guesstimate including our weight puts our load out at around 550 pounds. The camper handeled better with the load.
Our first day on the river we kind of lazed about and float-fished the day away not paying attention to the mileage we needed to cover. This put us at a hard 18 miles to our next planned gravel bar. This is when we discovered how well the Camper can scoot down the river. We passed OT Discover169's (outfitters boat of choice for the Jack's Fork) all day long and actually arrived at our next gravel bar in plenty of daylight! Can't say enough about the speed of this boat with a load. Our friends were in their 169 kept commenting on how fast our boat was.
Overall we are impressed with our Camper as a camping canoe. We haven't had it on the lake yet, but it does a supberb job with the little ones on local rivers and creeks. It will hold a ton and get more stable and handle better the more load you put on it. Loading and unloading onto the trailer is a one man operation at 59 pounds. I highly recommend this canoe to a family or someone who likes to canoe camp on rivers and creeks. I would give it a ten but it has no built in cupholders and I have a hell of a time getting the sand out of the hull after a trip. My old Ottawa 17'fiberglass will remain parked in the shed until the Camper breaks!
On rivers, while the absence of rocker makes this a bit of a pig, leaning the canoe lets it handles well. I weigh 210 lb, and sitting in the rear seat I found it relatively easy to handle solo or with a light load. You can put the gunwales virtually in the water without fear of tipping, relieving the need to work too hard to steer. With a hot summer and low water, the shallow draft lets this ride over the rocks even weighted down with myself and the gang. Even when we did bang into rocks or scrape bottom, the hull showed it's willing to take large abuse.
With the wide beam, you can put an army and the provisions to feed it in this canoe (part of why I wanted this - true to its name - for camping). Stability is a highlight for this canoe: I can easily stand in the stern with a small boy squirming around the bow without fear of going over. The cane seats are wonderful - breathes well on hot days and conforms enough to your rear to let you comfortably rock the boat without sliding - nice when turning.
Finally, for weight, I would not want to move this canoe up on my SUV' rack if it wasn't Royalex. I can easily portage it on my own, though with the wide beam sometimes a bit tricky to roll over and get under. A great canoe well worth an 8, maybe 9. Only more use will tell.
$950 dollars later, we drove off with the Old Town Camper secured to the roof of my Hyundai Santa Fe. They had the Guide 160 at a great price---$499, but it weighed 30 lbs. more, had plastic seats, zilcho leg room in the bow, clearly violated the warning on the roof rack not to exceed 75 lbs, and was too wide to fit between the rails on the roof rack. I think we could have got around everything else, but the 59 lbs of the Camper won out, since we were the ones who were going to be hoisting and carrying it.
True to the reviews of the Camper...it is tippy, and it took some time to get used to. Took it out on the way home on the James River, and while I am no expert, it seemed to do just fine on a calm, slow moving wide river. I may have more to say after experiencing wakes (they might as well be whitewater to me) and that sort of thing, but on the whole, it was very enjoyable. I am looking forward to many years with this boat.
Was concerned about the thin Royalex construction at first because I do end up dragging the full boat from time to time, but the flat bottom distributes the weight of the gear and have had no problems with this. I have had to add the Kevlar skidplate kits on the ends of the boat from the dragging, but did so before I had any real issues.
DO NOT get this boat if you are going to paddle in swift, rough waters or are looking to set speed records. It will not satisfy your needs. No secondary stability would be a major problem, and it is too short to go fast.
It is lightweight and durable. I have the webbed seats with the optional seatbacks. 10 miles into the trip, EVERYONE wishes they had the seatbacks. Definately worth the money...
Furthermore, the Camper is so big that I usually set up a full kitchen in the middle of the boat. A friend and I made a table/deck out of wood and plastic lumber that is clamped firmly across the gunwales. I have a 2 burner propane camp stove, running water and a cooler full of dry ice (lasts for days- you should try it) and generally everything I need to make some pancakes while someone else is steering. Try doing that in some sleek little white water canoe!
Depending on how the gear is stored, I can even get a little sleep in the boat during night paddles. Plenty of room to stretch out. Again, I've got someone else driving while this stuff is happening. Admittedly, mine is a completely gonzo, insane style of canoeing. But my thanks and appreciation go out to Old Town for making the canoe that allow this.
After a few paddles I realized this canoe needed its rear seat lowered compared to the one we rented (I'm 6' 2"@230lbs which I'm sure plays into this, plus I expect a certain feel from the boat that includes a lowish center of gravity), I did that and have been happily padding this canoe for mild class I- II rivers and walk in lakes. We use this canoe for relaxation, photography and fly fishing and the only reason I downgrade it to a 9 is it requires some paddling skill on the stern paddlers part to keep it tracking properly. I use a constant series of correction strokes to keep it on course and even paddling alone as my wife fishes or photographs in the bow, I rarely switch sides, but someone not aware of this characteristic might find this annoying (thought it was worth mentioning).
In terms of stability, there can't be a much better canoe, never a thought of dumping it, even if hitting a submerged object, unlike some canoes that feel like they will dump if touching something, even lightly. We have used it on fairly rough lakes, it's decent in the wind but has no tracking glide at all, if you power off or stop correcting, it will eventually glide through a full 180 deg. skidding rotation or even 360 degs (unlike the Penobscot 17 which we also now own, that will glide for what seems like miles while staying on track). But what a fishing platform, and what a reasonable easy paddler, not real draggy and it will turn very well if needed. It's great to drift down river with and anchor in an eddy, you never feel the seams in the river or that tugging sensation of water direction changes as the canoe swings over feature changes, under way or while at anchor.
The Camper may not win races but you don't really tire either while lake padding, if you keep moderate power on and keep the boat at or around hull speed, it performs quite well IMO (after all, it has its limits and pushing them does little good!). We do load this canoe fairly well at times and it takes at least what we load in it very well, there are higher dryer canoes, there are specialty canoes but for an all purpose canoe for fishing, camping or photography and carrying in, the Camper may well be hard to beat.
The camper suits my needs perfectly. At 59 pounds it is easy for me to load and unload and get it in the water by myself. The minor increase on price for the Royalex over the Crosslink/3 is worth it. It is long and wide enough that all four of us fit easily, including coolers for lunch, extra clothes, and fishing rods. Next trip, we might even add our dog! The flat bottom is very stable, at rest and while moving, and it allows us to venture into coves and inlets where the water is fairly shallow.
It seems to paddle easily, even when I'm the only one doing the paddling from the stern. I think it handles wind as well as any canoe. Despite what you hear about some models, I think ALL canoes have trouble in a strong wind. Regarding "tracking", it does seem to zig zag a little, but I think that is more a problem with my paddling than the boat itself.
Overall, I love my camper and would highly recommend it.
We go there to get away from people, fish and relax. We usually go in as far as we can comfortably get in a fairly aggressive one day paddle, 10 to 20 miles depending on # of portages and the wind. We target lakes and campsites that are not part of primary routes or loops, but offer seclusion, good campsites and good fishing.
We set up a very comfortable camp with a 4-6 man tent with standup and walk around room, hammocks and many creature comforts that the ultra light canoe-camper will forgo. We also take in enough fishing tackle to cover everything from large northerns, deep water lake trout, walleyes and small mouths. If they swim we try to catch'em.
Needless to say we are very heavy going in (4 full size duluth packs plus the food pack)and the Camper handles the load extremely well. It is a little tight but we squeeze em in. We still have plenty of freeboard and the low center of gravity makes for excellent stability. We've been on Sagnaga and across Cache Bay in less than favorable windy weather and the canoe fared far better than my nerves did. It can get real nasty out there real quick and the canoe just took it in stride. I'm not talking 3' swells and white caps here, but it has been far from the kind of weather you hope for. Once we set up base camp we day trip in every possible direction with light packs and our fishing gear. The Camper is an outstanding fishing platform. The royalex is extremely quite, even when a less than graceful 14 year old bounces his paddle off the side or drops a tackle box, All you get is a soft "tump". Hardly enough to scare even a shy walleye. In addition we do not have to be extremely cautious when it comes to landing the canoe. If we scrape a rock or two the royalex Camper slides right over them. Along with it's quietness, is the type of stability the flat bottom design offers. I am aware that in extreme conditions a curved or rounded bottom canoe will handle rougher water before it flips, but I am not going out in those conditions. What I am trying to do is keep from getting motion sickness caused by my young fisherman's casting style. At his age he still uses his whole body to cast or set the hook and the constant jerking and rolling motion in a curved bottom canoe makes for a nerve wracking experience. In the Camper I can relax, leaning back in the woven cane back rest, almost to the point of taking a nap, while Mike does battle with the fish up in the front.
The only thing I might like to see is 6" to 8" more in length to help handle the load for an 8-10 day trip. It would add a pound or two in weight but next year Mike will be big enough to carrying the canoe so I don't have to worry.
If you know of a canoe that does what this one does, only better, I would love to know about it. I have not found one but I am always looking.