Read reviews for the Guide 147 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 had mine for a couple of months now, I live in Louisiana so there are plenty of places to go. It's a great canoe and not to bad to sleep in.
One problem is the seats are situated high and the front paddler has no leg room and the rear paddler when solo causes the bow to lift. It is impossible for the front paddler to turn around and move to the center of the boat on the water. So I took the front seat out and moved it to the center, drilling required, making it useful for kayak paddling from the center. carrying support was moved. The boat is to heavy for me to carry so I drag it to the lake. The bottom gets scratched up, but it's tough enough to last a long time. Since the price is low I could replace it when the bottom goes.
I have used other canoes that were 16 footers with keel so they tracked better than the 174. The 16's weighed about the same as the 174 but seem to plow through the water better. In a wind the 174 becomes a beast to paddle. Even with a trolling motor in the wind it goes all over. I suggest if this is your first canoe that you spend a little more and get a better canoe. It will make your canoe adventure a much better experience.
This canoe has a fairly sharp bow and stern and paddles very efficientlt and tracks very well. The canoe measures in at 14'7" from bow to stern, 38" wide & 13" deep. It's constructed with a durable 3 layer polyethylene plastic and is surprisingly light at only 82 lbs...with the carry yolk...it's no problem to carry this canoe on your shoulders and make those portages through the woods to the next put in. It also has 2 carry handles that are incorporated into the bow and stern decks. The canoe has 2 contoured molded seats with fold up back rests which make staying out a little longer than expected no trouble...I mean who wants to leave when the fish are biting?
This canoe is one of the more stable ones that I've been in. As long as you don't act crazy while doing it...standing to fish is no problem...I've also had to stand a time or two to retrieve my favorite lure from a low hanging tree branch lol. If you're looking for a great canoe for hunting, fishing, or just a fun family day on the water you should definitely consider the Old Town Guide 147.
The boat did turn on a dime and was easy enough to load by one person. The boat was also very tough, made from polyethylene. Overall by biggest two complaints were how ""tippy"" the boat felt and its limited ability to carry ample gear.
I only have one real gripe about this canoe, regardless of how it is used. That gripe involves the molded plastic seats.The seat backs are adjustable for back support but can flop forward into the folded position on their, which seems to happen just as you are entering the canoe and trying to sit down. Rather annoying! Some bungee cord takes car of that but I feel that it is something Old Town could address by incorporating the bungee into the seat's design. Secondly, the plastic seats get slippery when one us wearing wet nylon shorts or swim wear. I found that i would have to constantly readjust my position because the seat profile would cause me to slip forward and slightly downward in the seat, which caused some strain on my lower back. A good seat pad can alleviate this and provide some extra comfort.
Finally, where the seats are concerned, their profiles are pretty bulky and I felt I couldn't kneel to paddle because I was worried that my feet would get caught between the bottom of the seat and and the canoe, especially with foot wear on. While I mostly paddle seated, I like the option of occasionally going to my knees to relieve back strain or raise my height to scout for submerged obstacles.
Aside from the seats, the Guide 147 is a good family canoe for recreational use. It is stable enough and roomy enough to comfortably hold 2 adults and a dog or a couple smaller children. It will also hold those same two adults and enough gear for a week-end trip, possibly even enough for a week long trip if the adults are the kind who pack lean and mean.
On my last outing in the Guide 147 we ended up having to deal with a decent chop and small white caps. Our direction of travel happened to match the wind direction so it wasn't too bad paddling to shelter. However, I think the canoe has a tendency to weather cock in strong wind because we ended up broadside to the waves a couple times when the stern paddler took a momentary break. Not the most ideal situation but since we didn't broach it appears that the canoe can handle it with experienced paddlers aboard.
The Guide is pretty robust, which can be an advantage where heavily stained waters hide submerged obstacles or most landing sites are really rocky. However that robustness comes at a distinct weight cost that can make its self evident when portaging or crossing beaver dams.
Where portaging is concerned, it's doable with the Guide as long as the distance is measured in yards, instead of miles, and the trail isn't too rough or terrain allows the use of a cart. The shape and and position of the molded seats makes a two man shoulder carry awkward, which my brother and I felt ruled out the kind of wilderness portage that involves a couple miles and poor trails or outright bushwhacking.
Overall, I feel the Guide 147 is a good recreational and general purpose canoe whose only real flaw is the seats, which can be remedied pretty easily and cheaply with bungee cord and seat pads. That being said the really adventure minded paddlers might want to look elsewhere as the canoe's weight could becoming a limiting factor.
Built with its long chines that stabilize the craft whether its loaded down with gear or just floating lightly across the water by yourself. The construction is is a three layer polyethylene that's tough and forgiving, just perfect for the beginner or the expert paddler.
I like the ash-wood yoke in the center making it and easy portage to the water line or the vehicle rack and the seats are very comfortable and secure. Another nice design I like is having the built in handles in the bow and stern, making easier to handle in the water and out off water ready to transport.
This canoe is fun and rides smoothing across the water, I choose this canoe for the name and then the price just having a child this was a canoe I could afford and enjoy. I've had this canoe in several lakes in Oklahoma and Texas as well as white water rivers in Texas, it tracks great and is easy to paddle, not the fastest canoe out there buy no means but this craft will not disappoint you if you buy it with what its intention are for: Enjoyment in nature and paddling.
First of all, not only does the 147 look great, it is light enough to handle while dragging or loading on car. We got in and to my surprise I was canoeing again! I loved the canoe due to its stability. Having two young boys excited and making sudden moves, even though i warned them not to, the canoe remained very stable. I am happy to say the kids now say everyday,"can we please go canoeing dad"?
I will purchase an Old Town 147 Guide from Dicks Sporting Goods since it is also in my budget. I'm sure there are a lot of canoes that are wonderful, but for the money, this is one fine canoe. This comment is coming from a guy who got hooked on pizza and not enough outdoors. One thing for sure, my ways are changing for health reasons, also so I can take this 6 yr old canoeing in Arkansas on some level 1 family outings. I'm putting together a spring canoe trip as we speak. By then I plan to be 75 pounds lighter and j stroking like crazy. Hope this review will help someone who is large and needs confidence in purchasing the right canoe.
Having said that there were a few things I hated about it. Start with the weight, 74lbs?, ya right. It weighed that much after I removed the lounge chairs and replaced them with proper cane seats. When on the water the bottom of the canoe would bulge upward unless there was a load or a brace between the bottom and the thwart making it much heavier to paddle.
I liked it enough to sell it to a friend who wanted a canoe that his kids could use and abuse and not destroy but not enough to recommend it for much beyond that. It is serviceable but not much more.
Long story shortened, the Guide 147 didn't work well. It was quite slow. I found also that it oil canned badly. When I tried it with my wife in tandem, it didn't perform well either. Bottom line I guess....it was a cheap boat and the moral of the story is you get what you pay for, and, why would I think it would work as a solo boat anyway?! A plus would be that it is very likely indestructible. I sold it a few weeks ago and got pretty much what I paid for it!
Love it. I give it a 9 because I'm sure I can pay more and get one more suited for other purposes like white water. It helps to test the tipping point.
I have only tipped this canoe 2 times in all the years I've owned it and both times were from hitting large rocks in fast moving but shallow water. I agree that due to the low sides you definitely take on some water when hitting the rapids but never enough to cause worry. If you're scared of getting wet then maybe you shouldn't be in a boat on the water in the first place.
I know there are fancier, lighter, possibly easier to handle canoes on the market. And those are great for all of the "professional" hardcore whitewater paddlers out there. But for a real family that needs a tough dependable boat that they can gets YEARS of enjoyment out of, the Guide is at the top of the list.
As far as handling characteristics, it's pretty much a pig when your by yourself in a high wind. I have to kneel amidships to turn it into the wind. This is my second canoe and I preferred the first one which was a 17 foot aluminum with a keel. It tracked better and carried a lot more gear, but the 147's not all that bad.
Overall, Heavy, Slow, not really a river boat unless it's primarily a float trip. I've treated mine like shit and it has held up well. It can take a pretty good ding without damage. Good family boat. O.K to fish out of.
In that sense I would call the Guide 147 a good pair of "walking" shoes. Durable, good enough looking and comfortable in a few different situations....
It isn't going to win any races, and I wouldn't take it down any major white water with the shorts sides. But for a general purpose very affordable, quality canoe I would recommend for the average recreational canoer.
Being 6'2" 290 and unable to kneel with a bum knee canoes def can get tippy on me, but the secondary stability on this is very good. I take my 5 yo and 6 yo out in this canoe and we fish in it just fine. It is a bit heavy but I am fine to carry alone the short distances. Love the durability of it and love the price ($450 in 2010 at Sports Autority).
Sure it handles like a barge in the wind but that is the trade off with the stability, thick material it is made from and low sides for easier paddling. NO canoe does everything perfect, but i say for 70% of your canoers out there this is a great fit.
I was out this afternoon with my wife, 3.5 year old and 1.5 year old on a medium sized pond with some wind. I was the only one paddling and was kneeling with my butt resting on the rear seat with a straight shaft paddle. The canoe was solid and easy to steer. Not the fastest but perfect for these purposes. The kids were leaning out over the gunwales putting their fingers in the water and sure, it leans, but it is easy to manage, especially kneeling, and never felt like we were even close to tipping. I bought it used for $350 and would do so again.
Lesson: Give your canoe a really good looking over before buying.
Pros: Tough, Affordable, Versatile
Cons: Heavy, Slow, Heavy, Slow, Flexes a bit
Overall it is a great beginner canoe and a good spare or loaner. I could see it as a good rental investment too.
So, I have a dilemma. Do I try to sell it a two day old canoe and take a dumping on it, return it to the store 250 miles away, or ship it back for a refund via UPS for $150.00? All these problems are on me as I didn't try it out prior to purchase, (no one had one locally) but I have had other canoes (including an Old Town Disco 169) and a GREAT Stowe Allagash fiberglass model. At any rate, while it is obviously a good canoe for some, I think I bit off more than I could chew.
Anyone wanna buy a new Guide 147?
I load it up with my gear and two other guys and to for a weekend out on it. I have no problem at all putting 3 people in the canoe. I just use a beach chair right behind the yoke and you got a good amount of room. I can stand up in the canoe with no problem at all. You just have to trust it and not be stiff. Who ever said that it tips easy is scared of tipping to the point where they are to stiff. It is heavy and not easy to carry alone. I use the foam blocks to transport it form my house to the lake and back.
I'm planing on taking it down a river trip soon and I'm sure that I will not have any issue with it. I love this canoe and I think that everyone should at least try one before to buy one. It's a good price for a good canoe.
Old Town is a pretty durable manufacturer in my experiences with them in the past. Boat handles as expected and meets my requirements of slow to medium flowing rivers with gear.
I paddled this canoe in a lake with severe wind gusts. The lake is mostly flooded timber with great coves that can keep you out of the wind, but there are a few places where you have to paddle the open water. I did it by myself and it was fine. I used my gear at as ballast and it went fine. Really like this boat!!!
The Guide was perfect! The hull is firm. The Guide's weight, width, and hull design gave it a very stable feel. I am used to 16 foot rentals, but the 147 tracked just fine. There was a light breeze, but the bow seemed low enough that the wind had little effect. Paddling was almost effortless, so I think they could've named this the Glide. Launching was no problem at all. There was a little wobble the first step into the boat, but I am tall and probably didn't bend low enough stepping in. Landing was easy, because this canoe handles well. I was able to slip the bow right where I wanted into the bank.
I loaded the canoe on a headache rack and hitch pole by myself. It was a bit heavy when wet, but I think that will become a nonfactor when I get used to flipping it with the right leverage and body position. The three-layer poly might weigh more, but I like its rigid feel. The kid at the store showed me another brand of plastic canoe and I told him to push in on the side and then push in on the side of the Guide. You could see realization in his eyes when he said, "Oh, I see why you want the Guide!" The Guide 147 made a great first impression on my wife and I.
I would give it a gold star!
Our canoe has seats with backs. It's a 2008. It's very stable and solid in the water. We took it on a 3 days camping trip through the Nueces and 2 days camping trip through lower Guadalupe River area in TX. It handled all of our gear with no problem. The only reason I gave the boat a 9 is because it is very heavy at 74 pounds. It's no problem for short easy portaging though.
We love this boat, it does everything we want, and was cheap, only $435 from Bass Pro Shop. I would recommend it.
Running the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River, on a 3 day trip, handled gear and two inexperienced paddlers for the 30 mile trip down river. On the last day, one mile from the take out, we came upon Devil's Jump. Everyone was portaging around the falls, after packing most of the equipment to the lower end of the falls, I look and my partner and say "we can run this" and we did. Hit a major boil at the bottom lost balance and rolled over. Before we even got out of the water I told my partner we were dragging the boat back and doing it again. We did, and made through the second time without a problem at all. After bouncing off of rocks and down rapids, only very minor scratches on the bottom. Tough boat, not pretty in the classic style, but tough.
I love this boat, it will take you safely where you want to go.
When we first left the bank, we had some serious side to side wobble (which I expected from some of the comments here)...but after a few minutes we got that under control. The Guide was completely unlike anything I'd ever canoed before...fast, graceful and simple. I'm 6'3" 280 and my friend is 6'1" 260. I was worried about legroom up front, but it wasn't a problem at all. So there we were...2 novices (540lbs) plus the cooler (35lbs?), and we felt completely comfortable after the first few minutes of working out the wobble.
We covered our 4 miles in an hour and 15 minutes...MUCH quicker than we anticipated and hoped. We moved to another spot upriver and put in again, this time paddling upstream. The Guide handled it with ease! I couldn't be happier! Looking forward to many, many more canoe trips in my secondhand Guide.
The only two issues I have with it, and these are minor, are:
Today I finally got to take her out on the water & run it through the gauntlet to see what it really performs like (so many good ratings - but so many minor complaints on reviews as well). I have to say I have no regrets whatsoever on my purchase. Very pleased!
Before I get too far into it, I primarily fish & do day trips when canoeing. I like stability, control, and durability. This canoe is definitely different than others that I have had the pleasure of using, but different in a good way.
Is it heavy? Yeah, it's certainly not featherweight but it's not terrible to portage. Is it slow? Personally I have no complaints whatsoever about the speed. It slid on the water like a breeze. The initial stability actual did catch me by surprise at first. I wouldn't say it felt tippy, but it rocked very easily for the first 15min that I was on the water. After that, I guess I had adjusted to it & didn't rock anymore. The secondary stability was great. Started pushing it to the gunnels on purpose & discovered that one would need to be really careless or trying to capsize on purpose to get wet.
Without the keel, and with an apparently more rounded profile, a modified J-stroke/Canadian stroke kept it in line just fine. It handled wonderfully. Loaded up my old man, my son, and myself for another go around the lake & went through about 6" of water to our amazement. Didn't even notice a difference heading into 10mph winds. This one's body is hard as a rock & didn't oilcan at all. Looks like I picked a good one.
If you are looking for a really high performance lightweight canoe for extended trips - this may not be your best choice. If you are looking for a well rounded, enjoyable, all-purpose canoe - you certainly cannot go wrong with the G147 (IMO).
My last canoe was 17'with a full-length keel & tracked straight as an arrow, but overall was just satisfactory. This one may not be as forgiving on poor stroking form, but overall outperformed my previous canoes. I would say that this canoe is probably the best starter one could get, as it not only may last forever, but would be like taking the training wheels off - to require you to feel the canoe, learn the mechanics, and also give you the security in knowing that you'd have to mess up pretty darned bad to end up in the drink.
I don't know what else I can say. For $519 bucks, it moved and handled like a grand. I didn't use the seatbacks as I tend to use larger muscle groups for get-up-and-go & the backs would get in the way. I'll put em back on during lazy fishing days. If anyone knows if the body design really was modified recently, or if I'm just losing my mind, an update would be appreciated.
Transport was initially an issue because the canoe is a little too wide for our mini-van factory rack ('99 Mercury Villager). It was just wide enough to slide off the curved end of the rack which totally freaked out my wife a few times on the highway. I wasn't handling it all that well myself to be honest. We fixed this by removing the rack and just using the foam pads from a universal carrier kit and haven't had a problem since.
We have 3 small kids and initially my wife sat in the front and the kids sat in lawn chairs in a line. We never had any stability issues, even when all the kids leaned over to one side to look in the water. Since then I've picked up the plastic bench seat from Old Towne that you can pop on and off and they can all fit sitting on the bench.
It is a bit heavy (74 lbs) for my wife to handle so loading it is a bit of a hassle, she is rather petite for this sort of thing. (Incidentally, I'm looking for a canoe loader if anyone has any recommendations) I usually portage it alone if it's off the vehicle and that's not so bad using the factory yoke. I wouldn't want to go on a long portage without pads though, and mosquitoes seem to revel in the shade provided by the canoe.
When I go solo I've found that I can go through some very shallow water when I kneel down sit reversed on the bow seat. I also have all the control I need from that position. I have the formed plastic seats that aren't exactly comfortable when you sit on them backwards.
It is pretty tough to handle in the wind no matter how you sit or how many people you have in the canoe, but I think that's a problem with any canoe. Having grown up with a virtually indestructible Coleman with a keel this is quite a change, but I take it as a challenge to learn good technique and hopefully pass along a love for canoeing that my parents instilled in me. I've used it on modest sized lakes and relatively tame rivers so far and the only problem I've run into is dealing with the wind.
Overall I would recommend this to any family that wants to have affordable fun and have a durable canoe that can endure mistakes.
The first place I had it out at was Lake Arthur at Morraine state park in PA. We had a great time and took it all over. Then in the Monongahela river in Greensboro PA, where we took it up river towards Point Marion and all the way up Dunkard creek there until we would have had to carry it across some rocks. I just got back from putting it in the Youghiogheny River at Ceder creek park near Rochester PA. It handled all the water great!
As for the weight I'm 5'7" and around 155 lbs and can carry it from the garage to the roof of my '91 Toyota Corolla have it strapped down and be ready to go in 5 minutes by myself, the carry yoke works great. Hauling it anywhere with two people just makes it all that much easier. Great boat, great price, great buy. 2 thumbs up!
I anticipate a lot of good trips in this craft. Granted this review is based on about 3 hours of paddling on reasonably still water on Ebenezer Creek in Georgia. When checking it out on dry land my wife did think she was going to feel cramped in the bow. She's only 5'3" so that is significant. She's also very novice when it comes to paddling and again, this isn't a limitation of the craft, but of the size. I drive an '03 Corolla, so a bigger canoe just isn't a practical option. That being said it's a great fit on a Yakima rack system.
All in all this is a GREAT value in a canoe. I got mine for $469 at Bass Pro shop. I did have to refuse two of the same models for some factory defects so be careful when picking one out. Even though this is a killer deal for a quality canoe it's obvious after my experience that Old Town's quality control might be slipping a bit. The defects were strictly cosmetic though.
Weather conditions were slightly windy probably about 10 mph which made the lakes a little choppy, paddling into the wind seemed easier then paddling with the wind, might have been because by the time we decided to call it quits we had been on the lake for about 3 hours. All in all it handled terrific on choppy water and in the wind.
I took it out by myself for a short paddle around the lake. I noticed that the bow was out of the water about 6 inches. Made the canoe real easy to turn but hard to control in the wind and had a lot of lost of stability. If I moved to the center of the canoe to paddle the stability was regained and was easier to handle in a straight line. But it was a little difficult to paddle due to the width and very difficult to turn from this position.
I will try it again by myself with a 48qt cooler filled with water sitting just behind the front seat. This should provide enough weight up front to counter balance my 200 lbs.
I would give this canoe an overall 10 except for the few issues I have had as a beginner paddler. My muscles are telling me I need to hit the gym more after this weekend.
Primary reason I bought the Old Town was I found it at Academy Sports for 449.00. This was the cheapest I have ever seen this canoe.
I expected my maiden voyage to be solo but I bumped into a friend at the lake and asked him if he wanted to join me. Glad I did so I could give it a better review with two adult men weighing about 200 pounds each. My friend complained about the leg room up front and also the motion that he felt every time I would cast my fly rod. I did not notice any severe motion from the back seat and had plenty of leg room. I did swap seats with him for a short paddle and I noticed that the leg room was cramped and any slight motion in the boat was severely felt making me feel unstable.
I am not an expert paddler, this being the third time out in a canoe, but I did find that the Old Town was very easy to paddle in a straight path and with two adults paddling we were able to get up some fairly decent speed.
Turning the canoe was very simple at higher speeds but at slow speeds or just drifting along it was rather difficult to change the direction of the boat.
Thoroughly enjoyed the maiden voyage, caught some good size Large Mouth Bass and most important of all, I did not capsize the first time out.
Playing around I had to literally jump off the side gunnel to flip the thing. Handled wakeboard boats easily without any significant wobbles. With two, the wind was not any major factor. And not near as heavy as I expected from the reviews here once I practiced proper ways to lift the boat. Just hurts my wimpy neck a bit so padding is on the way for the yoke.
For myself, the wife and a 2 year old along with basic fishing and safety gear, the boat is perfect. For any tripping it is too small for more than 2 adults. I can definitely see myself taking a child out on the occasional Sunday fish.
Cons: I need to modify the seats a bit. Not near enough leg room for the wife up front. Trooper as she is isn't complaining, but I see her cramped up there. Need to move front seat back a few inches.
I need to find a way to stop sliding off the rear seat when really paddling. Possibly shim it to lean back a bit, something more grippy maybe. I also would like to add some kind of DIY footbrace/kneeling. Solo works fine but had to remove the back rest from the front seat and sit backwards with lots of ballast in the wind. A kneeling system near the middle would be the cats meow.
With child #2 on the way, in a few years we will definitely be looking at the Clipper Ranger again for the larger size.
In all the perfect boat for our purpose of floating around and fishing on flat water. What an excellent way to get into canoeing.
If you spend a lot of time portaging, or paddling with those in sleeker boats, you will desire to graduate to something higher end. I gave it an eight rating only because of my comparison with higher end boats that I've used and owned. For the dollar value I would not hesitate to recommend it.
Our canoe has molded seats, and no backs. It's a 2004. It's very stable and solid in the water. We took it on a 4 day camping trip through the St. Regis area in NY. It handled all of our gear with no problem. I even had my banjo in there. The only reason I gave the boat a 9 is because it is very heavy at 74 pounds. It was very hard to hike that sucker through the mountains and swamps in that wilderness. I made a rig out of an old hiking pack to help carry and it broke in half 2/3 of the way through the trip. It's no problem for short easy portaging though.
We love this boat, it does everything we want, and was cheap, only $400. I would recommend it.
I am new to the canoing world and was lured to this canoe based on reviews I read on this site and others. The price was also a determining factor and one of the reasons I didn't list weight as a con (you get what you pay for). Being a beginner, I expected to go through a learning curve, but the canoe tracked and paddled very well from the beginning. The biggest problem I have seen is the comfort of the seats. With the seat back installed, I can't sit back far enough on the stern seat to be comfortable and I constantly feel as though I'm going to slide out of the seat.
Overall I am very pleased with the purchase and given the same cost constraints, would make the same choice.
We have added sling pads (about $35) for portaging, this makes the canoe feel much lighter than it really is. My 15 year old daughter has no problems portaging the canoe.
For fishing this has proven to be a wonderful boat. The kids like to play with it in the lake because it doesn't tip over, but it still feels tippy.
I've read some reviews where oil canning is a concern and yes it does oil can a little; which is fine by me when dealing with shallow, rock filled rivers. If your looking for a family canoe or a two person sportsmans canoe, I'd say this was good choice.
This is my fourth canoe. I can't part with my 35 year old, 15' Grumman SS. However, the Coleman and Discovery Sport 17 however are no longer around. Not because they were bad boats, but this one fills my needs.
Tacking is slow, but if you plan ahead, especially on rather fast moving rivers, you will minimize any short-comings. Also, as mentioned in earlier postings; in a strong crosswind it can be a bear to keep straight.
Now, having said all that, I've loaded this canoe like a camper, paddled through Class I - III, hit rocks, scraped along the bottom of the river, paddled across large lakes and I am very well pleased with the over-all ability of this canoe.
Do youself a favor and really ask why you're the market for a canoe; it's purpose, and your ability, nature and frequency of use. I feel, if overnighting it on a river, lake, or just enjoying it for a fishing trip; you can't go wrong. Soon enough, you and it will become good friends knowing how to respond to the ever changing water. It's time to begin the relationship.
Its not a speed demon, but I am not in a hurry and not concerned about covering alot of miles in a day. And its fast enough. We average 2.5-3 mph. The hull flexes a little but that comes in handy in shallow water with obstructions. The soft hull is great in the summer, feels fine on bare feet. In the winter, the insulation feature is nice. I have had the Guide 147 for two years and am looking forward to using it for many more years.
A couple of years ago I purchased a Bell Merlin II after I sold my motorcycle and had a few extra dollars left over. A member of the local canoe club recommended this boat for a solo paddler as it was the one he used. This was my first canoe and not one of my better decisions. Don't get me wrong it is a fantastic canoe at 36 pounds but it isn't the boat I need for what I want to do, which is mostly fish. So, if this Guide lives up to the reviews posted here, the Bell Merlin II is going up for sale. I'll add some more comments after I try the boat this weekend.
UPDATE 7/11/05 - Took the canoe out yesterday and it lived up to the all the reviews posted here. The canoe was wonderful to paddle with two people, very stable, and responded nicely to paddle. For solo paddling I did sit in the front seat backwards as suggested and in a cross wind it was a challenge. I had to kneel forward, scoot to one side and dig in to keep it on track and pry the J stroke off the gunwales, which if I had some gear lashed down in the front it might have been easier to control. At 74 pounds it wasn't unmanageable by myself, but it isn't Kevlar either. Minor point, I did find the black gunwale to get hot to handle in the bright sunshine and the rivets as well.
Overall, this boat gets an A+ from me. If you are looking for an all around canoe I don't think you'd be disappointed with the 147 Guide for the price. I should have tried this boat out before I purchased the Bell, I would have saved a bunch of money. Now all I need to do is find a buyer for my Bell Merlin II.
I also took it out on a 3 day river trip fully loaded with gear for 2+ people. Took it down a small section of class 1-2 rapids and it did great. My only complaint would be that it seemed a little slow as we had trouble keeping up with the rest of the group. This could have been operator error. All in all a great canoe. It seems to take a beating very gracefully.
On the plus side - good stability, handles well, it's very tough and durable, quality is excellent. Capacity is very good, I've taken 2 people of 220+ lbs with me on river trips comfortably - combined weight of probably 650 lbs, although we were riding a little low in the water.
On the minus side - It's heavy and hard to get on top of my Explorer by myself. I built a dolly and bought a Fulton canoe loader from Bass Pro Shops and now moving and loading by myself is no problem. The other negative is that the front seat should be moved back a bit. It's very cramped with little leg room in the front. Also a middle seat would be nice, but when we take our 6 year old daughter along we set a low beach chair in the middle for her. It works great.
All in all, this is an excellent boat for the money. Much better than the aluminum canoes I grew up with.
Almost impossible to track straight with a serious crosswind. Tracks quite well on calm days. She ain't fast, but that's not the purpose of this canoe. Other than that, this boat is perfect. I have gone down rivers (the fastest was the Chattahoochie in ATL) and I have been on several lakes for camping trips in it. Works perfectly for both.
It's a tank. Seriously. I personally paddle mine like I hate it and she just won't die. I've hit trees, rocks, other boats, rocks and some rocks and never has it even begun to show any signs of stress. I have had 3 full large 48qt coolers in it on a lake trip (I was acting as a ferry for our gear on a recent camping trip) with another person in the bow and the water line was still well below the gunwales. Still very stable also, and that's with about 550lbs in it!! I'm impressed!
I fish from it, and yes, I stand to cast. No issues on tipping. In fact, if you do tip this boat, you may want to consider a new hobby. But, due to this increased stability, it handles like the tank it is. Remember how I said I hit so many rocks? That's not because I'm a bad paddler, I just couldn't get out of the way! But who cares? You can't kill this thing. Go on, hit the rocks, it won't mind a bit.
So for anyone who is getting into canoeing for the first time and wants a boat that will allow you a very lenient learning curve, or for someone who needs stability for carrying gear of fishing, this is a great canoe for you. I would also recommend it to those who want a canoe for families since it's plenty stable for smaller children. Thank you Old Town!!
You can't beat the price on it and you get a lot of value for the money. It was a good boat for both day trips and overnight camping. For a boat under 15' it's pretty roomy.
I had to sell mine due to lack of paddling partners. It was the only way I could get money to buy a solo boat. Otherwise I'd have kept it around for the occasional instances when a friend wanted to go out on the water for a few hours. I tried to solo the Guide but had a lot of trouble as there was too much canoe and not enough me. A larger paddler would probably have better luck.
Minuses to this canoe: 74 pounds could be a lot to handle for some people. Also, yes, it does oilcan. But for the conditions and skill level this boat is suited for, oilcanning isn't that big of a deal IMHO.
But the boat is tough, looks nice, is very stable, and would be a good choice for beginners and/or families with young kids.
Although the canoe looks like it is going to bend in half, customer service assured me that it would not. With a listed capacity of 900 lbs, I did not expect this with less than 1/2 the listed capacity on board. Old Town told me that it does not affect the performance of the canoe. The good part is that everything in the middle of the canoe stays dry as the water all runs to the front and back of the boat.
My only complaint is that the seats are too high, and it tends to be tippy on small technical streams and in rapids. I have remedied this by lowering the seats about four inches, six inches on the seat I use for solo paddling. If paddling solo from near center of canoe, I strongly recomend using 9' double bladed canoe paddle (available from Mohawk). With forty inch width at gunnels, using single paddle from center is a bit difficult.
This is a very versatile canoe, and for the price, it would be extremely difficult to beat.