Read reviews for the Penobscot 164 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!
The canoe is made of Polylink 3, which is a polyethelene plastic with a foam core. It is a very tough and stiff material that works well if you are able to load and unload a 75 lb canoe. If not, consider spending the money on a composite boat.
The Penobscot has a arched or v bottom profile that gives good secondary stability. As the boat heels over to one side, resistance to heeling further is increased. This is at the expense of primary stability or the feeling that the boat is not tippy when sitting flat on the water.
The bottom shape on the Penobscot causes the boat to handle well and it turns easier when edged (heeled over during a turn).
The boat has excellent tracking and decent maneuverability.
The Penobscot is a great boat when one considers the price point. This boat can easily haul enough gear for a weekend or several week long expedition.
The difference between the Penobscot and the Discovery 158 is slightly better handling and tracking of the Penobscot at the expense of primary stability. The Discovery has more primary stability and feels less tippy. That said, when the Discovery is heeled over it does not have the significant increase in resistance to heeling further that the Penobscot has.
Though there are canoes out there that are lighter, faster and more maneuverable, they are much more expensive. For this reason I give the Penobscot a 10 and think it is an excellent choice for a low budget tripping canoe.
This Royalex craft is my second canoe, a fantastic replacement for the heavier Grumman 15' standard (69 lbs.)that I bought for $250 in 1972. The new canoe found me as it was discounted to a shade under six hundred bucks. I'm happy with the lighter weight (58 lbs.) and the nicely finished wood thwarts and seats. The slightly rounded bottom helps it track well, as I generally paddle solo from the bow seat; a comfortable position. After a bit of practice, I'm more comfortable making turns by rolling it to the inside of the turn. Great fishing and photography platform with a very stable feel.
In the last couple years, I've been lending my hands to the builder of large composite parts (an Unlimited hydroplane and vintage hydroplane projects), thus learning about the variety of composite materials, their applications and marketability. As a result, I am still very happy with the Royalex choice.
As for the ride, the boat is moderately faster than the Appalachia and it turns good enough for me. With a slight lean and bent paddle the boat tracks good.
Did I mention I am pissed about the hull and the bad Old Town customer advice!!
It is a fantastic boat for extended trips because it has a huge capacity for gear. It does not lose much in responsiveness when fully loaded down. Unfortunately, I don't find it to be ultra responsive to begin with (for whitewater purposes). I do not recommend this boat for Class 3 without float bags because it is a beast to horse out of a rapid when swamped and it will swamp easily due to the shallow rocker. This is a great boat for flat-water and rapids up to Class 2 but is best kept out of the Class 3 unless you are well experienced and equipped. It has proven to be very durable and as an "all around" boat I still give it an 8.