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Penobscot 164

by Old Town Canoe and Kayak

Wood and canvas canoes first appeared in the late 1800s, gaining favor as a more durable, lower maintenance alternative to the Native American birch bark designs.

The OTCA is one of Old Town's classic designs. It is one of our quintessential wooden canoe designs which have remained virtually unchanged since the turn of the century. It is beautiful to look at and even better to paddle. 

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Reviews

The Penobscot 164 is the most versatile canoe I have ever…

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The Penobscot 164 is the most versatile canoe I have ever paddled. It performs great whether paddling tandem or solo. It tracks really well when going across big lakes and responds quickly to turning maneuvers, especially when you lean it into the turn when paddling solo. It carries more than enough gear for long journeys and it is very comfortable when paddling all day. It is light enough that the thought carrying it over long portages does not stop you from planning a long BWCA route. And besides all the practical assets, it is a beautiful boat in any picture.

The Penobscot 164 is a great boat for the money and a…

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The Penobscot 164 is a great boat for the money and a good choice for a low budget tripping canoe.

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…

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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.

Good all around canoe. Easy handling for two, however, not the best…

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Good all around canoe. Easy handling for two, however, not the best as a solo option, especially in wind. Somewhat heavy but manageable for one person. Good load carrier. Love the webbing seats. Good canoe!

My first boat, still going strong 25 years later. great as a…

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My first boat, still going strong 25 years later. great as a tandem but I use it mostly for solo now. Light and versatile - a great boat

My wife says I'm too fussy, probably true. I've been paddling…

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My wife says I'm too fussy, probably true. I've been paddling calm & white water for a few decades and have very much enjoyed the Old Towne Penobscot. It's put up with my imperfections, and pulled me out of a few scrapes... though there was that one time it ditched me and went joyfully down the rapid, smirking back at me the whole way. I was fortunate to get one used in great shape, but even factory fresh it's an investment that will last for many decades to come.

I spent a lot of time researching canoes, before I purchased my…

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I spent a lot of time researching canoes, before I purchased my Penobscot 164, 3 poly canoe. I have previous experience with an Old Town Appalachia with Royalex and was pleased with the weight and rigid hull. I called Old Town customer service to ask about the Penobscot canoe with Royalex and 3 poly, she mentioned the difference in weight, and said 'oil canning' was not a characteristic of the 3 poly Penobscot. After 70 miles of flat river, the middle of the hull seems to flex more than it did when new. When I solo, I can see a permanent water 'bulge' toward the center of the canoe. This may not have a significant affect, but I don't like it. I think the definition of oil canning is when the hull flexs back and forth when paddling, but this 3 poly keeps the bottom of the hull 'bulged'. The female Old Town customer service rep. also mentioned that their most efficient hull was the Charles River. This is news to me and every Old Town dealer I have spoken to.

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!!

I live in western Colorado and have had a Penobscot 164 for…

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I live in western Colorado and have had a Penobscot 164 for two years now. It is Polylink 3 which is heavier but slightly more durable than Royalex. I rarely run this boat on anything less than Class 2 because that is about all I have access to.

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.