Read reviews for the Penobscot 17 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!
Although the Penobscot isn't as light as some canoes, it isn't outrageous to portage either. It has enough oak to make it pretty and the cane seats are not only comfortable but quite easy to repair by yourself once you get the hang of it. I really love this boat and although I have several canoes, this one is my every-day boat as well as my main tripping canoe.
It is a nice blend of of size 17'1" and weight 65lbs. being able to carry a lot of gear and not being overly heavy. So far the royalex hull has held up well to the beating that it gets from the shallow water that I sometimes use it in. It has a almost 34" hull at the waterline and has a shallow arch bottom which help it glide a long quite nice, but still is very stable.
For an all around canoe this is a great choice. The only thing that I have changed in my canoe is that I have slanted the seats a little to help for when I use it in the white water race that I do once a year.
From my years of cataraft experience I can say that 17 ft. is a lot of arm to swing especially from the far end so if you have problems maneuvering this boat from the rear seat try paddling from the more centered front seat.
At 65 pounds, it's a little tough on the portages. But I couldn't find a kevlar canoe which could hold all of us that was that much lighter. The Penobscot 17 is a bit tippy initially. Like when the kids make a sudden move it always feels for a nasty second like it's early bath time. But like I said, we've never capsized, so the secondary stability must be great. Amazing tripper canoe.
Lotsa class 3 rapids. Paddled 4 or 5 times down Section 3 Chattooga. One Christmas we paddled the Buffalo and White in Arkansas with a dog and 250 pounds of gear. (A Kerosun heater will make you very popular with wet boaters in December!) The seats are high enough that you can get your feet under them comfortably if you're kneeling in whitewater. (Another reviewer faulted Old Town for having the seats too high - get off your tush!)
33 years and I still can't get the wife to let me buy another canoe - this Royalex just won't wear out! Although it has gotten fairly ugly...
How can I give it a 12?
As for it's initial stability, I would say it is very poor at best. Any sudden movements or aggressive weight shifting will have you grabbing for the gunwales quick. It can be leaned well for Canadian style paddling but again watch any quick movements. As for secondary stability I would say there is none. Once the boat starts to roll you are going swimming and it rolls really fast. The more load you have in it the quicker you and your gear will be in the water. Forget trying to pole up river in class 2 unless your legs are made of steel as you will spend most of your effort to stay in the boat.
After 2 years of trying to improve my skills to match the performance of the boat I gave up and bought an Old Town Appalachian 16. This boat so far exceeds my expectations I can hardly believe it. I have found the perfect river boat at last. I would never recommend the Penobscott to anyone.
With all this said I can easily say, this boat is easily maneuverable with the correct paddle strokes, this boat has incredible secondary stability as I can attest to from many many dicey river experiences. This boat will power through just about anything - the 17 foot length is powerful once it gets going, if you stall this boat out in rapids, they're too big to paddle this boat in in the first place.
This boat will haul a ton of gear. I've done trips with two tents, two coolers, a grill and tons of other stuff down class 2 and 3 rapids and handled the boat handled extremely well.
I would say the royalex skin on this boat is thin. Paddling in the South means many rock scratches. The rear of my boat now has two layers of kevlar padding and I found the standard royalex wore out too quickly.
The overall craftsmanship of this boat is very nice. The lines are great and the fit and finish is much better than the Mad River boats I've looked at. I also own a Mad River Outrage X and the Old Town is better put together in almost every way.
If I were buying a boat today, would I buy another Penobscot 17? Probably not. I'm very happy with my boat, but if I knew I'd be hitting these bigger rivers as frequently as I do now I would get a more ww specific boat. I'd probably get the Old Town Appalachian or a Bell or Esquif. However, if I was buying a boat for fishing, flatwater, river running class 1 and 2, and camping I don't think you can go wrong with this boat. You'll have years of great memories and great times. This boat feels tippy to some people new to canoeing - this is a good thing, you will be rewarded for advancing into a better paddler by growing into a boat that will outperform a beginners boat in every way.
I've also spent several hours with a friend, fly fishing from this boat and were very comfortable. My friend owns a Mad River Explorer and he was impressed with the way this boat handles. Lately my son (13 Yrs.old), takes it out on calm flat water BY HIMSELF and is able to move quite well in whatever direction he desires to go. He'll also pretend he is the Karate Kid and stand on the gunnals and balance himself.
Over the 11 years, our needs and useage of a canoe have changed and the Penobscot has met the challenge every time! It is light enough that I can put it up on a rack on the back of my truck by myself.
my brother has a flotilla of high tech, Wenonah canoes, they are fantastic, usually. But there has been many times, on the lakes of the Quetico and Wabakami that I questioned the value of the Wenonahs straight ahead speed. With big waves on some of the large lakes, I questioned the design philosophy of these boats. Better put - I cursed these boats and their unforgiving nature.
I am now rehabbing a Peterborough canoe... a bit of rocker, a little more forgiving. I can't wait till this rotted old boat is finished. I will be traveling in style in a boat that was designed for these conditions. My new old canoe needs to take one last trip to Northern Ontario. It has earned it.
While I do miss the molded cup holders of my old mad river, this Old Town Penobscot canoe gets compliments everywhere I go from other Old Town owners including an 80 year old gent who reminisced about his Old Town canoe from years ago. Recommended for folks that want a good, reliable, and graceful water craft.
Turning the canoe is not all that difficult, except fast down river travel in tight situations. But I didn't buy the canoe to do a lot of turning. I bought this canoe for lake touring and BWCA camping and fishing. This canoe requires good balance, for it likes to lean at the slightest movement. Of course, that could be my 250 pounds of fat. You can tell I bought the canoe for exercise, too. For piece of mind, I bought stabilizer floats on the Internet from Spring Creek Outfitters (www.canoegear.com) in Mt. Iron, Minnesota. They turned this canoe into a stable boat and were well worth the money.
The only negative with the Penobscot 17 is that it scratches too easily. But the scratches are merely cosmetic, only roughing up the vinyl skin.
The Penobscot 17 is at home on rougher lakes, it goes well in class II water but you need to read a river well as mentioned already. We have owned ours for only a few outings and it's winter now, so for now I have to rate this as an 8 because I don't know it well enough yet. Just as with our Old Town Camper (not comparing canoes here as these are two completely different acting boats), I will say the rear seat needs lowering to suit me, but I'm tall and weigh 230 lbs, so I generally like to lower the center of gravity. The Penobscot 17 is great in the wind, I've even soloed it on a lake in the wind (sitting on padding about mid ship where I could lean forward or back to effect track), it quarters to the wind or with the wind and water very well and stays on track very well with power on or off. Also, the Penobscot 17 has volume for loading and paddles well loaded, though we haven't fully tested it out in this way as yet, especially on a river. We intend to use this canoe for down river running and packing in to camp, for a few days at a time. Same for lakes crossing and general touring or packing, so we hope it works out well, if not it will be for sale at the end of next season!