Read reviews for the Quetico 18.5 by Souris River Canoes 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!
Probably the best money I ever spent (about $2000). If I ever buy another canoe it will be a Souris River, and most likely an 18.5. And most of my friends are saving up for one. It glides amazingly, with just 2 people paddling, but can easily carry 4, which makes portages way easier, because you only need half as many canoes. There's so much more to say, but you probably are sick of reading:) If you only plan on day trips or even extended trips with 2 people, go with a 16 or 17 though, the 18.5 is a bit extreme and you can save weight and money.
I am a big guy, paddling with dog, packs and often others of not-small denomination. The center seat on mine had a wood flaw that only became apparent when I was hurriedly trying to solo back to a previous portage to collect gear left by a younger crew member - pulled quarter-size bit of hull loose with it....BUT Souris folks were GREAT about fixing the seat and I came away at least as satisfied as I already was.
Souris folks were/are excellent, product has been superior in some wind and waves that were challenging - better than several comparable tripping canoes I've paddled at other times. I think the flexing hull design holds up as promised and has worked better than other approaches on similar canoes built more along a racing model. Hey I just can't find anything I don't like about this boat and I've used it a LOT. I would also pick it over the 17s for larger paddlers or paddlers looking to haul kids or dogs.
It is built to be a tripping canoe. I only have done day trips but we bring most any thing we want. I have the option to bring the whole family or go solo. Since it is built to carry weight I'll put 2 covered buckets of water in the bow and sit in the second seat from the stern for solo paddling.
I often fish trolling for trout with temporary rod holders clamped or tied in. It is a comfortably craft to be in, we have paddled and fished from it all day getting out only when nature calls. The 2 middle seats are removable by hand with wing nuts but I never take them out so I put some thread lock on the bolts so I don't have to check them every time because they will get loose from traveling on the car.
The canoe is stable and good in the waves. I go out on larger lakes now that I would not feel comfortable going on with my old 12 foot canoe. Canoes in general ride higher in the water than kayaks so wind can be a bit rough. I watch the weather before going, a forecast of 10mph wind or less is ok any more and I don't take it out.
The canoe is light enough for me to load and unload from the car myself which is important to me. This canoe was ordered with yoke pads which I highly recommend even if your portage is only from garage to car.
The Quetico 18.5 is well built and beautiful. I have received many compliments on it from passers by. The folks at Souris River were great to work with. They made buying from Canada to the USA easy. I dealt mostly with Wayne and he gave me some good advice on the purchase and afterwards on strapping it to the car.
In final I have no regrets about this purchase I would definitely recommend the Quetico 18.5 and The Souris River Canoe Company.
The boat is certainly built for capacity and tracks very well. It is not the most agile boat in moving waters and the composite material is not really designed for running large rapids (ie. Rocks). We have taken it through short runs up to Class II rapids while tripping and it has done the job. We have also paddled it in tidal currents and it has provided surprising stability when caught in thermal winds opposing tidal currents on the coast of BC (however, this was unplanned and not recommended...)
The capacity is second to none and has held gear, food etc for 12 day trip along with 2 labrador retrievers quite handily (with third seat removed). For a large boat it is also quite light for portages (~50lbs with third seat removed). We have also enjoyed it with the third seat installed for taking others around on short day trips.
The lightweight materials do require some maintenance and I have give the hull a light sanding and finished with spar varnish (as per recommendation from manufacturer) every year and the material has stood up. The boat is very well used however, still looks like new. That being said we have treated it very well by always storing indoors and preventative maintenance as stated above.
I would highly recommend this boat especially for a tripping boat.
What I can say is that this model is perfect for me.
Positives: STABILITY--I don't know if there is a more stable canoe out there. This canoe great on rough water or unstable loads (i.e. dog or children). Great to fish out of. I have been in 3-4 foot rollers (not suggesting you should do this) with my wife and never once felt like we would tip--once again stability was awesome. Has an internal skid plate so reduces drag. I have had my canoe in the BWCAW/Quetico for over 56 days of hard use. It has stood up well. I do not abuse my equipment, but I do not baby it either--I maybe would qualify myself as rough on equipment. So far I have been happy with it's durability.
The one negative I can think is the flatter bottom which gives the 18.5 more stability and lets it ride higher in the water makes it a little susceptible to wind blowing it off of course--especially if it is not trimmed well or has no load. This will also make it a little slower than comparable models. You have to give up something for the added stability. The speed is not that noticeable to me and it more than makes up for it when the waves are high---you will appreciate the stability and then it becomes faster than comparable brands. We are always passing people when wind/high waves are an issue.
Final analysis: Stable canoe that can haul big loads and handle rough water.
We piled in 3 kids (about 40 pounds each), two packs (overloaded to the max), a day/lunch bag and a diaper bag, PLUS the two grown ups (400 pounds together). Freeboard was more than acceptable.
We tried sitting 1 kid in bow and 2 on 3rd seat, or all 3 on 3rd seat. Either way, we were able to trim out pretty well. Bow was narrower than I prefer, but I guess is still better than comparable lightweight models. I was able to sit with two feet together, but felt a bit "pressed" compared to our own canoe. Each of our children did fit sitting or kneeling in the bow as well, but they are very small kids.
Boat was nice and quiet, tracked well and was a bit hard to turn with our usual stern strokes. Stability was not an issue, though we brought along the food pack on day paddles just in case.
Weight (kevlar) was fabulous. I can portage your typical 17' Grumman easy enough, but flipping the heavy canoes I always seem to need a bit of help. Not so with the Quetico. It flipped easily despite its length and portaged like a dream.
We were a bit worried about our first kevlar experience and our tendency to hit rocks despite wet-foot landings. I had visions of duct taping punctures, etc. Luckily, we escaped with mere scratches. Not sure how many were from our trip and how many were from previous renters, but I guess I should consider that a success. I definitely cringed each time we crunched into a landing - and my husband wondered aloud why anyone makes boats that require entering and exiting while already in the water...? Fact of life I guess until the kevlar is replaced by some tank-like material. Anyway, in May I didn't mind the wet feet, though I have to admit I have a new appreciation for the abuse our Coleman takes! Can't complain for 10 busy years with a $200 boat!
Anyway, we loved the Souris River experience and now will be scouring the classifieds for one we can afford. I'd LOVE a woven color one some day...
The seats are web which I find comfortable even after paddling all day. I did raise them up a couple of inches to a height I prefer.
My criteria in choosing the Quetico 18.5 was enough volume to handle a 6 week wilderness trip, able to handle big watrer, and strong.
As to durrability, I am seeing more Souris canoes than any other type when I paddle in the BWCA. Most of the outfitters seem to have switched to using them. After years of watching renters abusing canoes, I guess they must know the Souris canoes can take it.