First, some about me for context:
Ive paddled recreationally my whole life…
First, some about me for context:
Ive paddled recreationally my whole life (I'm currently 27) although this was my first year of serious paddling. I got about 200-250 hours of seat time this year. About 50% of that was in my Jensen. A lot of the rest was with more experienced paddlers coaching me. some was in my solo canoe too. Most of my experience is on relatively flat water lakes and rivers around MN, although, a several times we were out in 1-2 foot waves and a strong wind (20-30 mph). Besides my Jensen I have paddled in several common canoes like the MNII, Sundowner, Penobscot, many aluminum boats, a prospector, 3x27 pro boats, and 4x32 cruisers, as well as a couple wood strip boats with no name.
On to the Jensen 17':
I love this boat. Although, I've discovered I love almost anything Gene Jensen designed. He generally designed boats that were performance/speed oriented. I mostly use my Jensen for day trips, casual paddling with my wife, and some training for races. My wife has relatively little paddling experience. It has a shallow arch bottom so the initial stability is medium-low (by most people's scale) but it firms up quickly as its leaned. I think it feels very stable but I have good balance. My wife has a low tolerance for the "tippy" feeling and she feels comfortable with the stability of this boat. The shallow arch rides over side waves very nicely. It does not roll with the wave very much. A couple times a ski boat went by us slowly with its 1.5-2.5' wave and we had no problems with it. Ive only had to brace it a couple times and it was more for my wife's peace of mind than necessary to stay dry. All summer I never came close to tipping unintentionally so don't be discouraged by the other reviews.
I don't mind unstable boats so I think the Jensen feels like a rock compared to a 3x27 pro boat, or my solo that has a round bottom and low primary stability. My wife likes a much more stable boat and has no issues with the Jensen on flat water. A couple times in 1-2.5' waves she has been uncomfortable but I know we were still far from a capsize. A little seat time will make you very comfortable in this boat for 97% of people.
I'm 190 lbs, she's ~160. The sliding bow seat makes it fairly easy to trim the boat. With just us in the boat it flies. Jensen's are known for speed. I like racing the Jensen 18' in stock class races. The 17' is just slightly slower and has slightly less carrying capacity. We do some day trips down local rivers and travel with a bunch of stuff (probably more than we need =). I bet we can get another 150lbs of cooler, grill, picnic table, hammock, water, and stuff in the boat on a good day. That puts us in at around 500 lbs total weight. With that much weight in the boat it slows down a little, but is still a fairly efficient cruiser.
The low bow and sides make this more of a day/weekend tripping canoe as opposed to a wilderness tripper although Ive heard of people taking Jensen 18's to the BWCA. Personally when I go up there I think I'll just rent a Kevlar MNII for more volume and a higher bow (and 45lbs instead of my 60lbs). For my uses I like the low profile of this canoe because it is affected less by wind and I think low profile boats are just generally easier to paddle and switch sides. I would probably feel different if I was commonly in big waves like on a coast but you're usually in a kayak/surf ski in that situation anyways.
I have a Tuff weave layup and have to say it earns its name. Although it puts the boat in at 60lbs it is extremely durable and stiff. Ill probably try to find a Jensen 18 in Kevlar UL but that's just because I want to race it and carry it solo easily.
So in conclusion: for athletic training, day trips, rec paddling, or short weekend trips this is a great boat. If I was crossing big, open water or carrying a very large load consistently, I might look more at a MNII or something like that.
A Jensen 18' fiberglass was our first canoe. It may not…
A Jensen 18' fiberglass was our first canoe. It may not be what you would pick as an ideal beginner canoe, but it turned out be be a fantastic boat. It's original design is as a racing canoe. So getting it as a first canoe was akin to getting a Ferrari as a first car. Because of it's shallow arched hull, it's stronger at secondary stability than primary, but the secondary stability is very good. For all our efforts, we've never tipped it over. It's felt at times like we were going to, but when that secondary stability kicks in, it's almost like something is pushing back. It's an unusual sensation.
It wasn't a relaxing ride at first. Just floating stationary, that low primary stability still feels a little "tippy" even though you know it won't do so easily. But in motion, it gets very stable. It maneuvers surprisingly well for such a long boat with no rocker. And when you want to go fast, it will do that, just as it was designed to do. It's more fun than I imagined it would be to go fast in a canoe. It tracks super straight, glides superbly, and carries a surprising volume. It's a great boat for someone looking to go far or fast. It does well on large and small bodies of water alike. While probably targeted toward experienced paddlers, it's also an unexpectedly fine starter boat that get's you accustomed to learning and trusting the secondary stability of a boat.
My favorite tripping canoe, very light, goes fast. I salvaged this canoe…
My favorite tripping canoe, very light, goes fast. I salvaged this canoe. A lady called me up and said she was going to send it to the dump - unless I wanted it. It is about a 1970 model. I brought it home, did some work on it, and my wife and I took it on a canoe trip. Since that first trip - our other canoes stay home on the rack.
My wife and I purchased our 18 foot Jensen in the mid-80s…
My wife and I purchased our 18 foot Jensen in the mid-80s after a knee injury prevented me from portaging our aluminum canoe. We have the lightest kevlar layup with a gel coat. From the start, we were impressed with the handling and speed, and the boat made paddling easy with our double bent shaft paddles. Since that time, we have actually done short wilderness paddles with my family when my two girls were young enough to sit side by side. I don't recommend that for long trips, however. My only concern is the freeboard in choppy waves, especially when going sideways to the wind. While we have never tipped or felt like we were going to tip, I always admired the Minnesota II in those conditions. While I have the We-no-nah plastic seats, for comfort,I recommend pads for the seats or maybe trying the web seats. Having said that, my wife uses the moveable tractor seat in the bow to trim the boat in different conditions, and we find that effective. I did replace the We-no-nah portage pads (delaminated on a trip) with the lovely, cushy rectangular pads that we all remember on the aluminum canoes. I should note that we also take this canoe down rivers, and we can handle tight turns and back ferries without problem.
I purchased new in April 1998. I live near Mississippi and…
I purchased new in April 1998. I live near Mississippi and it has been used there a 3-10 times each year. I have had it to boundary waters for 3-5 day excursions five or six times. I weigh 200 pounds and daughter pushes 140. We traveled with boundary waters tandem with full packs and the canoe handled load with no problems. Likewise, I had had solo boundary water trips with full pack and no problem. As the reviews and literature claim, this boat glides through the water wonderfully. I was novice when I purchased it, and experienced no tipping or stability problems while teaching my self how to canoe. My is Tuf-weave construction and has held up to boundary waters travels very well – the heavy Gel-coat paint job gets scratched, but no damage to reinforcement layers. I feel Wenonah is short changing themselves by only listing this as competition model when it trips so well. And you should have seen the nice bass that I caught out of it last summer….
Very fast, excellent tracking boat. And, in the case of mine (with…
Very fast, excellent tracking boat. And, in the case of mine (with all-wood trim and cane seats), quite pretty. I get regular compliments. It can be loaded up for trips quite well too. You can certainly find boats that are more appropriate for very large loads of gear, but the trade-off on ease of paddling will be instantly noticed. Mine also has a middle seat and removable portage yoke for going solo. Nice option. Comment that low freeboard can make it tough to handle in the wind is valid. But for a well-made, high-performing boat to be used in flatwater with occasional Class I rapids (and perhaps very few Class II), this one is truly outstanding.
I have had my kevlar ultra-light core Jensen for many years now…
I have had my kevlar ultra-light core Jensen for many years now, so I guess I can safely rate it. It is a fantastic canoe, and my wife and I have a room full of trophies from racing it.
I have one complaint, and that is why I can't give it a 10. It is advertised as a great boat for paddling solo as well as tandem, but no matter how I try, it is too wide for me to paddle solo. I am 5'-9", so perhaps if I were taller with longer arms I could do it. If you want a fast reliable, tandem, light weight boat, I highly recommend it.
If I was the emperor of ice cream, the manufacture, sale, possession…
If I was the emperor of ice cream, the manufacture, sale, possession and use of tandem canoes would be prohibited ... except for my own Jensen 17. It's about as good as it gets in tandem folks ... but even a Jensen 17 cannot save your marriage. Get a solo. If you already have a Jensen 17, get rid of it (sell it to me for shipping costs).
Must add to the earlier review by Jim. this boat is MUCH…
Must add to the earlier review by Jim. this boat is MUCH faster than the Mad River Malecite, heck any 17 We-no-nah is faster. Have raced recreational tandem canoes for years and have never been beaten by a Mad River, but have seen the sterns of many 17 Jensens. For traveling fast with a light load, two 150# paddlers and two big packs, this is the canoe to have. It relatively shallow depth keeps it from being as popular as its 17'We-no-nah stablemates, the 17 Sundowner and the 17'Spirit. they are incrementally slower and more stable and seaworthy. the Jensen is the fastest and first off the water when it gets rough, the Spirit is the slowest of the three and the last off the water, it is so seaworthy it seldom gets forced off the water by the weather. For fast flatwater paddling with a light load on open, not tight twisting waters, the 17 Jensen is The Boat. Each year in the 90 mile Adirondack Classic race, which covers streams and big lakes under all sorts of conditions, the 17'Jensen is the boat to beat. The Paul Smiths College team fields 17'Jensens in the recreational class.
I love this boat! I use it as a solo boat more…
I love this boat! I use it as a solo boat more than a tandem. It helps that I am very tall and have long arms (as it is wider than most solo hulls). All I can say is wow! This boat flies across the water. I'm going to upgrade from my glass boat to an ultra light kevlar version. BTW - Kneeling is the way to go if you want rock solid stability and control. If you are tall (6'3" or taller) check out this boat.
This is basically an old race boat design that (because Jensen hadn't…
This is basically an old race boat design that (because Jensen hadn't thought of "wings" yet like modern flatwater race boats) functions fairly well as a light tripping boat. It is very fast and can be raced with success since it sneaks into the citizen class. For tripping it is best suited to smaller paddlers with fairly light loads. This is not the boat for longer trips on big water since the sheer ends, tumblehome and low freeboard make it a handful if the wind picks up. I had the Kevlar cross-rib version and was quite pleased with the durability and weight. Certainly I could discern no performance difference on the water between any of the layups. If you are looking for a weekend cruiser then this could be the canoe for you.
I have owned my foam core kevlar 17' Jensen for over ten…
I have owned my foam core kevlar 17' Jensen for over ten years and have loved every minute of it. Tracks well when cruising and turns well if you lean it a bit. I added a center seat for solo paddling and it works, but this boat really shines when paddled tandem. Easily handles a weeks camping gear with very little loss of speed or handling. An excellent canoe!
A good boat for solo or tandum use this model is similar…
A good boat for solo or tandum use this model is similar to but faster than Mad River's Malecite. Primary and secondary stability are average. This boat is a good value.
Have paddled this in fiberglass layup for 6 years on lakes, class…
Have paddled this in fiberglass layup for 6 years on lakes, class l and ll rivers Fished and dawdled in it and raced with respectable results. A terrific all around boat.