Photo: Dave Costello

($1,679 in RoyalexLite,
L: 17’; W: 36”; D: 15”; 68 lbs.

Canoeing’s venerable Prospector design has been called the workhorse of the North for good reason. The symmetrical, shallow-arch hull with moderate rocker feels most at home loaded with gear, and deep in the woods. Nova Craft’s 17-foot version remains faithful to the original icon, with the modern material touch of RoyalexLite, giving it the heartiness of a Voyageur and the light weight (68 lbs.) of a true expedition craft. “Seems bombproof,” said one tester. “I don’t feel bad putting the horseshoes in the bottom of it.”

Designed to provide a dry ride in big waves, it scored high in our testing in tracking, ferrying, stability and comfort. Though its pedigree is from the Canadian north country, one of our Missouri-based testers proclaimed it “a great boat for the Ozarks.” Its hull also feels self-righting when placed on edge, a nice feature when things get dicey. “A good utility canoe,” said one tester. “Wide and stable, and a pretty good freighter.”

Best suited for river tripping, it’s versatile enough to be a good all-rounder, be it wilderness or whitewater. And it’s made for the long haul: “Its yoke looks like it came right off an oxen team.” It’ll help you keep your cool even when things go awry. “I loved the airiness of the cane seats,” says one tester. “It dries your shorts real quick.”

Tracking/Ferrying: 8
Hull Speed: 7
Maneuverability: 8
Eddy Turns: 8
Initial and Secondary Stability: 8
Overall Comfort: 8.5
Loading/Carrying Ease: 8.5


Mad River
Expedition 176
Nova Craft
Prospector 17
Old Town
Saranac 160 XT
Minnesota II
Mad River Expedition 176Nova Craft Prospector 17Old Town Saranac 160 XTWenonah Minnesota II