Mad River Expedition 176 – Tripping Canoes

You’ll be hard pressed to find a better expedition canoe, both in aesthetics and performance.

Photo: Dave Costello

MAD RIVER EXPEDITION 176
($2,599 in Kevlar/Aramid weave w/aluminum gunwale / $2,799 w/wood gunwale, madrivercanoe.com)
L: 17′ 6″; W: 35.5″; D: 15.25″; 60-63 lbs.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a better expedition canoe, both in aesthetics and performance. With minimal rocker and an asymmetrical hull, it blends cruising with cargo space and is built to track true.

This canoe turns when you need it to, and hauls on the flats. The smaller details are also spot-on, including a sliding, contoured cane bow seat, contoured portage yoke, tripping thwart, adjustable stern ash footbrace, and shaped ash carry handles. “The Bentley of our trip – a floating work of art,” said one tester.

Perhaps its best attribute, however, is its lightweight construction, which makes you feel guilty about packing that extra Fosters oilcan. Its Kevlar base gives it a tensile strength five times stronger than steel, while a fiberglass/graphite weave, capped with a gel coat, makes it pound-for-pound one of the most durable canoes available. These attributes, combined with its easy-on-the-eyes shape, made the Mad River the first canoe “dibbed” each morning.

The only knocks: The hot-from-the-sun black gunwales burned one tester’s thighs. Our demo model was white, which is perhaps not the best color for tripping on a silty Southwest river. The sleek new hull had a fresh bathtub ring at every camp (one of which showed how out of trim it was with my daughter in the bow).



THE RANKINGS (1-10):
Tracking/Ferrying: 10
Hull Speed: 9.5
Maneuverability: 7
Eddy Turns: 7
Initial and Secondary Stability: 8
Overall Comfort: 8.5
Loading/Carrying Ease: 10
CLICK A BOAT BELOW TO READ REVIEW
 
Mad River
Expedition 176
Nova Craft
Prospector 17
Old Town
Saranac 160 XT
Wenonah
Minnesota II
Mad River Expedition 176 Nova Craft Prospector 17 Old Town Saranac 160 XT Wenonah Minnesota II

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  • RJ

    I’m surprised the safety freaks haven’t started griping about the little girl not wearing her PFD and flogging her father the ogre for putting her in harm’s way! Well, maybe in the paddling world they don’t have PFD wars the way cyclists have helmet wars…

  • Annika

    Or maybe the water is shallow enough little girls to stand in. I grew up canoeing and kayaking (admittedly more white water than flat tripping) and kids always had to wear PFDs…and I was glad of it the time we did tip in flat water thanks to my father’s cousin and I was smacked in the head by the boat and caught underneath it – even though the PFD made it impossible to get out from under the boat.

    But we did have the exception when water was shallow… I don’t know the scenario in the photo but I like to think that paddlers — even safety fanatical ones — want facts before they flog.

Buyer's Guide

Buyer's Guide