OLD TOWN SARANAC 160 XT
($700 in thermoformed polyethylene, oldtowncanoe.com)
L: 16'; W: 37"; D:13.5"; 89 lbs.
While not the "trippiest" canoe in the Old Town fleet, the Saranac, for our purposes, was the plushiest. Dubbed the "mini-van of the lot--comfortable and heavy," it comes with two contoured seats with cushy back rests, which became a premium as the trip wore on, as well as mini-cooler/center bench seat which was forbidden to carry kids' drinks.
"A good kid lounger," said one tester. Nice nooks…including one for your book."
While the storage compartment helped cool libations, it reduced the available cargo capacity. Other extras include cup holders, rod holders and molded-in storage trays and carry handles, raising its comfort quotient at the expense of some wilderness tripping capability.
On the paddling front, you were so comfortable you almost didn't care how it paddled; the Old Town would get you to camp in time for cocktail hour regardless. But by narrowing its shape and lowering its seats - and giving it a flat bottom, straight sides and moderate rocker - Old Town has created a series of canoes that perform better than most rec canoes on the market.
And you certainly can't argue with the price…less than a third than that of some of the other offerings. Which means being able to invest more in its mini-cooler contents.
THE RANKINGS (1-10):
Hull Speed: 96.5
Eddy Turns: 7
Initial and Secondary Stability: 9
Overall Comfort: 9
Loading/Carrying Ease: 6
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Saranac 160 XT