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Choosing a Recreational Canoe: Journey vs. Adventure

At Mad River Canoe, we're proud to offer two series of very capable yet very different recreational canoes:  the Adventure Series and the Journey Series. How to choose between them? 

In terms of durability, it's a toss-up. Both are made of durable, care-free polyethylene. Same goes for care-free maintenance, neither design is going to make a big demand on your free time and is always ready to hit the water. When it comes to weight, again not much to choose between. 

It's in terms of design and amenities that the two diverge and force you to make a choice. Each series takes a different route to delivering the performance preferred by recreational canoeists. 

Adventure 14 and 16 

The Adventure series is typified by their kayak-style coaming. They feature a shallow-arch hull with enhanced final stability due to a multi-chine hull side. The hull transitions from bottom to side in a series of “steps” or “phases." These provide discernible stability “shoulders” that firm the canoe upright when leaned. 

The straight forward efficiency of the Adventures is enhanced by the straight keel line with minimum rocker and a keel extended well into the stern of the hull. The hull is also stiffened by multiple supports connecting seats with hull; this translates into increased paddling efficiency. 

The Adventures offer substantial “creature comforts” standard, such as multiple cupholders and storage bins, padded contoured seats, and adjustable padded back rests. The molded-in center seat is a great boon to paddling families with children and can be used to paddle the canoe solo. 

The 14 saves about 8 lbs over the 16 and is a bit handier in tighter waters with a lot of maneuvering required. It's a bit wider and a bit more stable than the 16 as well. The 16 has a higher capacity, more center room to stretch your legs (particularly for people in the center seat), and is a tad faster on flat water. Both have ample ability to float a family of 4, support serious fishing, etc. 

The Adventure 16 is designed to accommodate an electric trolling motor with minimal fuss. A motor mount kit is available and reasonable and easily installed at the stern. Then it's a simple matter of mounting the motor, placing the battery in the hull and hooking up. The Adventure 14 is not designed to accommodate a motor. 

The Adventures cannot be solo-portaged (carried by one person at center) very easily due to the dropped center seat. If your dreams include canoe-camping with portages involved, this can be a concern and should be taken into consideration. 

Journey 158 (15'8”) and 169 (16'9”) 

Compared to the Adventures, the Journeys are much more traditional looking canoes. They have symmetrical hulls (same shape in front of center as behind) which make them handle more predictably in different types of water. They're friendly for solo use (particularly the 158) especially when you sit in the bow seat and paddle the hull “backwards.” 

The shallow arch hull provides solid stability and is enhanced by a touch of flare in the sides of the canoe to firm up the hull when leaned. The hulls are wide at center, further improving stability and seaworthiness as well as capacity. 

They have enough rocker to allow them to maneuver well, enabling them to be used on tight streams and twisting watercourses. They also paddle and track well on flat open water and have a surprising turn of speed and acceleration. All this makes for a boat that you're not likely to outgrow any time soon and one that is well suited to expanding paddling horizons. 

The Journeys are available in choice of woven web seats or rotomolded seats. The rotomolded seats are contoured and comfortable but heavy compared to the web seats. The web seats are ventilated and dry quickly. It's kind of a matter of picking your “poison.” Both work quite well and are durable, though the “roto” seats are entirely maintenance free. 

Similar to the Adventures, the Journey 158 saves about 8 lbs over the 169 and is the better fit if you're paddling waters with more turns than straights or for paddlers of smaller stature. The 169 has a better turn of speed and glide and allows you to work a bit less when crossing or cruising open waters. 

Both Journeys come standard with shaped ash portage yokes, mounted at the balance point. This enables solo portaging of the canoes in relative comfort (portaging is never painless). The open, uncluttered interior welcomes significant amounts of gear, family, pets, etc. more than enough to support multiple days on the water. 

Enjoy - it's one of those rare moments when you can't really lose - both series will provide the platforms for a lot of enjoyable hours on the waters of your choice.