How many times have you been told, "You can't float through life?" Well, we're here to tell you that you can-if you have a canoe.
Old Town Canoe is the largest manufacturer of canoes and kayaks in the world. The company can trace its roots back to 1898 when A.E. Wickett began building canoes in the back of George Gray's hardware store on the banks of the Penobscot River in Old Town, Maine. Nowadays, Old Town Canoe has a huge product line that includes canoes for recreation, touring, sporting and river running/expedition. Why so many types of canoes? Well, lest you think that all canoes are created equal, it's important to realize that they feature different designs based on their intended application. They feature one of three types of rockers: straight keel line, moderate rocker and heavy rocker, and these affect tracking and maneuverability. There are different side designs to canoes, including flared, tumblehome and straight, and these affect stability and the craft's depth in the water. Length and width also play a huge part in maneuverability, cargo space, speed and stability. But even with all of these choices, the one inherent constant is that no matter what model you buy, chances are it'll fit onto the roof of your SUV or into the bed of your pickup truck.
We like the Appalachian model, which is a river-running/expedition canoe that offers many SUV-like functions. First and foremost, it can carry more than half a ton of people and gear, which makes it great for day- or week-long forays into the backcountry. It measures 16 feet in length, 35 inches in width, and is 15 inches in depth. Interestingly, it weighs in at a paltry 67 pounds, which ensures that it won't be a handful to carry and paddle. It features a moderate rocker for maneuverability, flared ends for dryness and buoyancy, and has a shallow-arch bottom for a good combination of initial and secondary stability. The Appalachian is constructed of Oltonar/Royalex, which is a multi-laminate composed of ABS, ABS foam and cross-linked vinyl. This material is formed using an exclusive vacuum method. Old Town Canoe says the Appalachian can be folded in half by a bridge abutment or boulder and then return to its normal shape with minimum hull distortion. This sounds scary, but it's a testament to the product's durability.
If you're like us, 4x4s are but one tool we use to access the backcountry, and as much as we eat, sleep and drink engine-driven stuff, there are times when we just want some solitude as we float silently on a quiet river. Besides, we've found from experience that our 4x4s make better boat-haulers than boats.