Mad River Malecite Canoe


Mad River founder Jim Henry built the first Malecite canoe in 1971. For 2011, the classic canoe design gets an update and a new hull.

The Malecite, a 16.5-foot boat, is made to handle flat water as well as currents. It tracks straight but has a moderate rocker for river control. Using a new hull material and a special gel coat, the company ( has skimmed the Malecite to a feathery 43 pounds.

Mad River Malecite top.jpg

Mad River Malecite canoe

The hull, a composite lay-up of multiple materials, includes Kevlar, fiberglass, foam, and carbon sandwiched together to make a proprietary shell. It balances stiffness, abrasion-resistance, strength, and ease of repair, according to the company.

Further, a pigment-free gel coat is used as the outer layer on the hull. It reduces weight by a few pounds compared to the Malecite’s previous outer coat. The company says the new Malecite “sheds pounds and gains knots” compared to the conventional composite version.

Mad River Malecite - small side photo.jpg

Side view, Malecite canoe

The boat is about 35 inches wide at its max. Standard features for the 2011 Malecite include cane-contoured bow seats and a contoured yoke.

For long trips to places like the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, the Malecite has the capacity for 850 pounds of people and gear. But emptied out at a portage, the boat hoists up easily overhead, likely lighter even at its long length than the backpacks brought for such a trip.

Mad River Malecite - small top photo.jpg

Top view, Malecite canoe

The Malecite, which is made in the USA, is available with wood or aluminum gunwales. It costs about $2,970 for the wood-gunwale version, putting it at the upper end of the price spectrum in the canoeing world.

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of