Mad River Malecite Canoe

By STEPHEN REGENOLD

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 (www.madrivercanoe.com) has skimmed the Malecite to a feathery 43 pounds.

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.

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.

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 www.gearjunkie.com.