My Nightmare Turned Dream Canoe: Part II

In Part I, I discussed the buyer’s remorse I experienced after purchasing a beat-up Wenonah canoe. It’s important to remember that the best canoe for you is the canoe you have or the canoe you can afford. However, this doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice function. Follow along as I share my experience and review some tips for helping you with the purchase of your dream canoe.

Research and education are key to making an informed decision with anything in life. Selecting a canoe or kayak is no different. Since, I knew my wife, Alycia, and I were going to be paddling mostly flatwater with a few Class II’s from time to time and that we wanted a canoe with a higher weight capacity to be able to canoe camp and bring our Newfie, Miss Zoe, with us; I began my search here. I was also looking for a virtually indestructible hull material (Zoe is a chewer)! With the equivalent of three adults in the canoe (Zoe weighs 120 lbs.), plus our gear, I also wanted a boat with some length. To summarize, I was looking for a fairly wide, stable canoe with a durable hull and moderate rocker that was around 17’ in length and was a manageable weight for us. We didn’t plan on doing too many long portages, so I hoped to find a boat at 80 lbs. or less.

Zoe anxiously waiting for permission to dive into the lake! She’s a climber. Possibly part goat🐐

Going back to the internet, I started searching for brands with models matching our wish list. I looked at Old Town’s Penobscot 174, Esquif’s Mistral 17.5, Wenonah’s Minnesota II and Novacraft’s Prospector 18 and quickly realized if we wanted a canoe sooner than later we would have to look at used. I knew we may have to sacrifice a little here and there to get as close as possible to our desires since we would be buying pre-owned. Back to Craiglist once more to search for a good used boat at an affordable price. Month after month of searching and I was beginning to wonder if we’d ever find one. How much were we going to have to compromise?

I am an early riser which kills the wife. I typically sleep in on the weekends until around 0430. With coffee in hand, I sat down at the computer one Saturday morning to scour the internet for a canoe. Again, I typed my search parameters into Craigslist (16-18’, up to $750) and knew the tide was turning in my favor when a listing for an Old Town Tripper 172 popped up! I’m not embarrassed to say my heart was racing a little. You see, the Trippers were made of the famous Royalex composite material, and Royalex is no longer manufactured! The Trippers are known for being wide, stable and heavy load carriers with the perfect amount of rocker to go with the incredible hull material. At around 85 lbs., they are somewhat heavy but completely doable. Based on the pictures, she looked amazingly well cared for. And now for the price. I scrolled down the page, saw $325 and even though it was now only 0500 on a Saturday, I immediately messaged the seller.

The seller was awake as he and his wife were having a yard sale. I got directions to his home and told him if the canoe was in the condition the pictures showed, I’d be coming home with it. I woke Alycia and poured coffee down her throat, and we were on the road. We drove 75 minutes, pulled into the seller’s subdivision and there she was – the Tripper 172 of my dreams looking even better than the pictures. Alycia and I always joke when buying something used that we are looking for something is “LES condition”. Les was my father and he took care of his toys. Every boat was wiped down and dried as soon as it was pulled from the water. I was once scolded for allowing a bass to bleed on the carpet of his fishing boat! Looking over the Tripper with a fine-tooth comb, it was definitely in “LES condition”. The owner had recently retired and relocated to South Carolina from the Boston area to be near grandchildren and was selling the canoe because they had significantly downsized. He told us the canoe was a 1979 (like Alycia, lol😂) and that he and his dad bought it new in 1980. It was always garage kept and used mostly on flatwater. This is important information for several reasons. Flatwater use equals little to no gouges or scratches. Being a 1979 model and having lived her life in Boston, she only saw water 3 months a year! The canoe was garage kept in a cold climate, which is important because Royalex can be affected by extreme cold and temperature swings.

Old Town Tripper 172 “Gotcha Day”

I pulled out my wallet and gladly handed the seller his full asking price of $325. He helped me load it atop our Suburban, and I began tying it down. While I was finishing up strapping it, the seller and his wife took Alycia into their garage and loaded her down with 4 paddles, 3 life jackets and a throwable cushion they were including in the purchase price!

Securing to roof rack with web straps.

NRS 1.5″ Padded Straps (12′)

Research and patience (and a little good luck) had paid off. I was all smiles on our drive home. Amazingly, our trip home took us right past Chester State Park, and the lake was calling. We cruised the lake for a bit to see how the Tripper handled. We were both extremely pleased and have been ever since. If you know exactly what you want out of a canoe and have the patience to wait for it as you’re saving up for it, you can find your dream canoe like we did.

If you’re looking for a new canoe, most locally owned stores have greater selection and more knowledgeable staff. This isn’t to say that the big box sporting goods stores don’t have good people, but knowledgeable canoe enthusiasts are hard to find.

Buying used? Check out Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and or classifieds. Also, look to your local liveries as they often sell used canoes at the end of the season.

Categories Canoe, Outdoors, PaddlingTags , , , , , ,

3 thoughts on “My Nightmare Turned Dream Canoe: Part II

  1. I used to do a lot of floating when I was younger with both my family (17′ coleman poly canoe) and through charters in southern missouri (misc aluminum and most likely poly canoes). About a year ago I decided it was something I missed doing and that I should invest in a canoe for myself so I can be more spontaneous when the urge to float hits. After reading all the who’s, what’s, how’s, when’s, and where’s of canoes I decided “I should find a royalex boat for myself because they’re good and I like owning good things and hopefully it will stay good for years to come” and off I went. It took 6-8 months of checking craigslist and facebook a few times a week. Almost pulled the trigger on a few boats in the spring, then they all got too expensive through the summer, then they started to drop in price again in the fall and I kept holding out waiting for “the one”. One Saturday morning in the dead of winter there it was, a faded red (almost past the pink stage) with that beautiful cream/tan interior of the 80’s and 90’s boat just listed as “15 foot old town canoe” for somewhere around $200-250 with 2 pictures that didn’t show the entirety of the boat. I asked for a few more pictures and the serial number from which I was able to determine it was infact a rather good condition (under the faded coloring) 1984 tripper 172. So I made the couple hour drive to go get it, back story was they owned it for years for their grandkids to use but it had been several years since they had shown any interest in it so it was just sitting these days. I was just able to put it in the water for the first time last weekend where I was able to scrub all the mold and pollen off it and start to see it’s true beauty. It’s up on sawhorses in my backyard right now and I’m working on restoring it back to it’s former glory. Happy paddling and long live the trippers!


    1. Awesome to hear that another Tripper is back on the water where it belongs! If we can be of assistance with any questions you may have, please let us know. Thanks for the great story.


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