Old Town Saranac 160 XT
- Very comfortable.
- Lots of extras, such as cup holders, rod holders and molded-in storage trays.
- The price.
- Not a true expedition canoe in comparison to others in the test.
- Built-in storage compartment got in the way of carrying larger items.
- Upgrade in comfort was not matched in cruising ability.
The mini-van of long trip canoes, the Saranac 160 XT more than made up in comfort what it sacrificed in cruisability.
While not the “trippiest” canoe in the Old Town fleet, the Saranac, for our purposes, was the most comfortable (and the one my wife gravitated to). One tester dubbed it “the mini-van of the lot—comfortable and heavy.” It comes with two contoured seats with cushy back rests, which became a premium as the trip wore on, as well as mini-cooler/center bench seat which was forbidden to carry kids’ drinks.
On the paddling front, you’re so comfortable you almost don’t care how it paddles; you’d get to camp just in time for cocktail hour regardless. “Luxurious, good tanning platform,” quipped one lily-dipper. But by narrowing its shape and lowering its seats—and giving it a flat bottom, straight sides and moderate rocker—Old Town has created a series that paddles better than most rec canoes on the market.
And you can’t argue with the price...less than a third than that of some of the other offerings. Which means more money to invest in the mini-cooler contents.
How We Tested It
For our expedition canoe test we headed on a six-day, 52-mile trip down Stillwater Canyon through Canyonlands National Park, bringing a fleet of 10 canoes for 20 people, including 11 gunwale-jumping kids. While we didn’t get into Quetico-style lake chop, we tested them how they were meant to be tested—fully loaded while making miles. As well as assessing hull speed, we punched them across mushy eddy lines, dealt with afternoon whitecaps, and even negotiated a ripple or two.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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- Length: 16'
- Width: 37"
- Depth: 13.5"
- Capacity: 800-850lbs.
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