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Gear Guy

Can you suggest a good touring canoe?

My wife and I are looking for a canoe, to use mainly during weeklong trips on flattish water: something sturdy enough for rocks and beaver ds, yet light enough for long portages; large enough to carry our packs, yet small enough to be nimble in narrow creeks; stable in wavy conditions without feeling as though we're paddling a tugboat. Can you help us navigate these compromises and suggest some good all-round tripping canoes? Rob Calgary, Alberta

A: All-around canoe, indeed—that's a pretty long wish list. But, I think you can find something out there.

An example: Old Town's Osprey 155 ($1,100; It's a roomy canoe that can easily hold two plus gear. It's a little beamy, but still offers a good mix of stability, paddling ease, and maneuverability. It has molded plastic construction, which results in a sturdy boat. Weight is 65 pounds, which should be pretty manageable for the two of you. Another real good all-around boat is the Dagger Reflection 16.0 ($1,000; A little skinnier than the Osprey, but still stable. It's known to be a surprisingly good performer in mild whitewater, while it has the capacity for two people to tour in it for several days. It's also four pounds lighter than the Osprey, due to the narrower beam.

For something really slick, take a look at the Mad River Explorer 16 KX. Made using Kevlar, it's very light at 54 pounds. Sized similar to the Osprey or Reflection, it'll be fine for both you and your gear, and it can handle a wide range of water conditions with aplomb. The only downside is cost: It runs about $2,000 ( Still, a very nice boat.

Hope that helps. Happy boating!

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