The Gear Junkie Scoop: Mad River Malecite Canoe

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By Stephen Regenold

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

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

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

Further, a pigment-free gel coat is used as the outerlayer on the hull. It reduces weight by a few pounds compared to the Malecite'sprevious outer coat. The company says the new Malecite “sheds pounds andgains knots” compared to the conventional composite version.

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

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

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

–Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear

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