I am thinking about buying a new canoe at REI during their anniversary sale. I am torn between the Old Town Penobscot and Esquif Avalon. I can find a ton of reviews on the penobscot, but I can't find much written about the avalon.
I am looking to do mostly lake canoeing with the ocasional float down Eagle River. I definitely want something 16 ft and under 60 pounds.
I like the idea of a set keel on the esquif for better tracking. However, I also plan on taking my two little boys along when ever I can and I am a little worried about stability in the Avalon. Does anyone know much about this canoe, maybe own one and can give me some insight.
They are about tit for tat
I have paddled both, and liked them both. The Avalon has the advantage of the sliding bow seat. It allows you to trim the boat for paddlers with a big weight difference.
I found that the Avalon had a bit more flex, and oil canned just a little when paddling it empty.
The weights are pretty close to the same. I never did portage the Avalon, but I have with the Penobscot, and it was a snap with the yoke mount that came on it.
If you're buying from REI, you can rent a Penobscot, and they may have a demo Avalon. They will deduct the rental fee from the purchase price if you decide to buy.
Take them out for a day or two and see if you like them.
Another REI tidbit
Read the fine print on the REI anniversary sale. It says "hard shell" boats are excluded. My guess is that includes canoes. Of course check with them to be sure. It said something about bikes being excluded and they gave me 20% off on a bike.
Last time they had their 20% off the fine print said no hard shelled boats. Maybe there is some wiggle room on canoes in stock but if you try to order one online with the 20% off it will not accept your order. I tried it personally.
Decision made easy
I went to REI on Friday and I still had not made a decision. For better or worse, they had already sold out of their stock of the Penobscots. I bought the Esquif Avalon. We put it in the water today and I loved it. Great secondary stability, easy to paddle by yourself, and fast.
Incedentily, you can't use the 20% members coupon, but all of their hard shell boats were 15% off, and you got an aditional 15% off for any accessories you bought with the boat.
I too like this canoe. I especially like the sliding bow seat.
You'll like that boat--I've paddled both, and own the Penobscot because I found it used and my wife thought the Avalon was just a little unstable for photography. However the Avalon, I believe, is faster and better handling. And although it will rock a little with slight movements, I never felt like we would actually tip it.