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Mad River Expedition Canoe Review Photo: Dan Caldwell

A tripping canoe designed to take on the miles with you

Whether it’s for the weekend or a whole month, Mad River’s Expedition 176 is a tripping canoe designed to take on the miles with you. It has the speed, capacity and seaworthiness to excel on long openwater paddles but is sized to handle smaller lakes and rivers.

The 176’s roots lie in Mad River’s famed tripping boat of the ‘70s, the TW Special. “Tripping boats are essential to Mad River. We hadn’t had a true composite tripping hull come out through the early part of the century and that’s the heart of the canoe market. We wanted to bring it back into the game,” says Mad River Canoe’s product manager Buff Grubb of the 176’s release three years ago. The Expedition series, designed by Bob McDonough, began with the Expedition 186. Both are classic tripping boats, though the 176 is a foot shorter and more maneuverable. Whereas the 186 is large enough for a summer-long trip, the 176 is a more flexible option.

“The 176 is a boat both for the real enthusiast and someone who’s an aspiring paddler and doesn’t want to limit where they can go,” says Grubb. “It’s a boat that can take you from the Barren Lands to tripping in the borderlands.” At first stroke, it’s easy to see why the 176 is such a popular boat. Its asymmetrical hull provides excellent forward speed and tracking, making for efficient paddling.

The shallow V-shaped hull offers high secondary stability and superior rough water performance. The lightweight composite construction makes portaging easy, while still providing solid durability. Side by side with another tripping canoe of a different brand, what you’ll notice first is the outfitting. Mad River’s high-quality wood trim sets it apart from the rest. It boasts a sliding contoured cane bow seat, contoured portage yoke, adjustable stern ash foot brace, cane bucket stern seat and shaped ash carry handles.

You’ll also notice the Mad River logo laminated into the foam core of the hull. Confident Rabbit, Mad River’s symbol since 1971, was born out of a Micmac legend. While the rabbit sits, smoking his pipe, around him creeps his mortal enemy, the lynx. But the rabbit isn’t worried—he’s confident in his own wisdom and knowledge. Similarly, canoeists can be confident in the knowledge that they would be hard pressed to find a better canoe to trip in. The only question that’s left is, what’s in the pipe?


Mad River Expedition 176 Specs

Length: 17’6”
Width at gunwales: 34”
Depth at bow: 22”
Depth at center: 15.25”
Depth at stern: 18.5”
Aluminum trim: 60 lbs, $2,579
Wood trim: 63 lbs, $2,799

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Published in the heart of canoe country, Canoeroots celebrates the rich tradition and heritage of canoeing with the gear, adventure and soul of today's canoeists. Every issue is loaded with canoes, news, techniques, gear and tips from the very best outdoor writers and photographers. In 2008, we merged Family Camping magazine with articles, stories and product reviews for North America's largest outdoor audience—camping families. Canoeroots & Family Camping is the best combination to come along since the S'more.