CANOE REVIEW: Submitted by Steve Retz March 11, 2009
I test paddled a Superior Expedition canoe 2-10-09 in Portland, MI on the Grand River one day after the ice went out. A little background is needed. The Expedition is a high volume tripping boat following the concept of the Kruger Sea Wind. It’s a canoe you can bet your life on in the most extreme and adventurist trips. The builder, Scott Smith, worked for Verlen Kruger for 7 years and has built over 100 Kruger boats with Verlen. Scott put together all the strengths of the Sea Wind design and improved all the weaknesses in a larger package.
We did an upstream and back paddle on the Grand River which was high and flowing at a rate of 3 to 5 mph. At first sight my first impression of the Expedition was, “It’s huge”. After a few strokes my next impression was, “How could a boat this big be this fast”. Then I thought, “I can’t believe how nimble this thing is”. I couldn’t believe how responsive the boat was for such a large volume boat. It just took off like a racing hull up stream hopping from eddy to eddy with ease. In the fast water I had no problem scooting up the shoreline at will.
The other surprise was the stability. Since the hull shape, I believe, is modeled after a racing hull, I expected it to be tippy. An inexperienced paddler might think so but to me it felt rock solid and the secondary stability was superb. I was even able to lean steer the Expedition in a difficult eddy hop. I even stood up in the boat along the shore while Scott changed the seat height for me. I bet I could even stand and Pole this canoe!
This canoe has a rudder system that is designed to handle a shallow stream unlike anything I’ve ever used before. This rudder bounced over rocks and logs as we eddy hopped up the shoreline effortlessly. It has a design that is intended to keep sand from hanging up the rudder so easily, that’s pretty cool.
I can’t stress enough how cavernous (Mega Capacity) the hull is. I have read where some people have to take as long as 2 hours to load a Sea Wind every day to get all their supplies in the boat. I would guess those same supplies could be loaded in this boat in about 5 or 10 minutes with room for half again as much. Scott told me his intention for the larger size was to easily load a deer kill in the boat after a hunt and believe me, I’m sure he has no problem doing so.
The rigging on the boat came with everything you can dream of and then some. There’s a storage rack beside the seat to keep the clutter off the floor, dry and handy to reach. There’s a bungee on the front and back deck for a spare paddle. It’s got mounts to catamaran to another Expedition to handle the heaviest wave conditions or for sailing. The seat has a quick change feature to adjust to 2”, 4” or 6” in seconds. It’s even got a yoke built into it and for those of us who know solo boats, this is almost unheard of.
In talking with the owner of Superior Canoe Company, I was impressed with his business philosophy. He didn’t seem to be interested in just selling boats as much as he was in building a boat that you were so happy with you’d come to him for all your canoe needs. Scott also builds Sawyer Canoes. He showed us a few Sawyer Canoes he had built and I believe the workmanship is second to none.
In my opinion the Superior Expedition, designed and built by Scott Smith, is a Home Run! If you ask me, if you’re looking for a high volume boat that can do it all and does it well, I would consider an “Expedition” by Scott Smith of Superior Sawyer Company in Portland, MI. I think it just may be a boat that may last you a lifetime.
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