Wednesday, April 6, 2016

12' Pack & 14' Hunter -- Discontinued Old Town Canoes

My Old Town 12' Pack (left) and 14' Hunter Canoes

Every now and again I happen onto a forum website where somebody explains they have an opportunity to buy a used Old Town canoe, so they're seeking the opinion of people who have owned and used them.  This post is for those folks who want to know about two great Old Town canoes no longer being manufactured.

Grandson Kevin off to fish in my 12' Old Town Pack canoe

I am very fortunate to own two discontinued models -- a 2010 Old Town 12' Pack canoe (33 pounds), and a 1986 Old Town 14' Hunter canoe (52 pounds).

I wouldn't part either for any reason because -- for me -- they are two of the best -- solo -- fishing canoes ever made.  There are slightly better tracking and faster canoes, and I wouldn't take them on a river with anything greater than class 1 water, but for flat-water fishing they are as good as anything ever built.

I'm now 73 years old and these two canoes are just the ticket for an old man.  They are both light weight and easy to paddle solo with a traditional paddle or a double bladed kayak paddle.  They are also both capable of carrying all the gear I need for a two or three day flat-water canoe adventure.

Finally, they are both low maintenance -- especially if you keep them under a roof.

Old Town 12' Pack Canoe:

1986 Old Town catalog page for the 12' Pack

I picked up my first Pack canoe on a 1987 trip to Montana, but I made the mistake of selling it about 2004.  It was such a perfect solo canoe I replaced it with a new one in 2010. 

Old Town finally discontinued the Pack canoe a few years ago.  I suspect the main reason it was discontinued is that shipping companies tended to beat the hell out of them, and nobody wants to pay a thousand dollars for a brand new damaged canoe.  When I bought mine from LL Bean, the shipper severely damaged two of them so much that I rejected them.  Finally, a third one arrived with just minor damage I could live with.

2010 Old Town catalog page for the 12' Pack

Don't get the wrong idea, these royalex canoes are plenty tough if you treat them right.  I've car-topped royalex canoes all over the Western United States and Canada without any damage.  But, I also don't drag them on sand bars or gravel beds.

Old Town 14' Hunter Canoe:

1986, 14' Old Town Hunter canoe

The 14' Old Town Hunter canoe is just a tad larger (2 feet longer) and heavier (19 pounds) than the 12' Pack, and it is also a delight to double paddle.


I think a 14' canoe, that weighs just 52 pounds, is just about the best all around canoe ever made.  It's just fine to solo, but is also comfortable with two paddlers.


The only reason I use my Pack canoe instead of the Hunter canoe is wind.  The extra two feet of length makes paddling, in seriously windy conditions, just that much harder.

1990 Old Town catalog page for the 14' Hunter

Pack canoe with Spring Creek stabilizer and oars

I've also added outriggers and have rowed both of these canoes.

Hunter with an Essex wooden rowing outrigger


My Pack canoe on its brand new Malone Xtralight trailer.  This will save a lot of stress on my old back.  See you on the water.


9 comments:

  1. I still have my Pack, it has a lot of miles under it including two 300+ miles solo trips on the Missouri River. My other royalex is a Dagger Reflection 15, I sure won't be parting with either one now.

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  2. I have two Packs, a Hunter and a Camper - all are great boats. I totally agree with your comments.
    The Hunter and Camper have skid plates from decades of use, but they are in great shape.
    I also have an restored 1934 Old Town.

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    Replies
    1. Russ, have you ever experienced any "oil-canning" on your OT Packs?

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    2. They don't really oil can, but they do flex due to thinner Royalex. It's a "feature," not a problem.

      My wife paddles the Pack, I converted the Hunter to solo for camping, it tracks much better than the Pack.

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    3. I never thought I would sell the Hunter but I did.
      I replaced it with a 14' Mohawk Odyssey.
      It tracks better than the Hunter but is narrower and deeper making it a bit less stable.

      My wife still has her Pack and I gave one to my best friend.

      Currently also in my fleet: the 16' Camper, a 14' Hornbeck Classic, a15' Dagger Reflection (with 3 seats) and a 1934 15' Old Town 50 lb canoe (also with 3 seats) and a second "guest" Pack.

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  3. Great job compiling all those old info sheets on the Packs. I noticed that the specs are basically identical, except the 2010 version is rated up to 600 pounds, while the 1986 version is rated for 400. Any idea why? I just got a used Pack that is an early 2000's model with a cane seat. I'm assuming that the cane seat puts it in the category of the earlier boats with the 400 pound limit, but I'm not sure.

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  4. Hi John, The capacity is also dependent on weather, wind, etc. I can spend a whole weekend on a calm lake with a hundred pounds of gear and my 200# frame, but going down a river with any kind of rapids is another story. I floated the upper Missouri for six days back in 1995, and was glad a 16' Penobscot with a capacity closer to 800#. That said, the Pack fits about anything the average 75 year-old can tackle. :-)

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  5. Thanks, Drifting. I ended up calling Old Town, and they said they changed the rating from 400 to 600 by measuring differently--6 inches below the gunnel for 400 #, and 4 inches below the gunnel for the 600 # rating. Same boat all years. With 4 inches of clearance, if you leaned to one side, you might take in some water!

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