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Spirit II vs. Prospector 17

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I am wanting to get a T-Formex canoe and am trying to decide between a Spirit II or a Prospector 17. The Spirit II is 73lbs, the Prospector is 76lbs. However the Spirit II is $2299, the Prospector is >$3000.
Is the Prospector that much better? I want it for the shallow water rocky rivers we have here in Texas. I have an Old Town Penobscot made of Polyurethane, but left strips of red plastic behind on the rocks and I don’t want to destroy it by doing that again. I also own and Wenonah Minnesota 3. I love that boat, but would not dare take it through the rocks. I do not have any experience with Swift.
Any thoughts? Thanks.
 
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I suppose it would depend how how fast those rocky rivers are, how wild those rocky rivers are, and how you want to get through those rocky rivers.

If they're just shallow rock riffles and the only way to get through is to grind over the rocks then it probably doesn't matter much. Or maybe the better answer would be that the boat that offered the most displacement would be best since it would float higher.

If the water is swift and you're constantly needing to zig and zag through the rocks to avoid obstacles and find the channel then the Prospector might be better.

If those rocky rivers are CII and above the Prospector would probably be better.

If those rocky sections are interspersed with long sections of flat water (or you also do a lot of lake paddling) then the Spirit might be better.

If it's often windy where you paddle (and you don't need the maneuverability of the Prospector) then the Spirit might be better.

If you want to grow your paddling skills in moving water the Prospector would probably be better.

If your idea of turning the boat left and right is to just paddle on the opposite side, and you're happy paddling that way and want to keep paddling that way, then the Spirit is probably better.

Alan
 
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The Spirit II will have the edge in terms of straight ahead efficiency. The Prospector will have a slight edge in maneuverability.

The Prospector will be more severely affected by adverse winds, especially in open areas. The Prospector will have a bit more capacity for load.
 
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I have nothing to add to the sage analysis of A&P. Just the shameless commercial plug that I have a Sprit II in Royalex (69#) in excellent condition for $1,000 for sale.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I have an Old Town Penobscot made of Polyurethane, but left strips of red plastic behind on the rocks and I don’t want to destroy it by doing that again.

I think you mean three layer polyethylene. Scraping over river rocks will scratch and gouge any material, more or less.

I am wanting to get a T-Formex canoe

Why? T-Formex plastic may have some advantages over polyethylene plastic, but do you know that T-Formex will scrape off less on rocks than three layer polyethylene? Maybe it does, but I'd first be interested in seeing or hearing the evidence.
 
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T-formex is tuff stuff in my opinion. I have a esquif prospecteur 15. I like the boat a lot and and it is basically good for everything. a all rounder. But t - formex is tuff, not so light. Not the answer but hope it helps.
. Ps, on esquif videos a guy beats the heck out of a t-formex boat and it didn't look to bad. I know advertising!
 
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I owned a 17' Wenonah Spirit II and 16' Swift Prospector and hands down, without hesitation would take the Prospector.
 
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My gut feeling is that polyethylene is probably a bit more abrasion resistant than T-formex. I have never owned a T-formex boat but I have owned and paddled scores of Royalex canoes as well as a good many single layer polyetheylene canoes, kayaks, and C-1s as well as some three-layer rotomolded polyethylene canoes. This observation is based simply on the wear characteristics I have noted.

I know that T-formex is not the same thing as Royalex but the substrate (ABS) is. I know hard core whitewater open boaters who were wearing through the hulls of their Royalex canoes within a year who are now paddling short, single-layer polyethylene canoes.
 
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I appreciate all the feedback. My thought on the poly verses T-Formex was that the poly is much softer and would wear through much faster. I took it on the upper Brazos with a buddy who was in a Royalex canoe. At one point we stopped and he says, "Hey you left something behind." I look back and he is holding a strip of red plastic that had pealed off on a rock. From the reviews I have seen I thought the T-formex would handle the beating better. It is not white water. There is typically a lot of flat water with the occasional small rapid when we will drag bottom over rocks. I think either way skid plates is a good idea.
 
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I took it on the upper Brazos with a buddy who was in a Royalex canoe. At one point we stopped and he says, "Hey you left something behind." I look back and he is holding a strip of red plastic that had pealed off on a rock.

My question is did he not leave pieces of his boat behind because it was tougher material or because he didn't hit the same rocks? Reading the water and avoiding underwater obstacles is an art (which I'm far from mastering) but learning that will make a much bigger difference than hull material.

Alan
 
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I appreciate all the feedback. My thought on the poly verses T-Formex was that the poly is much softer and would wear through much faster. I took it on the upper Brazos with a buddy who was in a Royalex canoe. At one point we stopped and he says, "Hey you left something behind." I look back and he is holding a strip of red plastic that had pealed off on a rock. From the reviews I have seen I thought the T-formex would handle the beating better. It is not white water. There is typically a lot of flat water with the occasional small rapid when we will drag bottom over rocks. I think either way skid plates is a good idea.
It has also been my impression that as the three-layer polyethylene canoes age, the material becomes softer.
 

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Of course, if this is just a rationalization to get another boat . . . then many of us have been in that mental boat. Many times. Many canoes.

There are probably 30 different canoes on the market bearing the name Prospector, all of which have different lengths, widths, depths, rockers and other dimensions. In general, I agree with the advice given above—that a deep, rockered Prospector is likely to be a more turnable and better river canoe, whereas the Spirit II is likely a more straight tracking and less wind-affected lake canoe. If you already have two straight trackers, a turny Prospector might be a good change of pace and an easier canoe to practice eddy turns, peel outs, rock avoidance, and other river moves.
 
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Of course, if this is just a rationalization to get another boat . . . then many of us have been in that mental boat. Many times. Many canoes.

There are probably 30 different canoes on the market bearing the name Prospector, all of which have different lengths, widths, depths, rockers and other dimensions. In general, I agree with the advice given above—that a deep, rockered Prospector is likely to be a more turnable and better river canoe, whereas the Spirit II is likely a more straight tracking and less wind-affected lake canoe. If you already have two straight trackers, a turny Prospector might be a good change of pace and an easier canoe to practice eddy turns, peel outs, rock avoidance, and other river moves.
Did you talk to my wife? Maybe you got me on the excuse to get another boat. I agree with all that has been said here. The thing is, most of the rivers I will be doing will have a good bit of flat water with a few small rapids along the way. Wind is also often an issue. So, I've kind of leaned towards the Spirit II in T-Formex. That way I am more efficent in the flat water and wind, but the hull can take some abuse when I come across the shallow water rocks. Then I also have another boat that is good for the big & deep east Texas rivers that I do more often. I'm not totally sold of the Spirit II, however. Is there another boat that would fit my requirements? I was specifically looking at the Swift Prospector 17 River edition in T-Formex. My only retailer down here in Texas takes 6 months to get a Wenonah if I order it. My plan is to document as many Texas Rivers as I can on my YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOb_BCCjB0iM-rZjhxtsNZQ
 
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So I just realized that REI carries the Esquif Prospector 17 in T-formex. https://www.rei.com/product/206859/esquif-prospecteur-17-canoe
It is about the same price as the Spirit II. The nice thing is they will ship it to my local REI for free. Is there any difference between the Esquif and Swift Prospectors besides the price?
I have paddled Prospectors made by Wenonah and Nova Craft, but never a Swift. I did paddle an Esquif Prospector once. It was not the 17 foot model. I believe it was a 16' but might have been a 15", and it was Royalex, not T-formex, but I presume they are using the same mold.

The Esquif Prospector had considerably more rocker than any Prospector canoe I had paddled, and in fact, had more than I would have liked for that type of canoe. Paddling in the stern it took a lot of correction to keep that thing tracking.
While it can be somewhat misleading to compare rocker figures between different manufacturers (because there is no uniform standard for measuring rocker) the Swift 17' Prospector is listed as having 2 inches of rocker fore and aft and the Esquif 17' is listed as having 3 1/2" of rocker fore and aft.

I expect Prospector designs to be compromise boats, somewhat better for river use than flat water use, with sufficient maneuverability to deal with moving water and easy whitewater but with tolerable efficiency for the pools and flats. I don't expect or want them to behave like whitewater boats. I would prefer an actual whitewater design for that purpose.

I really didn't care for the Esquif Prospector that I paddled. Neither did its owner. He soon sold it.
 
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Did you talk to my wife? Maybe you got me on the excuse to get another boat. I agree with all that has been said here. The thing is, most of the rivers I will be doing will have a good bit of flat water with a few small rapids along the way. Wind is also often an issue. So, I've kind of leaned towards the Spirit II in T-Formex. That way I am more efficent in the flat water and wind, but the hull can take some abuse when I come across the shallow water rocks. Then I also have another boat that is good for the big & deep east Texas rivers that I do more often. I'm not totally sold of the Spirit II, however.
I just sold a Spirit II. Would've kept it, loved it in fact, but something lighter came along. For what you describe above, it would be a great boat. My advice is to not overthink it.
 
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I just sold a Spirit II. Would've kept it, loved it in fact, but something lighter came along. For what you describe above, it would be a great boat. My advice is to not overthink it.
That's good advise. I need to wait until I get a bonus in the spring anyway. I'm not opposed to finding a good used boat as well, but they are hard to come by now in here. The Wenonah dealer takes about 6 months to get one if I order it.
 
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A friend has the Swift prospector. It looks quite shallow though sometimes that's deceiving. The Esquif is definitely more oriented towards whitewater than many other "prospectors"
We had a Spirit II back in the UK. It got us through some nasty open water situations with choppy confused waves on more than one occasion. It was always dry in the bow, unlike our Prospector. Never paddled it on whitewater, though we did have an Aurora, the 16ft version that we used for WW and for river tripping. Provided you had the skills to back ferry it was a fine canoe with lots of capacity. Trying to heel it over for snappy eddy turns was a lot of work as it was just too stable!
 
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I've used a composite Spirit 2 for some extensive tripping. Great canoe, very sea worthy. The big difference is carrying capacity. A regular 17 foot prospector will easily carry four full size barrels, if that's your thing. The spirit 2 you will have to work to get three in it. I have run some very large white water with it, and it was surprisingly good. I wasn't a fan of the very low seats, it takes some getting used too.
 
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