Buying Advice

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Buying Advice

Post by Tony » Mon May 25, 2020 4:25 pm

Hi everyone – new member here! I’ve been getting into OC1 and I’m in the market for a new boat. I currently have an old beat up Mad River Outrage that I purchased for a song. I know that this boat has a lot of loyal followers, but I think there could be better options out there to increase my confidence and take me to the next level. I would also be psyched to have something smaller and lighter! About me: I would say I’m a low intermediate paddler (class II no problem; class III, 50/50). I’m 5’ 11” and 150#. I’ve also paddled an Esquif Nitro (stable but slow) and an Esquif Raven (stable but felt like a big bathtub).

I think I’ve narrowed my search to either Millbrook or Blackfly in part because I live in Vermont and I could pick up a boat myself. Not to mention that all these boats look great and their prices are quite reasonable. For Millbrook I like the looks of the 20/20 or the Shacho. I think the Shacho is a beautiful looking boat, but I’m worried I would be swimming more than if I got the 20/20. I know that Dale Briggs really likes the Rayge, but I gather that it’s a more advanced boat. For Blackfly, I’ve heard the Octane 85 is a really fun, stable boat or possibly the Option.

I realize there are trade offs for these different boats. Like do I want fast and nimble or slow and stable? Ideally a good balance of both! I have the potential to demo most of these (Millbrook in flatwater only), but would like to hear any thoughts from people who’ve paddled any of these boats.

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Re: Buying Advice

Post by Paddle Power » Mon May 25, 2020 8:39 pm

If you are looking for lighter!

Then the Millbrook 20/20.

Any Blackfly canoe will be heavy.
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Re: Buying Advice

Post by Kelly-Rand » Mon May 25, 2020 11:06 pm


You have a couple things you have to further identify. What does the next level mean? Are there other open boaters that you can learn paddle technique from or are you going to have to self educate? The 20/20's and Blackfly's are very stable boats that allow you to do more difficult runs because they are forgiving but they are slow and that means that you have to plan well ahead if there is a river wide hole and sneak routes at side A or B. Boats that are fast but less stable tend to cause you to swim move often in the beginning but they respond better to good paddle technique and using the river features.
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Re: Buying Advice

Post by BAD paddle » Thu May 28, 2020 7:05 pm

Hey Tony--- I'm 6'-1" and 185~190lbs. I'm quite tall from the waist up and have short legs. I've owned the Shacho and loved it but am liking the 2020 more for my proportions. That said, it feels like if anything, I'm on the light/ short side for the 2020. You would love the Shacho I'd have to guess. The other glass option at your size would be MT Canoes FH (Ocoee). Glass is great-- fast, light, easy to repair if you like that kind of thing. Personally, I don't, so I use the glass boats when there's more water, plastic boats for all rock bashing. There are a ton of great plastic OC1s that should work for you and in your area, do keep trying them. Hard to go wrong with: Royalex--Viper-11, Ocoee, Outrage, or plastic Black fly Octane 85, Option, or Esquif Ledge lite, or Silverbirch Covert 9.3 at your size. in a hurry here-- apologies if I left something obvious off the list.

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Re: Buying Advice

Post by rainfoot » Tue Jun 02, 2020 7:29 pm

Good comments above! I am 6' 175# and have paddled the Option for around 6 years. ME LIKE! It really helped me grow comfortable in C3/C3+. I paddled a Mohawk Viper 12 prior. As already stated, Millbrook will absolutely be lighter. The Option is not a fast boat. But it sure is nimble. And I find it quite stable. There is no one perfect boat and either way you go, you will have a lot of fun. So many Options [pun fully intended].
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Re: Buying Advice

Post by Tony » Fri Jun 12, 2020 5:30 pm

Thanks for those who have responded to this post. I really appreciate the input! At the moment I'm really leaning towards the Shacho since I'll most likely be paddling Class II-III for the time being (doing my best to avoid rocks!) and I like the idea of a light, fast and nimble boat. Check out this Westwood video: Great video and the first and last scene show impressive paddling technique in a Shacho -- something for me to aspire to! If there are any readers of this post who own or who have paddled a Shacho, I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Re: Buying Advice

Post by Brendan » Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:49 pm

I picked up a very lightly and well cared for Shacho last year and while I’ve not paddled it a lot so far I have totally enjoyed the responsiveness of the boat. Pretty nice at the take out too compared to carrying plastic!👍

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Re: Buying Advice

Post by mkoeppe » Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:17 pm

Sounds like you have gotten great buying advice. If you are looking to improve your paddling skills, I'd recommend trying a NESS slalom race. ... lom+series
They are mostly open boaters with some C1ers in the group. Great group of people to get connected with. They certainly can offer you some help with paddling technique and form. If you are going with a Millbrook boat John Kaz probably could help you out getting connected with NESS. They also have a FB page. Start out with one of their easier races.

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