It was somewhere along the nearly dry creek bed I was dragging up that I decided I really liked Souris River’s Quetico 17 Canoe.

Souris River Quetico 17 Canoe Specs
Length: 17’3”
Width at gunwales: 35”
Depth at bow: 20”
Depth at center: 13.5”
Depth at stern: 20”
Weight: 44 lbs (Kevlar), 42 lbs (Carbon-Tec)
MSRP: $2,995 to $3,345

We’d been on the water for eight hours, were 10 portages in and had just spent the last two miles battling a headwind. This creek was supposed to be the easy part—a straight, albeit thin, blue line on the map.

As we weaved through a maze of bulrushes and reeds under a darkening August sky, it was the kind of moment where you might start to think dark thoughts. Instead, I was impressed. This canoe was light, it was maneuverable and it felt durable. Each time we bottomed out we forged ahead on foot, pushing and pulling. Through sucking clay, over river rock and even into a hornet’s nest, the boat never so much as creaked in complaint.

At the end of that purgatory of marshland, I knew I’d found a canoe I could trip with again.

The Souris River Quetico 17 Canoe is designed to handle everything a tripper can throw at it. Its long waterline keeps it tracking straight and makes good time on big lakes. Thanks to two inches of rocker, it’s surprisingly maneuverable for a 17-foot boat, even in narrow, twisting creeks.

“Designers are quick to say that there’s no one design that does everything, but the Quetico series comes close to doing everything really well,” says Keith Robinson, designer and co-owner of manufacturer Souris River Canoes.

In designing the Quetico series, which also includes a 16-foot and 18.5-foot model, Robinson was inspired by the timeless Prospector and mimicked its water-cutting entry lines. However, the Quetico has more tumblehome than the classic design, as well as a flatter hull, making it stable enough that I felt comfortable standing up in it.

We picked up our loaner from Killarney Outfitters and immediately noticed it had enough space for a route far longer than our five days. It’s also noticeably lighter than many boats its size and, at just 44 pounds, only the three-kilometer portage en route seemed particularly arduous.

The translucent quality of the hull is unique to Souris River, a result of their Woven Color technology, which creates the boats’ bright color. Instead of paint and its additional weight, manufacturing begins with a colored polyester cloth. Combined with several layers of epoxy resin, Kevlar and glass, it makes for a very tough hull.

Founded in 1985 on the banks of the Souris River in Manitoba, the Robinsons moved their young company in the early ‘90s to Atikokan, situated on the northern edge of Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario. Back then, Souris River was producing a meager 35 canoes per year. Now they send almost 500 canoes across North America each year.

The Quetico 17 Canoe is one of their most popular models, says Robinson. Given its can-do attitude, it’s no wonder why.

Options for trim include black, silver and bronze aluminum.

Featured Photo: Kaydi Pyette

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  1. We paddled a SR Quetico 17 on our 8 day trip down the Attwood River from Attwood Lake to the Albany River this summer. Light on portages, fine in the rapids, stable on big water and waves, slashing through thunderstorms, and even paddling out to the plane through 35 knot winds and a two foot waves it was stable and easy to keep straight into the wind. When a gust caught us and spun us 30 degrees, it swung around in the opposite direction right quick. A pleasure to paddle. Tough too.


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