Interested in impromptu adventures? Mad River Canoe’s Serenade could be your partner in crime. The Serenade is a unique hybrid design, melding a canoe hull with kayak comfort. At only 42 pounds, this 13-footer’s light weight and versatility make it perfect for spontaneous after-work paddling sessions or for the days when your tandem partner bails.

“It’s a real spur-of-the-moment type boat,” says Buff Grubb, product manager at Mad River Canoe. “And because it’s light and small, it’s easy to car-top solo.”

More familiar with speedy-and-straight 15-foot touring solos, I was impressed with the hull speed and glide of the Serenade’s shorter design.

Its minimal rocker, just an inch in the bow and half that in the stern, allows for maneuvering but makes the Serenade easy to keep on course.

Mad River Serenade Specs
Length: 13’1”
Max width: 28.25”
Capacity: 300 lbs
Weight: 45 lbs (wood gunwales); 42 lbs (aluminum gunwales)
MSRP: $1,529-$1,749

The fiberglass shallow-V hull offers plenty of stability and instantly put me at ease. I was comfortable leaning far out over the gunwales to test my balance despite icy spring water beneath me.

Its stability has made the Serenade a favorite amongst photographers and sportsmen in the two years since its release, says Grubb, adding that it’s a boat designed for the twistys—marshes, backwaters and meandering rivers.

The ultra-comfy seat is a distilled version of parent company Confluence’s Phase 3 outfitting, featuring a contoured seat, backrest and leg lifter—perfect for paddlers who get sore knees or require lumbar support. This sports-car-style seating had me resting lower than I’m used to, just two or three inches above the hull. This position spurs many canoeists to opt for a kayak paddle, though the boat was designed for use with either, according to Grubb.

I started out with a double blade but soon switched to my trusty single blade and immediately found my rhythm.

The seat itself is super easy to remove for transporting and uses a simple system of two cords and jam cleats to secure the seat on aluminum rails.

For die-hard traditionalists that love the hull but can’t abide by a kayak-style seat, Mad River will unveil the Serenade outfitted with a traditional cane bucket seat later this summer.

A capacity of 300 pounds means the Serenade can easily accommodate a weekend’s amount of gear. “For lengthier tours, five or six days out, you’re going to want a longer and more efficient hull anyways,” says Grubb. “The Serenade truly is the grab-and-go boat you want when the fever hits.”

Now also available: the Serenade Carbon 13 (27 lbs) and the Serenade AR 13 (32 lbs).

This article originally appeared in Canoeroots & Family Camping‘s Early Summer 2014 issue. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions here, or browse the archives here.

n. A piece of music sung or played in the open air. | Photo: Emma Drudge

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