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Old Town Tripper 172

rated 4.5 of 5 stars

The Tripper 172 has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best tripping/expedition canoes for 2024.

photo: Old Town Tripper 172 tripping/expedition canoe

Most durable and long lasting canoe I have ever experienced or heard of.


  • Bomb proof
  • Does well in heavier water
  • Perfect for long camping trips with family
  • Good customer service


  • Wind can catch it as much as most
  • hHeavy but comparable to others of its size and durability
  • No longer produced

The Old Town Tripper after 40+ years of hard use and still going.


I grew up in this canoe. My dad purchased it before I was born. It is over 40 years old and has only been kept outside in the elements on the shores of Lake Superior. Harsh conditions to say the least (plenty of sun and sub zero temps). It has been run up on the cobblestone and bed rock basalt coasts all its life and yes the outer layer on one of the noses has worn through, but that only happened after 40 years and it's only a 1.5 inch by 10 inch area that can be easily patched with some kevlar skids. 

Unfortunately record snows came a couple winters ago and the canoe had just been put up on a 4x4 rack where the gunnel only rested on two points. The sidewall under the front set folded a bit and the gunnel which evidently was hard vinyl with a strong aluminum core back in the day shattered in many places but still held together in one piece. The thwarts have also rotted out. 

All of it is fixable, however I am unsure if I will be able to get the remnants of the folding out of the sidewall.  If anyone knows any tricks with the Royalex in this scenario let me know. Our neighbor had an old Grumman on a similar rack and it crumpled way more than the Tripper and of course did not bounce back as much as the Tripper. Wet snow is heavy especially when it gets over 3 feet for long periods of time!

Waves, Rapids, and Tracking
Yes, it has a rocker but my dad bought it for the stability and size for a 4-person family that might use it in wavy situations. It has worked great on the big open lake and even some rivers with class I-II. I hear the Tripper works very well loaded on longer trips with class III. It certainly handles rocks and waves with ease. 

The tracking is not as good as you might get on a boat with a sharper entry and a stiffer bottom with a keel.  However if you have a decent J and a similar C stroke then no worries keeping this guy going strait. Taken it on many long trips without wishing for more tracking. It tracks as well as my Mad River with its V Hull (old V Hull back when they had some actual stiffness). 

The Penobscot might be the better choice if you are concerned about wind but I doubt there is a mind blowing difference. The Penobscot will not be as good in waves and whitewater. It will track better.

Weight and Portaging

It is heavy but for its material and durability it is worth it if you are healthy and under the age of 55. If you plan on never coming in contact with rocks get a boat out of different material which will either be way cheaper or way lighter.

If you want a boat you can possibly pass on to your kids and or beat up on the rocks get the Tripper. You can portage this boat. Dad used to do it all the time for just over 2 miles at the age of 40. I think it is somewhere around 80 lbs? Yes, he was well built and yes, he did take a couple breaks.

Customer Service

Great Customer Service even today after they have been bought out by Johnson Marine. I have called them many times when searching for a used boat on craigslist. So patient, and they know their stuff off the top of their head even about old discontinued models and how they stack up to other models presently made or not. 

They provide lots of great opinions and every time I called I felt like I was talking to an avid canoeist. Still seems like a good company even after being bought out, but unfortunately mainly make 3 ply poly boats now that are of lesser quality by nature of the material.

Comparable Boats

Old Town Penobscot

  • tracks better
  • does not handle whitewater as well
  • does not have that safe initial stable feeling that the Tripper has (for those of you with one or more kids!)  Tripper is definitely a better boat if you have kids.  The Penobscot would be fine but you will be more relaxed in the Tripper, and might have more width for kids to sit side by side?

Mad River Explorer

  • carries less but could still do a long trip with one small kid and gear
  • comparable or maybe slightly better in whitewater

We-no-nah Spirit II 


Similar to the de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver and known as the pickup of the sky for wilderness access, so too is the Old Town Tripper the pickup of wilderness whitewater canoe tripping. I owned one in the late '70s and just purchased my second some 40 years later (lucky find and in amazing condition). I'll go with this amazing canoe any day of the week while paddling in the wilderness—offers true peace of mind and allows me to paddle with great confidence.


  • Durability
  • Excellent in whitewater
  • Amazing tripping canoe 2-3 weeks or more
  • Great lines
  • Easy to maintain


  • A bit heavy
  • Could use a bit more rocker



While a little heavy, its durability and handling in all water conditions makes it the perfect all-around wilderness tripping canoe, thus the "Tripper" name. I just purchased my second Tripper -- 40 years after buying my first and I look forward to putting her in the water soon.

I will be upgrading the seats to Swift nylon webbed on a cherry frames. I'll replace the yoke with a Swift cherry yoke, add hand thwarts in the bow and stern, and install kevlar skid plates. I expect this Tripper to easily paddle another 40 years. 




Canoe paddling over 60 years, certified whitewater canoe instructor and have paddled the Old Town Tripper in technical whitewater, flat water expeditions, and fly-in, train-in, and shuttle wilderness whitewater in Quebec and Ontario.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $1,500

Excellent tripping canoe for carrying heavy loads over over long distances.


  • Strong
  • Well made
  • Takes a beating
  • Nearly impossible to destroy and sink


  • Heavy, tends to wind vane in moderate wind. Oil cans with partial loads, carry yoke is uncomfortable and needs to be replaced.
  • Unless the skid plates are installed professionally, they make excessive noise when paddling.

I owned an Old Town Tripper for over 20 years and paddled it over five thousand miles throughout the Rocky Mountain states, Minnesota, the Dakotas and throughout the Quetico and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. I can attest to its indestructibility as I have on more than one occasion bent it in half and twisted it 90 degrees in class 4 and 5 whitewater and lived to not only tell about it, but paddle out.

The canoe is well built and can withstand abuse! It can also carry one heck of a load in excess of 800#s. I’ve actually stuffed nearly 1100#s of gear and people before getting close to freeboard. If you need to go far with maximum load and you don’t mind portaging a beast, then this is the cano for you.

However, if you are looking for a weekender, or a short week with minimal load I would not recommend it as it will oil can unless it is fully loaded. The bottom bubbles up causing excess drag slowing the canoe down excessively.

Because of its heavy weight, I don’t recommend it for long portages or for small people because it will wear you down quickly. I’m a big guy and was active duty military for most of the time I owned it and in good shape and it wore me down. It’s a beast, but the pros def outweigh the cons because if you damage it’s inexpensive to repair as Royalex is fairly easy to lay up.


20+ years

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $945

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Price MSRP: $1,589.99
Historic Range: $1,281.75-$1,439.93
Reviewers Paid: $945.00

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