Boat Review: The Huron by Esquif | Canoeroots Magazine | Rapid Media
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"Listen to the voice of nature for it holds treasure for you." - Huron Proverb. The Huron series pays homage to the Huron First Nations of Quebec Kaydi Pyette

The perfect cottage country cruiser

It's hard to focus with the Hurons nestled up against the shore outside my office window.The new series from Esquif Canoes features a 15- and 16-foot duo ideal for the sheltered waters beside Paddling Magazine’s cottage-turned-office headquarters.

Esquif has been making canoes for more than two decades, building their reputation largely on whitewater and expedition designs for paddling remote rivers in Ontario, Quebec and Canada’s territories. Esquif ’s core market is a niche in the canoeing world.

“We’re selling a dream. The big adventure, once-in-a-lifetime, three-weeks-with- all-your-gear dream,” says founder and owner Jacques Chasse.“ But we also understand lots of people paddle with a friend on a local lake to watch the sunset.” Or, how about at lunch with your colleagues to blow off some deadline steam?

Enter the Huron. It’s more of a sit-and-sip-your-coffee and watch-the-birds kind of boat. “It’s a different approach,” agrees Chasse.

Side-by-side with Esquif ’s best-selling Prospecteur lineup you might not think the hulls look too different. And you’d be right—in fact, they’re identical. The Huron 15 and 16 are taken from the same molds as the Prospecteur 15 and 16, then trimmed down to a depth of 12.5 inches. Further up the family canoe tree, both the Prospecteurs and the Hurons descend from a 17-foot Chestnut Canoe Company Prospector.

Who is the Huron perfect for? Well, unless your go-to destination is a whitewater river or one of the Great Lakes, the Huron is probably ideal for you. The Huron series is a compromise for those who want the Prospecteur’s predictable and friendly handling, but don’t paddle much in the way of rough water. Shaving the gunwale height from the Prospecteur’s 14.5 inches to the Huron’s 12.5 inches saves five to eight pounds. It also lowers the windage on the Hurons, making them easier to control in breezy conditions.

“The Huron series is ideal for recreational canoeists who want rugged canoes for paddling on calm bodies of water and small rivers, but who don’t need the depth and capacity of the Prospecteurs,” says Chasse.

While the Prospecteur 15 and 16 are capable wilderness canoes for solo or tandem tripping, without the depth of its cousins the Hurons lack the confi- dence to handle wind waves and wave trains. They’re better suited to cottagers and relaxed day tours. Think less canoe tripping and more of the finer things in life—on-water picnics, fishing, wildlife photography, sunset birding and toodling around without a care in the world.

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AFTER 20 YEARS BEING KNOWN FIRST AND FOREMOST FOR INNOVATIVE WHITEWATER DESIGNS CREATED FOR A VERY NICHE MARKET, ESQUIF’S NEW HURON SERIES IS THE KIND OF BOAT WITH APPEAL TO THE MASS FLATWATER PADDLING PUBLIC. 

“We didn’t really have a small to mid-size recreational flatwater canoe in the lineup,” says sales rep Johno Foster. “It’s corny to say, but the Huron does have this nice balance between tracking and maneuverability.”

The solo handling of the Hurons is easy and enjoyable.The only solo flatwater canoe Esquif is currently manufacturing is the 14-foot Echo—the Hurons are a good alternative for prospective paddlers looking for a bit more depth and length for more capacity and capability, according to Foster.

 

HAKUNA MATATA. THE HURON’S DURABLE T-FORMEX LAYUP MEANS NO WORRIES FOR THE REST OF YOUR DAYS. IT’S ESQUIF’S PROBLEM-FREE PHILOSOPHY.

 Between the two Hurons themselves, there’s not much difference—the Huron 15 is simply the 16-footer scaled down with reconfigured rocker, says Chasse. The 15-footer offers a little less carrying capacity and speed.

The Hurons are available in T-Formex. It’s a glossier, slippier and more abra- sion resistant material than defunct hull material Royalex. It’s manufactured the same way though—a layer of foam core sandwiched between ABS plastic and a proprietary material Chasse won’t divulge.

This heavy-duty layup is favored by whitewater paddlers but it also appeals to anyone desiring a maintenance-free boat.The Huron’s T-Formex hull will continue to shine even after it has been dragged down to the water’s edge, banged up in shallow and rocky creeks and left to bake and freeze outside through the seasons. Not that we’d recommend this sort of treatment, of course. What I can say is T-Formex is a pretty worry-free material—the handful of T-Formex canoes resting year-round outside the Paddling Magazine office are a testament to it.

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WEBBED SEATS, WITH VINYL TRIM AND A CONTOURED ASH YOKE AND THWART COME STANDARD WITH THE HURON. THE HURON IS AVAILABLE IN RED AND TAN. 

“The durability is a big part of the appeal. With many layups there’s a feeling of wanting to baby the boat,” says Foster. “I love this about T-Formex—I never feel that way. I don’t have to worry about it.”

Both the Huron 15 and 16 come in around the $2,000. Our pair of Hurons are trimmed with standard webbed seats, ash yokes and vinyl gunwales and deck plates. For an elegant design like this, I’d be tempted to trim it in wood. Esquif also offers a solo outfitting package if that’s more your style.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, the Hurons are awaiting my lunchtime liberation from the editor’s desk, and I don’t want to disappoint.

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