Coleman brand canoes are now manufactured by Pelican International and are sold under the Pelican brand. The Explorer is no longer listed on Pelican's website as a current model, but used models are easy to find. Pelican sold the Pelican Explorer DLX at a retail price of $399, primarily in discount sporting goods stores such as Cabela's and Dunham's. The Explorer is an inexpensive, durable, polyethylene plastic canoe suitable for beginner to intermediate canoeists.
Dimensions and Seating
The Explorer is 15.6 feet long, 37 inches wide and 15 inches deep. Three molded plastic seats are standard on this model, one at each end and one in the center of the canoe. The Explorer is designed to carry a maximum of three people. Its maximum weight capacity is 800 pounds, which makes it capable of carrying gear for canoe camping. Its length is relatively short compared to most two- and three-seat canoes, which typically run between 16 and 18 feet long.
The Explorer was sold new as a package that included two aluminum paddles. It is well-equipped for fishing, with a built-in cooler under the center seat, vertical rod holders and drink holders. The gunwales, or side edges, of the canoe are made of aluminum covered with protective plastic sleeves. Carrying handles are built into the bow and stern.
The Explorer weighs 81 pounds, which makes it heavier than other canoes of its size. For instance, a 17-foot aluminum canoe weighs between 65 and 77 pounds, and a 16-foot Royalex plastic canoe weighs about 55 pounds.
Materials and Construction
The Explorer is made of Ram-X plastic. Coleman originally developed Ram-X in the early 1980s and licensed the patent to Pelican. Ram-X is a tough material that stands up well to scrapes and bumps. However, it is so flexible that it needs a "keelson," or rigid brace, running the length of the canoe to hold its shape. The Coleman versions of the Explorer were all manufactured with the keelson. When Pelican took over, it eliminated the keelson on its earlier models, resulting in hull distortion. Later versions of the Pelican models were sold with the keelson. Look for a hollow aluminum tube running from bow to stern.
The Pelican Colorado is similar to the Explorer and can be purchased new at a retail price of about $400. Like the Explorer, the Colorado is 15.6 feet long, 37 inches wide, seats three and holds up to 800 pounds. It weighs five pounds less than the Explorer, at 76 pounds.
Etta Mills-MacDonald is a licensed attorney and writer who has been contributing to regional and national trade magazines since 1985. She has also practiced law in state and federal court, and worked as a book editor and consultant. Mills-MacDonald holds a master's degree in English, as well as a Juris Doctor.