Swift Keewaydin 17 Review

Rachel and Elle paddling in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota. Courtesy of The North Face

Review by Darren Bush

Photos by Aaron Black-Schmidt

The Keewaydin 17 is a lovely boat with nice, pleasant round lines, as you would expect from the drafting table of David Yost. My first canoe was a David Yost design. I still have it and will never part with it.

There is some seriously impressive technology in the build. Swift also uses resin infusion to keep weight down, but the most impressive innovation are the integrated gunwales which are chemically bonded to the hull during the infusion process. According to Swift, it saves as much as eight pounds per canoe, allowing them to add more material to stiffen the bilge. It’s plenty stiff, certainly enough to keep the boat paddling efficiently.

Caitlin Looby portaging into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota.

My opinion is that most of the center thwarts on canoes these days are just yoke-shaped objects rather than proper, comfortable, sculpted yokes. The carbon fiber sculpted yoke was the most comfortable without any modifications. It’s beautifully molded and light, but it’s a premium product, and therefore not inexpensive. It’s part of the Carbon Tech package, which includes carbon seat hangers, thwarts, and end caps as well.

The seats are stained ash, with a curved cane seat that drops the paddler’s center of gravity by a few inches. People who paddled the Keewaydin all enjoyed the seats.

The Keewaydin is certainly not a speed demon, but it has perfectly adequate hull speed. It is efficient, like most DY boats, and while speed is somewhat compromised by the design, it makes up for it in predictability and comfort.

One thing I didn’t care for was the woven carbon and Kevlar pattern on the gunwales. I felt that the pattern was a little jarring in a natural setting. I asked Swift and they told me they could do the gunwales in all black, which I would prefer. You can also order the Keewaydin with cherry gunwales. It all depends on your aesthetics.

All this tech makes for a light, pretty boat, and the price reflects it. If it’s in the budget, it’s worth your consideration.

Length: 17′  |  Width: 35″  |  Weight: 36lbs.  |  Depth: 14″  |  Price: $3,695.00

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The article was originally published on Canoe & Kayak

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