Mad River Canoe

Where It All Started - History

The Legend of Bunny

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Celebrating a 40 Year Journey of Excellence.

Jim Henry, Mad River Canoe company founder, designed and built the first Malecite right around 1971. He then raced in – and won – the Downriver National Championship and the rest, you know. Word spread and demand grew. A tradition of innovation was born. 

From the beginning, Mad River Canoe explored new designs and experimented with new materials. We were the first to introduce Kevlar™ to the canoe industry and among the pioneers to first mold our own Royalex® canoes. We now offer a wider variety of hull designs than any other canoe manufacturer and continue to push ourselves and our designs to new levels of performance. Our efforts have been rewarded with competitions won, accolades earned (including 3 “Manufacturer of the Year” awards from Canoe & Kayak magazine) and, most importantly, a growing base of loyal customers. 

Jim Henry - Mad River Canoe Company Founder


1971 - Jim Henry wins the National Whitewater Open Canoe Championships in a home built canoe he calls the Malecite. Mad River Canoe is born. 

1973 - Mad River canoe builds the canoe industry's first Kevlar canoe, the Endurall. 

1975 - Mad River introduces the Explorer, destined to become its most popular model. 

1980 - One hundred Mad River owners participate in the first Mad River Rally, forerunner of "You Can Paddle! Days." 

1985 - "You Can Canoe!" becomes a nationwide event. 

1988 - Mad River Canoe receives Canoes Magazine's first ever, Manufacturer of the Year Award. Mad River will repeat in 1991 and 1994. 

1996 - Mad River Canoe designs and builds C2 whitewater canoe for Fritz and Lecky Haller in their quest for Olympic gold in Atlanta.

2000 - Mad River introduces its R-Series canoes, bringing affordable excellence to a whole new generation of paddlers.

Jim Henry - National Whitewater Canoe Championships

"The Bunny is Back" 

Beginning in 2009 and continuing to today, Mad River Canoe has launched a company-wide initiative that will continue to ensure our position as a world-class leader in canoe manufacturing. 

Beyond the announcement of a series of inspirational and premium new canoes for 2011, infrastructure upgrades from top to bottom have been made to offer the most innovative designs at the highest quality available anywhere. We're excited to see the reaction from long time friends of the brand and see the expression of the next generation of canoeists who are discovering the lifestyle in a whole new way. 

Mad River Canoe Renews Relationship With Jim Henry 

One of Mad River Canoe's original founders and renowned canoe designer Jim Henry has joined the revitalization effort in a new partnership this year. Jim designed the new 2011 Journey Series of triple-layer rotomolded canoes that will be replacing the venerable Explorer TT series.

We look forward to continuing the relationship and are excited about Jim's unparalleled perspective that he brings to all aspects of our our canoe team. 

Pelican International acquires Confluence Outdoor

Laval, Quebec, Canada, December 16, 2019 - Pelican International Inc. announces today the acquisition of substantially all Confluence Outdoors LLC assets, located in Greenville, South Carolina

Confluence Outdoor is a portfolio of six premier water sports brands including Wilderness Systems®, Perception®, Dagger®,Mad River Canoe®, Harmony Gear®, and Boardworks®. With a full collection of kayaks, canoes, surf, and stand-up paddle boards, and a wide range of paddle sports accessories—ranging fromtouring and recreational to high-performance fishing and whitewater products, the Confluence brands cater to all levels of water sport enthusiasts.

See the full press release below

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