What’s the difference? Which one is better? Which one is lighter? How are they compared to the regular Polyethylene kayaks?
Not the Same Materials
Airlite is a thermoformed plastic sheet. Airlite is not rotomolded, it is hot-pressed into shape. Airlite is a trademark name of Perception.
Duralite is a superlinear, low density polyethylene. It is rotomolded into shape. Duralite is a trademark name of Wilderness Systems
Each material has it's pluses and minus. Airlite is more dimensional stable during thermal changes Large polyethylene (rotomolded) boats may expand or "oil can" when stored hot or on a roof rack. It will typically return to it's shape as temperature cools.
Rotomolded boats are typically less expensive than Airlite boats. Duralite is typically less weight/volume.
Some say that Duralite is too flimsy for a boat. Some say that Airlite is almost as costly as a Fiberglass boat, but not as easily repaireable. Both materials are more difficult to repair well compared to fiberglass.
Some people said duralite is too flimsy and too thin so the boat deforms. it is easy for the boat to flop around and Gen-2 is probally tougher. My kayak is Gen-2 and it is a tough and durable material.
the thermoformed plastic boats aren't particularly light when they're big. I'd be curious to see some destructive testing on them before plunking down $2000 on the assumption it's just as durable as rotomolded. ESPECIALLY when it's made by a company new to the material. Perception vs. Eddyline
Trying to make a big wide rec. kayak out of a thiner rotomolded plastic sounds like it might have problems with some hull shapes.
I think if you really want a light rec. kayak,,pay the big bucks and get a light composite rec kayak like an Epic 12 or Current Designs Kestrel. The lighter plastics or thinner rotomolded don't get you significantly lighter boats.
Trylon is Hurricane Aquasports version of the thermoformed, vacu-bagged 'hardshell plastic' material increasingly showing up in kayaks these days.
Sally's Hurricane Tracer, a 16-1/2' X 22-2/4" soft-chined quasi Brit boat design is light enough for me to sling on my shoulder and throw on top of the Jeep pretty easily. But it's at the same time a pretty darn tough material, having survived a couple of 3-4' drops with nothing more than my bruised ego and red-faced coating of embarassment for having let it slip my grip.
Our friend Oscar tells of a time when he saw a similar kayak fall from a car roof to a concrete boat ramp and survive just fine, no cracking, crazing, and surprisingly few scratches.
I don't know which class Trylon falls in (I strongly suspect its in the Airalite camp), but Hurricane was one of the early adopters of this material and its construction method, and have had a decent amount of experience with it. So far -for the about 17 months we've now had it, after having bought as a 1-y/o used boat that I believe came out of livery service, we've been more than pleased. It's kept its shape, its fit & finish, and its luster just fine, even stored outside here in Miami in our back yard.
So, with that as OUR experience with it, we recommend boats made with Trylon (or its non-proprietary equivalent) as good, tough, sturdy ones to
-Frank in Miami