Airelite vs glass/kevlar

I was “thinking” about a lighter weight kayak for a short person and happened to see an add for the Mystic (which I haven’t tried yet),but looked interesting.Then remembered that I tried and liked the Sonoma 13.5 which is substantially less money. As I recall the Sonoma does not have a front hatch, nor does it have a skeg, but the difference in price is still a lot.

I gather that some of the difference is the material used to make them.

I’ve been reading a bit about the new plastics like Airelite and was wondering how it compares with fiberglass, or kevlar.

If it is easier to repair and performs similar why pay more for the others ?

material not the key

– Last Updated: Dec-15-04 5:06 PM EST –

You can not compare the Sonoma and Mystic. One is a pure rec kayak for protected waters. The other is not. I'll let you do the reserach to see which is which. Don't focus on the material as much as the kayak design, features, and how you paddle it. You will make a costly mistake selecting a kayak based soley on worrying about material.

So, what about Aerlite repairability??
Composite is extremely repairable.

I agree with focusing on design…
… but I do disagree with you classifying the Sonoma 13.5 a strictly recreational boat for protected waters. I paddle a Sonoma and I believe it lives up to it’s “day tourer” classification very well. I have had it out in some decent sized surf and swells in Lake Michigan and it performed like a champ. It’s only a little over 22" wide and has good secondary stability. It’s easy to roll too. Basically I see it as a fun boat to play around with but nothing close to being in the category of say a Pungo.

why oh why
what’s the question?,the sonoma isn’t cheap for what it is but it does paddle nice,unfortunately it’s a bit deep for a small persons kayak,Perception doesn’t know what they’re doing sometimes between markeing and designs,smaller thermoplastic kayaks (Sonoma13) without bulkheads will weigh less than larger kayaks with bulkheads.

Perception should’ve made the Avatar in Aerolite,the larger Eclipse and Carolina are heavy with some design flaws in the seat hanger.

If you really want a thermoplastic boat then look at Eddylines 16’x22" kayak.

if you want light and cheap it’ll have to be a small kayak,if you want light and bigger it’ll have to be composite.

What’s the intended purpose of the boat?
What do you want to use the kayak for? Do you want skeg and bulkhead? If not, the Sonoma is the right boat for you. You may want to compare it with other skegless/hatchless boats in it’s length class.

On the other hand, if camping and long distance paddling in windy day is in the plan, boat without skeg and hatch is not too pratical.

It’s like asking if the the hybrid cars are durable when you really want is to go off-road into the wild. You’re starting down the wrong path…

Why pay for kevlar? Durability
if yo might be hitting the occasional rock, dragging the boat etc kevlar or glass is the way to go.Put a keel strip on an airlite boat. maybe. Can you do it with an waterproof adhesive ans some weird plastic?

Also stiffness generally correlates with speed.

No doubt, as the price drops airlite type products will crush polyethelene for sea kayaks and decently performing rec boats. Not much good for ww cause there will be rocks there.

I hope there will always be a market for top performing boats. IMpex, NDK, P&H, Qcc, futura, nelo, and lots of others are making it go.

Carolina 13.5 w/rudder
The new airlite Carolina 13.5 has a rudder if tracking is a concern to you.

I would avoid the airalite if
I were you, for the money it costs, you may as well buy glass. At the shop I worked at we had a few repairs with the airalite kayaks and it was not pretty/easy/fun. The cost to weight to durability factor = buy glass every time if you ask me.


The Sonoma has no bulkead in front? used in surf? Would you want to flip over and pump water out of this boat when it fills up with water?

no bulkheads
but I do have split flotation bags around a foam pillar in the bow. I also have a strong combat roll and usually do not expect to swim.

what brand of thermoplastic?
what’s yr opinion on Eddylines glass/thermoplastic laminate?

from my perspective on the repair side from doing work at the shop, it is exactly the same as the airalite. The overall quality of the craftsman ship is about the same too, really quite good, but it is not the finish at the factory that is the issue most times, it is just what the repairability is like. The eddyline rep for us swore that he could get a repair of the “modulus” (sp?) material to be every bit as good as a fiberglass one, but when I asked how and for him to have a clinic at the shop he was strangely reticent to come forward… As a result this particular shop in kzoo has not ordered very many airalite/modulus kayaks. And I am in agreement with their reasoning.

To add fuel to that fire, the Perception folks emailed us instructions on how to repair the airalite kayaks. The PDF essentially consists of instructions on how to superglue cracks back together. Which frankly I didn’t need their instructions to do.

Light weight Rec boat for small person…
… If you are looking for a light weight recreational Kayak for a smaller person, check out the models made by “Hurricane Aqua Sports”. They use a thermo formed plastic they call “Trylon”. I bought my wife one last spring, based on a friend’s reccomendation. They had one for two years, and loved it. I understand it is real easy to repair if needed. I found it to be really strong.

… I bought my wife the “Tampico”, and she loves it. It is 13-6" long,and is 24" wide. It only weighs around 48 Lb (or less, not sure). I know it sure is nice to pick up and carry. It also had front and rear bulkheads and hatches for flotation, and storage.

… Check out the “Hurricane Aqua Sports” web page for more details and a dealer near you. It is a nice stable straight tracking Kayak.

Happy Paddling1


Just got Sally’s new Hurricane Aquasports Tracer, a sleek 16-6 X 22-3/4 SINK in Trylon, Hurricane’s vacuformed plastic, about the equivalent of Airlite.

The boat’s light, it looks just like glass, it’s stiffer than plastic, and it seems pretty tough. We’ll let y’all know how it holds up.

Sally will be using it a lot, I hink, in the coming cooler months down here, to

Paddle On!

-Frank in Miami


– Last Updated: Dec-16-04 2:55 PM EST –

I saw an Eclipse Aerolite with ripped seat hangers from the back band, and a Carolina with stress marks in the seat hanger just from being sat in on the floor,,,two steps forward,,two steps back.

We liked the looks of the Tracer
… My wife and I both liked the looks of the “Tracer”, but my wife is pretty much a beginner. She bought the “Tampico” because the initial stability was a little more solid. She was too new of a paddler for the Tracer.

… I liked the looks of the “Tracer” myself, but I weigh too much for it.

…Good Luck with it!

if you do an archives search on this…
…you will hopefully find several threads debating whether there is any significant difference between Airlite, Trylon, Eddyline’s Modulus, etc. (there are more; every manufacturer comes up with a new name).

I don’t think you will ever read in print that they are all the same, because the manufacturers each want you to believe their own “version” is different, and, of course, better.

I would like to see some comparison testing, like a consumer’s reports style side-by-side, between these “different” materials & roto, 'glass, kevlar, etc.

The only thing I can add is to second the earlier post that the thermoplastics are not immune from stress cracks. And also that Perception’s hull certificates call Airlite “Royalex.”

Hurricane Tracer and Tampico
We have Hurricanes and love em! Had to replace the skeg cable on the Tracer since it was binding but the company took care of it n/c. Haven’t babied either kayak at all and they have held up really well and cleaned up great. Hurricane says DO NOT use acetone or solvents for cleaning. We used 3M fiberglass cleaner on a sponge for the hull and was blown away with how good they looked after a hard summer’s use. Have looked the Airelite over and it seems heavier and softer than the Trylon Hurricane uses? My Tracer performs every bit as good as my kevlar/glass kayak which is now for sale! But although everyone will jump into thermoforming kayaks in the next year…I’d be leery of the new guys since there seems to be a learning curve