Assistance to Identifying Canoe material

Hello Everyone,

I need some help to identify this canoe material (See Pic link). If anyone recognizes the type of material it is, that would be great.

Any info or advice would be appreciated.


Appears to be old school fiberglass roving with paint over it, which was common in the pre-vacuum bag era.

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Thanks. It is super lighter than our other canoes that are fibreglass for sure. Was wondering if it was Kevlar, or plastic of some sort (Royalex)?

Seems I can only send one picture as a new user.

There were some fairly light fiberglass canoes made back decades ago. Then people went to Royalex for durability or kevlar and now carbon fiber to keep the weight down. But there were some great fiberglass canoes made that have held up well. I have a 13’ 6" fiberglass canoe made in 1987 that only weighs 36 lbs but is still in good shape. Paint over glass cloth on the inside and gelcoat on the outside.


Not much to go on, but that rough appearance and the dotted paint suggests early fiberglass. They were often made with polyester resin, some sometimes a chopper gun. They were not the best boats, and fiberglass deteriorates especially with exposure to UV light outside. Use it but be careful with it.

I believe you’re correct. Here’s a photo of the interior of the canoe I mentioned, which has a quality hand layup using good fiberglass cloth and vinylester resin. Taking another look, the difference is pretty obvious, even with the crappy picture I took.
fiberglass hull interior

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I agree with Chicago_Paddler. Looks like a woven roving, undoubtedly fiberglass, painted over.

Not a chopper gun boat.

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Right, I didn’t mean to imply chopper gun fiberglass. More about the quality of materials and workmanship and subsequent longevity. With canoes in particular you get what you pay for.

That is what I assumed. But since “chopper gun” was mentioned, I wanted to indicate for the benefit of the OP that this boat is clearly not a chopper gun boat. Also very obviously not Royalex.

Again for the benefit of the OP, chopper gun construction is a quick and dirty method of producing hulls that is much less time consuming than laying up and wetting out the fabric layers by hand. The chopper gun cuts fiberglass into short strands, mixes them with resin, and sprays the mixture into the mold. The problem with this technique is that the boats are heavier than they need to be, and yet weaker. Heavier because the resin/fiber ratio is too high. Weaker because the strands are short and connected to each other only by the resin matrix. With chopper gun construction you can actually see the short fibers randomly aligned on the hull interior. There is no immediately recognizable weave pattern as there is here.

That said, a chopper gun boat can be quite serviceable. It is just a much less desirable construction method than using woven fabrics.

I bought two pre-rotomold kayaks in the '70s. One is Kevlar, the other fiberglass. Both are much finer weave than what the photo looks like. Hard to tell the scale in the photo, seems more like a coarse burlap weave. The photo kind of reminds me of those old Coleman boats, but they sure weren’t light in weight.

The material is called woven roving. It is a quick way to lay up boats, since it’s strength will be along the flat bottom. The purplish color is from polyester resin. Polyester resin is not water-proof, so try to re-gel coat the outside, that is all that is waterproof in that boat. If you see any dark spots, you might as well throw the boat away, that is delamination of the glass and is a dangerous thing that can’t be fixed very well.

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