Bare kevlar durability

Hello folks, I am looking at replacing my fiberglass canoe with a kevlar boat to shave some pounds - my aging back tells me it is a worthy investment. The lightest option from my builder (Clipper) is their ultralight kevlar layup, which is bare kevlar with no gelcoat. Adding a layer of gelcoat will increase the weight by a few pounds, depending on the colour.

All my boats to date have been fiberglass and all my boats have been covered in gelcoat. I’m familiar with repairing both. My question is for those of you who have experience with bare kevlar: how durable have you found it over several years of use? I paddle both freshwater and salt, so barnacles are a reality for any boat I own.

Thanks for any advice you can give.


Its hardly bare kevlar… That would frizz upon meeting its first terrestrial object.
While it may not be covered with gel coat, the fabric is not bare… It is a skin coat of resin either vinylester or epoxy I am not familiar with Clippers skin…
Most likely your prospective boat does have some fiberglass in high wear areas especially at the stems… Rarely is a boat one piece of fabric … Often different fibers are used in different places. The Clipper website indicates there is S glass in the UL layup.
Ciipper has an outstanding reputation…

I have had a Wenonah for 30 years. Its a skin coat boat and very light… You can touch up the bottom if it starts to abrade without sending it back to the factory… Its best to use whatever resin that Clipper used but I have used epoxy with Wenonah.

Now I don’t personally believe skin is as resistant to gel to sharp objects like barnacles or clams or oysters. You might consider a gel coat Kevlar boat.

You will have to weigh your current boat and then look at the options for percentage of weight savings over your current boat. It may well be that you want some gel coat. Most likely any boat will be 20 percent less weight than you are toting now.

If its “bare Kevlar” with no gel coat, what provides UV protection?

Usually a canvass cover.

As Kim said, Clipper uses an outer layer of S fiberglass in their ultra-light Kevlar layup schedule (unless they have changed in recent years). So if you abrade through or wear through the skin coat, you will be wearing into the S fiberglass, which itself is pretty abrasion-resistant.

There is no question that a layer of gel coat will provide greater abrasion protection than a skin coat of resin. On the other hand, it is not that difficult to periodically apply a coat of low viscosity “penetrating” epoxy to the bottom of the hull to “refresh” the skin coat.

If you have frequently put deep scratches in your gel-coated hulls as a result of contact with barnacles or whatever, the extra weight of the gel coat might be worth it.

We have four kevlar boats with no gel coat, (just the epoxy finish), and I think they are the easiest boat to repair. Over the many years we have had them, I have not only recoated the bottom of one, because of the many scratches but have done many patches and touch ups.
Just don’t store it outside in the sun with out a cover