Bell Morningstar - which layup is this?

I’m looking at a used Bell MorningStar. The seller isn’t sure on either the vintage, material or weight. I’m attaching closeups of the exterior and interior. Can you hazard a guess? I’m suspecting KevLight but am unsure. And, if you know what material it is, do you have a view as to durability (and if you know the weight free to say so but I’m pretty sure I can find it on google)


Last two numbers on the name plate should be the year made. David Yost design. kevlar boat. Heft it and you will know the weight.

Thanks. I was hoping that somebody with more knowledge than I have could determine from the visual whether it is KevLight or Black Gold. I’ve been reading about the differences/pros/cons but can’t figure out how to tell the difference from looking. And I’d like to know before I drive a few hours to look at it.

It’s KevLight, not BlackGold. I’ll let you find the weight but I’d estimate 42-45 pounds so very manageable for a boat of that capacity. It looks to be in extremely nice shape. That big foam core should make the floor plenty stiff. It should be plenty strong for most applications given that canoes of that type of lightweight Kevlar lay-up are used as rentals by outfitters. The BlackGold was rated better for whitewater…so less likely to be damaged by big rock impacts. The Morningstar is a very nice boat and I’d be attracted to that one if I was in the market. Do you have any specific questions about the lay-up? Just FYI I can tell the lay-up by the weave but another giveaway is that the front thwart and yoke would be ash (like the seat frames) on a KevLight and a much darker color walnut (like the seat drops) on a BlackGold boat.

Thanks Tom, as always your info is extremely helpful. Based on prior comments you’ve made on Kevlar canoes, will wet entries need to be the norm for this KevLite? Is it particularly fragile compared to other Kevlar canoes - or are they all about the same?

And, yes, looks to be in great shape. Assuming its not super delicate, this looks to be the perfect size and weight for us.

It’s not super delicate and not particularly fragile compared to other Kevlar boats. Last time I visited my favorite dealer and tried a StarLite Northstar he had me sit in the boat on dry land to adjust the footbrace, so not delicate. Wet entries are the gentlest but I usually just put a boat right along the shoreline (always parallel to shore) so it’s mostly or completely floating and then step in. It needs to be at least mostly floating to make it easy to push off. Coming out I usually just pull up parallel so one side of the boat is gently touching the shore and step out. If it scrapes a little going in or coming out that’s no problem.

One thing you can do if you like is bring something like a short milk crate (sturdy little plastic box) that you can use as a step by putting it in the water at the shoreline. Then you can float the boat and use the step to get in and stay dry and then take the step with you. Kind of like bringing your own perfect rock.

Morningstars cruise quite effortlessly and turn beautifully. They are stable, can hold a lot of weight and would be very secure feeling in wind and waves. Nice boat for sure. They even paddle well solo.

Tom, as always, great advice. Unfortunately, the canoe was sold this morning – went extremely quick, apparently somebody already knew what I now know (thanks to you). I’ll be keeping an eye out for another Morningstar - it seems just about perfect for our use model.

Hard to find a canoe that nice any where.

Thanks guys. What do you think of a Wenonah Adirondack in the Ultralight (37lbs)? I might have a line on one of those at about the same price as the Morningstar that got away…

I had a Bell KevLite Merlin and had an oops in it
In Tenagami in Northern Ontario the maps indicated a passage between two lakes. Neither mentioned a portage
Too late I realized there was a waterfall inbetween the two. Only about 2 foot drop low water but pointy basalt
The Merlin enroute without me wrapped partially and popped free
All crumpled on one stern side but it did not leak
I continued on after reinforcing with duct tape as there was no civilization for 50 miles
So the Bell Kevlite layup was fine
Wenonahs may be different Its not so much the material; how it is applied and where and how many layers matters more

I haven’t paddled one but it seems well-regarded and I think it’s worth considering. Wenonah makes a lot of boats and their construction quality seems very good to me. The light weight will make it easy to use and I think that’s a big plus. Link to reviews below in case you haven’t seen them, I’d ignore the comments around the Royalex ones.