canoe materials/models

I have a Novacraft Bob Special, Kevlar, very light, easy for travel, good for easy water with soft bottom, good for ferrying our gear across ponds for remote camping.

We would also like to do some good old river running, not class V or anything, but dragging along rocky bottoms, bashing up against rocks, etc. The Kevlar canoe can’t take that kind of abuse.

My two-part question:

What is the best material for that kind of rough river play?

What is(are) the smallest/lightest two-person canoe(s) available in that material?

Royalex if you want a boat
that a serious whitewater paddler might use on a regular basis. If you will mostly run low water, low gradient, scrapey, gravelly, rocky stuff, then you want a tandem with not too much rocker. I would scroll through the Esquif boats.

Royalex boats aren’t light, but if you don’t buy more boat than you need, you won’t find it hard to carry it to the car.

On Kevlar boats, they can be made pretty durable, but not as durable as Royalex. Millbrook makes boats with two layers of hard S-glass outside, and two layers of Kevlar inside. ( ) They are stiff and light. Two models, designed for poling, can also be paddled tandem in low gradient whitewater. Those models are the Coho and the Souhegan. The AC/DC is also a possibility.

Yep, second that. If weight weren’t an issue, I’d say find yourself a good old Blue Hole. Otherwise, I’d look to Mad River for an excellent tandem boat.

Royalex. 15 foot(ish). Shorter equals more manueverable and less weight. Esquif Pocket Canyon or Wenonah Prospector. Something like that.

Might give Esquif’s Twin-Tex a look
My experience is that it just as durable as Royalex with some weight savings. Does cost more,though.

Old Town Appalachian, Penobscot
I always enjoyed the Appalachian for river tripping. I tend to baby my boats, so I didn’t drag it more than necessary, but it took the minimal abuse I gave it. At 75 or 80 pounds bagged, it wasn’t dreadful to portage, but it wasn’t exactly joy, either.

A Penobscot would be less fitted to your usage, but probably still workable.


Not me
When TwinTex first came up as a topic, I raised questions about an organic material known to rot as a core. My concerns seem to have borne out.

Seems a nice design, but the core material is a poor choice for practical reasons.

caution regarding Twin-tex
I have known some whitewater boaters paddling Esquif Zephyrs who have not been satisfied with how the boats held up relative to Royalex. On the other hand, others were happy.

There have also been delamination issues with Twin-tex.

Regarding Royalex, it is certainly the material of choice for most people paddling shallow, rocky rivers since it has more give and is less likely to crack upon hard impact. It is not very abrasion-resistant, however. It is quite possible to wear out a Royalex canoe in fairly short order with repeated dragging over shallow rocky bottoms or running rapids involving a lot of rocky ledges.

Polyethylene, in ww kayak thickness

– Last Updated: Sep-08-11 9:24 AM EST –

is moving into canoes. Esquif, Mohawk, and Blackfly are three major ww players, and Wenonah is a newbie with a recreational ww boat of somekind..;-) with Robson in addition. As said...Bell is no more, but made the 2nd Gen. of Dagger's Ocoee and many of the great Dagger boats(of old) are still out there = the stiffest/oldest Royalex(Esquif is stiff too). PE(new to canoes) is heavy but great = tougher & slick = no more Royalex-style rock hangups/grabs. Esquif's Zephyr is, or was their "twintex" flavor of said = some cracks...but nothing consistent, mine never cracked..but then I was getting back into ww and just doing up to ~IV at the time. Most are still of Royalex...which, as said, is ok...
All this is what I understand the situation to be like in ww....but I don't stay on top of things in ww like I did soooooo.
**Bookmark, just about every OC-1/2 made is owned by someone and represented by image(s) & specs.


Polyethylene isn’t new to canoes
The Old Town Discoveries and Coleman and Pelican canoes are made of polyethylene.

The problem with using plastics for canoe construction is it’s lack of stiffness. Solid polyethylene has been a successful material for kayaks because the deck adds a great deal of rigidity to the structure.

Coleman got around this problem rather inelegantly with a system of vertical braces suspended from the thwarts and a keelson made of aluminum. Old Town used a proprietary process of thermoforming polyethylene to generate a spongy cross-linked core which added stiffness in much the same way that the foam core of ABS in Royalex boats adds stiffness. The foam core of the Old Town Discovery boats also reduces weight in comparison to solid PE boats, although Discos are still considerably heavier than Royalex boats of similar dimensions.

Serious whitewater open boat creekers are increasingly turning to roto-molded poly boats because of the poor abrasion resistance of Royalex. But these boats are generally partially decked and quite short to get around the innate floppiness of solid PE. A roto-molded PE canoe of traditional size and open shape would be unacceptably flexible and heavy, however.