Carbon/composite kayaks - brittle?

I am thinking about ordering a carbon Current Designs Extreme (18’10"). I have a Kevlar one which was advertised at 47 but is in fact, 53 lbs. I am maxed out strength-wise at around 47 lbs. I had a fiberglass greenland-style before this boat that weighed 47 lbs. The company is giving me the option to order a carbon composite, but I am concerned that it may not hold up to the occasional slight bump on a rock. Any thoughts, or experience with carbon layup? How brittle are these boats?

if light weight is your priority
get a kayak that was designed with light weight in mind.

carbon/kev orion
My carbon kevlar orion is 17x24 and it wieghs in at 50-51ish, and its probally as close to bullet proof as you would want a boat to be. The shop I work for doesnt sell current designs because it was always hard to get them to ship boats, and cause of varying quality, unless your completly in love with the extreme, take a look at the boreal nanook, similar size, better boat in my opinion. Also boreals wieghts are for the most part right on the nose.

Not necessarily so … synapsied reply.
Carbon is stiff and strong allowing the builder to get away with less material while still acheiving the characteristics desired in a hull.

The “less” part has alot to do with the materials rep about being “brittle” A word which is not suiting to the material IMO. Most boats that are built in all carbon are usually purpose built race boats and might just break easily if they end up getting in circulation for general consumption.

Proper placement of material ( any kind) can get you a boat that is light, strong and safe. I have walked into a telephone poll, fence post and spun around into a dumpster carrying my 30 pound boat and have bounced off with zero damage every time.

Not sure what is so “Elite” about a 45-50 pound ‘carbon’ boat that you have to pay up to 800.00 more for.

Is almost always combined with some glass, with good results. Kevlar is OK for inner layers, and is likewise usually combined with some glass or core material. Kevlar is tough, but not stiff. I have had great luck with Carbon boats, and paddles. Think about the abuse a carbon paddle takes.

I don’t get it…
We are talking about 5-7 lbs here. If I put my shoes and clothes on a scale they would weigh more than that. Unless one is a racer, why sacrifice any amount of strength/dependability for 5-7 lbs?

No disrepect intended, but if it were that important to me, I would become stronger. It’s a lot cheaper.

Here’s a thought
Why don’t you just take the hatches off when you have to pick the boat up? I have the kevlar Extreme, the hatches are fiberglass and HEAVY (probably almost 5lbs. between the two). Put your boat on the rack, then put the hatches back on.

Now you’re down to 48lbs. and a lot of extra money!

If you ever paddle down around the MD area, I’ll pick that sucker up for you.

It is hard to build up strength
with nerve damage - left arm. The boat was advertised at 47 lbs. - that is what I expected to get - last boat I owned was advertised at 47 and came in at 47. That is what I could lift after a hard workout and not much more because of my left arm. 5-7 pounds makes a big difference with my limitations. I just am asking about the characteristics of graphite/carbon.

Thanks for the offer. I am curious as
to how much your boat weighs compared to the advertised weight of 47 for 2005 and currently 49 for 2006. Quite of few people emailed me to say their boats were considerably heavier. I guess there is not much truth in advertising these days.

She’s not lifting her clothing
as she is the boat.

While 5-7 lbs doesn’t sound like much to you or I remember that lifting is a cumulative effort and is restricted to a specific muscle group. This is 5-7 lbs OVER her threshold.

Looking at it another way, the extra 6 lbs her boat exhibits over the claimed weight represents a 13% increase. That’s substantial for someone who is already maxed out.

Quite honestly, if I were to purchase any kind of performance gear where weight is a concern and my item missed by 13% I’d be an unsatisfied customer also.

This manner of deception is quite common in claimed stats for backpacks, backpacking tents, etc., and one of the most important reasons for thorough reviews by informed consumers. Marketing concerns often preclude honesty from the boardroom.


Kayak Weights
The spec weight is usually applies only to the basic boat. It usually does not count hatches, seats, back bands and rudders.

You are dead on with your
observation. Thanks.

If weight 2 strength is critical for you

– Last Updated: Oct-10-05 6:48 PM EST –

There is a boat called the "Surge" designed and built by a one man operation in Maine that comes in at about 36 lbs. and you can stand on its' deck. It's about 17'6' x 22" stable yet quite fast. It has two hatches, but no day hatch. The best I can describe it is its' bow is a little like a Solstice and stern like an intergal skegged Nordkap. I believe his boat is mostly kevlar and he uses a resin infusion process along with other space age materials to achieve the high strength to weight ratio. From all I have heard they aren't brittle and probably no more in cost then what you are looking at. He only builds about 20 a year, but there is a small cult following around them as a niche boat to meet some of the needs you have described. He doesn't have a web site but there is a store in Plymouth Mass that sells them for him and will be happy to talk to you about it.


some where I have the builders phone# and address if you want it, but I will have to do a little digging.

Another option
A wood kayak. There are some very impressive hulls in stitch and glued panel construction or a wood stripper construction. If building one isn’t on your horizon, they do show up used and there are people who will build you one to order. Wooden boats are light, strong and will take a lot more abuse then most people might suspect.

A good place to start if you want to go this route is:

Look under buisinesses

I am going to wait
to hear from Current Designs. I believe they will be making me a graphite/Kevlar Extreme. They haven’t gotten back to me with the specifics, but the preliminary conversation with the company was hopeful.

I work at that paddling shop in plymouth that carries the Surge, I can vouch for it being an excellent handling boat. It also is always around 37 pounds (give or take a pound or less). If you truely need light wieght in a strong good handling boat the Surge can not be beat, you will not find a boat from any larger company on the market that makes a boat as strong and as light as the surge. And by strong I mean as tough if not tougher than my heavily built carbon/kev orion that weighs in at 50ish