Composite gunnels

Having finished 2 trips in my new Colden Flashfire with Intregrated gunnels I thought others might be interested in my experiences. Advantages; lighter weight,more clearance for a dubble paddle due to no outwale,for the same reason unlimited hand clearance when using a single blade(the paddle hits the hull before your hand hits the gunnel),no creaking from gunnel movement,the boat is stiffer,the seat is more solid side to side due to the to wider contact surface of the drops. One disadvantage is that evidently I have been using the wood outwale as a guide by light finger contact when using a single blade,and I bang the paddle aginst the side some now if I don’t pay attention.

Sure a sweet boat!Turtle

Any chance of some photos :slight_smile:

They are certainly better than screwed
on gunwales, though I wonder how much they increase the cost of production. CE Wilson will know. Also, I’m not sure I would want any version of them on a whitewater canoe, unless I knew more about how field repairs could be done.

Thanks for the insights. I can attest that it is a sweet hull; lightweight and good looking. Everthing a man could hope for! Happy paddling.


I think some makers charge more for composite gunnels, but Colden charges the same as wood. I agree,field repair wouldn’t be as easy as wood. As a flatwater paddler I keep forgetting the whitewater aspect. I wouldn’t take my 25# boat in real rough water.



– Last Updated: Aug-07-10 9:55 PM EST –

Integral rails, Why can't we change mis-strokes in titles], infused with the rest of the hull are used by Colden, Placid boatworks and Swift Canoe. The Rails are placed in the mold with all the fabric that comprises the hull, a vacuum pulled and rails and hull catalyze as one piece of fiber reinforced plastic with two foam cores in atypical locations. Swift uses a third chunk of foam in the hull bottom.

They make for a very light and very strong, zero maintenance hull.

Swift uses a first generation foam cross section, up-sized from the Placid original because it is used on tandem canoes.

Placid used a second generation shape with belly in the top to improve tactile sensation.

Colden has it's own, third generation shape.

Placid boatworks, and now Colden, manufacture similar CobraSox / SnakeSkin thwarts and grab bars. Swift bolts through the tube and foam to install traditional seats and thwarts.

Costs are difficult to compute with accuracy due to the size of foam shaping runs. The foam is purchased in ~ 4'X7'boards, run through a table saw, scored on the table saw twice, cross bored on a drill press, run through a router/shaper twice, run through a table saw again then scored vertically.

The size of the run and the number of pre-set routers and saws that do not need to be adjusted all effect efficiency and price. There are also volume discounts on the braided fabric tube.

I think the reason Paul used standard pricing wood and SnakeSkin reflects finish care beyond industry standard on his wood trim.

A wilderness fix kit for Snakeskin would include 5 minute epoxy and a foot of carbon tube from Sweet Composites. As SnakeSkin bends beyond woods ability before breaking, I wouldn't be too worried.

Pics: You's think Colden and Placid would have write-ups and pics wouldn't you? But No Joy. has an experimental program whereby one needs send $ to post images. Email me at for pics. Best to mention how many MB your server will accept.

Colden on facebook?
I was wondering if Colden has considered starting a facebook page. You might be surprised how many paddlers would see your product there that might not otherwise. Free advertising. And, posting pictures there would get around email limits, and having to send them out multiple times. Of course, pics could be posted on the Colden web page, I suppose.

beautiful boat.
one of these days…one of these days I would love a Colden Wildfire. Congrats!