Expedition plastic or composite?

I am planning a boat to let me trip on Georgian Bay. This is rocky big water and I’m trying to choose. Composite boats are bigger and lighter. (I’m looking at the 19’ Seaward Quest) Plastic boats seem more durable and easier (I’m looking at the Prijon Kodiak.

Anyone suggest a tripping kayak for a big, heavy, heavy guy who likes bringing camping gear?

How tall & weight?

Current Designs Solstice Titan if your big enough.

Rental liveries use plastic… The investment is less and while the life is less it still balances out. I have been using a fiberglass kayak since 1993 in Maine. We have the same sort of rocks as Georgian Bay ( yes we have paddled there some 15 times and also Superior coast some 10 times)

Back in the day we holed a Necky Looksha and could not fix it… Barnacles are not friendly to plastic. FG while it scratches can be filled and fixed.

It seems to me most Maine paddlers who own their own kayaks go composite.

I ask you why you want to buy? White Squall in Parry Sound has rentals and also sales. They are very respected.

I haven’t really priced renting. I love White Squall.

Maybe I’m just too attached to it being ‘my boat’.

I’m 6’ and over 200lbs.

Ignoring specific boat recommendations, one big difference between plastic and composite for expeditions is repearability. Pretty much anyone that does major (as in pretty far out there) expeditions uses composite. Composites can be field repaired, even for major damage.

Plastic is more durable and less likely to fail, but when they do fail they are almost impossible to repair (even at home, let alone in the field).

If you are going to be out there in the wilds away from roads, people, emergency exits, etc., then composite may be a better choice (but bring a repair kit, and know how to use it).

That said, I don’t go that far out in the wilds on my trips (I have done up to 10 days - but rarely all that far from an escape route), so I generally use plastic.

You make a good point for composite. I think the issue on longer trips is that you have to go on. I’m thinking on the Prijon Kayak Patagonia trip.

I don’t ever want something that cold but, in theory, I’d like a 3 week trip.

July we paddled in 9 states with a lot of trips on the great lakes on rocks and gravel. Yesterday I did more damage to my composite boat on oysters in a 8 ft wide, 1 channel than the whole month on rocks.

Fingers, and shins too.

All are scared up but the boat will be fixed before the next trip.

Overstreet - Do you repair it yourself? Gel Coat work or glass?

Fiberglass is repairable. Mostly its the gel coat that gets nicked. We just epoxy dabs in and paint over. Gel coat is not structural. Overstreet is right. Oyster bars are nasty.

We usually do ten day trips on Lake Superior and the Everglades and the Maine Island Trail. The composite boat is 26 years old and still going strong… The guys at Naturally Superior Adventures get a kick out of its color scheme from the late 80’s early 90’s aqua and rose.

My sea canoe a Mad River Monarch is 30 years old and also glass/kevlar and paddled on the same trips. Gouges on the gel… and they were mostly from those dratted oyster bars.
Though man I love to eat oyster raw.

So far we have not had to fix glass though I have a friend who loaded his kayak on a cart and then tried to navigate down some rocks when the tide dropped. He was slow. the tidal range is 24 feet. Due to loading on the ends he folded the boat kinda… Just don’t do that. He was able to paddle the now not quite rigid boat back to safety ( he was on an island off the coast of Maine)

Where are you planning to be? Yes, there are very remote areas, but there are pockets of population all around Georgian Bay if you happened to get yourself into trouble.

There are certainly rocky shoals and erratics that could hole your boat, but with some care they can be avoided. I prefer my fiberglass boat because on a day where the chance of damage is severe you’re going to be waiting it out on land anyway. I’ve taken a plastic boat around Philip Edward Island as well (a Sirocco that I no longer own) and I was happy with the performance, but it has a bit less gear carrying capacity than my preferred Impex Assateague.

As I often do, I suggest you visit White Squall north of Parry Sound and test paddle some of the boats they have to offer. They also usually have knowledgeable people that can guide your purchasing experience, and a pretty solid satisfaction guarantee.

No affiliation other than a satisfied customer.

@bosahv@gmail.com said:
Overstreet - Do you repair it yourself? Gel Coat work or glass?

I built it. I repair it. Wood, glass, epoxy, uv protection(varnish).

@bosahv@gmail.com said:
Composite boats are bigger and lighter. (I’m looking at the 19’ Seaward Quest) Plastic boats seem more durable and easier
(I’m looking at the Prijon Kodiak.

Between those two boats, if you are not an experienced paddler, go for the Kodiak. More forgiving, while still large enough for a big guy and his gear.

Back to the larger question of plastic vs. composite, it is true that most long distance expeditions have been in composite boats (Jon Turk, however, has done some truly crazy routes in plastic boats, including a Kodiak), because composite tends to wear better for abrasion in the long run, as indicated above. While plastic fuzzes up and wears down, composite boats can be easily repaired for abrasion damage.

BUT if the question is impact, then plastic usually wins, which is why WW kayakers like plastic and canoers on bony arctic rivers have favoured ABS or its contemporary substitutes. Sea kayakers tend not to smash their boats onto rocks so much as they scrape them over reefs, barnacles, etc.

So, if I was planning a boat for one remote expedition only, and I wanted maximum durability, I would go for plastic. But if I was planning on paddling a boat over many trips and keeping it long term, I would go for composite.

You eloquently express my dilemma… :slight_smile:

Georgian Bay isn’t remote. I have paddled there many times. In a composite boat. RX is way better for wraps around rocks but I fail to see how you will wrap a boat around a rock…

ABS and plastic is used for remote trips because those boats often cannot be flown back… Its too expensive. They are either sold to the highest bidder, or scrapped or barged back to civilization which can take six months ( of rough handlng)

I gave up on plastic along about 1995 after scraping holes in the bottom that could not be sealed nor fixed. They are essentially throwaway boats. They don’t handle abrasion that well.

But for your journey anything will suffice and its not worth overthinking it. What you might think of is forest fires. French River PP is essentially done in.