Fiberglass or carbon/Kevlar

Which material can take more abuse, fiberglass or carbon/Kevlar? I have a choice of material and wondered which one would stand up better.

I would sometimes need to drag my yak in the sand ect.

Thanks FishHawk


– Last Updated: Oct-03-08 12:42 PM EST –

on the amount of material where the wear occurs. If there's a thin amount of carbon/kevlar it'll be less durable than a thick amount of glass. If there's a thick amount of gel coat it'll last longer than a thin amount.

If you're hitting the beach then dragging from the bow the little area on the bow and stern will get the greatest wear. If it's a gel coated boat the gel coat will dissapear first regardless of hull material and you're into whatever thickness of material is left.

The choice of glass or carbon/kevlar isn't for dragging/abuse, it's for cost vs. light weight. I'd pick which ever boat for those reasons, whether you want light weight or low cost then paddle the crap out of it. Pretty soon you'll see the high wear spots develop on the ends then you can apply your own high wear material there.

Concerns about durability are usually related to impact resistance and not abrasion resistance. If you can't lift the glass boat let alone the carbon/kevlar boat then the ends will wear no matter what it's made out of and you could eventually reinforce the kayak for that kind of wear. If you're like most heavy users of kayaks you'll be paddling and after one attempt at cosmetic repair you'll discover it's not worth doing until there's damage to the hull and not the surface abrasion.

Maybe if you got…
…the lighter C/K boat you could carry it instead of dragging it?

You can rag a poly boat in the sand all day long if you want. I’m just sayin’ :wink:

You need to give more info
such as: is there a gel coat over the fiberglass ?

I will drag my kevlar with gel coat over it yak on a fine sand beach, but I wouldn’t do it with any of my ultralight boats with no gel coat.

I wouldn’t consistantly do it with any boat unless it was tupperware.



Long-lasting fiberglass
I have bought three used fiberglass boats over the last couple years. The youngest of these was built in 1996. The boat built in 92, a CD Caribou S, has clearly seen hard use. We use it more than our other boats because we love it. It does not look new, it has scratches and gouges and wear spots all over. Except for the hull deformity that has changed the shape of the skeg hole a bit, these blemishes have no performance effects whatsoever. My 96 Valley boat hardly even has blemishes. A quality fiberglass kayak is an excellent buy, you may well be able to pass the boat on to your kids.

And when it wears through?
We’ve had a number of threads here from people who wore through the end of their poly boat by dragging. Then it’s off to the plastic welder.

Too simplify, FG will stand up to
dragging better than carbon, by far. S-glass is better than E-glass. My composite boats all have S-glass exteriors. Eric’s comment about skid plates or wear patches is right on, but the real question is, if a boat is going to be thumped, banged, and dragged, is that a job for a carbon exterior? An S-glass outside/Kevlar inside boat can be very light and stiff. Use of carbon can make a boat even stiffer and lighter, but the carbon must be protected from abrasion.

Old FG are not the same as current ones

– Last Updated: Oct-05-08 5:23 PM EST –

Ten year old or more fiberglass kayaks are usually way more rugged than current ones with a much lighter layup. Thinner and more flexible hulls together with thinner gelcoat means less rugged / more fragile boats and more gelcoat cracks more quickly, whatever the manufacturers say - lighter to that extent cannot mean as rugged as before. I am experiencing it and also seeing it on other kayaks (well known names) and do not like it. I would happily switch back my current 2006 glass boat for an older one... or an expedition layup.

No names here on purpose - I believe most manufacturers are guilty here, driven by all those buyers whose first question is "how much does it weight?"... It applies to plastic boats too, and to canoes as well - not as strong as before. Looks like the trend is toward mass-marketing boats sold on specs in a showroom for fair weather paddling more than building sturdy sea kayaks. If a sea kayak has to be cared for like a racing shell, it becomes a bit like a top of the line SUV you're afraid to take into the woods to avoid scratching the paint... some Utility! A few builders though, the smaller and newer ones usually, seem to still do solid fiberglass work, producing boats that are likely to last as long as the old ones.


– Last Updated: Oct-05-08 10:54 AM EST –

Carbon / Kev laminates may be the best combination of accident survivable and very lightweight composites available. They may not be the most resistant to paddler abuse.

Those unable to care for a top end product should choose glass or thermoformed or rotomolded products.

As stated by a couple others, do not
…overlook newer plastics, like Valley triple layer plastics. Superb, firm, excellent paddling and only about 5 lbs heavier than their fiberglass boats and 1/2 the price.

funny thing about descriptions
I looked at a carbon/kevlar Mariner Max that was being sold. It was about 55lbs. Apparently it was a bit heavy with yellow gel coat but felt as solid as a glass one. My brother had an all carbon Max that weighed 38lbs with white gel coat, and it felt like it was made out of crystal. “ting!!”

I bet a painted s-glass/polyester co-weave without gel coat would make a tough boat and lighter boat at a reasonable cost.

It sure would if done using vinylester
resin. Unfortunately, all I’ve seen is an S-glass/carbon co-weave, and I don’t see the point of that combination.

Valley is probably
the only manufacturer that I would consider.

Their design produces a perfomance sea kayak.

The bulkheads are welded (not just gooped foam) and the skeg is decent.

The seat unfortunately is not really that good but as somebody said on this forum: “you don’t buy a house because of it’s furniture…”

A seat can be removed and swapped for a foam one.

buy light and do not drag
Great time of year to buy used and very light. I know a 100# lady who can cartop her 22# graphite canoe with no problem.

technically the Carbon/Kevlar but
in reality the glass one wins, hands down.

How come?

A real sea kayak in glass will be heavy (NDK comes to mind) while a C/K will be light.

While the C/K in theory has great tensile strength it offers little abrasion resistance, not because the material itself abrades easier but because your typical craft in that material is so absurdly thin that any abrasion on the finish coat (gel or clear coat) will wear down to the fabric in no time.

So why is it possible that a so called “very strong” kayak is suddenly so weak.


Everybody is obsessed with weight (your own body weight and consequently kayak weight :slight_smile:

The consumer has driven the industry to produce kayaks that yes technically will not fold when paddled but god forbid being dragged on the beach.

The kayak has become this object of obsession that it must be always in pristine conditions. Any scratches are sacrilege.

Dragging a kayak? are you kidding me? you might get stoned :slight_smile:

(Note: to the reader that takes things literally- please take the above with a grain of sarcasm)

Not starting ever again
It came to me this summer, that I’ll never again start at right wing on the U of I Rugby team. In fact, that hasn’t happened since 1966.

Weight counts for me, because i still want to do the carryies, still want to paddle.

High tech composites allow me to do that.

Who cares what they cost if they still get us on waters?

Not starting ever again
It came to me this summer, that I’ll never again start at right wing on the U of I Rugby team. In fact, that hasn’t happened since 1966.

Weight counts for me, because i still want to do the carries, still want to paddle.

High tech composites allow me to do that.

Who cares what they cost if they still get us on waters?

The U of I had a rugby team?
Who would have thunk it!

I saw you dragging
that C/K kayak up the beach the other day NOT

Pretty boats (maybe even light) those C/K jobs but they make me cry if a drag one.

I have a few in C/K, some in clear coat.

Bloody useless as SEA kayaks!

The clear coat abraded in 2 sessions on the beach, right down to the cloth.

But hey, my buddies were impressed when they picked up my kayak.

'nuff said.