fiberglass vs. ?

Ok , not trying to stat a fight. If you own a fiberglass or similar material how come? I seriously want to know the reasoning? Why not just poly? Trying to plan what I want for my next boat.

fiberglass is great
I have several fiberglass boats because that is about the only material you can build them out of yourself. NOTE: The boats that look like wood are really wood core that has been fiberglassed. The wood is no longer an issue.

I can tell you that fiberglass (and other “hard boats” ) move through the water easier making them faster and smoother to paddle.

What is best for you depends on where and what kind of paddling you do. We still have 2 rec boats (plastic) which are great in tight area which we paddle in places we can’t turn the longer glass boats around. In open water where you can enjoy the extra speed there is nothing like a good glass boat.

Damnit… Losing another buddy to…
Big water! Guess I’ll padlle the rivers all by my self…

Paddle easy,


Lighter and faster
for a boat of the same design. Venue also can affect the choice. Is it worth the extra money… Shrug. We all seem to have varying amounts of disposable income that kicks into the play when it comes to play things.


easy answer
This is an easy one to answer.

  1. For my 16 foot boat, I’s rather lift 48 lbs on my car than 60 or more.

  2. Having safe bulkheads is important and the glassed in ones are driest.

  3. The mfging process behind fiberglass is more capable of a sleeker design than plastic

  4. I don’t want my boat to oil can in the sun when on the roof racks

  5. i want material than can be easily prepared

does anybody even make an 18’ long poly boat?

If I have the money glass if preferable,it’s lighter. But having recently purchased a Chatham16 in plastic it’s great,a tad heavy. For medium volume hulls I’d also look at Eddylines 16’NightHawk(?).

Repair options plus…
-I can repair it myself

-Can lift to the top of my 4Runner

-Feels solid as I hoist my 215lbs onto the deck

-Holds it shape

-Is better looking

-Just purchased mine…though truly feels like it handles better…myth or fact?

-Appears to be a far better choice of boats

Demo a bunch and see what you discover…enjoy…


Many of the above
I went to a composite for speed, weight, and that the boat I felt best paddling was only available in composite.

I chose the ProLite layup(Carbon/Kevlar/Diolene) because of weight. In Fiberglass my boat weighs 58-62lbs. In Prolite it is slightly over 50.

used kevlar
This is a great time of year to buy used kevlar. To hide the scratches I use wood preservative left over from painting pressure treated wood.

…most of the best designs are available only in composite construction. None of the three composite boats I own (or the other three I have owned) are available in plastic.

Sort of like…

– Last Updated: Oct-08-04 10:18 AM EST –

....sipping fine wine from a crystal glass or a styrofoam cup..

You're doing the same thing, it's just nicer doing it...

Materials of construction should be…
selected on the basis of intended use for the boat. For a sea kayak that is going to be used for expeditions, fiberglass offers a lot of advantages. But for fishing in shallow water, a plastic sit on top would be a far better choice. Another factor is weight and for many people the lightest boat is the best boat and Kevlar and other high grade composites would be their best choice.

So my advice to you is to carefully consider your own needs, uses, priorities, and so forth first. The right material for you should become obvious once you have done this.



i have a fiberglass/kevlar boat and a carbon/kevlar boat. the main reasons i don’t have a plastic boat are: weight, poor construction and design control with plastic, weight, can’t repair plastic that well, plastic tends to degrade pretty fast in Fla. UV, many good boats are only offered in composite, performance.

wood core is a huge issue
It is false to say that the wood becomes a non-issue in a wood core boat. The wood is nearly the whole issue. Here is what I know.

The cedar strips are encapsulated in light glass, usually 4 - 6 oz., which holds the shape of the cedar and waterproofs. However, the cedar strips provide most of the structural strength. If you made a kayak out of two layers of 6 oz glass without the wood core it would quickly fail.

Furthermore, composites like glass, Kevlar, and carbon lose a significant portion of their stiffness after cyclic loading because there is microscopic slipping of the fibers withing its resin. This is true in solid composites and cored composites with cores of foam or end grain balsa.

Cedar core structures do not show the same loss of stiffness from repeat6ed flexing. Similar to a glass composite, wood is a matrix of long fibers bound together by a resin-like material. It has been shown that the wood can be cycle loaded continuously without losing a significant amount of its stiffness. Analyses shows that wood fibers do not slip within their resin like man-made composites.

One more major point - a well built cedar strip kayak is lighter, stiffer and tougher than the same kayak made from glass or Kevlar. Carbon can make a lighter structure, but has much less impact resistance.

Minor wood core benefits: they are quieter slapping through waves; they are better insulators against cold water; they are aesthetically pleasing. Even modern designs get more praise from traditionalists when made from wood.

A major drawback of cedar strip kayaks is the time it takes to build them. Many of us would choose cedar strippers if someone could develop an efficient procedure for manufacturing them.

I am not an expert in wood composites, but I slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

glass or kevlar
all the above plus most importantly, i’m an elitist and cannot be seen paddling a plastic boat. :wink:


Well said!
Careful…you are speaking factually. Also wood provides a core so to speak. Adding thickness (core) dramatically increases stiffness.


– Last Updated: Oct-08-04 1:17 PM EST –

I enjoy the light weight of my 44# kevlar Shearwater, and I agree composite performs better, but if I only had one boat, it would have to be plastic.

I don't want to limit the places I go because I do not want to damage a composite boat. I took the little 13' plastic Mars to Lake Tahoe because I did not want to damage a composite boat on the rocky landing at Fananete Island. You should see the battle scars on that little SOT...

If you have the money, and you will not be limited by it, go with the composite, but depending on conditions, you might get a lot more use out of plastic boat.

I paddled a plastic kayak once but
please don’t tell any of my friends.LOL

Actually most people start with an entry level tupperware boat and if they remain as casual paddlers then plastic is fine but if they do happen to enjoy the sport and pursue it seriously then they will almost always gravitate to a more advanced design in a hardshell hull.

I have 3 sea kayaks,2 in composite layup and an okeume stitch and glue I built myself.

The composites are much easier to repair or modify

in addition to all the pluses described the above posters.However I do have a plastic 13 footer in my garage for those times when the rivers are flood and it’s time to go and scare the crap out of myself once again in the rapids.

If you can buy a good design in composite and you won’t regret it.