Gator Guard — experiences?

Hey all … looking for some feedback on this product. I have a tsunami 125 that I us to run the local rivers around here (Potomac, Shenandoah, Rappahonac, St James) and love it for the ability to get through the flat sections and still have no problem navigating up to class II+ ( and I feel pretty confident I can handle even quick class IIIs in it). That being said, I recentally had an encounter with a rock in a wave train that gouged my bow keel a little bit, so I picked up some Gator Guard Keel Shield after doing some research. I wanted it for both an adition to my repair kit for when I’m on overnight trips, as well as for protection on my bow keel

Have any of you used this product? Is there much degradation in tracking with it on? How does it hold up?

Many thx and appreciation in advance!

Boat? Link?

Here’s a link to the product. As mentioned above, running in a tsunami 125.

[] (Gator Guard Patch / Kayak keel guard")

… or in case that page loads terribly slow, same thing at Austin Kayak:

[] (Austin Kayak - Gator Guard")

Will be cutting out a 3”x12” strip for bow keel.

As a rule, I do not drag my kayak to the car, and do my best to pull up to shore via the side of the kayak whenever possible, so damage avoidance first. But sometimes there are underwater rocks that you’re just going to hit when touring a river, so looking to minimize the damage / heat welding repairs

The problem I see here is that the website states “Works on fiberglass and most aluminum boats”. The Tsunami is a poly boat; how well will this adhere to polyethylene?

The product mentioned many times, and used by more than a few members here, is “KeelEazy”.

It’s available by the foot, and in various widths and colors, and it comes in two versions, one for plastics and a different one for composites like fiberglass. It is generally well regarded and highly recommended in the kayaking world.

My bad, check the “patch” item (linked in my second post above). There are pics of it even being applied to what looks like a yellow hobie

Your boat is rotomolded plastic, isn’t it. I don’t think Wilderness Systems made that in the Ultralite (thermoformed) version, but in case they did, you don’t have an Ultralite model, right? Assuming not, then your boat is rotomolded plastic (the most common material for that boat).

Plastic boats are tough to attach most anything to. That patch kit you bought is fiberglass, and would work fine for most any composite kayak (fiberglass, kevlar, or carbon fiber). Might work for the thermoformed Ultralite version. But won’t attach to the plastic of your boat.

Plastic boats are challenging to fix when they get damaged. To have a chance, you need to do plastic welding. Assuming the hit moved plastic such that you have parts sticking out, you could carefully soften and melt the plastic and push it back to where it is supposed to be.

For emergency repair kit, most carry good duct tape or gorilla tape and a float bag. The tape won;t attach well to the boat, so what you end up doing is wrapping it full revolutions around the boat, so the tape can adhere to itself (which it will do). The float bag is used to fill up the area of your front and rear hatches, because the tape likely won’t keep all water out and you need something to keep you afloat. If yu are running white water a lot, you might want to buy float bags for the front and rear hatch and leave them in there, inflated, at all times (this is what rock gardeners and surfers often do).

Super helpful! Was assuming the plastic was the same … really glad I asked.

I do have a kc welder and know how to use it. Assuming those bow/stern bags that allow you to put gear in would work (i’ve always relied on dry bags with gear and air would get me through tbh).

I do run II+ frequently in spring (whenever I can tbh), and camp along the way, so my hatches are often used.

I’m thinking I’ll bring a small butane welding iron on trips for repairs, along with some rods and mesh. Will check out gorilla tape too. I really should carry duct tape but don’t …

Ok … quick follow on. They specifically say that it adheres to poly plastics, and they are attaching to a pelican in the video. Am I missing something?

I’m seeing reports from folks that say its held for years (?)

Love the idea of having a nice impact buffer

Pelicans are made of thermoformed plastic (which is an ABS type plastic), not rotomolded (which uses polyethylene).

The Wilderness Systems Ultralite versions are also thermoformed, where the rest of the models are rotomolded.

Thermoformed plastic boats usually have the white hull color (as would composite kayaks like fiberglass, kevlar, and carbon, so don’t confuse those). Rotomolded plastics have the same colors (or color patterns of mixed/swirled colors) for the entire boat.

My experience with rotomolded plastics and how little sticks to them tells me that this patch likely would not hold, so isn’t something I would bother trying. But I have not tried, and YMMV. If you do try it let us know how it worked out.

If you do bring a torch as your backup, make sure you get practice. There is a fine line between melting the plastic so it might re-attach and burning the plastic. I don’t know of anyone who brings a torch on paddles for plastic boat emergencies - I suspect it is because of this challenge.

Filled dry bags will float better than water in a hatch, so having a hatch filled with gear and dry bags is useful. You might want to fill any empty space with air bags, float bags, pool noodles, or other flotation items for extra protection.

Reach out to Austin Kayak, and to Gator Guards and specifically ask them about the product’s adherence to rotomolded polyethylene kayaks. Both companies have contact info on their websites.

Poly is very slick stuff but you never know.

@peter-ca — really appreciate the explanation

My tsunami 125 is a polyethelene boat, so rotomolded. Re: the butane torch/welder, will definitely practice on a hdpe bucket first!

Will post if I make a go at it

@kfbrady — will give gator guard a call. They specifically say polyethelene in their ads, and it’s fairly explicit in that video too. Never hurts to ask the manufacturer though. I read that they had some adhesive issues initially with polyethelene that they corrected with new bonding glue by 3M in production today.

I definitely understand nothing wants to bond to a polyethelene boat

Post pics of the damage to your boat!

Ok, follow up. I talked with a few sources, including Gator Guard and Austin Kayak:

  • The patch / keel guard will stick to all plastics except polypropelene.
  • It will bond with polyethylene.
  • The bond will hold permanently.
  • The product will get chewed up hitting rocks and will wear away if you drag it over concrete (duh).
  • It takes work to remove; best bet to fix / replace Gator Guard keel guard/patch is sand down, wipe clean, place new patch over old
  • Kayak performance (tracking) feels essentially the same with guard; no complaints of noticeable drag / plow
  • Austin Kayak suggested that if used as a patch during trip, remove (sand away and/or scrape off) and fix repair with weld when you get home (say, a puncture to the side of the kayak

@shiraz627 … wish I had some gnarly wound to show you, but its just not about that.

What I’m exploring is putting a buffer in place that takes anticipated but undesirable impact damage, and leaves the hull intact. Once the buffer gets chewed up and reveals the plastic under the guard, I’d just sand down, wipe clean, reapply.

Maybe I’m overthinking it… just want to make this kayak last …

@Kickin_Bears You have the exactly right idea…using Gator Patch as a sacrificial wear guard, and once its worn through, you can always re-apply.

To help clear the air, Gator Patch DOES work on HDPE (Polyethylene) and similar materials such as ABS thermoform. It was designed specifically to help repair and protect those surfaces.

It does not work on Polypropylene, which is commonly found on inflatables and cheaper pool toys, etc.

If you’d like to watch a video on the application, you can check out the blog here:

Have an questions I’m here to help. Have installed many of them, and personally use it on my NuCanoe Frontier 12. Thanks!