gel coat, how much weight does it add?

About how much weight does gel coat add to an American made sea kayak?

Though I don’t own it anymore, I’m still wondering how my fiberglass Tempest 180, though speced at 64 lbs, turned out to weigh 55 lbs actual. It seemed plenty strong. I considered the light weight a gift.

Definitely not kevlar. I assume just great vacuum bagging on that one. It led me to wonder though how much variance budget could be in the gel coat.

Paul S.

P.S. I searched the archives for and and didn’t get any hits. I know the pros and cons of gel coat itself have been discussed. Not sure if the actual weight has.

can’t tell you for
a yak. But I owned a Wenonah Itasca (19ft tripping canoe)in Kevlar UL both with and without gelcoat and the difference was a little under 4 lbs.

depends on the color
reds and oranges weigh more than blues and greens. an average is 2-4 pounds. is it worth it? for me, yes. i like some color (can you say red/orange/yellow?) on my boats and i think it adds some protection for exposed kevlar if that’s your boat.

depends on who made it and when
present kayaks look to have less and you can see the weave. My initial thought was 4-6lbs

And yellow weighs more than any other

Gel coat wt
I’d “heard” it added from 5-8 lbs depending on length & surface area of canoe but believe that info came from racing types who don’t favor it, rather than from a manufacturer. Obviously if that figure’s accurate wt added to a decked boat would be even greater.

to an American made sea kayak?
Yikes, your question is quite specific.

Bluewater canoes tells me that if I want a strong and tough canoe with lightest weight they’ll build be a Tripper 17 with no gel coat and predict 45 pounds. Ish. So - 10% sounds for gel coat sounds like the approximation from the canoe side of the sport since the tough Kevlar/nylon boat is rated 50 pounds.

My experience with Bell canoes differs from Ericnyres greater experience…they are always much heavier than advertised and they get away with it, but their thick gelcoat takes lots of abuse and is worth the weight; my fortiesh pound black/gold Merlin II seems indestructible (1999 with maybe 2000 miles) and I had an almond black/gold Flashfire at 33/34 pounds that was also stiff and strong as it could be.

Blackhawk canoes are also a fun canoe reference. Even in the early 1990’s they were doing a good job vacuum-bagging fiberglass boats and ending up with strong and light fiberglass canoes (most of the time!).

On the other hand my 16 foot, 29 pound Souris River Jensen Solo 16 seems plenty tough with no gelcoat. But if I’m going somewhere new and unknown I’ll take the Merlin II.


gel coat

I don’t think the extra wieght is in just the gel coat, I think the boat you purchased was a little above factory wieght because the cloth was wetted out properly, may be a little extra resin, plus maybe a little extra gel coat.

I sure,wouldn’t worry about a few extra pounds, except when I had to pack the boat very far.


I was just looking for a ball park answer. I think the range of answers above was 2-8 lb.

I was asking in regard to the T180 which was 9 lbs under spec. It’s not a problem. It just made me wonder how much variance budget might be from gel coat. Looks like probably not more than a couple pounds of variance if that.

Interesting that pigment color is a factor.

Only reason I specified American is I’ve read that, traditionally, British made kayaks have thicker gel coat than American, and was interested in American in this case.

Well, I’ll continue to chalk up the 9 lbs light to especially good vacuum bagging on that one.

Paul S.

Gelcoat weight
Typicaly, we spray about 5 qt of gelcoat into the hull and deck molds of a 16’ sea kayak. Gelcoat weighs about 10 lb per gallon and about 35% of it evaporates during the cure process. some more gets trimmed off the parts as excess so figure that the net is around 8 lb in a boat. You get more than color from it as it provides protection from abrasion as well as from water absorbsion. We do use less than you would on a yacht or ski boat, but there is a minimum thickness required for things to work well.

I was told that leaving gel coat off of

– Last Updated: Dec-08-06 4:52 PM EST –

my decked canoes above the waterline saved 5 or 6 pounds from the total weight of 60 pounds for the 17' boat. Instead we put white pigment in the resin. The resin attacked the mold requiring time consuming repairs. Builder no longer lays up hulls without gel coat.