Glass vs. Plastic boats for a small woma

I’ve paddled for a while with a 13 ‘rec/touring boat and want to buy something longer with storage for 1-2 day overnight trips. I’m tempted to go with glass, but I’d be using it more on flatwater rivers and only occasionally at the ocean. What’s one’s experience with glass boats and shimying over fallen logs or hitting rocks and stumps on flatwater rivers? I’m 5’4 and 118 lbs. I was thinking of a boat about 16’ long. Long enough for storage, but sitll maneuverable on flat rivers.

glass vs plastic
If you think you will be hitting rocks and logs and other objects in the water you probably need plastic or a boat made out of one of the new thermoformed materials. Look at at the Perception Carolina made out of a material called Airalite. Vaughn Fulton

the wife’s about your size and I looked
for a plastic boat for probably 9 months. They dont make alot of plastic 16’ boats to fit women. She ended up going with a current designs squamish.

good luck

For that matter
there are precious few boats made for smaller women period.


– Last Updated: May-23-07 4:55 PM EST –

OOPS that's Polyethylene
I paddle alot and I do rivers with rocks and logs but the biggest issue is dragging your boat up on shore. I've contemplated a glass or plastic boat but with a poly boat I don't have to be careful. My poly boat has about 7,000 river miles on it and the only unscratched surface is inside the storage compartment, I think but haven't checked. The boat can be bounced around and you never have to grit your teeth when you hit something.
My favorite is Current Design.
Happy Paddling

Here I go again
Sorry to sound so redundant but give Hurricane Aqua Sports boats a look. I have a Tracer. It is 16.6 ft long and weights 42 lbs. Made from thermoformed plastic. I have had it down several smaller rivers and still looks great. They have just come out with a new 14 boat I would like to get my wife into.

This is a small company which values it customers by offering great customer service after the sale. Read the reviews here on and give them a demo.

Necky Chatham 16

– Last Updated: May-23-07 5:55 PM EST –

They make the Chatham 16 in polymer. It might fit, although the cockpits seem to be a bit longer than the need to be, so the pegs might be a little further forward than you like. It may be worth a look.

Glass in rivers
Logs are no problem. Rocks will scratch/ding the gelcoat but probably won’t cause structural damage unless it’s a hell of a hit.

Glass vs plastic vs hitting rocks, etc
last week we were at a trip to the NC coast where three of us had kevlar kayaks and one had a fibreglass SOT short surf ski.

We were in a estuary and got caught among numerous oyster bars at a low tide and off and on for several hours where swept onto them by the current while we were looking for deeper water.

I heard many scritches and scruntches as we scraped over the shells, yet at the end of the day when we put the boats on the roof racks we had no unusual deep gouges or stuff to cause worry.

This is not a dailey occurance, but happens lots of times whether it be in a river, or the ocean.

My kayak is four and half years old and my wifes is a year and a half, and they have many years of life left in them.

I think if you are a respectable paddler who recognizes what you can do and what you can’t do with your boat you won’t have any problem with a glass boat.

If you know that you will be bashing into rocks on a daily basis than go with plastic. If it is an occasional rock that you don’t see and hit inadvertanly than go with glass.

For what it is worth, my wifes boat which is the baby QCC at 15’-3" would be a good fit for you.

It is light weight, built solid and is a fast fun kayak with good storage compartments.



I agree.
And I would add that glass is easy to repair. I have seen boats with horrible damage from all kinds of problems and they have all been repaired to like new performance. So stop worrying. Cosmetics are just that.

get your camping gear out
head for the nearest Hurricane dealer and check to see how much you can load into their new Tampico 140S. It will hold up fine and is as light as glass at much less cost. My advice is to try some of the cool new models in the 14 foot class that are skinnier than your first boat and see what you think.

With careful packing you can get lightweight backpacking gear in a 14 foot boat and when NOT packing have a lighter, more manageable boat on rivers and lakes. You can most likely load your tent in front of your foot braces in the cockpit based on the height you listed. Glass kayaks are way way more durable than they sound. But for half that cost check out the Hurricanes and treat yourself to a new paddle too! Happy shopping!

not as delicate as one would think
I too struggled with the decision between plastic or composite for both kayak and canoe. I paddle in a shallow estuary FULL of sharp oyster reefs and also love to paddle florida rivers sometimes shallow with log jams and rocks.

After I got enough nerve to order my first composite boat a QCC was relieved that after 3 years I have hardly any deep scratches on that hull even with some really nasty run ins with reefs. All my previous plastic kayaks had way more scratches and gouges than what I have on both my composite boats. Plus, they are easy to fix if you feel the need to do so.

I have a friend about your size and she paddles a CD Squamish on river trips and also overnights with our group. Because of the skeg can’t really do long trips not enough space for gear. But good weekend tripping boat for small woman. Also check out QCC they have a new model that is a scaled down 600.

When I figure out how
I’m gonna post a video of me pounding on my infused, cored, carbon glass kayak with a hammer! No damage. Composites can be extremely tough. My boat has been through torturous abuse and is structurally fine.

Several great smaller composite kayaks out there. I’d definitely go composite for the weight savings and overall pleasure.

I’ve paddled a plastic boat for years
and am moving to kevlar solely because of the weight. I want a boat I can carry myself across a beach. If I were you I would look at the composite version of the Necky Eliza and the Impex Montauk. There’s also the 14’ Impex Mystic. You could pack for a couple of days in it. A week, maybe if you didn’t have to carry water. And then I would learn to do gel coat repair, because that’s the worst thing that will happen.

Go Glass, If It’s Your Budget…

– Last Updated: May-24-07 7:29 AM EST –

as others pointed out, way tougher than folks who don't have one think. Eminently repairable and holds its value.

If you want maneuverability, look for a kayak with moderate rocker hull as opposed to a long, flat keel line. In truth, if the river is fairly wide, flat and slow, it really doesn't matter much. Lean to edge the boat, and it'll turn for you.


PS. I think Impex Mystic is pretty good choice. Light and A little over 14'x20.5" will provide a good fit for you and still have room for an overnight. Moderate rocker, makes it playful. Plenty fine for your river and the occaisonal daytripping on the ocean. Overly long boats don't necessarily serve smaller paddlers well.

You know how to drag on
shore, but some don’t, and they literally grind through the bottom of their poly boats. Not easily correctible. Glass boats are “hard” and may wear through more slowly. Plus they are repairable.

Two routes
1) Darn Tough Plastic Route

Wildwasser Catalina

Or just ask Cooldoc about Prijon

2) Fiberglass

Impex Mystic - lots of reviews on this board

Impex Force 3 - lots been said

P&H Vela - still more reviews been made

Depends on what level of performance you want from the water, the boat and your experience on the water.

Drop me a if you’d like to chat more about the specific models. I’ve posted on these already and just not enough coffee in the system at the moment to elaborate. Will caffinate more.

See you on the water,


Hyde Park, NY

Yeah, what they said.
My two cents would be to stick to a 14’ since you’re talking about 1-2 days out. Not to start a whole debate but longer isn’t usually better. I’ve packed plenty for over a week in my Impex Mystic. I’m about your size and really like the fit of the Mystic.

For a longer boat, you might like the Nighthawk 16. I use that one for trips longer than 1 week or when I’m taking the kitchen sink for some reason. It is in carbonlite and can take quite a beating. I

can’t say enough good things about the Pygmy Artic Tern 14 either if you can do some minimal building.

P&H Capella 161
…is a great choice for a smaller paddler. We have both a Vela and a Cap 161 in the fleet, and while the Vela is slightly narrower (20.5" v. 21"), the lower cockpit volume and deck heights on the Capella 161 make it well suited to smaller paddlers.

Just finished guiding a 5 day trip in Canada with a group and I put a woman who was 5’2", 110lbs into a Cap 161. There was plenty of room for her personal gear for five days…but of course, we had the new Cetus expedition boat with us, so we were carrying the lion’s share of the gear.

You usualy pay the premium fr composites to save weight and gain some fine points in design. The tradeoff is high cost and susceptbility to chipping and other damage.

Unless you’re an advanced paddlr or the weight difference makes a real difference in your carry, the extra cost probably isn’t worth it. It sounds like you’ll be bumping into rocks and logs, so count on gelcoat patching. A lot of nicks occur off the water too.

You should look at a rotomolded plastic brand like a Prijon or layer molded like P&H for lighter weight and stiffness.