Gravel bottom rivers and poly boats

I have a 17’ Grunman and a Necky Vector 13.

My wife says the canoe is too much trouble(livery model@ 90 pounds or so getting on and off truck top). My initial response was, “no problem, I’ve been looking for a Vector 14 and will just increase my efforts.” Then I thought about it. She wants this boat specifically for the Little Miami Scenic River. In the canoe we do a lot of scraping along gravely stretches with low water. I’m thinking it won’t take long at all to tear up a poly boat. I know the outfitters all use fiberglass and aluminum boats. I see some low end polyboats on the river, but they all look brand new, and I imagine they find their way into a dark corner after just a few outings. I’d prefer not to wear holes in my Necky.

I’d prefer not to buy a used pelican or similar for $200 off craigslist only to have it worn through after one season.

I see a ten foot Montgomery Ward aluminum canoe for sale. Owner says 50 pounds and internet leads me to believe more like 60, although I can’t find good numbers. I was thinking it would make the perfect light river tank. There isn’t a lot too the Little Miami beyond staying in the flow.

Am I worrying about the polyboat fragility too much?

General thoughts?


– Last Updated: Jul-19-16 8:32 PM EST –

And Alu canoes have a keel that catches the bottom. Poly rides over gravel and rocks better
No they are not fragile. The last thing I would want to use on a river is aluminum

polyethylene kayaks
Virtually all whitewater kayaks are rotomolded polyethylene and have been for a long time.

Whitewater paddlers scrape down rocky creeks with these, rock spin, and boof off everything they can find.

The newer, small whitewater canoes are also polyethylene now that Royalex is dead.

Poly holds up to this abuse very well.

market tested

– Last Updated: Jul-19-16 8:56 PM EST –

and you know the market !

roll over to the rental marina n scope the bottoms.

Tear gouge turn white at the edges but bounce n resilience stops that material abuse from cracking.

Tho those falls videos ...

repairs made with melting the areas.

Wheeleeze wheels are repaired with a soldering iron, see online repair video

and hull repairs on utube

Have Paddled Gravel Bottom Streams
…all my life. Started with aluminum and would never go back. Noisy, a frying pan in the summer, cold as hell in the winter and STICKS to every gravel or rock it touches. Poly and royalex are much better to paddle rivers in and the Poly actually holds up a bit better. Just don’t store it in the sun where it will warp and it will hold up fine.

What he said…
I paddled a 15 ft. Grumman on Ozark streams for many years, but once I tried a plastic canoe I dumped the aluminum in a heartbeat. Yes, aluminum is durable, but that’s about its ONLY good quality compared to plastic. And poly is tough enough to withstand a lot of years of use and abuse. Heck, even fiberglass is better than aluminum for gravelly streams.

Necky 14
Poly boats can take a lot of abuse, and should last a long time with reasonable care. I’m not sure if you know it, but Necky discontinued the Vector kayaks. I have a Vector 13 and was looking for a Vector 14. Very few new ones out there. I do love my Vector 13 and use it on western lakes & rivers with everything from pebbles, to rocks, to sandstone.

Poly it is…
Ocean Kayaks may reintroduce the vector as part of the O.K. line’s touring options.

I am looking at used boats anyways. The Vector 13 is the only new boat I have purchased and only that because I got it for $450 OTD. Can’t even find a used one for that. Not many out there, but if I need to get a second 13 instead of a 14 I will. The 13 is short on capacity for me to take on more than about a 3 day trip and the extra 50 pounds of the 14 would allow me to stretch over a week.

Every time I think of a poly boat going over the gravel bits I remember someone dragging a loaded boat 50 yards down the concrete road and down the put-in ramp on a trip. Took a few years of life out of the boat in 50 feet.

I guess I will get a cheap one for myself and let her take the necky. Not much to pin it on and she weighs about half shat I do, so it should ride high.

As a friend once told me when I bought my first boat off him “You’ll find the problem with these things is they tend to multiply faster than rabbits.”

What kind of load will the boat carry?
You speak of that “extra 50 pounds” in a way that makes me think you are expecting your camping load to be pretty close to whatever the maximum rated capacity might be. With the extremely optimistic manner in which many boats are rated, you’d be better off being well below the stated capacity, in which case a 50-pound difference in capacity between two different boats probably won’t matter much. If the boats are rated for a maximum load that’s more reasonable, you’ll still probably find that performance suffers a lot when “fully” loaded.

For what it’s worth, I looked up 13’ and 14’ models on a few different sites and found discrepancies in the load rating of 50 to 100 pounds between sites, depending on which model I was comparing, and one site that said the 13’ boat is rated for 50# more than the 14’ boat (which might actually be true, given the longer boat’s significantly narrower width).

Maybe you know all that, but the wording in your post made me think it worth mentioning.

Takes a long time to wear out poly
A lot of people I see with poly kayaks abuse the crap out of them, and have been doing so for years. If you ever succeed in wearing out a poly kayak by scraping over gravel, you’ll be in the minority.

That would be great!
A SOT that’s touring oriented instead of fishing would be great. I love my 13 but sometimes wished I had gotten the 14 now that I’m hooked on multi-day paddling. I found a decent deal on a new 14 with rudder, but the shipping costs cancelled out the good price and from what I could see on the Necky website, the 14 has a lower weight capacity than the 13. I can easily do a 4 day trip in my 13, so until the perfect 14 foot SOT appears, I’ll wait. The OK Trident Ultra 4.3 comes pretty close to what I want, but since my Vector 13 is working so well for me, I decided to wait and see what new designs come out next year.

contaced JO
I started to think about this and there are a lot of discrepancies site to sight on their weight rating. Since I was already in contact with people at Johnson outdoors in regard to if they had any old stock stashed away I decided to ask them what the actual specs were. I wasn’t specific in my request, so they sent me an advertising photo that included the volumetric specs. I am guessing this is the graphic thatused to be displayed on the vector page on the Necky site before it was removed. Hopefully they get back to me on Monday. Maybe they don’t know.

I know if I push the limit the boat will not perform. I sometimes carry all my water. Up to 1 gallons or 8.5 pounds a day. As hot as it is here today I might take 1.5 gallons. I’m starting at 220 pounds myself. Most of my equipment is pretty light backpacking stuff, but I tend to take it all when I’m floating it instead of humping a pack. Any extra wiggle room I can get will help. The only other option is going on a diet. I work in the medical field and the salespeople always seem to have other ideas.

Maybe a tow-able…

JO reply
"The Vector 13 actually had a larger capacity since it was about 4” wider and had more volume but not by too much. Capacities listed below. Hope this helps and let us know if you have any other questions.

Vector 14: 300 – 350 lbs.

Vector 13: 375 – 400 lbs. "

So, the 13 does n fact have slightly higher capacity. Depending how you distribute the weight(I assume that is the main reason for a spectrum), as much as 100 pounds. Maybe that is a recommended limit and max limit.

Beyond the technical specs on the kayak, I have to say the service I received from Johnson Outdoors was superb. They were prompt in their replies and answered all my questions. Several from the company also commented how much they liked the boat and what characteristics it had and how they were hoping it would be brought back bringing a personal touch to the discussion. Keep in mind this is an out of production boat that was produced before they even bought Necky. Happy enough with the interaction that, if I give up on my search for a Vector, I will probably purchase a Malibu two. A whole different animal, but will get done what I want now and a lot of flexibility for when friends want to go with us, kids in the future, etc. Hold me over until I find a Vector local used or they bring it back.

poly works and it is cheap,
but the same can be said for some used aluminum canoes. When I paddled on the little miami years ago and rented canoes I had the choice of aluminum or aluminum. twas no big deal. Worked fine.

I own a polyboat (mr adventurer 16) it would work fine as well maybe even a little better than some of its aluminum predecessors. I really liked the grumman eagle when it came out- found it to be a very responsive aluminum boat that weighed a bit less. That would be my first choice for a little miami boat.

Lots of the poly rental canoes get hooved up in the middle- that aint a good thing but overall poly is pretty tough. Trouble is when you make a canoe out of poly that is 16’ or bigger you get rigidity issues so they start molding in all kinds of bs…and the poly can weigh more than aluminum which means its heavy to load and unload.

As far as draggin’ boats, those comments were probably about me- I drag my poly quite a bit. Got the grooves and scrapes to prove it. I would treat aluminum a bit more tenderly so I’m more of a poly kind of guy.

I’m pretty sure I’ve painted many rocks lots of different colors with poly, abs greens, yellows and reds, and yes even aluminum streaks.

Low water on the Little Miami sounds like a bit of a chore to me but to each his own.

I paddle the LMR regularly
In a tuffweave/gelcoat boat. The key is water levels and which stretch you do. The upper portion above xenia is only an early season stream for me. However, the fort ancient stretch is also rocky, with some wide fast sections. You can a alleviate some of the work by getting a trailer. I leave mine loaded and it’s easier to lift onto a trailer.

Aluminum no!
Going back some 35 or 40 years when I used to rent canoes to run the upper Delaware, I knew almost nothing about canoes. But when the livery introduced what I assume were Royalex canoes, after paddling one, I knew that every time I called for reservations I would ask for “one of those plastic canoes”. I recall that they had a faux birch bark veneer.

While everyone else in my group was hanging on rocks, I was riding right over them. I’ll never go back to an aluminum on a rocky river.