Help from the experts on No Gel Layups!

Impex is now offering a no gel layup according to the Frontenac site. Can any of you with a technical bent explain how some companies, like Impex, Wenonah, Bell, etc, do this and why it works or does not work. I have seen here that gel does not offer structural support, but it does protect against scrapes, is the major place where UV inhibitors work, and is easy to repair. How would a layup without it be able to do these things, or is this just a lighter layup that you have to keep out of the sun more and be more careful with? All and any ideas muchly appreciated as I am getting an OI in carbon kevlar and am considering this.

“ALL” Impex Kayaks in Kevlar are now available in a “No Gel” ClearColour finish. This new option offers the toughness and durability of their traditional lay-up at dramatically reduced weights of 4 - 6 lbs, depending on the kayaks length for only a $150.00 up-charge. Note: Impex’s “No Gel” Kevlar lay-up is stronger, lighter and provides “More Bang for Your Buck” than Carbon/Kevlar.

It can’t do it all
By going without gelcoat, you’re going to lose abrasion protection; there’s no way around that. The layup will still be just as strong, but it will be more vulnerable to damage from minor scrapes. For the type of paddling I do, that would be completely unacceptable, but for some the trade-off may be worth it. If you don’t mind “babying” your boats, it’s an option to consider.

I’m not sure how UV resistant standard layups are and I also suspect that Impex puts some type of clear coat over the layup that may contain UV inhibitors, so UV degredation may not be an issue, at least in the short term. I suggest that you contact them and get a clarification on that point.

other clear coat layups I know of they always put a thin layer of clear down first. You gotta have something between the compsite and the outside world.

like Bri says you have to want to baby your boat and the UV degradation is going to be there.

I had a Arctic Hawk SS in clear coat for a number of years and it was nice and light (32lbs) but the few dings and gouges really showed up and were immpossible to fix 100% cosmetically.

If you are going to ‘use’ the boat I’d get gel. JMO


Now I know enough to ask the right stuff

– Last Updated: Feb-04-05 10:51 AM EST –

Thanks guys. Now I know enough of what to ask. I am really big on them answering my questions honestly and accurately, just sometimes ya don't know enough to know what ya don't know? OK clear as mud, but thanks!

I think the gel is the way to go now that you guys have explained it to me. And Impex has a great rep IMO for building carbon kevlar and now with their infusion process it look good to go for me anyhow.

hey i’m no expert but i did stay
at a ‘holiday motel’ last night. and i have three phoenix fg boats with no gel coat, they are 20-30 years old and still going strong. two are old school whitewater boats and one is a sea kayak. maybe the phoenix layup is special. these boats have seen a lot of wear and tear and have been stored outdoors. they are not cosmetically immaculate but they are a lot cleaner than our newer poly boats. if these boats, which weigh 27-34 lbs, are an indication of the durability of bare composite 'glass, i’d rather save several pounds and go for the clear finish. i do wonder why they would charge more for a clear boat that has less material in it.

skincoat protection
There seemed to be some kind of very thin clear coat on the outside of my Wenonah Advantage … so thin that there were small areas where coverage did not appear to be complete. To be on the safe side, I gave the whole canoe at bit of a spray from a can of Helmsman Spar Varnish, which provides UV protection as well. Adds a few ounces of weight, but then the boat only weighed 32lbs in the first place.


The Phoenix layup is different
They use Nylon and other fabrics that most manufacturers don’t. Their boat are all under 15’, so they’re naturally going to be lighter. They have no bulkheads, hatches, deck rigging or footpegs, at least not as standard equipment, so the weight savings is not realistic when compared to fully equipped boats of similar size. Basically, they’re just a shell with a seat in it.

so bnystrom, sof question

– Last Updated: Feb-07-05 9:04 PM EST –

are they 'fully outfitted'? why or why not. how many hatches, bulkheads, footbraces,i mean outfitting, in a sof boat? and are they 'proper' kayaks? how much weight are we willing to lug around to be 'outfitted'? i confess i am a big phoenix fan. the ones i have are elemental, no frills, and impeccable handling boats. and all of mine came fully equipped with factory foot braces : ) i would also love to own a phoenix isere, 14'9" and 35# i think. know where i can get a deal on one?

I’m not criticizing Phoenix…
…as I find some of their ideas rather intriguing. I’m just pointing out that their weight saving is achieved at a cost and that comparing their weights to those of longer boats with much more standard equipment is misleading.

What amount of outfitting and standard equipment one likes is a matter of personal preference. I prefer to have bulkheads/hatches, back bands, full deck rigging and so forth on my hard shelled boats. I could certainly save weight by eliminating them, but for the type of paddling I do, I find the trade off to be well worth it. For you, that may not be the case. I have no problem with that.

Your comparison between Phoenix and SOF boats is reasonable, though SOF’s typically have a foot brace, back rest and at least minimal deck rigging fore and aft of the cockpit, for around the same weight as a Phoenix boat. In that regard, they’re more completely oufitted. The trade-off in that case is durability of the skin vs. a composite layup.

Phoenix has some interesting ideas, but their designs don’t appeal to me at all. It’s too bad that they don’t make a true sea kayak, but that’s their decision. They seem to be content with producing downriver and pond boats and are apparently doing well with them. More power to 'em!

one phoenix sea boat
is (was?) the ‘brown pelican’ by jim brown’s son russel, they’re multihull designers. the pelican is a unique 14’5", 35# boat with plumb ends and a clipper bow: quick, responsive to leaned turns and fast for its length.

Impex chat

You might already know this, but Impex has a chat page on their company website, where Danny will directly answer your questions on Impex boats.


Martin L.

Thanks Martin
Yep, know I know this and he was really helpful. Appreciate it.

IMO, 14’5" is not a sea kayak
I tend to regard anything under 16’ as being more in the recreational class, particularly if it has a beam over 22"

not your typical sea kayak
the pelican’s beam is 22" with a lot a lot of flare so the wl beam is about 18". low initial stability with lots of reserve buoyancy make edging easy. the 14’5" length is equal to most 16’ boats in wl since the ends are vertical. long heavy boats feel trucklike after paddling this sports model