Hull material durability

My wife has a Pungo 120. If I don’t push it she manages to stay more or less with me going downwind, but when I turn into the wind on my CD Vision 14 (w/ skeg) she struggles to keep up even with me barely making steerageway. I’d like to get her a new yak in a size and shape appropriate for her 5’8" 135# build. To complicate things she has this thing about keeping her feet dry, so launches by sitting in the yak and pulling/dragging herself across the shore till the boat floats. This is a habit I’m unlikely to break her of. I’d also like something light as she’s approaching 60 and not particularly muscular.

The poly of the Pungo is soft and shows many scars from her drop and drag method of kayak handling…but it’s still watertight. There is no way I’d get her a composite boat like mine, as she’d damage it in no time. But the heat-molded poly material like that used by Eddyline is new to me. It’s wonderfully light, but is it durable enough to hold up to her method of launch and recovery?


Paddling lessons might be of more value to her than a new boat…

The Pungo is a recreational class kayak, and the Vision is a day touring. The extra 5" in width of the Pungo over the Vision would make it a bit slower, so the paddling speed results aren’t a huge surprise.

All kayak materials are pretty durable. If the material she is sliding across to keep her feet dry is soft/smooth, it likely wouldn’t have a huge impact on any material. But if abrasive (like concrete) or sharp, then it would wear down the bottom.

Rotomolded plastic in general is most durable. It can get gouges like what you reported on the Pungo, but it takes a lot before you actually wear through. Downsides are that it is heavy, and when you do wear through, very difficult to repair.

Thermoformed plastic (like what Eddyline and Delta use) is lighter and supposed to be more repairable (I’ve never repaired one myself, and have hear that it isn’t as easy as some of the manufacturers claim), but also more expensive.

Composites (fiberglass, kevlar, carbon, etc.) are lightest and easiest to repair, but a bit more fragile and most expensive. The fragility is that they don’t like hard hits, so the dragging she does as she launches isn’t super bad on them. It will slowly wear down the resin, and when it reaches it, the glass/kevlar/carbon mesh. What could be done is keel/wear strip could be added at the spots where the boat scrapes when she launches, strengthening the areas that need it.

Note- this is from a guy who has lots of scratches on his kayaks, and doesn’t wash his car often. Keeping something in pristine condition isn’t as important to me as getting the enjoyment of using the thing.

What’s the shore made of? Grass? Sand? Gravel?

Two of my kayaks are Eddylines. I’m more concerned about damaging my kevlar kayak than the Eddylines. If she places the boat so the bow is in the water, then gets in and scootches across the smooth surface Peter described, she’ll probably scratch the hull but not gouge it. Gravel and rocky shores would gouge the hull at a minimum. Easily repaired with Devcon Plastic Welder, but why deliberately damage any kayak?

What does she wear on her feet? Her aversion to wet feet might be solved by getting a pair of Astral water shoes. They dry very quickly inside the cockpit.

Keep your eye out for a used Venture Easky 15LV. It’s a 15’ long low volume rotomold day-touring kayak that is designed for smaller people. She will have no trouble keeping up with you and it weighs the same as the Pungo 120 but is 3’ longer and 7" narrower. They discontinued the model in the US a few years ago (still available in England, where they are made). I have had one for 9 years and love it.

As for the wet feet bit, get her a pair of Kokatat Nomad knee-high paddling boots. I bought mine for cooler weather paddling originally, but I like them so much for keeping my feet from getting wet and muddy that I now use them year round. The tall shafts are Goretex fabric so you can push them down around your ankles once inside the boat so they are not too hot. It’s so nice to be able to wade out and climb into the kayak in the shallows without having shoes full of muck and water or scraping up the boat by entering on shore.

Every time I see someone dragging a yak over the ground, I cringe.
We have thirty year old small rec kayaks that will last another thirty years because the boats are carried to the water and then entered from the water.
Paddling is a wet sport. I don’t want to sound mean, but , but tell her to get her feet wet like my eighty one year old wife does.

How would it work out if you switched boats?
If the problems are the same it’s not the boat.

Maybe your wife would appreciate a pair of sealskinz waterproof socks

@TomL said:
Maybe your wife would appreciate a pair of sealskinz waterproof socks

Are they truly waterproof?

A couple of things that might help, though you have a very difficult situation here.

One is to get a boat in a fancier layup than plastic and add a keel strip. The most durable ones tend to be on full length sea kayaks, but a strip of Keel Eazy that you can do yourself will still protect some. Perhaps run three strips side by side to make it wider. Would have to redo it every couple of years is all.

Other thing is waterproof boots, taller ones that are more like mukluk height. Chota makes a set like this. That would allow her to step into the boat in shallow water while you stabilized her boat. So no dragging across sand. They tend to be warm but if dry feet are more important than anything else they would handle that.

Or the dry socks mentioned above, but I found them not to go up very high, hot as heck and didn’t last long anyway. Tried them early on, but your results may vary.

Not sure what to say about the weight part. I am still moving 55 pound sea kayaks and I am older than her. But I am also a huge advocate of using aids. A good cart to and from the water, Hullivator on one side, and an Amagansett Roller Loader with gliders on the second boat side. After discovering that every other rooftop option was harder work than having gliders in back. Even stackers, which I used for years.

@Rookie said:

@TomL said:
Maybe your wife would appreciate a pair of sealskinz waterproof socks

Are they truly waterproof?
I’m not sure if that’s a trick question. Mine are waterproof and have lasted a long time but then again I don’t use them very often. I have used mine in winter along with some thin water shoes because they kept my feet dry and that was the most flexible set-up that still allowed me to get my feet under the canoe seat and also allowed me to slip the water shoes off for max comfort in a canoe if I want to. I almost never wear any kind of shoe in a canoe. As Celia mentioned they might be warm for warm weather paddling but that’s not a problem for a New Year’s Day paddle in Michigan. I don’t have much kayak experience but if it’s easy to take your shoes and socks off after launching maybe some sealskinz with some crocs would be one potential solution.

Does she like her Pungo? Does she even want a different kayak? Let her drag it, forget about changing what she likes to do and how she likes to do it. {kayaks are cheaper than divorces} Be glad she wants to paddle with you. Slow down and let her paddle at her own pace instead of wishing she could go faster…she might not want to. Ask her these questions.

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Thanks for the ideas, esp on the thermoformed materials and keel strips. We married later in life, well after she had already formed and cemented her methods, so getting her to change her ways is a non-starter. Though I cringe at the way she does some things, I love her anyway.

We married young but the cringe worthy stuff wasn’t noticeable for awhile . It works both ways. I had never paddled a kayak; now I have 4.

Generally I put wife in faster kayak so she’d keep up. With mine that means I have to paddle a good pace. …And blame everything bad on the dog.

I just walk away from people that want me to pull them into the water or pull them out! Find another paddle partner! If your afraid to get your feet wet it’s not the right activity for you.

@shiraz627 said:
I just walk away from people that want me to pull them into the water or pull them out! Find another paddle partner! If your afraid to get your feet wet it’s not the right activity for you.

Thank you for that most helpful response!

Folks, I’m not looking for marital advice. Stick to the durability of various materials, please.


You might want to look for an older Dagger or Perception kayak. I’ve bought several used ones, dating from the 1990’s and 2000’s, to use as “loaners” for friends or on behalf of family who sought to own a kayak. The poly used for them seems to be thicker and tougher than that of many modern rotomold boats. I picked up a 2004 Perception Monterey 140 for my sister in law and was very impressed with how smooth the hull was despite the fact that it seemed to have been used quite a bit, and here in PA (where it had spent its life, according to the seller) most launch areas are rocky or concrete. I also had a 1996 Dagger Magellan that was built like a tank. Since I only paid $400 for it I was not very gentle with it and since I often loaned it to friends I took kayaking for their first time I often shoved it down the launch ramp with them in it. Yet the hull only ever developed superficial “rash”. I owned it for 6 years and finally sold it for what I paid for it and the bottom looked decent enough that the new owners were not concerned.

You could also put rub strips on the bottom of the Pungo. KeelEazy makes the stuff in a range of sizes.

What about getting a piece of slippery durable sacrificial material upon which the kayak slides? I’m envisioning something like a Crazy Carpet (thin roll-up plastic toboggan/sled for those of you unfamiliar with snow) that you could stow in a hatch after launching. Attach a small cord and you can still haul it in after launching from shallow water.

You’re sure to find something browsing your local hardware store.

^^ what Sparky961said. I have a little place on an island with a very rocky shoreline. I am playing with several 3x3 sections of restaurant grade rubber mats with perforated holes in them. I need protection for the boat and my ankles at the same time. Other folks on the island have taken a saw to sections of large diameter PVC pipe to create a protective low U shaped channel and run their boats on that when entering the water. The suggestion of slowly browsing one of the big box stores is a good one…