identify Fglass or Royalex on pictures


I want to by a used canoe. The problem is that the owner is not sure if it is made of Royalex or Fiberglass or Kevlar. I already checked the manufacturer’s catalog for characteristics and found out it could be made any of these.

Since it is a few hour drive from where I live, I can’t go and check it myself easily. He sent me pictures. Can we tell from these pictures?? Sorry the link doesn’t work, you will have to copy and paste everything that is between the quotation marks : “”

Thank you very much for your help


How can you tell?
How can you tell?

Which characteristics should I be looking for when trying to identify the canoe’s material?

Looks like vinyl
A true Royalex® hull is vinyl with

underlying ABS plastic layers

surrounding a foam core.

I agree that it’s Royalex.

– Last Updated: Oct-15-12 12:57 AM EST –

Scratches in gel coat on composite hulls appear white and the stems of RX are often much more rounded and blunt compared with sharper entries on most composites.

If those four were the only photos the seller furnished, I'd ask to see more before I drove any distance. Especially closeups of the ends and seats. A shot from one end showing the full length of both rails is nice, too, as any deformation of the gunnels will be obvious.

Mad River? Old Courier or an Explorer?

Yes, royalex.
The scratches, dents, and gouges are typical royalex, in appearance. Composites with gel-coat would show white scratches. Without gel-coat, they would show as pale scuffs. If it were a poly hull, the gouges would likely not be as deep.

Does look like a Mad River bottom, but there are others who have used the shallow v.

Uh, guys?
The boat has the MRC logo on it.

Probably an Explorer

– Last Updated: Oct-15-12 9:27 AM EST –

I agree you should ask for more pictures.

You would not see the ABS plastic or foam core of the Royalex unless the boat was damaged or the gunwales removed. The inner vinyl layer of Royalex was most often gray (as in this boat) but sometimes beige or light green. The solid ABS plastic could be just about any color. The outer vinyl layer of this boat is green, obviously.

What else can you tell from the photos other than the boat is a Mad River made of Royalex?

It has some minor damage to the outer vinyl layer of the hull (scratches and shallow creases) which are of cosmetic significance only. One photo shows an area of damage to the inner hull in which some of the inner gray vinyl has been scratched off exposing small areas of ABS. Again, probably no big deal, but it might be a good idea to seal these areas down with some epoxy of some type and maybe paint over the epoxy.

One picture shows a portage yoke strongly suggesting the boat is a tandem, so it is probably not a Courier which was/is a solo. It is most likely a Royalex Explorer but MRC also made the Eclipse in Royalex which had a shallow V bottom as well and was described by MRC as "similar in concept to our Malecite". To my knowledge, MRC never made a Royalex boat they called the Malecite. MRC also made the 17' Revelation in Royalex with a shallow V bottom.

You can also see that the boat has aluminum gunwales and plastic deck plates. What you can see of the wood looks pretty good, but it looks as if it is due for a sanding and re-varnishing or re-oiling.

If the owner can't or won't send more pictures ask for an exact overall length and beam measurement so you can identify the model. Also ask what kind of condition the seats are in.

Mad River Explorer

– Last Updated: Oct-15-12 10:00 AM EST –

Good eyes guys. It is in fact a Mad River Explorer.

It seems like all of you agreed on it being Royalex.

I added a picture of the overall view of the canoe.

Thank for your help

16’ Royalex Explorer
There is no doubt from the photos that the boat is Royalex but if more proof were needed, at least back in the 1990s all of MRCs composite boats came with wood gunwales.

MRC also made a 17’ Royalex Explorer back in the 1990s but that boat had a thwart between the center yoke and stern seat.

The 16’ Royalex Explorer with synthetic gunwales had a catalog weight of 70 lbs. It is a pretty good all around tandem canoe design, if that is what you are looking for. Not real fast, but not dreadfully slow, will carry a big load for its length, quite stable, and with enough maneuverability for river use.

It has also been a fairly popular boat for poling, if you are into that type of thing. Some bigger folks have even used it as a solo tripper.

I’m way late and missed the picture but Fiberglass and composite would have flotation worked into the end of the boat. Royalex has a foam core and doesn’t need added floatation.

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