Kayak colors

-- Last Updated: Jun-25-06 11:26 AM EST --

What are your favorite kayak colors and why? Deck/hull/seam.

If you found a kayak that you were otherwise ready to buy, but it was only available any time soon in one of your least favorite colors, would you buy it? For example, if new, special order is three months ETA, or if used one comes along rarely.

On a related note, there’s a “colorator” on the Seaward web site http://www.seawardkayaks.com/productslist.aspx . Just click on a boat, scroll down, and click on the color pallet.

I did read the good thread on kayak color from Feb 06, mostly related to safety and possible attraction/repulsion of wildlife.

Paul S.

Lighter orange deck
Or what the Brits call things like traffic yellow, which look pretty orange to me. And a white hull. On a glass boat anyway.

The hull white because maintenance is simpler - repairs are easier to hide. The deck a lighter orange color because it isn’t real bright but is still highly visible from a distance and isn’t so dark that every darned scratch shows up hugely.

Nigel Dennis said that black is the most visible color in rough conditions but I’ve seen very few black boats - they will show every scratch. Red, orange and yellow are pretty visible and I usually see them with white hulls and black trim. My next boat might be red deck, yellow hull and black trim. I saw a Valley that had a turquoise deck, white hull and red trim and it was pretty sharp, but not very visible out on the water.

My boat? Probably one of the worst choices for visibility - Rail Blue which is about the color of the Great Lakes on a lot of days, but it was a very good deal on a factory second. :slight_smile:

be seen
yellow and orange are more easily seen. You want to be seen, if you are in a harbor, river, inlet with heavy boat traffic. Orange blades can be held high.

If you want to shoot ducks or photos, maybe you don’t want to be seen. Blend in.

If you want to strut your stuff, in whitewater, the funkier the better. Leave an impression.

Easy on the Eyes
Deck: Grey or blue-green

Trim: Black

Hull: White

Some folks have sensitive feet and won’t use footpegs. I have sensitive rods and cones and won’t look at loud all day.

For safety I think the color of your shirt, pfd, paddle blades, and hat will keep you visible enough.

NDK - black
I’ve seen a few all black Explorers and a friend has a black deck/hull with red coaming/seam Anas Acuta. Very striking. Black does show scratches and abrasions more than lighter colors.

The NDK web site notes that dark/black decked boats can be significantly hotter (I think it notes 8-12 degrees)than lighter colors.

My experience in the dark waters of the NE coast is that brighter color decks are more visible and white hulls show up well except in surf.

My two composite boats have bright decks - my Aquanaut is Traffic Yellow with Sulfer Yellow coaming/seam and white hull, my Romany is orange decked, black coaming/seam and white hull. I custom ordered the Aquanaut, the Romany already existed.

If I were to order a boat now, I might specify Quill for the hull.


– Last Updated: Jun-25-06 3:21 PM EST –

"My experience in the dark waters of the NE coast is that brighter color decks are more visible and white hulls show up well except in surf."

I think that's what he meant - in really rough conditions where a rescue helicopter is looking for you, black would be most visible. His point, anyway.

I agree about red/org/yel for most conditions, probably the most popular colors at least around here. And a moving paddle blade will be the first thing to be seen...

On a Whim
ordered my QCC700 with a purple deck and cream hull, just for something different. Even on the darker side, the purple is quite visible, very easy to pick out in thumbnail race photos, etc. Just not a color you expect to see out on the water. It does show scratches more than a lighter color boat, but it doesn’t feel that much hotter to me in the direct sun. In this combination, it’s quite a good looking boat as well; garners quite a few compliments. 18’ is a lot of purple. :wink:

If you use it, it’s going to get scratched – especially the hull. White not only shows the fewest scratches, but it is also easier to repair.

Here’s my situation.

– Last Updated: Jun-26-06 2:12 AM EST –

I’ve been leaning toward Kudzu’s point of view about easy on the eyes. Thanks for the comments about scratches showing up less on lighter colors. Thanks also for the info that white hulls are easier to repair. I take it that’s because color matching is easy for plain white. I agree with Celia, signal yellow is good for visibility.

All things considered, if I could get custom colors, I’d consider a mint green or light teal deck on signal yellow hull. It would be unique. The mint green would be nice to look at (to me anyway), the yellow hull would be good for visibility if capsized, and I wouldn’t see it while I’m paddling..

Color matching and visibility aside, on the hull, to me, an ice white, or maybe cream for certain deck colors, would look nicer than bright white.

Nobody mentioned whether they would wait months for the color they wanted. What I’m really wondering about here is if I might hurt the resale value if I buy a kayak with non-standard colors. If you came across a used kayak that you otherwise liked, but not your favorite colors, would you buy it from me anyway?

Here's my actual situation. I’m ready to buy a Tempest 180. (I’m 6’3”, 290 lb, beginner. It’s definitely the right boat for me right now. See my reviews on this site. Maybe an Explorer HV if I come down to 240 lbs and gain a couple years experience, but not now.) Wildy isn’t building boats right now, and custom orders aren’t expected to deliver until fall, if I understand right. Dang, I feel so unlucky about these things.

A shop in Portland has a lime green on white, not my favorite color to look at, but in practical terms it should be ok. Lime may be pretty visible, sort of like fluorescent green, and not too hot in the sun. The shop has been demoing it and renting it out. I haven’t seen it yet, and not sure how much they want for it.

REI has T180s in red on white. They offer a 10% discount, redeemable at the end of the year, either in cash or credit toward merchandise. Red would be one of my last choices in colors. Red is dark, therefore hot in the sun I would imagine, and just not a color I like looking at. No offense to red on white owners. You may not like my dream colors of mint on yellow either ;-).

Steve has a proto TI80 that’s all final stock dimensions, rough here and there and plastic front bulkhead, that I want to look at too. Yellow on white, which is ok for color.

If REI had yellow or orange, or Portland had some choices and would price match, or I could order custom colors that would deliver in a few weeks, then I’d have lot’s of options. In the end I’m probably going to go for the boat and price I like, and just take whatever color comes with that, including red if necessary. One of the reasons is that I’m thinking of it as a two year boat, then move on or add to the fleet something like an Explorer HV.


Paul S.

Dark Colors on Deck = Hot
Dark colors on the deck do get hot in warm weather.

Get on the water dude.
Get what you can long as it doesn’t BOTHER you to look at it. Really. I think lime is a very decent color, i briefly owned a lime necky and thought its a nessesary evil when i bought it(only color i found the model in) but it grew on me in the first 30 mins on it. Red isn’t everyone’s color but also in general hard to go wrong.

The only taboos for me is pink, some icky early 90’s combinations of purple and teal, etc.

Yep, precisely
Thant’s why I’m not gonna wait for a custom order.

I’ve been thinking about buying used and painting the deck myself.

A pale lime green by the way is a nice color. Not bad for visibility unless you take it to the Caribbean, and it does look nice on the water.

As to resale - by the time you are thinking about selling the boat used it’ll likely be to someone who has wrapped their head around the idea that scratches are trivial compared to how well the boat works. Reds tend to also be quite visible, decently well liked. A lot of people like quill in a used boat because by then they have found out they’d rather not spend time messing around with scratches.

The only color I’d say to be concerned about would be a navy blue, though turquiose pops just fine. Personally I would be concnered about that on visibility concerns, and from what I see in our local paddling group it isn’t a favored color.

there’s only one worthy color …
for an NDK Explorer … traffic yellow over traffic yellow with blue trim.

for a Valley Pintail, it’s golden yellow over golden yellow with red trim.

anything else just pales in comparison. and that’s the truth …

and I thought it was Ivory over white with burgandy trim.


Color for Safety… BRIGHT LIME GREEN
My son is a Coast Guard helicopter pilot, now flying in CounterNarcotics…we don’t know where…). In the five years he operated out of Air Station Cape Cod, he found that BRIGHT LIME GREEN to be the most visible color in all conditions. Some Fire Trucks are painted that color. Highway flaggers are wearing LIME vests; even school zone signs are LIME. Well, at least here in Wyoming.

Even paddle blades painted LIME show up at quite a distance.


i got my tempest 170
with a lime green deck…just cuz it is a fun color…safety…oh yeah i guess that too…but it is a fun color…

would have been cooler if it was ALL lime though…

i had a lime green necky
i liked the color: visible and environmental. it was the color of new marsh grass (spartina) in the spring.