Kayak Layups

I am beginning to look for a composite boat, planning to gather much data for months. I am looking for a very light boat, and consequently am reading about f/g vs. kevlar vs. carbon/kevlar vs. other innovative composite substances.

I would REALLY appreciate it if those knowledgeable regarding the current light composite options could comment regarding the both the positive and negative aspects of purchasing a boat made out of the lighter substances.

In past years, I thought I read that carbon and kevlar were too fragile compared to f/g. And that when seeking a light boat one is significantly giving up structural strength.

Given technological advances…what is the latest scoop? For instance, what would be the advantages/disadvantages of purchasing a fiberglass vs. kevlar or carbon boat. I am looking at lighter composite boats manufactured by Wilderness Systems (Tempest), Impex (Assateaque/Currituck), Lincoln (Eggemoggin/Isle of Haut), Necky (Chatham 18), Riot (Aura-formerly the Azul Sultan), and others including some of the british boats offering lighter layups.

Although I would appreciate comments about the boats…that is really for another posting. I am most interested in the different layups.

Many thanks…


Got to say this
I’ve seen a lot of pmpex boats fles but I’ve never seen one with spider cracking. I wonder what kind of voodoo gel coat they use, but it seems to work.

Best performance to weight ratio is fron west side boat shop and surge marine but their boats are a bit specialized and pricey. Cannot get a much better strength to weight ratio

If strength to weight is th thing and durability is a concern kevlar is the way. If you can baby the boat and do not have surf intention go carbon.

The thing is the desire to change boats in the beginning in the learning curve is steep. Light boats are expensive. this is a bad conbination.

For my money you can shave at least four (maybe 7)pounds from a glass boat by giong to kevlar and maintain strength.

Given what I think are your criteria I would look into the impex susquehanna in kevlar and any other boats you like.

Thanks for your suggestions Peter. It sounds like you are familiar with Impex Boats. Have you paddled the Susquehanna, Currituck, Assateague? I plan to demo them this month.

It looks like their carbon/kevlar with normal gel coating shaves off a few more lbs…7. I need a light boat because of rototor cuff and carpal tunnel issues…don’t want lifting to screw up my paddling. It is hard getting used to being an ‘old fart’.

My GP technique teacher/friend recently wrote to me:

"Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to joyfully skid in sideways totally worn out, shouting “…holy sh*t…what a ride!”

Sounds good to me…


My impressions are that the “majors” higher tech composites are just as durable as their FG boats only advantage is weight. Then they offer guild lay ups that are the same weight as FG but are much more durable. Then there are the fast carbon boats very light but not as durable.

Layups vary…
…to the point where it’s better to look at the options from each manufacturer separately.

All glass, Kevlar, and carbon layups are not the same. Better to talk complete layups (specific ones) then to try to say one material is better.

I like to turn and play in somewhat
textured water. (Please do not confuse me with Sanjay, Sing, Nystrom, Flatpick and other titans. I’m not that good yet)

I have spend a couple of hours in the currituck on flat water and rolled it about ten times. The currituck is a fine boat and considerbly faster than the susquehanna. The VCP type hatches add to weight without adding to “strength” (but are drier that the hard hatches of the susquehanna. The hard hatches are OK though, seaworthy but not as dry as most VCP hatches are.

The currituck is not as maneuvarable as the susquehanna it’s longer and has less rocker to boot.

Between these two boats: For point to point travel even in the ocean i’d give the edge to the susquehanna, and it would be much better for camping or flattish water. For ocean and surf play it’s the susquehanna for me, much more forgiving than my pintail and still lots of fun. Fast enough, with enough stability to hang out.

The formula/impex people like Nigel Foster are dedicated to rough water play. It really shows in the susquehanna.

Going carbon you are definitely trading durability for light weight but again if you are not rock bashing, go for it.

If you want a screaming go-fast boat try a clear coat carbon endurance 18 from epic. I felt it needed the rudder in order to stop turning but man it was fast. Light enough in that construction. Better primary stability than my explorer and decent secondary with good feedback. Carved turns initanted very very well but once initiated hard to stop.

Others would steer you to a qcc 700 or 600 in carbon or kevlar/carbon and that’s ok by me. Especially for flat water speed. I’d rudder those boats as well, though, especially the 700. Not the play boat the susquehanna is. Different design criteria.

Have you considered a futura 2 surfski with a large rear hatch. Very light,(especially in an exotic lay up) very very fast, and campable.

I hit the impex boats hard because of my love for the susquehanna and because you mentioned them.

I set 12 feet of thermarest grey pad behind the car, put the boat on it, load one end to the top of the wagon on a super thick bathroom mat, which covers my rear bar and saddles as well, then lift the botttom end up and slide forward. Maintian contact wiht the boat at all times!

I always use a cart to take my boats to the nearby pond even though it’s only about 200 feet away. I had four boats on the pond a couple of weeks ago. (Three for guests) I might need another cart.

it should be small or made by a specialty shop,big boats weigh more than small boats. the Neckys composites are looking good but aren’t super light,kevlar is losing fashion to carbon/glass in their composite hulls. Epic appears to be going for light.

You’re covering a range of hulls,I’d get the one you like paddling then decide on whether weighing 4-8 lbs less is worth $400-$800 more.

Thanks to all!!
I really appreciate your online and direct emails about this topic. I have searched the archives and came up with an interesting thread…also have gone to a few sites and will be contacting some folks…a lot to learn.

I am essentially looking for a boat that performs like my RM Tempest 170, though is much lighter…if possible lighter than their kevlar model…so the search is on…which is half the fun of it…right?

Am also thinking about having a wood stripper built for me…will see.


I owned a Lincoln, Chebeaque
I owned a Lincoln, Chebeaque, and you need to know their kevlar/fiberglass layup is different than the others. They put a foam board stiffener layer between the Kevlar and Fiberglass along the bottom of the hull, and under the deck. The edges are tapered nicely to smoothly blend into the layup. The Chebeaque was 14’-6" long, 24" wide, and only weighed 33 Lb. This is the strongest layup I found when looking around. I had to sell the boat because the Cockpit opening is “only” 28.5" long, and I am 53 yrs old, and weigh 270 Lb. When my arms were tired from paddling, I had a hard time getting out. I hurt my bad knee one time, and decided to get something with a bigger cockpit opening. The local shop has a Isle-de-Haut in stock, and it looke like a super boat. Lincoln really does make a great boat.

I have test paddled the Impex Serenity, and I think it is a nice boat too, but you will have to try hard to find a stronger/lighter layup that what Lincoln uses. I wish I could have kept the Chabeaque!

Agree with Greyak
It’s best to look at each manufacturer’s lay-up options separately rather than to decide that kevlar is better than fiberglass for example. The strength of different manufacturer’s lay-ups will vary widely. For example, Wilderness Systems uses a lighter kevlar lay-up than Valley. Also, you need to examine if other fibers are used for reinforcement (i.e. carbon, diolene) and what kind of resin is used. I’ll leave it to the experts to expound.

This is GREAT!
Great posts…

I agree…it appears that the layups are clearly contingent upon both the composite material(s) chosen…AND…the differences between manufacturers.

At this point…it looks like both Lincoln and Impex have good reputations. I am heading up to ME tomorrow to paddle in the Boothbay Region and hope to stop at some point at Lincoln Kayaks in Freeport. I want to sit in and paddle the Eggomoggin, Isle de Haut, and their new boat (I spoke to Sandy at Lincoln), the Schoodic. It appears to be a pared down Eggomoggin…16’).

I surely appreciate all impressions of these boats.

Will be a fun search…


If weight is critical…


Layups etc
Impex layups are usually excellent as is the overall quality control. They are among the lightest boats of their kind.

The Currituck is a very nice boat. It is among the North American boats that most closely approach true Brit boats in design.

As far as Brit layups, P&H makes excellent boats and I believe they may use vacuum bagging which produces a lighter boat for its strength than the hand laid process that Valley and NDK use.

I have a Valley Aquanaut ProLite layup. The boat probably weighs about 50-55 lbs. About the weight of a North American fiberglass layup. The weight, I think, is in the gel coat, as the layup is carbon/kevlar with Diolene reinforcement. I do a lot of paddling in rocky waters (Maine coast, Lake George, etc…) so the thick gel coat is a plus for me.

NDK’s Elite layup is still fiberglass, but with thiner gel coat. My wife’s Explorer LV has an experimental version of Elite with carbon/kevlar bulkheads and carbon seat. I think her boat weighs about 45 lbs.

it will be a challenge
in that the Tempest 170 is a big boat,are you the one with big legs?

If you like how the Tempest 170 handles then get exactly that in kevlar. If you have to have a few lbs less weight then give up that design and look for something totally different,a carbon/kevlar QCC400 or Epic16, carbon/kevlar Mariner Express with no bulkheads/hatches.

Be careful about looking for numbers,you’ll find the limits in durability or end up getting something totally different than what you want for performance,which is a heck of a compromise for a few lbs.

Good suggestion…
I am building an SOF based on Boucher’s video and Mark Starr’s great book…slowly but surely…will be fine once I stop breaking ribs. But…I have gotten some great suggestions re: rib breaking from Byron and others.

I plan to use the SOF but want a primary boat to use offering greater comfort.


re: Susquehanna
I will definitely demo this one based upon your suggestions. Will demo their Susquehanna, Currituck, and Assategue.

What is MOST important for me is the best fit within the parameters of a boat that will provide good manueverability and tracking (with skeg if needed). So…I am flexible regarding models. I want the lowest volume and lightest boat that will fit into my comfort range (given a bum knee/joint issues), as I want to continue to grow with GP paddling technique.

So…a low volume boat for me would be larger than what is typically considered to be a low volume boat.Would like a low aft dec with enough room up front for my knees/feet. Will definitely check out the Susquehanna.

To Wilsoj2

Would love to hear about how the new kayaks performed as well as your Maine trip. Drop me an e-mail when you get the chance.



New materials new layups

– Last Updated: Aug-11-04 11:45 AM EST –

When my son's public school/parents started a crew club I learned about a new product that the builders of rowing shells have been useing for a while and I see P&H seems to be experimiting with it. New England Smallcraft in Mass. has two P&H's right now with it and they are somewhere in the 36lb. range. It is fabrics (often a carbon/kevlar) that is preimpregnated with a resin that only kicks over and cures when the boat is baked. They lay up the boat with the material dry then roll it into an oven an zap it with heat. Souris Canoe in Canada seems to be building their canoes the same way. The P&H boats (5-6K) are very steep in price, but I notice that the Souris canoes are easily compariable in price to all of their competitors which suggest to me that somebody could build kayaks the same way at no higher price then what we all are looking at now. As somebody else mentioned "Surge Marine" in (Wiscasset?) Maine makes an exceptionally strong and light boat. no web site though. QCC is also good at building a strong well built and lighter boat.

Trmoraine-Surge Marine
Do you know what type of boats they build? There are a few very positive reviews onsite. I will be near there this week…maybe I will give them a call.



have all
3 layups glass, kevlar, carbon kevlar. For me if weight is not a major issiue go glass. Use the money for a nice paddle and pfd.