Kayak Weight

I tried out a lightweight Impex Currituck at the ECCKF, I think it was made of K-Lite. It was sweet! Fast and responsive – felt like it was made for me. There wasn’t a fiberglass Currituck to demo. I was wondering what effect the extra weight of a fiberglass boat would have on performance. Most of the similar fiberglass boats I tried in other lines seemed kind of sluggish.

define performance
if you and your gear weigh 190lbs and the kayak weighs 55 you’re 245lbs,if the kayak weighs 40lbs the package is 230lbs. You can perceive faster acceleration but top speed or wave handling will be no different. Light weight for a non-racing design is primarily for ease of carrying to the water.

I guess it was the faster
acceleration that I noticed most. Thanks.

I have both
a Currituck in C/K and one in Glass (used to have also a K-lite one).

I personally can’t feel no difference in performance between the 3 lay ups.

The only time I can tell is when schlepping them to the water from the car.

If money is object the glass one is just fine.

And very strong…

not much
IMHO, the weight of a boat mostly impacts when it is out of the water (such as when you are carrying it). Kayaks of the same shape/size made of stiff materials, like kevlar or fiberglass, should have very similar properties in the water. Even a kayak of the same shape/size as these but made of plastic (which isn’t as stiff) is only a couple of percent less efficient than the stiffer boat (based on what I remember from a previous thread - data supposedly coming from our resident kayak R&D specialist - Flatpick).

"similar fiberglass boats"
Very similar appearing boats can have notably different performance personalities. The differences you felt were more likely to be a result of design differences than weight.

That being said a lighter boat of the same design would be faster off the mark.

Most human powered craft, even once
they are at cruising speed, have to be re-accelerated with each stroke. The mass of a heavier layup may be perceptible at that time. Of course the boat may have relatively low mass compared to the paddler, but an experienced paddler may still be able to feel the effect of a heavier layup.

A heavier boat mass may be an advantage when encountering sudden resistance from a wave or hole. But again, usually the mass of the paddler predominates.

same shape hull, same material
in contact with the water (actual fiberglass or kevlar or carbon is coated). The only difference in performance would be the result of a few extra pounds. You’ll find that weight varies more significantly with changes in clothing between seasons or what you’re carrying with you dependant upon your planned paddle. It’s the romantic nature of it all that would likely generate the greatest perception of differences.

The difference between lifting kayaks give or take 5 to 10 pounds is entirely personal. It means next to nothing to me and may make another incapable of lifting it.

kayak weight
Depending on the shape of the hull, more overall weight may actually increase hull speed. Hulls that have significant over hang in the bow and stern increase the length of water line with additional weight. Of course wetted surface is increased as well. A plumb bow will simply get slower with weight.

Could be less stable
Removing 10 lbs. from an already twitchy hull will make it more twitchy. A lot of that weight is already low (underwater). Not so noticeable on a more stable hull…

Looks like I found me a boat
Thanks all for the comments.


Interesting perspective
Increase the waterline by adding bricks to my hatches.

I’ll say that less weight in the boat vs. drinking Slimfast 3 times per day is different because the center of gravity will be different. This should effect the handling of the boat. The less wetted surface area should result in a more efficient boat even with a plumb bow (less air resistance than overhanging bows).

Lighter boats should be quicker in maneuvers too from support strokes to edging to quick turns.

And I imagine they would get blown around by winds a bit more, particularly on top of a wave.

I just bought a 12 pack of Aquafina water the other day (I was traveling), and the Ecofina bottle uses 50% less oil, I mean plastic, than similiar bottles. I perceive no difference in the bottle itself when full or empty.

Now, if we can just get Wilderness Systems to get the Tempest poly down about 20 lbs. by using 50% less plastic, this discussion becomes moot.

Or if I stop buying bottled water, I could just buy a kevlar/carbon boat.

Confluence meet Aquafina…

Bill G.

Mt. Pleasant, SC

I like light boats…wish I had one.

kayak weight
Again I think hull shape has much to do with boat handling as opposed to weight. Center of buoyancy should not be affected by additional weight as long as the boat is trimmed properly. True, if you put bricks in the rear hatch you will change the center of buoyancy and therefor the handling.

Regarding the resistance (drag) caused by the air, it has more to do with how fine the leading edge of the bow is, and with a plumb bow it is neccessary to get volume quicker ( to avoid pearling) than with an overhanging bow.

The boats maneuvering ability has more to do with the amount rocker than anything else.

I do agree with you that a lighter boat is better. My carbon Rockpool ALAW weighs 38# without the hatch covers.

Why list weight without hatch covers?
Does anyone carry or paddle their kayak without the hatch covers on?

I’m just wondering, since people seem to do it fairly often. I suspect that it’s because that’s how some manufacturers list the weights and the boat owners haven’t weighed the boats themselves with the hatch covers on and full rigging, so the only weight they know is the builder’s listed weight without the hatch covers.

hatch cover
I list that because often use Reed Aquatherm hatch covers that weigh practically nothing.

The difference may come down to
whether you had a good bowel movement that morning or not?

Where you will notice lighter weight…

– Last Updated: May-02-09 10:39 AM EST –

...is when you're turning on wave tops. The lighter ends of a lighter boat respond faster, as they have less inertia and the boat will pivot more with less effort. OTOH, if the boat is loaded with gear, it won't make much difference.

that is a big dump