Keel Strip

I’m debating whether to have a kevlar keel strip added to a kevlar kayak when purchased? I paddle where it has gravel, sand or rocks on shore. Anyone have suggestions pro or con? Thanks.

Kevlar makes a terrible keel strip.
It fuzzes rather than wearing smooth. If you need a keel strip, glass is much better.

Probably your kayak will not be pure Kevlar. Usually glass or carbon is used for the outer layer because Kevlar is not particularly strong in compression, and as I said, fuzzes when it wears.

I wouldn’t bother
most of the wear will be in the ends and not along the center of the keel.

I put a keel strip on…
…my boat before this summer’s trip. Glad I did, too. I would recommend using standard glass instead of Kevlar, though. As Lee says, though, it’s really mostly the ends that take the wear.

highly recommended
I would highly recommend a keel strip, kevlar or otherwise. I can’t say enough in praise of them, they’re worth the extra money. Keel strips take a huge percentage of the abuse from everyday launching and landing. Dragging a boat up on the sand, or pebbles, most of the weight bears on the keel, and sand , which looks and feels soft, scours of the hull over time.

It is either now or later…
A well used boat will need a keel strip at some time. My Nordkapp LV came with a Diolen keel strip factory installed and I am very glad for it.

Each my Romany and Aquanaut are the the point that they could really use a keel strip… I am planning on hiring someone with experience to do these keel stips. I am not parrticularly handy, and I’ve seen keel strips terribly botched.

“Truck Bed” keel strip
I have a standard FG, factory installed, keel strip on my ExplorerLV, and a trendy “truck bed” material one on my RomanyLV, installed after I bought the boat.

Both strips do what they’re supposed to do and I recommend getting one put on your boat. The “truck bed” (I’m using quotation marks as I’m not sure what the material is; some kind of heavy duty rubber I assume…)strip has withstood a lot of heavy abuse – rock play, primarily, where the boat has been really whacked around. It is still going strong, with no loosening from the hull, and only one or two tiny holes. It’s been on the bottom of my Romany for three years.

I don’t paddle my ExplorerLV that much, so I can’t say how the standard FG keel strip will hold up over time, but I’ve not heard of people having issues with one.

Line-x, Rhinoliner, or ???
Those are the spray-on truckbed liners I know of. They’re not rubbery, though.

What brand of “truck bed” material did you put on? Did you do it yourself?

I went years without a keel strip,
paddling rocky rivers, landing on gravelly shores, in a small FG canoe. Then I used bias-cut glass to put on a keel strip, where wear showed it was needed. Because I waited for the wear to occur, most of the gelcoat was removed and I could see whether any serious damage had been done the structural fiberglass in the keel area.

Both gelcoat and opaque keel strips will hide important damage to the structural layers. They can also make damage more difficult to see from inside the boat.

Not sayin’ how others should do it, but if I were putting a wear strip on the keel line of a gelcoated sea kayak, I would add that weight only where wear showed it was needed. Then I would remove the gelcoat on the keel line and replace it with bias-cut S-glass, using no pigment. S-glass is the hardest cloth you can use with regard to wear. It is quite hard to scratch and mainly wears smooth. It is also stronger than any other cloth you could use that wears smooth. Much stronger than Diolen, and soaks up much less resin.

you mean a bow/stern strip!

Who me?
I’m not terribly handy, so I did not do it myself. An outfitter in RI who, in turn, had a local guy familiar with the material, put the keel strip on. He started doing these 3 years ago with good results.

As for the material: I haven’t a clue except that you’re right: it isn’t rubbery (it just looks that way when wet) but it has worn really well.

I can always email the shop owner who is also a close friend and find out, though, or, more quickly, ask the husband when he gets home.

Applying a keel strip
along the the entire hull is adding extra weight without much benefit. The areas of the keel that get the majority of wear are at the bow and stern. Epoxy mixed with a cloth will reduce the wear but is only as resistant to wear as the epoxy. Myself and many of my friends have had great results mixing sand with epoxy and applying it to the keeline. It doesn’t seem to wear at all.

Here is a link that shows how I applied it to my keeline.

Thanks for the responses!
That’s a range of views, but I think the majority is in favor of getting something to protect areas of wear. I also tend to hit or ‘go over’ the rocks and logs…If they exist just out of sight, my kayak seems to find them and it scratches in the middle.

I’d be afraid of painting something on a $4,000 new kayak. Those ideas sound great for one already broken in, though.

The quote was an added $160. Seems like a lot?


That’s interesting
I never would’ve thought of sand.

Was it white sand ?

I’ve had pretty good results with keelstrips made from 2 inch FG reinforcing tape.The last boat I did I just put the glass tape at both ends but continued across the middle with tinted epoxy partly for the look of continuity and a bit lighter sacrificial strip.

the price
An extra $160 sounds about right. especially for protecting a $4,000 craft.

S-glass is as hard as your sand,
and it will add a little structural strength while sand and epoxy will not.

I have use white, pool sand,
for kayaks with white hulls and brown sand for wood kayaks. There is no comparison in how well it wears compared to anything else I’ve seen. If you haven’t tried using sand, It’s really hard to comprehend how well it works.

The majority of the wear is concentrated on the ends. The wear in the middle of the hull is spread out. By putting a strip down the center you are applying 10x more material than needed for the area of highest wear. In other words it’s a very inefficient way to add EXTRA material for HIGHEST wear.

Essentially your $160 is going to two 8" strips on the ends and the rest in the middle is kind of useless unless your kayak has a distinctive keel and you are in the regular practice of dragging it over sharp edges like logs and flat dock edges where the wear is concentrated down the center.

Personally I’d use the boat until things start chipping and wearing away then when you’ve got a patch of gel coat gone mask off that area sand it down then add an epoxy putty made with high density filler.

Where wear concentrates into a narrow strip it’s more efficient to apply a thick ablative layer than a 2" wide strip of THIN glass tape that needs fairing in on the edges where it will never get wear.

The British boats with a strip down the center look purposeful but if you look at the middle 8’ the big gouges in the gel coat are between the keel and chines, not along the 2" center line. If a hull was built for extra heavy abrasive use it would have s-glass on the bottom tapering to a thick ablative strip on the ends. A singlular strip down the middle doesn’t reflect the locations of greatest wear or impact.

rhinio liner stuff
Carl at Osprey Sea Kayak in WEstport MAss probably is who put that on…he loves it…

works very very well…

I believe Carl has stopped using it
Carl has stopped using the truckbed liner material any more; it didn’t hold up very well. He told me he’s using fiberglass now.