Kevlar canoe acceptable for whitewater?

I recently bought a new Kevlar Malecite Mad River canoe.

I will mainly take it on local lakes in east Tennessee. We also have some good Class I and Class II rivers. How durable would Kevlar be when running a Class II river?

I am also looking at the possiblility of purchasing a new model 2005 Current Designs 14’ version of the ‘Kestrel’ which I think only comes in their Thermoformed Composite System (TCS), material. Similar question as above --can the TCS material do adequately well in Class I and/or Class II ? (again I would mainly use that one on lakes and marshes, but would want to occassional run it on some streams while drifting for trout). I already have a good whitewater Dagger Crossfire.


Not really a whitewater boat.
Good paddlers can use kevlar in whitewate.

Malecite #1 won the Downriver National Championships back in the 1970s with Jim Henry paddling solo, and then the same boat dupilcated the feat a couple years ago with Jim’s sun Dana Henry in the boat. But, Dana nearly destroyed the boat practicing for the race. So, think twice before using a Malecite tandem in whitewater. It’s a great handling boat in talented hands… but it’s shallow and really doesn’t have the volume to run whitewater tandem.


I have banged my boat around a lot rocks. It’s kevlar/glass cap. If you don’ mind scratches it will take quite a beating.

Agree… and the Malecite stern will
really take a beating on the ledge series so common in the SE. I used to paddle a 13’ fiberglass Mad River Compatriot in SE class 1 and easy 2, and with considerable care I was able to keep ledge damage down, but the sharp portions of the bow and stern needed occasional repairs.

I recommend watching for a good buy on a Royalex WW boat. Compromise boats, like the used Royalex MR Guide I was lucky to get for $400, still don’t handle as well as an all-out WW boat, and the sharper ends take a beating.

they take a lickin and keep on ticking
They will take much more than you think. I’ve seen a Malecite with almost no gelcoat left on the bottom and it is still in use.

I have a Wenonah kevlar canoe
…and I won’t take it in class II.

I’ll race it in class I anyday, and when the I’s are running low I sometimes have to do some epoxy work on the bottom afterwards.

In class II and above you can do some big time damage in a heart beat.