Kevlar Flex-core vs. Ultralight

I’d like to hear some “real life experiences” from folks about the Kevlar flex-core vs. Kevlar ultralight in Wenonah’s canoes. I’ve talked to many outfitters and dealers and someone at Wenonah and they are saying that there isn’t that much difference in durability. Anyone have experience with both? Which holds up better?

We do mostly lakes, but may need to run a river on some canoe routes. (no whitewater, but they may have submerged logs or shallow areas)

We are very carefull with our canoes and don’t just beat them.

Thanks in advance!

Hope I am not stepping out of bounds
since I just have the ultralight (with no gelcoat), in a Jensen and can’t compare it with the flerxcore, but ours is now ten years old and it is a sweetheart.

We race it all over the place, and it has scraped many a rock in shallow class I-II rivers.

If you take care of it, it will take care of you!

I originally bought it since it was lighter than the flexcore, which translates to faster.



I’ll concur with Jackl
I’ve used a Wenonah 18.5’ Odyssey tandem and a Wenonah 16.5’ Advantage solo going on close to 16 years, both w/Ultralite foamcore and have never, ever had an issue. The Odyssey has over 1,200 Canadian shield miles on it and has been stopped dead, fully loaded, on rock with minor scratching too many times to count. The most often rented northwoods canoes are usually ultralite foamcore models, from what I’ve experienced, to reinforce my faith in their abilities. IF you are frequently hitting rock, then go with the flexcore, it is a bit more foregiving and will ‘deform’ or mold slightly over obstacles where the ultralite foamcore will ‘deflect’ off obstacles. If light weight is your primary desire, then I think for what you are doing, ultralite foamcore will be just fine. IF $$$ or durability are your primary concerns, go with the flexcore. Though I think there is a fine line between the 2, I always go ultralite foamcore, because it’s stiffer and lighter. Flexcore will always have a gelcoat and be heavier (gel adds about 6-8lbs to a tandem), ultralight foamcore is usually sold with a ‘skin’, or resin coat. My Odyssey is around 43lbs w/wood gunwhales, flexcore w/gel runs closer to 56lbs I believe.

on the other end
I love my ultra light WeNoNah. If were buying another one I think I would go with the foam core. the Ultralight is PLENTY strong and although I haev not had it near as long as the other posters here, I have still hit some obsticles. it has held up GREAT, and mine has a gel coat.

I would pick the Foam core because the inside is smooth. Nothing more than cosmetic apeal to me. When I am glueing things in I start or stop on the “ribs”. I just can’t stand to see something split up on two levels. so for me, and wanting to add in stuff and glue things everywhere, I would just want the smooth inside.


KevUL vs. KevFlex
I, too, have a skin-coat Jensen 18 in KevUL, a ’95. It has been, “Rode hard and put away wet,” but always stored indoors, so no UV issues. It has held up amazingly well and I’d buy one again in a minute. That said, I’ve spent a lot of time in Wenonah KevFlex boats (Itasca, Odyssey and Minn. II) and find the layup to perform very well but quite differently in one way in particular. The Flexcore boats (here’s a surprise) have a lot more flex, and I mean that as a compliment. You don’t feel this at all out on big water, even with a large load on, but you really can feel it on rocky, rapidly flowing, “exciting” rivers. There, the flexibility of the hull allows the boat to slide through and over sections that the “stiffer” Ultra Light hulls would meet head on. Even with the added weight, I’ve come to really like the KevFlex layup whenever there are challenging rivers involved in a trip. One further note: If you’re going to order a new boat, consider getting the integral skid plates as part of the layup. These avoid the performance issues you can face when adding them on later and certainly add a layer of confidence when you see that first big rapid ahead! Paddle on!

Good point. Those of us who get
sloshed and have to bail appreciate not having ribs in the way of the bailer.

even with the ribbed ultralite foamcore, the inside bottom of the hull is a flat surface along the core, the ribs start off at the outer edge of the core. Bailing should be no different in either one.

I have solo’s in each
I have an ultralight Advantage and a flex core Voyager.

The Advantage is noticably lighter to carry off the water.

Both hulls are quite stiff on the water, though the foam core adds quite a bit of stiffness in the bottom and the sides.

The flex core Voyager is quite flex-y in the sides with it’s extreme tumblehome. With my very short legs getting in it is a bit disconcerting sometimes as the side seems to almost fold over. It has shown no signs of stress from this over the years (Mine is the third Voyager built and the first one sold).

I would consider a gel coat on an ultralight layup though if I were ordering a boat built. I find it to add a nice layer of abrasion resistance and survive small incidents with rocks much better than a skin coat.

You’re right, I rechecked their site.
I think I must be remembering Wenonahs or similar racing boats I saw quite a while ago.

While we’re off the subject, does
Wenonah use any E-glass or S-glass for the outer layer(s) of their lighter, non-carbon boats? They don’t say anything about glass use on their website. They are pretty cagey about that detail, and also about what they use for a resin.

I have a Wenonah Odyssey
with the ultralight layup. If the water is big enough its fine.

If there is a sharp basalt rock in those haystacks it is not.

Our foam core hull now has a dozen fracture cracks and the thwart tore out when my leg hit it. Our boat has external skid plates that were installed by the dealer. The bow skid plate had a two inch diameter hole in it full thickness. One aluminum gunwale was bent and the other broken…

Yet we carried on…this was day one of a month outing to Hudson Bay. Nothing went through the hull and duct tape held the gunwales together.

The boat is still around but a little old and patched and our new boat for far northern trips by train is a Flex Core layup.

Thanks everyone!
Thanks for everyone’s input! We have a Wenonah Itasca Kevlar UL in excellent condition and love it, but don’t want to ruin it in rougher conditions. We are thinking of selling it and getting a flex-core version for peace of mind. We have only done lakes, but now there may be rivers included in our trips. I just wanted to know how much more durable the flex-core is.

Thanks again!