Kevlar on creeks

What type of water do others paddle a kevlar boat on?

I mainly paddle on creeks that contain many tree jams, shallow areas, and other obstructions. The banks are sometimes muddy, and I rarely exit my royalex boat to avoid bringing muddy feet into the boat. Mostly I am able to paddle through the obstructions, or exit onto a log and lift the boat over if the branches are not too thick.

I was considering picking up a used kevlar boat, and planned to be more careful where I paddled it,… but wondered if others paddled kevlar, or what precautions were taken, on such streams.

I do it.
I would not say that I baby the boat, but I do things I would not have to do in my old aluminum one. I try not to scrape anything and walk it over anything rocky or of a questionable depth. You also take the chance you might hit something you can’t control but the weight is still such a plus.

I have been surprised at the durability. I mean, yes, you have to be careful & it can be a pain but it can be done. However, I get really muddy & wet. ; )

The only thing I have found a big pain, is take out and put in, depending on the terrain.

Besure you know whether your
"Kevlar" boat was built to take abuse, rather than for light weight. The weight itself does not predict, but you have to discern the intention of the builder. Actually, rather few builders do “Kevlar” canoes for the sort of punishment to be expected on creeks.

I just read an article on that
How can you tell what type of Kevlar you have? The article I read was talking about cheap varieties that seem to fall apart.

Mine seems fairly resilient but can you tell by the manufacturer or type or…?

There are all sorts of ways to use
Kevlar. Kevlar Mad River Explorers, for example, are pretty much all Kevlar. But there are problems using Kevlar on the outside of the hull. First, it fuzzes when it wears. Second, Kevlar is not that strong in compression and does not contribute much stiffness when used on the outside of the boat. Some builders use e-glass, S-glass, or carbon on the outside of the boat, and Kevlar on the inside, where its great resistance to tearing helps keep the boat together if it is wrapped on a rock, etc.

There are a lot of rumors about problems with Kevlar, but I have not been able to substantiate them. It works well with both vinylester and epoxy resins. Usually you must rely on the manufacturer’s hype to discern how the Kevlar is used. Ask about specific boats if you want, and we’ll try to be helpful.

Curious about my MR Independence
How it is made. I do not really understand the various types of Kevlar contruction & was curious how this boat is made. (plus,I bought it used). It is more durable than I was anticipating. Scratches kind of easy though.

Not to hijack the thread, but sort of compliments the original question.

CE Wilson is an expert builder who
pops up on this board, and he may happen to know about your boat’s construction. Also, Eric Nyre may know. Others??

I know that at times, Mad River did use glass on the outside and Kevlar inside, rather than all Kevlar, but I do not think that was their usual practice. I had an early Mad River Compatriot in straight fiberglass, and it was very durable, though it developed hydrolysis blisters under the white gelcoat. I believe this started when I stored to boat under a tarp, which trapped moisture in microcracks in the gelcoat. So if you use a tarp on your Independence, keep it hooped up off the hull surface.

Might work great

– Last Updated: Jul-09-07 10:58 PM EST –

When you drag the boat over logs and stuff, is there a big load inside, or a light load. If it's a light load, you should be able to get away with it, and the weight savings will make it worth every penny. Rock-bashing is not a good thing for most Kevlar boats (though some are built for that), but bumping and dragging on wood shouldn't be too bad.

Even light Kevlar can be fairly tough. I had my Kev-Light Merlin II leaned up against the gutters of my garage the other day while I sprayed off the dirt. I went in the house for a bit and the wind blew it down. It had been nearly vertical, so it must have come down with quite a bang, but no harm was done. Earlier that weekend I accidently banged one stem of that same boat on my concrete driveway, and fairly hard, too. There is no significant amount of "give" to the stems, so there was actually concrete dust on the point of impact, but not even the clearcoat was cracked (a couple other minor impacts (one had happened before I bought the boat) have caused a local separation of the clearcoat from the fabric, so I guess I lucked-out this time).

Mad River kevlar
my recollection is that their kevlar boats were very tough.

The Explorers certainly were. Not
sure about boats where they were after an even lighter weight.


– Last Updated: Jul-10-07 12:49 AM EST –

It's a 33#? Wildfire.

We have used kevlar flat water tripping boats a few times and always wet foot all boats, and I always jump out if the water is getting too skinny to float.

But, with just me in the yellowstone, I sometimes run the bow over sticks and then hop up front to free the boat.

Was thinking of mainly sticking to more open water with a kevlar boat.

I have a ultralight kevlar Wenonah
and use it on creeks all the time.

If you are going to be scraping over rocks and gravel then it is a no -no.

If the creek has a muddy or sandy bottom and banks then there will be no problem using it.

Also I don’t hesitate to drag it over logs that are crossing the river/creek.

If you should get a scrape that goes into the cloth, it is a simple fifteen minute fix.

I just refinishd the bottom of it from eight years of scraping over rocks, and it didn’t even really need refinishing. I just wanted it slick again since I use the boat for racing.

If you are a decent paddler go for it.

If you are a newbie don’t.



do you refinish the outside of the hull? I have an SRT that I use pretty hard on rivers. I try to avoid rocks, but always slide over some. It is S-glass on the outside and kevlar on the inside.

WhiteGold WildFire
I had a WhiteGold WildFire for 11 years, used it fairly hard, never had any problems worse than gelcoat dings. My standard was to drag it over “soft” things but to baby it over “hard” things or “scrapy” things. So I pulled it, loaded, up over many beaver dams, since wet sticks are soft, but I didn’t drag it over rocks (well, only if I was really tired and the rocks were few). I took it to shallow rivers with rocks and tried to avoid the scrapes, but I sometimes hit some; the only damage was scratches in the gel. I plowed into a few too many beaches and eventually wore the gel on the front stem down to cloth. That’s when I added “scrapy” to the list of places where I would baby the boat.

I wouldn’t cantilever it with a load in it for more than a second, though. I doubt the overall structure is strong enough for that.

The worst damage I did was to make a tight turn on a fast little river in the Jersey Pine Barrens, and let the rear quarter whack a tree that I hadn’t seen. There was no apparent damage to the fabric or resin, but the gelcoat was cracked in multiple concentric scallops, as if a wave of stress had rippled down the hull. The cracks were on the shouldered tumblehome, well above waterline, so I never repaired them, and they never got any worse.

Having sung the praises of the WhiteGold WildFire, I should warn you that the yellow and black weave you mentioned suggests that the boat is KevLight, which is less sturdy. WhiteGold has the gelcoat as a sacrificial layer; with KevLight, every scratch damages the structure of the hull.

– Mark

…I’ve been taking my Esquif Zephyr
down rivers, quiet and pushy streams, bouncing off numerous rocks without any damage to its Twintex. Can vouch for Bell’s BlackGold(their toughest kevlar/carbon layup).