kevlar versus kevlar/carbon for seakayak

So I wanted your advice on a seakayak made from kevlar versus kevlar/carbon. Other than the kevlar/carbon kayak being lighter are there any other practical advantages?

Have heard that kevlar/carbon is easier to damage, and that is my main concern.


Interesting . . .
I have heard that carbon adds stiffness (which = efficiency), but, in so doing, makes the lay-up more brittle and therefore somewhat more likely to crack.

That’s just a rumour I heard. I am interested to see what others know about this one.

depends, depends, depends
on what the boat is and how it’s made. I’ve got a Kevlar/carbon Kirton Tercel racing kayak that’s only for flat water racing and weighs somewhere around 26lbs, it’s strong enough for the intended use. I considered getting a Mariner Max in carbon/kevlar and I swear it weighs 55lbs. And it’s definately tougher than the lighter Kirton.

,so,without having the respective weights for the same model one really can’t give a generalized statement.

Some manufacturers made heavy kevlar layups, light kevlar layups, etc. Some like Necky aren’t using kevlar anymore and going to glass/carbon layups.

What are the boats specifically?

Talk To Phil
I talked to him a lot before buying. I was interested in carbon during my thinking about QCC process. Phil convinced me that their Kevlar, which is actually a Kevlar/Glass mix was the most rugged for all around use.

A lifetime warranty should go a ways toward making you feel better about either choise.


for the information, I was pretty set on straight kevlar but figured I would get some input before it was actually made. I am careful with my equipment, but accidents do happen!

Carbon/Kevlar QCC
I have this version, and (knock on wood) have never had a problem with durability with it. I always wet/entry/exit but have smacked it pretty hard a number of times on obstructions I didn’t see while paddling, and dropped it more than once during racing portages with nary a problem. The carbon blend is stiffer than the fg/kevlar and just a bit lighter. Since I got mine a few years back when the price difference between the two was not great it was an easy decision. With carbon prices being what they are now, I might be inclined to choose differently.

When you say stiffer
how does that translate into the kayak’s performance? I assume the fg/kevlar hull will not flex when going over a wave. The difference in cost is ~$150, so not too much. I have no plans to race, just looking for a durable kayak that is reasonably light. But the thing that always bugged me about the plastic kayaks was the way the hull would deform as a wave passed underneath.

Boreal Ellesmere
I’ve paddled a carbon kevlar Ellesmere since 1989

and it has held up well to a lot of use and fortunately not too much abuse. I’m generally happy with it but is it worth the money?

I’ve never weighed it but I can put it on and off the roof racks alone even with the bilge pump and battery in.

I would probably go the with the standard or the tougher layup next time if money was tight.

I’m not getting any younger or stronger so maybe I’d have to rely on other people more.


I’ve paddled the fg/kevlar version of my boat in some chop, albeit fairly briefly. It seemed to exhibit a bit more torsional flex; not enough by any means to worry about. I think there’s far less of a difference between the fg/kevlar 700 and the carbon/kevlar 700 than there is between similar layups in an Epic 18, for example. The carbon Epic 18 feels like a different boat from the standard layup in its ability to accelerate onto a wave, etc. The carbon/kev QCC is supposedly a few pounds lighter, but it’s heavier still than the carbon Epic by a fair share. I’ve never worried about the potential fragility or ‘repairability’ of the carbon however. To me, $150 over the lifetime of the boat is nothing. My all carbon ski weighs somewhere around 28-30 lbs., and it seems pretty darn tough. The main thing you want to worry about with carbon is ‘notch fatigue.’ From mountain and road biking etc. a simple notch can fail catastrophically with repeated flex cycles. I’ve had a few handlebars splinter suddenly on the mountain bikes, due to the brake levers being tightened too enthusiastically, notching the carbon bar. In the QCC, the carbon is added to the layup mainly in the interior cockpit region, so it’s not really a worry.

that helps clarify things. Maybe for my weight (190 lbs, minimum) the carbon/kevlar is worth it especially if it is added to the cockpit area where the kayak is going to feel my weight the most.

Shouldn’t really matter…
…in that regard. 190 is nothing unusual load wise, particularly for a 700.

As already mentioned - not much of a difference between QCCs Kev & Kev Carbon. A difference yes, but not anything that should be noticeable through a wide range of typical paddling. Different story with other brands/layups.

Carbon/Kevlar it is

– Last Updated: Mar-29-06 8:04 PM EST –

Thanks, my carbon/kevlar Q700X order is in and I am not making any "more" changes. If it is stiffer with carbon then it is worth it, and from what I have heard it will be stiffer.

Realize 190 is "okay" weight wise for the 700, but I am very athletic and tend to push things hard for extended periods of time, and this includes during rough conditions (especially when loaded with gear). Just do not want to feel any flex when in those kinds of situations.

Thanks for all your input/advice

Can’t really go wrong either way.

Keep in mind that when most here say “flex” they mean noting even remotely close to floppy. Also, there are times when a little flex can prevent a little crack…

I was looking at an Epic 18 in carbon without a gel coat, I could flex the side of the hull with my thumbs! In rough canditions it would be unsettling for me to feel the side of the kayak flexing against my legs.

And fixing a small crack in the gel coat is easy, if I have to.

Never paddle a skin boat! L
I think yo really need to paddle these boats and stop stroking/poking them.

I’ve never noticed any flex of consequence on water with any of the composites I’ve paddled. Water doesn’t push in on one small spot like your hand.

I’m not saying they don’t flex - just saying it matters little unless you’re a serious racer and stiff and light can be converted into a few seconds over a couple hours.

And actually, you should try a skin-on-frame sometime. Everything else feels a little dead after. If I paddle mine behind another paddler I can feel the eddies from their paddle strokes!

PS - never compare EPIC to QCC layups - or use one to make assumptions about the other. Both make nice kayaks - but do it very differently.

Did not mean to compare Epic
to QCC, the point I was making is that kayaks flex, soome more than others. When I said I could flex the Epic 18 carbon side wall with my thumbs, I did not mean one small 1" diameter area flexed around my thumbs, the whole side was flexing near where I was pressing. The stiffness of carbon will not allow you to deform a small area. Does not mean it is not strong though.

I have seen demo kayaks with scratches in their gel coats, that if they were at the same depth on a non-gelcoated kayak they would likely reach the “fibers”. Then you have to repair the scratch, otherwise water will seem in. Where I am going oyster beds are a potential hazard, as are shells on the beaches.

The 700 is a superb all around boat, and has the added benefit of being quite fast for its class as well. I know what you mean about the flexing of panels on the Epic Carbon. It is a lighter layup than the Q-Ship, hence the significantly lighter weight. While the Epics are built well, and improving all the time, I don’t think I’d put them head to head with QCC for build quality. QCC definitely knows their stuff and takes pride in the execution. They could get a fair amount lighter, but probably with some loss of structural integrity and ability to take abuse. Epic carbons are built to a light weight and reflect that; they’re a thinly disguised race-oriented boat in expedition sea kayak clothing, and as long as you don’t abuse them, they hold up pretty well.

As to SOFs, Greyak’s incarnation is extremely intriguing on a number of levels-it certainly is a unique feel to paddle one of these. The yielding nature of the ‘skin’ itself really gives you the impression of being part of the water. Feels almost like being inside some aquatic mammal, a dolphin or porpoise perhaps. :slight_smile: Was browsing some SOFs in progress at a Maritime Center boat building workshop space near me this past weekend. I think I may have to build one of these, or that s&g tandem I’ve been eyeing to paddle my daughter around in. Have a blast with that QCC-think you’re gonna’ love it.

SOF vary a lot too
Mine is actually quite stiff with it’s purposely over-built frame. I don’t feel the skin like in some other SOF I’ve been in as I’m on floorboards - but the skin still telegraphs everything through the frame. A little hard to describe, and certainly not a liability. The Qajaq is MUCH less flexible than I’d imagined before building - almost no noticeable flex at all really - just a smoothness and responsiveness that is addictive. Of course, I haven’t had in in dumping surf either. I suspect there may be a bit more flex then - exactly where it’s designed to kick in on these boats.

I’m planning to rip the skin and chop the whole boat 3/4" to 1" lower. It’s exactly what I was going for, but after paddling it a bit I see an opportunity to tweak it (but not enough to warrant building another). Even with large paddlers it rides high. OK for fast touring, but I can keep that and improve rolling and weather helm. It will also tighten up the fit to more of a loose Greenland style rather than the sort of in-between that and Euro size it is now. I’ll retain lines otherwise -except the I’ll loose a little V on the bottom when the shortened ribs are spread back into their mortises. The V is a little extreme now anyway - so a little more primary and being lower to the water (will still have a fair amount of freeboard) should take it from good to awesome - assuming I don’t screw up the chop job. I really hate to trash the skin though…