Longevity of natural skin kevlar canoes

Currently in the process of purchasing an ultralight kevlar tandem canoe for flatwater paddling and short, 2-3 day leisure tripping (paddle to destination, pitch camp, relax, enjoy day paddles in surrounding water.)

Never having owned this type of canoe before, would appreciate anyone who owns, has owned, or is familiar with these type of boats commenting on:

  • the longevity of this type of lay-up
  • the durability of " "
  • maintenance
  • ease of minor repairs - scratches, etc.
  • comparison of clear coat to gelcoat in terms of ease of repair
  • anything else one might want to know about these

ease of repair?
That has a lot to do with you and yours natural

handiness, and lack of fooling around with repairs.

I find that most repairs (read that as fix it and get out paddling, not repair to original condition) are easy. I have bent a cross rib kevlar boat almost 90 degrees and have straightened it and gone on to race the 70 miler in it. RedCrossRandy and I holed the side of his BigBlueCanoe in the 40 miler, through the kevlar,foam core and inside kevlar. We fixed it and

have no loss of speed. Our boats are gelcoat and over the years the different repairs add up. Gel coat lots are like paint and different lots have slightly different colour casts. Plus the old gel will fade so it never perfectly matches.

Kevlar vs Gel Coat. If you store your boats out side in the sun I personally would suggest Gel coat. Other then that you need to see if EricNyre or one of the other outfitters pipe up. ( It is always good to listen to Eric. He is a great source of sound information adn a reallly nice guy)

Charlie Swengros


My 2 cents…
Longevity. It will last very long if…it is stored inside when off the water and put in a boat bag for transport. UV rays and weather are the number one killer for skin coats.

It’s plenty durable so long as it is used with the awareness that it is not plastic (impact is not good). Skincoats maximize performance, light weightness, and stiffness.

Maintenance. Keep it covered! If you have wood gunwales you’ll want to treat them from time to time (enhances longevity).

Unless the scratch has led to a stuctural issue, then live with the scratch. Try not to scratch above the waterline. You can’t wet sand and buff a skin coat the way you can a gel coat.

Skin coats are not as durable as gel coated boats. Gel coat provides significant abrasion resistence to the exterior layer of cloth in the hull. I personally feel that gel coated surfaces are easier to repair becasue it gives you some material to work with. But, gel coat is heavier.

Buy a bag.

Happy paddlin’,


skin coats aren’t known for their

When I worked in the shop they would fade right there in the shop. But they are light.

If you are after durability, buy something with gelcoat on it.

lightweight kevlar
I think you’ve already received great feedback…the single biggest point is that you have to keep a skin coat boat out of the sun. I’ve got 7 canoes and one is skin coat and it looks just like new (after 10 years) since it’s always been stored in the shade.

Scratches are something you live with either with or without gel coat…gel coat gives an extra layer of protection so scratches are less likely to get to the fabric.

Skin coat boats can still be quite durable…my Souris Rver Jensen Solo 16 has a “flexible rib” system that allows the hull to flex when going over something like rocks…the boat is 29 pounds and can still take some punishment. At the same time I think you want to treat a skin coat boat with some care - meaning - don’t drag it over rocks or abrasive surfaces (carry it), don’t get in and out unless the boat is floating completely, and avoid hitting rocks as much as possible (if the water is low in a rocky river it’s not the best boat to take!)…although the boat should be able to take the occasional surprise kiss on a rock.

For all around use on lakes and on slower rivers there’s no reason the boat can’t last forever - if you store it in the shade.