I am considering upgrading to a higher performance boat. I am looking at the QCC 700, Epic Endurance 18 and the Seda Glider. All are offered in fiberglass, kevlar and carbon in different combinations. The weight difference is obvious. There appears to be about 10 pounds difference in the fiberglass and carbon.

My question is how much performance difference do they make? Is 10 pounds noticible on the water? I want a fast boat but if fiberglass is just as fast I don’t see the need for spending the extra money. Wouldn’t 10 pounds difference be equal to 10 pounds of gear in the boat? Would I really know it is there?

It matters, some…
If you are at the top levels of competition it will make a difference.

To most, including myself, it’s off the water where 10 pounds lighter becomes very desirable…

It matters much more than your analogy

– Last Updated: Mar-05-07 1:47 AM EST –

When adding 10 lbs of extra cargo to a vessel, you can place it down low and near the center of the boat where it will have less effect on pitching moment in waves and also yawing moment while steering. All boats perform better in waves if their ends are as light as possible. Light ends also allow a boat to be more responsive to steering inputs.

If a kayak weighs 10 lbs more from construction, you can assume that the weight is distribted all over including the ends of the kayak. Perhaps even more in the ends since there are often extra layers of reinforcement in the ends.

Here is a mental experiment that should help. Think of holding the center of a fiberglass pole that is 18 ft long. Rotate it up and down like in waves and also left and right like steering a kayak.

Now add 10 lbs in the center near your hands. Rotate it around the same as above and the force required is nearly the same as without the weight.

Now lose the 10 lbs in the middle and add just a 1 lb weight to each end. Do the same rotation drill. It will resist you significantly more when you try to rotate it (angular acceleration) and then change directions. That extra 2 lbs of weight in the ends requires much more times the amount of effort to change momentum because the distance of the weight from the center of gyration magnifies the force required for angular acceleration. This means more drag when paddling through waves, and more effort for every steering action.

I've paddled QCC700s in Kevlar (52 lbs) and carbon (41 lbs). The carbon boat was much much more nimble feeling. It also accelerated and stopped noticeably quicker. When actively trying to surf waves one needs to steer and accelerate aggressively. The carbon boat, even though only 11 lbs lighter, feels like a feather compared to the Kevlar boat in these conditions.

Another imprtant factor to consider is stiffness. A carbon boat is much stiffer, especially compared to Kevlar. Stiff is fast. Flexy is slow.

If the cost isn't an issue and you know better than to hit rocks and run your boat hard up on the shore, then I highly recommend carbon.

QCC owes me a new carbon QCC700. They have had my money for like two years. I know there has been a carbon shortage and I haven't pushed them hard, but I need that boat for this season.

What are your intentions
I wasn’t going to chime in since I have little knowlege, but the two above posts got me thinking. They are the two ends of the thought process. One says to look at weight (solely) for car toping. The other wants you to look at all the physics of the materials.

I looked at your profile. I am not sure how much surfing you are doing where the need for the physical properties of carbon will really show. I am also not sure about those rivers where the durability of heavy materials is neccissary.

Personally, I would probaly stick with Kevlar. Carbon is great I am sure, but for Ten pounds if you aren’t a racer…I don’t know. I paid al the extra to gte the UltraLight version of my canoe. It is 10 pounds over weight (The wonderful people ar WeNoNah offered to trade me boats). I could have saved a few hundred dollars and gotten the foam core version at that weight. But I like the fact that I have more of something, kevlar for strength, epoxy for stiffness, or Gel coat for protecting kevlar and epoxy.

I don’t know the benifits for you to spend the extra cash to lose ten pounds. How much performance do YOU need?


Here are more specifics

I have paddled plastic boats for years and have loved them. We have torn them to pieces on oyster beds and in shallow rivers. We love them for that. Now I am approaching retirement and want something special. It is going to be my retirement present and I want to go all the way. We are planning to do more coastal stuff but we are always in protected waterways. We don’t like the surf and rough water. We also like doing off road triathlons which usually involve a 5 mile paddle on flat water. That is why we want something a little faster. We camp out of our boats sometimes but seldom are gone for more than a couple days.

Thanks for the input and any more you can give.

In that case…
Give yourself the best, you earned it. I am retired and paddle a lot and just bought the lightest lay-up Valley makes (carbon/Kevlar). Most of my paddling buds are not hardcore they just want to make life a little easier. Quicker acceleration and handling is a little extra perk.

You pay the money once but smile every time you have to pick up that boat.

Just from my point of view…

At every turn
As far as weight on water, if there are 700+ or so paddle strokes per mile then you will move that 10lbs. on every one of those strokes. Also, for every shift that you make in the boat wether it be edging the boat, bracing or turning it with a sweep that’s 10lbs less that your body has to move. Go light!

Add an Impex Force 4 or Force 5 to your Boats to be Tried Out list.

See you on the water,


Hyde Park, NY

If YOU are fast
you’ll notice it. If you don’t paddle fast then it’s immaterial. When I say fast I mean race against other racers. Otherwise it’s a matter of money/durability.

Since I have been paddling
a 31 lbs skin on frame kayak for the past couple years it is very hard for me to want to paddle my 55 lbs fiberglass kayak. The SOF is so much easier on my aging hands, elbows and shoulders. It’s a big difference for me.

I think the slow guys will notice more
The weaker, less skilled paddler has more to gain from saving 10 lbs than the stronger paddler. They probably just care much less. Ignorance is bliss, especially in today’s world of production sea kayaks.

The only condition where a 10 lb difference makes absolutely no difference to performance is when the water is perfectly flat and the kayaks are not moving. I see lots of short, heavy plastic boats in this state, and the paddlers look happy.

The condition where a 10 lb difference between kayak weights becomes only somewhat negligible is when paddling at a constant speed, straight ahead in completely flat water. Even then there is a little more drag from the heavier boat.

Add waves, changes of speed or direction and the lighter kayak will significantly outperform the heavier one. Even more so for the weaker, less skilled paddler.

Its all about the attitude of the paddler. If a paddler takes the sport more seriously, then they should want the lightest boat suitable for their use and budget.

QCC 70ox in carbon
I am surprised to hear that you have been waiting so long for your boat. I have been paddeling my carbon QCC 700x since 9/26/06. It took me 3 months to get the boat but, that was my choice.

I love the boat.