Most lightweight plastic 16' Kayak ?

-- Last Updated: May-07-15 12:08 AM EST --

I know plastic and lightweight may seem contradictory, but I'm looking for a solid boat that can withstand some abuse (while Kayak camping in lakes) but that remains relatively light (55 lbs or less) and has decent tracking/speed performance

why plastic?
Why do you want plastic? Because of the cost?

The easy way to get lighter is change materials. If you could consider thermoformed (which is plastic, but different plastic than rotomolded) you get lighter. Eddyline and Delta are the two biggies in thermoformed. Slightly more expensive than rotomolded.

Composites (fiberglass, carbon, kevlar) are even lighter, but more expensive.

Of rotomolded, it seems that Wilderness Systems boats are sometimes lighter than others. P&H heavier. But these are generalizations that may not hold up In all cases.

For very light, but still rugged, consider a wood boat.

Hurricane also makes thermoformed plastic kayaks.

Features = weight
55lbs might be tough to do in a 16’ format. The 16’ rotomolded poly kayaks I carry try to duplicate all the features on the composites which equals weight. Closest I’ve got is the Venture Jura MV at 59.5#.

To keep it at your spec. you’re likely looking at 2 bulkheads instead of 3, no rudder/Skeg, or a polycarbonate construction as has been mentioned earlier.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

fiberglass/carbon an option ?
Would you do rough kayak-camping in a fiberglass or carbon kayak given the price/fragility?

Yes, fiberglass many times
Our fiberglass boats have landed, at time rudely, on rocky islands in Maine as well as quieter waters on Lake George to camp. Yeah, there are some scratches and some McNett crack glue in a couple of spots. But I have such repairs that are now 8 years old and they are holding fine. Anyway, do you want to use a kayak or have it as sculpture?

I prefer fiberglass because it can be repaired - usually the gel coat sacrifices itself a bit as intended and you just slap some on. A real problem in a plastic boat is usually forever.

that’s actually a myth

– Last Updated: May-07-15 9:40 AM EST –

The type of wear your kayak will undergo when using it for trips isn't going to break a kayak, whether it's plastic or composite. Any force you encounter strong enough to penetrate the hull or deck will be strong enough to penetrate either material.

Yes, a composite hull is shinier and has a smoother finish than a plastic hull, so you will see the scratches more easily. If you ding a rock, you may chip come gel coat off, which is easy to patch.

But composites are field-repairable with relative ease compared to plastic, they're stiffer, they have a fabric matrix, they do not deform under light load or heat, and they do not fuzz as they scratch.

I have a fiberglass boat and sometimes wish I had a plastic one also, so I could take a bit less care when rock gardening. But if I had to pick just one material it would be composite, and I still go rock gardening.

More important
I think you should be more concerned about the quality, fit and type of kayak than a pound, or two here and there. That is the case whether you choose, a poly boat, thermo-plastic, or composite.

I would also recommend that you look at what Current Designs has to offer.

Eddyline Raven

– Last Updated: May-07-15 10:06 AM EST –

It is a bit over 55lb real weight (advertised weight is less, but actual weight seems to be closer to 60 than to 50lb). It is reasonably fast, reasonably strong. Great to paddle too. But probably more akin to composite than to "plastic" in terms of how it breaks and wears off (easier to repair than either).

If you had not said "decent tracking/speed", I would have suggested WS Zephyr 155, which is under 55lb (52lb for my version). And the 160 version is not that much heavier. But they are not "fast", though they are efficient to paddle at slower speeds, and supremely comfortable and great in winds and rough water. Not knowing how big you are, the Tempest 165 might be an option too (I think it is under 60lb, considerably lighter than its bigger brother, the 170).

To all those who say "field repairable" etc. for composite boats: plastic will not need repairs in many cases where composite will crack and break. Just see who is paddling composite and who is paddling plastic in white water kayaks and why, before you make an argument otherwise. I would rather paddle than "field-repair" on a long trip. That said, unless one is doing harsh surf landings on rocky shores, composite is probably going to be the better choice for touring, as it can be made lighter while strong enough for that use to not need repairs and will remain smoother than plastic (which scratches easy) with use.

nope. WW is another order of magnitude
…and the OP is considering a touring kayak for lake camping.

I’ll turn your question back on you, and ask you to compare how many sea kayak expeditioners use composite as opposed to poly or thermoplastic.

Lastly I’m not buying that thermoplastic is easier to field-repair than composites.

can you shed a foot?
If you can find a Venture Easky 15 it is only 50 lbs. I have the lower volume LV version (46 lbs, for small to medium sized people) which is a great boat, nicely finished, made in the UK, excellent performance and fun to paddle. Less cargo room than some other models but that means less plastic for weight.


– Last Updated: May-07-15 3:44 PM EST –

Actually, most of the more extreme expeditions only use composite boats. All of the real big trips (lapping UK, Iceland, Vancouver Island, Australia, New Zealand, etc.) were with composite boats.

The composite boats can put up with a decent amount of rough handling, so repairs aren't needed. But more importantly is that composite boats can be fixed in the field if you do crack or hole the boat, which is not as easy with plastic.

But composites come with different "layups" - if taking trips is something you plan to do a lot of, you may want to give up some of the weight benefit by getting a heavier (stronger) layup.

Oh, ohenry
I think you’ll need to weigh back in on weight/length/uses before the thread wanders suggestion-wise, far afield of your OP parameters.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Camping with some abuse…

– Last Updated: May-07-15 1:37 PM EST –

Plastic = drag it on shore, drop it, forget it. Result- scratches, gouges. Can be smoothed out later if desired, boat will function like new again. Surf landing on rocky beach sideways with load in the hatches - no problem.

Composite = drag it on shore, drop it on a sharp rock, get a spider crack and a soft spot to be repaired as time permits. Surf landing on rocky beach sideways with load in the hatches - hole or crack in the hull.

Pick your preference.

As for thermoform being easier to repair: you have more options than with fiberglass and similar (think various glues that work on thermoformed kind of plastic but are not a great choice on composites). Because a crack in thermoform do not mean weakening of the surrounding areas like you get with a soft spot on a fiberglass and similar kayaks, the repair area is smaller on the thermoformed for the same size crack, so simpler to do. No gel coat to crack and repair in addition to the hull main material, again = simpler to repair.

Tempest 165 or 170
I think most plastic sea kayaks are in the 55 lb range- a little more than 55 usually. Tempest is a great kayak. Personally I prefer a little heavier British triple ply poly kayak because the plastic is tougher.

It’s funny, you ask about plastic kayak and you get a discussion about composite kayaks. That’s pretty typical.

If it’s not already happening, I predict a generation from now most kayakers will be paddling plastic sea kayaks. Plastic makes sense for the average kayaker

I already made my choice
I’ve been “rough camping” out of the same boat for almost ten years.

interesting feedback
I’ve never had a fiberglass kayak. I thought people had to be extra careful with them (kind of like having a ferrari and not wanting to go on a dirt road with it!).

I’m already cautious with my plastic boat, but still have some scratches resulting from going over rocks, dragging it on the shore, hitting branches/rocks while portaging, etc.

I guess I would have to convince myself that it’s not because you pay a premium for a boat that you have to limit yourself in using it.

Why I value weight
Most of my trips involve portaging…while 3-5 lbs probably doesnt make a huge difference, if we’re talking about 10-15 lbs, then it becomes noticable

Even for just lifting/handling an empty kayak (putting it on the car, bringing it to the shore, storing it in the garage, etc.), 60 lbs start to feel heavy.

yadang I agree
Without a doubt I think plastic is tougher. The next question is composite tough enough? For most yes. BUT if I had to get only one kayak it would be plastic without a doubt.

I think that you think too lightly…
when thinking most plastic sea kayaks in the 16’to 17’ range are about 55 lbs.