Mr. CE Wilson,

I see by the other posts you make lightweight canoes. Just how light can a canoe be made if say it were all carbon fiber and costs didn’t matter. Or do carbon fibers have to be blended with other materials just for the making of the boat.

See “Placid Boatworks”

– Last Updated: Aug-21-08 5:28 PM EST –


...but I ain't C.E. Wilson.


You are right. Carbon fibers have to
be blended with other fibers to make a boat with practical durability.

I am not him either, but I have a 18’-6"
solo that weighs 19 pounds.



Savage River
The Savage River Wee Lassie in the carbon kevlar layup is 13 lbs. I don’t think you will get much lighter than that.

Hornbeck can top that
The 10’8" BlackJack is 12 lbs.

As does Kevlar!

You bet ! The idea of a pure Kevlar
boat is almost disgusting.

’ Depends
We currently make a very rugged 12’ solo with intergal foam and CobraSox rails in carbon/arimid hybrid that weighs 18lbs w/o outfitting.

Laminated by infusion, an aero-space technology where the layers that make a hull are placed in the mold and resin drawn through the fabric by vacuum, we’ve already achieved a 3 lb resin savings. [Infusion yields 56% fabric/44% resin compared to the best hand lamination ratios of 45% fabric and 55% resin.]

It could be made smaller, which would reduce weight, but also reduce seakindlyness and forwards speed.

We could eliminate the gel coat - skin coat would save 1.5 lbs or so, but reduce longevity. It would also be a n environmental mess, as skin coating starts with an open mold, rollers and respirators.

We could save a pound by using a foam core to replace 5-6 fabric layers in the hull bottom at the cost of a more fragile hull with immensely increased repair costs. [More weight savings with larger hulls.]

We could save, maybe 4 lbs by replacing the Arimid with half the thickness in carbon and adding a Spectra layer to improve tensile strength. The hull would be fragile and virtually un-repairable, as Spectra delaminations are terminal.

So a foam cored, skin coated, all carbon, Spectra layered CobraSox XLT trimmed SpitFire would weigh ~11 lbs. Outfitting, seat, backband, pegs would add 2 lbs to that. It wouldn’t cost any more, but its longevity would be questionable because it would be fragile and difficult to repair. This is how current marathon racer boats are built

Smaller could be lighter. longer heavier, and moving the technology into wider tandem hulls would make foam coring more attractive.

9-pound canoe project

Share your knowledge and
experience with Spheretex sometime. How does it differ from foam cores? I have one light boat where I can see the Spheretex, and another where it is hidden between S-glass and carbon.

My Savage River rocks
Sweet C1 at 18-feet, 6 inches. Weighs in at 21 pounds. Very nice. Doesn’t really answer the question, but hey, it’s :slight_smile:

small light canoe
I have a Bart Hauthaway “Bucktail” pack canoe mold. It is a very close copy of a Rushton design. The one canoe I built in that mold came in at 22lbs. It was made with epoxy, 3-9 layers of fiberglass cloth, oak inwale, mahogony outwale and cedar for decks and 1 thwart. Of course it is quite small at about 9.5 feet and the max capacity is about 160lbs.

I really didn’t fully know what I was doing so I just stumbled forward following the lines Bart put on the mold as indications of layers of cloth. Came out fine. I gave it to my grandaughter.

It was a joy to be out on a small lake today with my 6 year old grandaughter as she paddled her canoe.


Another way to go light

So technology gets us what?
Modern high-tech:

So a foam cored, skin coated, all carbon, Spectra layered CobraSox XLT trimmed SpitFire would weigh ~11 lbs

Ceder and copper rivets:

Rushton made a series of cedar lapstrake canoes … the Sairy Gamp 10 ½ lbs and the Rushton an ounce under 10 lbs.

I remember seeing one of these Rushton canoes at the Adirondack Museum many many years ago. A sign at the exhibit held a quote by Rushton: “It’s amazing how little ceder it takes to float a man.”


– Last Updated: Aug-22-08 10:58 PM EST –

It is helpful to remember that G W Sears weighed 105 lbs and was dying of Tuberculosis, which he did in 1885.

Sairy Gamp, a 9" Rushton hull built in 1882 with 6" of center freeboard, weighed 10.5 lbs. That weight does not include seat, backband, footpegs, and is clearly quoted without the 4 lbs of paint needed keep the thing watertight. With a modern cockpit to enhance stability, control and comfort, Sairy would have weighed 17 lbs. [Hornbeck's 10,5 BlackJack w/ pegs beats that like a drum by 5 lbs in a more rugged hull.]

Once floated, Sairy would present the average woman, not man, with 3 inches of freeboard. Then add tripping gear in wind and waves. Have a nice, but wet day!

Wood Drake, 1880 weighed 17.5, Susan Nipper, 1881, weighed 16, Buck Tail, 1884 weighed 22 lbs and Wee Lassie, 1883 weighed 23 lbs. All without seating, backband, footpegs or paint. Adding ~7 lbs to each to get a ready-to-go weight brings the wooden boat world into perspective.

Wood can a wonderful, natural media, and offers the solace of one last campfire in extremus, but there is a reason we don't build F22 wings out of cedar.

This thread started out as a how light can it be made workably strong? Wood, a neat as it is, isn't in that footrace. We're talking about hybrids of Carbon/Kevlar/Spectra/Textron/Foams/ Nomex HexCell and SphereTex. Space age stuff that is dtill kinda pricey but works.

Spheretex may be neat stuff - I'll contact our rep for a sample Monday, but remain concerned about what happens under an atmosphere of pressure. The web site does not mention infusion.


Good question. Spheretex is often
vacuum-bagged, but I haven’t kept up with the whitewater construction people to know if they are using vacuum infusion.

Even with vacuum bagging, my builder had to fix a few dry spots in the Spheretex, and it looks to me like the Spheretex may have shifted in a couple of places as the vacuum was applied. This was the first boat he had laid up on a mold made by another party.

wood may not be carbon
But it’s lot cheaper, lot more readily available, sustainable, and pound-for-pound, the strongest stuff out there. Can’t beat nature. Can’t grow carbon or aramid in a few years.

Regardless of marketing attempts, carbon, aramid, infusion, etc, are not the “end game”.

Choosing wood or another material other than infused high-tech fabrics does not make a consumer foolish.

quite true but
I am not taking one of my several wooden boats (that are light because the planking and ribs are thinner than their tripping counterparts) on remote trips.

Nor would I take a Geodesic Airolite boat either.

You gotta admit that the new materials are quite user and abuser friendly and most of us have lost the ability to repair a wooden boat and shave spruce roots and fashion gunwales etc in the bush

Its our fault, not the boats.

I wouldn’t take any pack canoe
I wouldn’t take any pack canoe on an extended trip. Just my personal choice.

Repairing a wooden boat (with comparable quality level of repair) with good results isn’t any more difficult than a carbon or kelvar boat.