My BWCA guide says.........

not to load or unload a Kevlar canoe except while its floating, not to drag it onshore, and to stay out of all but the biggest rivers with a Kevlar canoe. Is this stuff really that fragile? If so, I guess the old lady and me will have to build some muscles and order a Royalex canoe after all. I ain’t in the habit of buying equipment that would be considered “fragile”. Damn, I had my heart set on the Borealis; 55 lbs at 17 feet.

It’s not Kevlar, it’s the layup.
A tandem laid up to be less than 50 pounds may be too fragile for loading when resting on a rocky shore— especially for the sort of people who are with a guide, when the guide’s not looking. I have a 48 pound Bluewater tandem, and I certainly will be more careful than I am with my 85 pound fiberglass boat, and more careful than I am with my ABS boats.

By the way, ABS does incur damage from rocks. It’s hidden damage, but it is there, and eventually the effects may show up. Other things being equal, the more material in the hull, the longer before stupid loading and boarding show their effects.

minnisota 2 in kevelar
and have run rivers loaded and unloaded this boat many times and while it is best to load and unload your canoe while its in the water I have never had a problem pulling this boat up on sandy beaches. Its a great boat and the ideal bwca boat being very fast and seaworthy and a joy to portage. Its a very durable boat also.

I’ve used Royalex (and have one) and kev canoes on several BW trips. Kev does take more care when beached. I always load and unload with the weight in the water regardless of the canoe in the BW or other rocky areas. I guess I respect the canoe and feel this is best regardless of the material. I don’t let any canoe rock on rocks. I have seen people completely abuse all types (materials) of canoes dragging them across rocks. Some even loaded. Of course, these were outfitters canoes and not their personal property. Kev will take some abuse, but new outfitter canoes look old in a hurry. Like another said, kev necessitates more caution then Royalex. But, if you are a bit careful it is no big deal and the weight savings is a dream on portages.

Some Layups Thicker Than Others
I’ve noticed the Mad River Kevlar canoes tend to be a bit heavier. That said, royalex, aluminum, kevlar, etc should not be dragged up on shore loaded. A canoe of any layup is designed to carry gear and crew upon the water, not terra firma! WW

Yep gotta agree
No canoe should be loaded onshore. First off, It’s harder to load a canoe onshore and pull it into the water than it is to float the canoe and fill it in the water. Most places one can even float a canoe and load it without getting their feet wet.

As to Kevlar running rivers… there are wonderful kevlar boats that run Class III and IV rivers all the time. A kevlar boat is more resistant to abrasion than a royalex canoe, it’s less likely to be punctured, and it’s easier to repair. The only place that royalex holds an advantage is that a royalex boat is much less likely to be permanantly damaged by being wrapped.

It’s the layup of kevlar that makes it fragile. Foam-cored boats in the 40 pound range are reasonably fragile. Those in the 50-60 pound range are very durable and will require serious abuse before they fail.

By the way… don’t ever drag one of my boats into the water… It’s a sure way to get a serious verbal attack. Boats are meant to be used… not abused.


Mad River’s Borealis should be able …
… to withstand a fair amount of flexing under loads along rocky shorelines, but dragging it up onto sharp rocks without any water bouyancy helping to distribute the load is asking too much of a cloth/resin layup that’s only 2-3 mm thick. You would probably get away with such treatment for awhile, but such localized stress is sure to begin abrading the hull sooner or later. And why do it? … when you could (with a minimum of care) cushion against such abrasion by 1) mooring it in shallow water or 2) unweighting it (taking out bodies and gear before subjecting it to the rocks) or 3) using various lightweight “buffers” (such as pool noodles, pads, etc.) to temporarily provide a non-damaging interface. For short stops, using a light anchor with a stretchable rope that allows you to step out in shallow water and then pulls the boat back out from shore a few feet works reasonably well. Investing a couple of grand in a nice boat like a kevlar Borealis and then abrading it against sharp rocks fully loaded is disrespectful of it’s long-term service potential as an efficient hull. After all, it’s not designed to be a durable “land sled” … it’s specialty is to transport you and your gear efficiently over the surface of water … and to be light when “carried” over land .

PS: the Borealis looks to be …
… an efficient hull design. If you decide to buy one, send a review of your experience with it to this site’s product review section. My guess is that it would be a superb flatwater tripper (up to about 600 lbs)… but not really well suited for much river work … perhaps some “light” Class II conditions (and best with less than 500 lbs in a river environment). Shallow vee hulls work better in deeper water … and “catch” a bit in very shallow riffles because the “vee bottom” acts as a “keel” and deepens the hull. Great tracking though!

Don’t “drag”

– Last Updated: Feb-22-04 9:35 AM EST –

any loaded canoe up on shore. It's bad for the boat and just plain bad form. I read a quote several years ago, "My canoe touches only 3 things; air, water and my shoulders."

If you intend to give your canoe rough treatment buy an aluminum beater.

And never speed, rotate tires often,
vote in even the most inconsequential local elections…the list goes on.

Here in the southeast, we often beach our boats, and we often load them while they are beached. On whitewater rivers, a boat is taking damage much faster from unavoidable excursions over ledges and rocks than it is from well-judged placement on a sandy beach. And I have a boat in regular use for 20 years, a composite boat, which has no discernible damage from any of such use.

The real issue here is the amount of material. A thin Kevlar boat, while it can withstand quite a sidelong whack from clipping a rock in the current, can’t be pulled up on a lot of small pointy rocks and then have loaded packs thrown into it. Local distortion of the Kevlar from pointy rocks will cause local damage to the laminate.

Having owned both shallow V and
shallow arch boats, including two shallow V boats from Mad River, I do not accept that shallow V boats have any advantage on lakes. Based only on my personal experience with an extreme shallow V (my old MR Compatriot), and a gentle shallow V (my MR Guide), I think the less V, the better. If you want better lake tracking, take out some rocker, extend and sharpen the ends, and skip the V. It’s like having a pseudo keel, surrounded by two large, flat surfaces on which waves and side currents can apply stronger force.

Sand sure Rocks no
I fully agree, I have loaded my canoes on sandy beaches. I load them on snowly shores. But rocky beaches, or a nice canadian shield portage. Not a chance on your life. That’s a quick way to selling your $2500 kevlar boat for trash. Kevlar is a wonderful substance but abrading it across 3.5 billion year old rocks is not the way to a long life. And care surely needs to be taken as I stated before with foam core kevlar boats. They will only make a couple trips if you load them with 300 pounds of gear and drag them to the lake each time.