New kayak advice.

I am looking at upgrading my kayak and have a few questions. Would I be able to use my thule hull a port rack with a 17 foot long touring kayak made from fiberglass and kevlar. How much tippier is a touring kayak in comparison to a recreational kayak. Also what special care does a composite kayak require in comparison to plastic

What boats have you tried

– Last Updated: May-24-15 3:14 PM EST –

A sea kayak is no "tippier" than a rec kayak when you understand the environment it is designed for. It often feels very much so to someone coming from a rec boat used flat water in ponds and quiet rivers.

The best answer is to get into some and try them, perhaps seek a basic class or two so you understand the behavior.

Your post seems to suggest that you want a high end sea kayak, but have no experience with them or any clear need for a full out sea kayak. Perhaps more explanation of how you got to this point? It would help a lot to answer your question about tippiness.

As to the rack, I believe the manufacturer has information on that as well as folks on this board.

Hi Matt - composite hulls are roughly half the weight and twice the price of rotomolded hulls. They are definitely less durable - you don’t want to transport a composite boat by dragging it, and if you whack a rock pretty good it may crack, rather than dent like a plastic hull would. Gel coat wounds and even hull cracks can be patched though, the latter most easily on a boat with a fiberglass outer ply. Fiberglass is often used as the outermost ply on kevlar boats in particular because it offers good abrasion resistance, adds stiffness to a kevlar boat, and adheres better to gelcoat than kevlar. Adding a fiberglass patch later if needed is a relatively simple process.

One other material you can look into is thermoformed plastic hulls from a company called Eddyline - they call it Carbonlite 2000. Weight on these boats is about equal to an all-fiberglass composite layup and the cost is also between rotomolded and kevlar/carbon. The company has been around for decades and these boats clearly have their fans.

It’s all relative.
The tippiness of any kayak is relative to your own perceptions of it. Asking an experienced kayaker if a certain kayak is tippy will probably get you an answer of “no, not really”. Then you might get in the same kayak and not be able to keep it upright at all.

If you have at least an average sense of balance, I think you could get used to just about any kayak as long as you persist in trying to get used to it. Three years ago my first kayak tours were in 61cm (24in) kayaks. About 6-7 months later I bought a 56cm (22in) kayak because the 61cm kayaks felt too big at the time. A year later I bought a 50cm (19.5in) kayak that I’m in the process of getting used to. When I take the 56cm kayak out for tours now, it feels super stable to me. Your results may vary, but in general you will feel more stable over time.

As for the rack, I’m sure it’s made to carry a wide variety of kayaks, so it should be fine, provided that the spacing between the bars is far enough to hold the kayak securely.


– Last Updated: May-26-15 10:07 AM EST –

I'd say it's generally true that a recreational kayak is more stable than a touring kayak while at rest, but a touring kayak may be more stable than a rec boat while on edge.

You're asking the same question I asked when I transitioned from a rec kayak to a sea kayak. It took me a week or less to get used to the stability difference but the ROI was a completely different feeling regarding connection with the boat, the ability to use my thighs and paddle strokes to make it do much more than my rec kayak ever could.

On materials, IMO it's a personal choice. composite shows wear more easily. OTOH my composite boat gets taken on trips and dragged onto shore fully loaded when I have no other choice. No holes, just lots of scratches and an occasional gel coat patch. But a poly kayak will allow you to rock garden with less worry. A poly kayak will bend a bit when you strap it down.

Those will work great.
I use a Thule hull a port rack to carry my 17 foot long touring kayaks made from fiberglass and kevlar. I’ve been using those for over 10 years for that purpose.

Touring kayaks of different designs have varying degrees of tippiness. But generally speaking, you can put most anyone off the street into a more stable 17’ sea kayak for their first time, and they can keep it upright and paddle away. I say this because over the years, I’ve put friends, relatives, friend of friends, all ages and fitness levels, in 17’ sea kayaks for their first time paddling. I haven’t had anyone yet that just couldn’t stay upright. So you may be that person, but it’s quite doubtful.

If you should decide to skill up, you’ll quickly learn to appreciate the ability to edge the boat into its secondary stability.

Composites don’t require special care. It’s good to rinse the hardware, the same on any boat, but the hull and deck materials don’t need attention, besides maybe storing them out of the sun. I’ll assume you can figure on your own what might damage your boat, but feel free to ask about specifics if there’s anything you’re worried about.

My first question is why Kevlar? The primary thing that Kevlar does for you is raise the price by about $800, or so. The weight difference as compared to all fiberglass, might be a couple of pounds. No matter which fabric is used in the construction, the gel coat is what is subject to most of the normal wear and tear and in the event of more serious damage, glass is cheaper and maybe a bit easier to repair. In addition, glass is less likely to wick water in the event of a deep scratch.

In my opinion, it is not difficult to keep a composite boat looking like new if you are willing and able to treat the boat with the respect it deserves. Never drag the boat, never enter, nor exit the boat unless it is floating in at least 6 inches of water. Don’t allow little kids, or dogs near the boat. And most of all, don’t trip, fall down and slam the boat onto concrete when you’re carrying it on your shoulder. Fail to follow these rules and you will have less than stellar results. Not to worry though, short of having the boat run over by a big rig, almost anything can be fixed to look like and be as good as new. With polyethylene and ABS–not so much.

What Cape fear says and…
a few more comments:

When I went from my 17’, 23" wide poly kayak to my 18’- 21" wide composite kayak, I was apprehensive like you.

I found immediately that the new composite boat was just as stable as the poly one.

If you are going from a small 10" rec poly boat you might need some adjustment.

If you abuse your poly boat by dragging it on concrete, like I see some paddlers doing it won’t last long.

The same holds true for a composite boat.

Lastly if you hit a sharp object going fast or drop the composite boat off your vehicle roof you will probably punch a hole in it, where you are much less likely too with a poly boat.

-If you do damage your composite boat, they are much easier to fix than a poly boat

Jack L

Primary and secondary stability
Switched from a 26" wide rec kayak to a 22" wide touring kayak. Initially I noticed a difference when getting in the cockpit. I can’t call it “tippy” because I never felt off balance; the boat just responded quicker. I can easily enter and exit the cockpit with the boat in the water next to my dock.

Secondary stability is fine; actually, I think the boat is pretty forgiving as I nearly dumped three times Friday evening (technique issue), but it’s responsiveness works both ways.

If you have fairly good balance, you’ll have no issue.

Good advice !

– Last Updated: May-26-15 8:24 PM EST –

An expensive Kevlar composite is a Porsche, most plastic boats are Chevy.

You understand this comparison ?

Most…not all. I avoid insulting Philip.AK

Taking a survey here would be rewarding. There are a number of composite paddlers who have experience paddle with a group of plastic people. Who is faster ? Or which method of hull design is faster..that is requires less energy ?

There is a regional choice..are your shores rocky with a large tide drop ? Points to plastic according to paddlers living there. Plastic with rocker …

Beam ? Beam me up …. I have a 23” beam touring sea kayak. 23” is thought of as too wide or FAT by snots paddling 21” kayaks. Paddlers with narrow long kayaks are seen as superior to paddlers with FAT kayaks.

Kevlar is God

Never turn your back on the River

Thule Hull-A-Port
The Hull-A-Ports are sturdy and well made. As long as you have them mounted correctly - as per Thule’s instructions - to your vehicle I really don’t think you’ll have any issues with them carrying a 17’ kayak. With a longish boat like that I would strongly suggest that you always use bow and stern lines, but I’d suggest them even if you only had a 10’ rec boat.

It’s the width rather than the length that affects “tippiness” but as the others have said, I think you’ll get used to it very quickly.