New Plastics for Kayaks

Has anyone had experience with kayaks made from the newer sheet plastics? Does the shiny finish stand up very well? I would appreciate the lighter weight of these boats.

Not first hand, but visual…
I was at Billington Sea outfitters in Plymouth last summer and they showed us a new perception yak that was coming apart at the seams.

They said that they were going to stop carrying it.



My wife has one, good stuff

– Last Updated: May-12-05 8:19 AM EST –

My wife has a Hurricane Aqua Sports "Tampico" made with the new thermo formed plastic. She got it last spring, and used it all last season. I bought hers as a result of a friend's reccomendation who has had the same boat for a couple of years.

It is stiff, and seems to be pretty good for recreational kayaks. She is happy with it,and life is easier when the wife is happy! :)

Happy Paddling!

has had it for years. They seem to do well with it.

Dagger Specter Airalite
I just bought a Dagger Specter 15.5 Airalite. I only picked it up late on Tuesday, and haven’t even had a chance to get out on the water yet. So I can’t really add a review at this time. But I love the appearance of my kayak and it looks to be very well made … and it is light enough (53 lbs) that I can actually carry it (for a short distance).

I’ve heard both good and bad about the durability of Airalite, but what finally sold me was that the owner of the kayak store personally guaranteed it (and I know her well enough to know that she’ll honor this).

Plus Dagger Composite kayaks come with a lifetime warranty: “This Dagger boat is warranted against defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the product to the original retail consumer…” (Dagger plastic kayaks come with only a 3-Year Limited Warranty.)

~ Arwen ~

The finish won’t last
Like any boat, it will get scratched. The advantage of these plastics over composites is that the color goes all the way through, so scratches show somewhat less. The downside is that you can’t repair the finish as you can with gelcoat. It’s possible to sand and buff the plastic in theory, but it’s nothing you’re likely to want to attempt. Gelcoat can be filled, sanded and buffed to a mirror shine, if that’s what you want. Compared to polyethylene, the new plastics will scratch slightly less (they’re harder) and they won’t become “fuzzy”.

I have noticed…
I have noticed the thermo formed plastic does have a harder surface, so it does not get as scratched as a softer Poly kayak. Sharp rocks etc. will still scratch anything, but things that would have scrapped my older poly “yak” don’t make a mark on the thermo formed plastic.

I recently saw a woman demoing a Hurricane Aqua Sports kayak, and paddled straight to the concrete boat ramp, and let the boat slide right up the ramp onto the dry area. The shop guy just cringed, but the boat didn’t handle that too badly. I was surprised.

Now remember I am only commenting on what Hurricane Aqua Sports uses. I have no experience with the others.

My Night Hawk is going on 3 years old and if I buffed it up a bit, and you didn’t notice some of the minor scratches on the bottom, you might think it was new. The Outfitter I bought it from has a rental fleet of Eddylines that get more abuse than mine, and they look good also.


It will handle abuse, to a point
The problems is that once the plastic is worn off, it’s not easy to replace like gelcoat is.

It’s actually a nice little boat,except for the occasional split seams.

too many variables
If it’s a big boat it won’t be light. I’d look to Eddyline for an experienced construction and application. Seems to me they are acknowledging something about thermoplastics if their premium composite is a thermoplastic skin with resin/cloth interior.

In the words of 3 former owners

new plastics
We have Hurricane Tracer/Tampico and are really happy with them. They perform as well as our glass boats but shake off the surface scratches. So the Trylon is tough enough. Our friend got one too and he’s pleased. Hurricane is a specialist in working this material and bonding it together while others are just learning how. So it might take them awhile to work the bugs out but thermo-formed kayaks are here to stay. We owned several horrible roto-molded boats years ago and watched the companies improve them too.

Our AquaTerra boats oil canned so bad they looked like they’d been hit with a blow torch and a slege hammer. Now the rotomolded boats are pretty nice but still heavy for our taste

Thank You
I wish to thank everyone for their replies. It has been helpful in my consideration for my next kayak.

Not speaking of experience
but back in the wood shop days in high school we made laminated surfboard keychains. Basically glue multi colored plastice sheets together and then cut out many little surfboards. Each having a rough cut finish.

From the rough cut caused by the band saw, we filed, wet sanded and polished ultimately to a clear glassy finish.

On a kayak and if it really mattered, you could wet sand and polish out many blemishes, to a point.