North Star Canoes - Starlite as hull material

Northstar Canoes has a hull available in a lightweight material called Starlite. I Googled that and all I learned is that it is a material developed for heat resistance. Does anyone have experience with Starlite as a hull material? Does it flex and what about longevity, and scratching?
TIA Pagayeur.

I think it’s a perfectly good lay-up for many people. It’s just Kevlar but in a relatively light lay-up. People use them in the Boundary Waters and as my favorite dealer tells me it would be fine for my use (I don’t do whitewater and our rocks do not have sharp edges). I test paddled a Trillium in Starlight last Fall and it felt great. It flexes a little but not a lot. Personally I’d probably stretch for the black lite for the extra stiffness and durability but on the other hand if a Trillium in Starlight popped up at a great price I’d grab it.

The StarLite from Northstar and the Starlite you found on google are not the same thing. North star’s StarLite is just a “label” for one of their layups. It is just aramid (Kevlar is “branded” aramid) fabric and it is their layup focused primarily on losing weight. As Tom suggested (and he knows his canoes) it is favored for BWCA type paddling. I have the Northwind 17 and my dad has the Seliga from the Bell days (both StarLite) and both have seen their fair share of rocks and abuse (the Seliga was an outfitters boat for two seasons then we’ve had it for about 8 years now) and we’ve never had an issue, his has external skid plates and mine has no skid plates of any kind.

I would also strongly agree about the BlackLite (uses carbon fiber in the layup) as the best option if money is no issue. Quite a bit more impact resistant, stiffer, nearly negligible weight increase for those benefits, and I think prettier but that’s a personal problem. If I could afford it I would definitely own a BlackLite hull.

I should also be careful talking about the stiffness. It’s a result of the hull being relatively thin closer to the gunwales (weight loss) and I rarely notice it. It’s never affected my boats handling in any way that I can tell. Their infused carbon gunwales would add some stiffness.

Thanks Tom. I do mostly BWCA type paddling with some class B creeks ( not WW but some current) and very few rocks. Stiffness is an issue as I weigh 220 lbs. I’ve paddled a Bell white and gold Wildfire since 1994 and obviously like it. The NS Trillium intrigued me because of it’s 14’6" length (6" longer than WF) and differential rocker of 2 1/2" forward and 1 1/2" stern. That’s 1" less than the WF stern. I’m getting on in years and thinking that better glide, tracking, and 25 lbs. would work well for me. But my forward travel style will not tolerate any flexing. Looks like I need to test drive a Trillium B & G.

Thanks. Starlite is a new one on me. Kevlar I know. I cannot stand any flex and demand a stiff hull. Sounds like the Trillium SL might flex a bit under my 220 lbs. I own a carbon/kevlar Bell Flashfire (actually my wife owns it and would probably not let me near it). I’m interested in the Trillium from a design standpoint but sounds like a Black and Gold would have to do.

Trillium really impressed me when I test paddled one. It seems to have the effortless and pretty fast cruising ability of my Merlin II with the turning ability of my Yellowstone Solo (I paddled it unloaded and weigh about 185). I was able to turn it around with one strong sweep stroke even with a strong tailwind (boats like Merlin II, Northwind Solo, Keewaydin 15 definitely will not do that). One guy I paddle with just ordered a black/lite with aluminum gunwales…exactly what I’d want and I’m jealous. Another guy I know works at a Northstar dealer and is also highly complementary about it. The Northstar website calls it a smaller Northwind Solo but I disagree. I had a Northwind Solo and I usually prefer larger boats and the Trillium has a much different character in my view. ::canoe_red::

I was paddling with Tom when he tried out the Trillium, I can attest to the winds we had. I may have thrown in a couple low braces to keep from getting too close to shore

The Trillium is one of my favorite boats so far, I do a lot of photography from my canoe and I like that it doesn’t start skidding/turning as soon as you take the paddle out of the water, yet it always has felt pretty effortless in maneuvering. I also agree that it feels nothing like a sibling to the NW Solo, though I on paper I can understand the comparison as they could have just “shrunk” the boat. I think it’s a great testament to what losing wettest surface can do.

My boss’s wife has the Trillium in BlackLite with the carbon gunwales, it’s a stunning boat (Tom, dare I say I’m surprised you want aluminum gunwales?). The BlackLite layup is really their best, but all of them have their place.

Pagayeur, are you primarily going to be day paddling the boat?

Yes. I have a Merlin II and Bell Wildfire. I was thinking the Trillium was a hybrid of those and that is what I was looking for. I want to go as light as possible with -0- flex. Do you know the weight comparison between the alum and sock infused rails and thwarts? I’ve been told the infused are the lighter. A big problem for me is a test paddle. I assume Ted is still in Minn. and I live in Louisiana. There are very few canoe outfitters here and those have only kayaks. I’m on the alert for one.

I forgot on my last post to add my disclaimer: I work for a Northstar dealer only Northern WI.

Carbon gunwales could lose up to two pounds, for a solo it would be on the lesser side of that. The lightest AND stiffest option from them would be BlackLite w/carbon gunwales. The lightest period would be StarLite w/carbon gunwales.

Ted is still in MN, though they are currently shut down minus a skeleton crew to build remaining boats for dealer orders. I’m not sure what kind of customer service staff they have available right now.

Per their website, it looks like Georgia and Illinois may be the closest states with dealers, though it’s possible they’ve added some and haven’t updated their site. It’s worth calling them, hopefully they’ll have someone to help, I know they’re running tight right now.

I’m really not sure how things will be playing out with our current world problems, but if you end up taking a road trip to far away lands when things are safer I would strongly recommend going to Carl’s Paddlin in Lone Rock, WI. Obviously contact ahead for that boat, but he’s close to water and has an amazing collection of canoes to check out. I could spend a lifetime talking and digging through the history he has there! I’ve also heard good things about Great Miami Outfitters in Ohio, but I’ve never visited them

Crud. I like aluminum gunwales because you can bonk them without worrying when loading and unloading the boat. I like the Bell/Northstar aluminum gunwales because they are rounded and friendly. I like the idea of starlite with aluminum because it’s super light and not too expensive (prefer $2k-ish to $3k+).

But you may be right. Why screw around…black lite with carbon gunwales can’t be a bad idea.

For Pag, I don’t have as much time in a Trillium as Puddler but based on my test paddle the Trillium is indeed like a hybrid of Merlin II and Wildfire. I’m really quite happy with my current boats and I was hoping to hate the Trillium. But noooo. The Firebird is extra very painfully nice too. At least I didn’t like any of the new Swifts.

Thanks for all your input. A great fit for me is the Wildfire, if I could magically add 6" of length and decrease rocker in the stern from 2.5 to 1.5" I’d buy that boat. I thought the Trillium might just do that but it is less in the beam and probably not full enough for my 220 lb. body. This is why I would like to test paddle one. I salivate at the thought of those long road trips to test hulls but don’t go on any now-a-days. For the time being, I’m flying down in my easy chair and listening to “You Ain’t Going No Where” written by Dylan and played by the Byrds; Here’s a link-

Excellent taste in music John! Miss seeing some of the old gang…you among them.

Pag it sounds like you were built for the Colden Nomad. Have you tried one? I bet it is nigh impossible to get ahold of one in bayou country It is a big boy boat and dimensionally wide about like the WF. I love my WF but when the stern winds are up… not so much. Nomad is relatively wind insensitive as it has less rocker in the stern. And it is built by a fello FreeStyler too Paul Meyer.
I would love to be able to run my Nomad by you… We were going to the West via I 10 in March but yall know what happened. Miss you too SteveT!
Hope you all are fine; love to hear you are paddling.

Thanks. The Nomad seems a bit like the Merlin II which as you recall I bought from you. Since I have a Merlin II is the Nomad all that different? BTW, I have a Colden WF which I bought from Paul shortly after he acquired the “Fire” series molds from CEW.

Yes I remember the Merlin II sweet memories and CEW patching it up and scratching his head how I could mess it up so bad. Temagami has sharp rocks.
The Nomad is less apt to swop ends in a tail wind.
My WF is from Paul like yours. I love it for its responsiveness though I had less kind words for it one winday day on a five mile long lake in the ADks. I had to shove heavy stuff way aft. No need for that in the Nomad.
My Nomad is from Curtis and I picked it up in FL when I was going to the Everglades. A fellow paddler was flying in to Ft Myers from Ottawa and needed a boat. I had a Peregrine. I got the Nomad for $600 mint.
No matter who paddled it the Nomad always blew the bird away.

Nomad and Peregrine are lake boats like your Merlin II. In my experience the Merlin II turns better than either but that ain’t saying much. Speed differences among them are small.

One other boat you might like is a used composite Bell Yellowstone Solo. For me it’s a “better Wildfire” in that it cruises significantly better so it’s well-suited to paddling upstream. It’s still very river capable and turns very well, just not like the “spins like a top” Wildfire freestyle boat. Yellowstone is a bit sensitive and I’ve seen comments from some tall paddlers that feel it lacks stability but I’ve seen even more positive comments and I think the reviews on this site are all positive. Pic shows mine on a recent paddle. I use mine a lot along with my Swift Osprey because I like the balance of cruising efficiency along with river capability and playfulness. Yellowstone also has comforting depth. I usually paddle with a dog so my normal day paddling load is around 260. I kneel.

Just FYI there was a guy on another forum that tripped in a Trillium with much more than the recommended 260 pound efficient limit and he said it handled it well so it may be fine for you pending a test paddle.

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Sorry to be late , I missed your post earlier. Yes, I miss seeing you and the gang. I bought my first ever solo canoe from you. It is a Bell White and Gold WF with Cherry rails that CEW had made for you. Whitest hull I’ve ever seen then or now. I think it was 1993 or 94. Still my favorite hull for moderate creeks.
Keep the Open Side Up,

Tom, thanks for the post. I bought and early Bell WF, White and Gold back in 1993 or 94 and still paddle it. I was privileged to test paddle the Yellowstone when it was first rolled out by Bell. As they say, different strokes for different folks, I much prefer the White and Gold over the Yellowstone. It has a much sharper entryline and is stiffer, and faster.
I, like many solo paddlers still seek that perfect hull, which of course does not exist and was intrigued by the Trillium. It appears to be a bit too narrow for me. If I ever get the chance to paddle one I’ll be all over that.

I have a Northstar Magic canoe. It’s the Starlite-aluminum version. 16’ and ~ 30 lb. I use it for flatwater fitness paddling. I bought it because it’s so light and therefore easy to throw on and off the car since I try and paddle 4-5 days a week. And also fairly easy to lift up from the water after paddling when there’s a little acquired water in it. I just leave the boat on the car nearly all year. It has a few scratches from where I paddled too close to shore while going upstream avoiding the current. It has only the slightest bit of “oil canning” in the hull when paddling briskly. It is worth the cost. I’m not a canoe camper but it would obviously be much easier than other canoes to portage.