opinions on Airalite?

My girlfriend and I are in the initial research phase of kayak shopping.

We’re thinking of shorter touring models (less than 16’) because we’ll probably use them a fair bit on slow-moving rivers, too.

I’m wondering if anyone has any experience/opinions on the new Airalite material…in particular with the Dagger Specter 15.5.

Not sure it’s new or lite
It seems a lot like Eddyline’s Carbonlite, which as been around for awhile. In my opinion, it’s not that light or cheap. I’d look at Epic and Hurricane boats for light weight and reasonable cost, assuming that’s your goal. The exception would be if you intend to scrape around some rocks, in which case you probably wouldn’t want a composite layup. Your question then becomes if the weight difference between the Airelite and plastic boats is worth the substantial cost differential.

The advertised weights seem heavy
to me compared to the Hurricane boats which are very light and tough.

Interested in Airalite too.
Perception is using Airalite on a few of their boats and the Eclipse 17.0 is on my own list of kayaks to look at (new to the sport too). The reviews are kind hit and miss for the older versions of this kayak in the review section, but the weight (54 lbs) is better than most of the other regular polyethelyne boats in this size/class (usually 60-70 lbs) and it’s definitely a nice looking material, though this isn’t really too important (reminds me of composite). My biggest concern is how proven is it. Hope someone can comment on build quality, weatherablity/aging, and what not.

being a savvy consumer
Well, rocks definitely are part of the recipe, so composites are definitely out of the question.

I work at a store that sells Dagger, Perception, Old Town, and Wilderness Systems kayaks, so for the sake of using one of the few benefits I get for working there, I’m limiting my options to those brands.

Because Airalite is fairly new (we have yet to see ANY Airalite boats in the store, so I’m hard-pressed to make any comparisons myself), I was hoping to poll the masses to see if anyone owns, has demo’d, or knows someone who has owned or demo’d a boat of this (or similar) material.

A few things that intrigue me about the marketing claims are that it’s durable like plastic (maybe not quite AS durable, but definitely moreso than composites), that it’s more rigid than rotomolded plastic, and that it’s lighter than plastic.

Like any marketing claims, I’m just trying to weed through the fluff to find the truth of the matter.

If the material is durable enough to handle river use and the inevitable bottom scrapes that come with paddling through riffle zones and is more rigid than plastic, I may be sold on it, even though it may only shave a couple of pounds and does cost a couple/few hundred $$$ more.

If not, then that’s fine. I know plenty of people in my area who are more than happy with their rotomolded touring boats.

I’m currently paddling the Sonoma 13.5
and it’s great! I’ve had it for a year now, and although it has some scratches on the bottom of the boat (several drops onto concrete and some very rocky rivers), it’s holding up great. It does indeed look like a composite boat and I’m very happy with mine. Long term durability is yet to be determined though. Read the other reviews for Airalite boats such as this boat and the new Carolina 14.5 on this website to get some ideas as to these boats. I got my boat with an off-season discount so it was very comparable to poly boats at the time. At it’s retail price, I probably would have to think long and hard about it.

the boats sent out to dealers weigh more than the advertised weights,I’d be surprised that the thermoplastic Eclipse weighs 54lbs,maybe it does but they were “optimistic” about the weights and the one I lifted felt much heavier than a glass kayak. Perception is bigger than Eddyline but if you want to deal with a biz who’s had a long time to work out the kinks and you’re looking at sea kayaks I’d look at Eddyline first. Perception does enough funny things to hit a price point that I’d think twice about spending $2000 for a learning experience.

Given the rocks…
I’d look seriously at the WS offerings. As LesG alludes to below, I’m covered in the scar tissue of Perception/Dagger corner-cutting quality issues and have learned my lesson there.

just weighed a Carolina 14.5

– Last Updated: Jun-04-04 12:40 PM EST –

Aerolite Carolina 14.5
with rudder 58lbs.
advertised on website 56lbs.
sticker in Aerolite Carolina 14.5 says 46-49lbs which I assume covers the unruddered and ruddered version.
I've paddled an Aerolite Eclipse,,it's listed at 64lbs and the rotomolded is listed at 66lbs. If you add the same 2lb fudge factor they might weigh a few lbs more at 66/68lbs. I've always thought of Eclipses as near 70lb boats but maybe they're lighter than a couple years ago.

Dagger/Perception corner cutting?
Do tell. I haven’t seen any evidence of Perception cutting corners, but I have seen a Dagger Blackwater 11.5 where Dagger neglected to seal the screws that attached the foot pegs. That’s as far as my experience with manufacturing shortcomings goes.

I do like some of the WS boats, and they’re definitely on my list. I just wish my store carried more of them than just the Pungos and Pamlicos.

Hurricane Aquasports “Trylon” is light.
Their Tampico is 13.5 ft (38 lbs) and the Tracer is 16.0 ft. I have not tried the Tracer, but I’ve had my Tampico for a couple months now and have been happy with it thus far. It is definitely a daytouring, inland lake, coastal waterway, or slow river boat - you wouldn’t want to paddle it out on open big water. It is very reasonably priced (

corner cutting
the boats sell well because they meet a particular price/features intersection. But HOW that feature gets executed is very hit and miss with kind of a glitch in the total design. The various little things that show up certainly don’t seem significant if another manufacturer costs $75-$100 more for a similar set of features.

But after awhile it’s noticeable.

The first year production of Avatars were shipped with ratchet hardware that rusted out. The Dagger deck hardware broke easily. It’s nothing catastrophic and many things would get corrected in production, but the introduction of new models with a new set of goofs reflects an attempt to maximize profit in a very small market that isn’t quite up to mass production efficiency. The Avatar is a good boat for Perception to introduce,they should have made it out of Aerolite.

The simple fact that the specification sticker on the Carolina says 46-49lbs and it weighs 58lbs is cutting corners.

A $1500 computer is pretty amazing,it shouldn’t be that hard to introduce a $1500 plastic kayak that didn’t have first run production problems like rusty hardware or seat fitting that restricted a range of potential buyers without retrofit.

I have a Tracer
I just bought it. They are hard to find. Most are sold before they hit the store. Mine was in the store for 3 day when I bought it.

The quality and workmanship is first rate. 16 feet and only 42#. . . a great combo.

Have they put thigh braces in the Tracer yet?

No, not yet
Tell me about them. What type or brand is good. I have only been out a few times . . . Still getting used to it

sounds like
Sounds like the auto industry. Wait a couple years after a feature is first introduced so they can work the bugs out. Not that I agree with that strategy, but it’s there and it’s good to be aware of it.

I’m starting to look more at the WS Capehorn line, too, and they look pretty good, also. I also found a dealer in my area where I can sit in one (and possibly even rent one).

Airalite Sonoma 10
I have and it slices through the chop beautifully. This material adds a responsiveness that heavy boats don’t seem to have. Demoed an Eclipse 17 in Airalite last weekend and as much as I am short and lightweight and a newbie, it was nimble, tracked well, and was smooth in the water.