plastic or glass

I know this is a question probably left up to the idividual but I’m a newbie as far as touring but I have been paddling whitewater for the last 25 years. I want to buy a long boat in the 17’ range something for overnighters and up to week long trips. How likely is it that I’ll buy a plastic only to realize next year that I want a glass boat?

depends on which plastic boat you get.

A solid boat like the Prijon Kodiak, then no, you wouldn’t be compeled to replace it with glass.

I think everyone needs a plastic boat for poking around shallow areas that you wouldn’t want to go in a composite boat. Later when you have more experience you will know what type paddling you like and will make a better choice on a higher end boat. You will likely still use your plastic boat even after you buy the composite for certain type areas.

on whether you have an extra few thousand dollars in your pocket next year, or you picked a particular kayak this year because your choices were narrowed to one but next year you find three choices. Not enough data.

It might not be a year, but
eventually you might want to go faster and that would translate to lighter weight which would translate to composite.

If a lot of your paddling will be in shallow Class I rocky rivers stay with the poly boat.

If you are paddling a couple of days a week and it is mostly deeper water and you can afford the composite I would go with the composite.

The progression from short poly rec boat to long poly sea kayak and then to long composite sea kayak was the route that I traveled, and I still use the first two several times a year although the latter is the one that gets used the most.



I agree, having just gone throught this
I agonized a bit over plastic vs. glass and ended up getting a Prijon kodiak. I also am a former whitewater kayaker. While it obviously can’t keep up with a lighter glass boat designed for speed, it is one of the faster plastic boats out there and easily fast enough for my needs. And after looking at the small scrapes and scratches I’ve already put on the hull, I’m really happy about the choice I made. I could see myself getting a QCC 700X or an Epic 18 some day to really fly, but I would guess not for a few years. One other consideration is if you buy a plastic boat now, then upgrade to glass is a couple of years, you have a buddy boat. I discounted the need for a buddy boat initially, but after having some friends and relatives visit recently, I’d love to have another boat. I’m currently watching ebay and the classifieds here trying to find an inexpensive buddy boat.

"How likely is it that I’ll buy a plastic only to realize next year that I want a glass boat? "

Very likely you’ll buy 'glass and later want plastic.

Just face it. You will need both. So,

– Last Updated: Jul-24-07 8:02 AM EST –

the question then becomes which one to buy first.

I suggest buying the cheaper one first as you are going into a steep learning curve. You are going to change your mind about what is important and what you really want. The less money you invest now the cheaper it will be to change boats later.

Make sense?

Now, as for that quiver of paddles you are going to "need" ... ;^)



I’ve paddled plastic for a couple of years now…got hooked on using a rudder. Now I am learning more…learning new techniques…I am ready for a nice glass boat…but it will be another year before I can afford the one I want…

buy used!
Of course you’ll quickly long for a fiberglass boat. So here’s the obvious solution: buy used! For the same price as new plastic, you can get a great fiberglass boat used, and also pick up an old used plastic boat for thumping around in the rocky shallows.

unless you’re considering a qcc, then forget it.

Depends how you like your 1st choice
If you don’t like a kayak, it’s more likely to be something else than material that causes your dissatisfaction. Fit, handling, cargo room, speed, etc. are more important.

I know a couple who were so upset by getting scratches on their Kevlar boats that they talked about going back to plastic kayaks. I don’t know if they both “went back” to plastic, but the Kevlar sea kayaks ain’t getting any use.

BUT if you don’t mind repairing scratches, it’s a different story. At least the glass and gel coat are repairable. I’m slowly (very slowly) getting to demo good-fitting glass boats and have a short list of 3 candidates. I like the glide and repairability of glass boats. But I don’t regret having bought plastic first, any more than I regret having bought several less-expensive bikes before I found “the right one.”

plastic v. glass tempests
It’s a trade off like people say here. I have a plastic tempest 170.

The boat is the envy of the glass tempest set at landings–I just rocket the thing right up the beach or boat ramp, not caring a whit about scrathces. Same with launches. Glass people exit in the shallows, and have to be careful about scrathes on the haul. That’s a pain in the butt.

At least for the tempests, the weight difference glass v. plastic is not much–5 pounds I believe. kevlar of course is lighter.

My plastic boat is silent in the water. You can hear the waves slapping on the side of glass boats, which tend to ring like bells if they are empty. To me, its disconcerting but I am sure something people with glass boats don’t mind, or much notice.

And of course, plastic boats are much cheaper. If it gets stolen, I cry less…

negatives of plastic tempets: bulkheads tend to need to be recaulked. they are foam walls, where as on the glass boats they are glassed in. Wilderness has a problem making sure the foam bulkheads are fully caulked in.

The plastic boat will dent if you don’t take care of it–transport and store it on its side.

Tempest plastic isn’t the heighest quality–other companies mentioned here use a higher grade, stiff plastic construction.

Another negative, which may or my not matter: plastic tempests aren’t as stiff as glass ones. A slightly soft boat isn’t as efficient. That will matter if you are striving to be a good kayaker, and give the boat a work out on sprints especially.

Balancing it all, I’m happy with plastic for now. That landing and take out advantage is important. It’s something you deal with every time you go out. If I go to glass, it will be for the stiffer, more efficient hull.

Second that
Prijons make very high-end plastic boats.

glass is for racing
My style of paddling usually includes Bo Duke like jumps over logs and sandbars. Unless there was some imperative reason that I squeeze that extra 0.2 mph out of that hull ( a realistic expectation) to ensure I finish the National Regata on the podium so that I cinch that sponsorship contract for next season, I would stick with plastic.

My friends with glass boats are always wading to prevent contact of their precious fiberglass against the many hazards we encounter. They are slightly faster, so they have time to get out and get muddy and clean their feet somewhat and drag water and yuck back into their boat and then sponge up the bottom. I don’t have all that luxury time, we just accelerate to ramming speed and crash on through.

I agree with above, it will probably never occur to you that you should have bought a glass boat. But when going through the extra efforts repeatedly to protect your glass boat, you will frequently recall your decision and wonder how you ever came to this unfortunate conclusion.


What about…
the thermoformed plastic like carbonlite (eddyline)?

My (uneducated) impression is that is has a stiff smooth structure like glass but you don’t have to baby it and can run it aground (sort of ) like rotomolded.

Is this the general consensus? if not please educate me as to what carbonlite (and other thermoformed) is like in actual use cause I’m thinkin about getting an Eddyline boat.

Good boats, great people
They are plenty tough if used wisely. I’d take composite first, then it would be a toss up between thermo-formed ABS or Polycarbonate, and polyethylene. Probably go polyethylene for rock gardening, thermoformed for general touring / paddling.

Better quality \ durable plastic …
… = more weight. Less durable plastic is used to keep weight down, but at the expense of hull stiffness, etc. Glass gives you a better performing hull at less weight than a high quality \ durable plastic.

Part of the performance part, I’ve heard\read, is that glass hulls can reflect more subtile aspects of the hull design vs. what can be done with a plastic mold.

As others have noted, plastic boats have some great advantages: they’re more affordable, so they can get more people out on the water, and they offer an alternate boat for people who sometimes paddle places where they prefer not to take their more expensive glass boats. (Note “prefer” … sounds like glass is tougher than many people realize, and if you are less concerned about appearances, glass boats can go anywhere.)