Plastic vs Composite?

Friends are moving to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and want to buy seas kayaks. They are accomplished canoers and kayakers. (kayaked from Vancouver to Alaska) They are wondering about the pros and cons of plastic vs composite for the East coast.



plastic vs. composite
i don’t see what difference the left or right coast has to do with whether one paddles plastic or composite? the plusses for composite apply to either coast.

I have not spent enough time in NS.
But I seem to remember it’s pretty rocky out there. Might be nice for plastic.

More dependant on what they want to do than on the location.

Heavy Layup
Composite is fine for rocky coasts providing the layup is intended to take it. Brit boats are famous for handling rocks etc… Some North American maufactuers offer ‘expedition’ layups.

Shouldn’t make
Shouldn’t make any real difference left coast or right coast until you get down to South-Right coast and start dealing with oyster beds and jagged coral rocks.

I still cringe and sometimes cry when I hear the scraping sound on the hull of either type of boat.


I would never buy a composite kayak. I hate scratches so a composite boat would be torture for me. A plastic kayak can be stored all year long outside and requires minimal maintenance. No problems with rocks and shorelines either.

Some people will bring up the weight issue but I think for no more than 10 pounds difference what is the big deal ?

Last but not least, a composite kayak is twice the price or more than a plastic kayak. Often people will buy them only for the “look”, not seeing a significant difference in performance.

Today there are plastic boats that perform almost like composite boats so the difference is between the ears ! :))

Sorry composite lovers ! :))

Sorry, you don’t have a clue!

Yeah, no kidding!

Composites have less friction so they are easier to paddle.

The sun is harder on plastic than composites and need to be stored in the shade.

A kevlar kayak will break but not pucture so it will slowly leak if you do slam into a rock.

A plastic kayak can take a hit better than a composite but you’re really screwed if it does break. You can’t do a field repair job on plastic with duct tape like you can with composites.

“almost” being the key word! L

Some purists are pretty sensitive !
It was my opinion guys so don’t be so susceptible.

What the heck is a “purist”?
I’d say your plastic is “the way” thinking, as expressed above, would make you the purist.

A “Polypropurist” in this case.

You were basically saying composites are a waste, while no one replied that plastic was.

So who has the narrow view? L

The narrowness (cluelessness) is what’s what you were being called out on - and it was so obvious no one felt it needed any text beyond their post titles!

Composite advantage
The great thing about composites is that almost anybody can create a mold at low cost and start producing composite boats.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with polyethylene boats that require significant investments in capital tooling.

This is why composite materials are the technology of choice for small production series.

You can achieve good results in parameters such as form, stiffness, weight, resistance to various types of mechanical stress and smoothness in both technologies. It’s basically a matter of design, manufacturing and marketing choice.

A hand crafted car is not necessarily better than a car made by robots on an assembly line -it’s just more “special”, and if people are willing to pay for that then it’s worth it.

Why give the game away? L

Poly boats are history…
The Airalite type stuff will replace it in all but the low end cheapos…


Whatever… FORGET about it guys !

Don’t think so
Eddyline has been making that kind of boat for years. You would have thought teh carbonlite boats would drive all the plastic makers off the market. It hasn’t. If it didn’t happened for carbonlite, it’s not likely to happen with the Airlite. It will simply co-exist with plastic and composite, filling a nice gap between the two.

I think the real deal is still hull shape. So many of the hulls are available on composite only. THAT, will be the PRIME reason for many who go composite in the first place.

Draw a base line today…
…and observe what new models are coming out. Some majors* are already cutting back on composits and switching to Airalite and PVC SOTs are coming. Airalite molds are much cheaper than FG or poly. In the middle range Airlite is close to FG in performance. The majors will continue existing poly as long as they sell.

*Except the Brit’s who are just discovering poly

thanks for the input…
I knew it could be a hot topic. I know it certainly is in the canoe world.