I have paddled a few plastic sea kayaks and several fiberglass/composite ones. Clearly, the glass boats are a little nicer, and I understand they last much longer if taken care of. I recognize they don’t have the ultimate impact resistance of plastic, and I am OK with that.

My question for you all is this: Are there plastics now produced or on the horizon that will have the structural life span of a glass boat i.e. that won’t get soft over time, or if left on a car rack on a hot day?

I haven’t been shopping for a while, and I wondered what innovations might have come along.


Structural Lifespan?
What’s this about plastic not lasting as long as composites?

Plastic boats are generaly heavier and less rigid but why do you say they won’t last as long?


Sorry, that’s just what I heard.

I heard that a plastic boat will get both soft and brittle with age (even if protected with 303 or stored indoors), and will be a nuisance to paddle and not very strong.

Didn’t eddyline publish a magazine add with a bar graph or something?

I could be way off base, here, but that was how I understood it.

don’t know of innovations
Thermoplastics are out there,and depending on the boat can be worthwhile. Rotomolded kayaks can vary from manufacturer to manufacture and model to model. For example Sea Lions/Eclipse will get wobbly and hog back and Scirocco with pretty much keep their shape. Prijons are always solid.

More Gossip
I’ve owned a few third hand plastic whitewater boats. They seem to have held up pretty well after 10-12 years.

Some reading I’ve done leads me to believe that at least some older composites get soft and/or brittle with age.

You might want to look into TwinTex. Esquif is selling a whitewater boat made of this poly/fiber material which is suposed to be light, rigid, and unbreakable. Too soon to tell how it ages.


I have a 20 year old

– Last Updated: Jan-05-06 1:34 PM EST –

15' Mad River Royalex WW canoe (got it second hand don't know the model name) thats been wrapped ,scraped ,patched, you name it and its still going strong. The outer vinyl is a little stiff here and there and I replaced the original thwarts, but its a great boat. I also have a Discovery 158 thats pushin 20 and aside from the bottom flattening out, its in great shape too. Prolonged direct exposure to sunlight is definitely not good for any plastic boat, but some of the protectants are worse. I'm not sure about 303, but if it works like Armor All or any of the other vinyl treatments, it actually speeds up the deterioration of the plastic. Old Town recommends using lemon pledge instead.
The only plastic hull material I would recommend avoiding is the stuff they make Coleman and Pelican canoes out of. Having been a Coleman dealer many years ago, I can tell you that they are just about impossible to repair if you happen to poke a hole in them and it only takes a few years of sun exposure on the hull to make them dangerously brittle. I have noticed that they are moving away from the original polyethelene and going to a roto molded hull similar to the Mad River, but judging by their weight and cost you would be better off with the Mad River or Old Town.

I agree with LeeG

– Last Updated: Jan-05-06 8:03 PM EST –

Prijons with HTP blow molded (lighter ands stiffer than flimsy, oil-canning rotomolded plastic) are superb.

I own four.