River Kayak Colors - Advantages/Disadv

In looking at river kayaks I was wondering if certain colors had advantages/disadvantages - for instances do certain colors of the rotomolded plastic show the scratches or scraps more? Do the white and blue kayaks end of looking dirty sooner because of the white plastic. Or do the two tone red/black or green/black get softer sitting on the car top because of the dark colors. I have read post that say the two tone kayaks are weaker - but I don’t really see why this would be the case.

Blue/White - Pretty easy to spot in the muddy darker river water. Should stay pretty cool due to the light colors. Just wonder if after a year or so if the white is going to look kind of brown from the dirt in the water and sand/mud on the banks.

Red/Black or Green/Black - Look really neat but I would think they would be harder to spot in the darker water and lower light. They may also be warmer in the sun and get hotter on top of the car. Probably hides the dirt better.

Yellow/Orange - Visible on the water and pretty light so I would think it would be less likely to get hot on the car top or on the river during the summer.

Or the old standby red. I really like the blue/white but I don’t want a dirty looking kayak after a few uses. I almost seems like the yellow/orange may be the best compromise.

What has your experiences been with kayak colors? Softening due to the sun on the car top, visibility in the water, ability to stand up to and hid scratches, etc.

You have to look at it.

– Last Updated: Apr-25-13 7:37 AM EST –

I think looking at it all day is enough reason for me to never own a red or orange boat. You didn't say plastic or glass - I assume plastic since you said "softening"?

Years back a visibility study was done with ocean kayaks and white showed up the best. But now they have that flocesent green on apparel but who knows. Your happiness in the kayak counts like wearing clothing you are happy being in. I never read anything positive or negative regarding colors other than dark might absorb more heat. But for river kayaking I doubt it matters.

Personally I want to have I boat I like to look at on and off the water. Marketing studies show that the most disliked color generally is orange. No wonder Howard Johnson's failed with their orange logo.

Forget about the scratches

– Last Updated: Apr-25-13 7:36 AM EST –

It's a river boat. It'll get scratched regardless of the color. The best way to handle scratches that might bother you to see them is to learn to skills like rolling so that the boat is always upright, with you in it, which will make the majority of the scratches happen on the bottom where you can't see them.

I remember those!!!

Stay upright
Always good advice!

Speaking as a safety geek, I prefer bright, light colors. Pinned/swamped boats in moving water are a lot easier to recover if you can see them clearly.

Yellow, bright green, light blue – anything that offers good contrast with the water and river bottom.

Contrary to what you might think
dark colors will show the dirt more. Ever own a black car? Also even though I love the look of my kayak with the red top and white hull red is notorious for fading.

contrary to the above post
My black river boat looks new when wet, as does my black Werner paddle. Dry they show that they are experienced.

drawback to yellow
Though I like bright high visibility colors I have learned from experience to avoid yellow in ANY outdoor gear. Reason being that it attracts bugs like crazy. Makes sense, since that is the prevailing color of pollen. After being pursued several times by bees and hornets in my yellow rain jacket I retired it.

Amusing story (to me, not the unfortunate victim) relating to that: an ex boyfriend owned a small auto repair shop and was refinishing a custom sports car for a friend. The car was painted schoolbus yellow. After many hours of work on the hood, sanding and priming and meticulously cleaning it for final paint, he filled his airgun sprayer and applied a flawless coat to the car which was sitting under bright fluorescent lights in the spray booth. I happened to be in the office at the time and looked over as he was turned away cleaning the spray gun. In the seconds since applying the paint, a cloud of assorted gnats, flies and moths has descended onto the hood and were now flopping around in their death throes all over the wet lacquer. You should have seen his face when I called it to his attention.

On the other hand, I have a jade green kayak that often attract mating dragonflies to the deck. Happened so often on one trip that my companions nicknamed it “the Love Boat”.

Most of my ww kayaks
have been yellow, red or orange. The yellow and orange ones seem to be the most visible. My orange Diesel shows up well in most conditions both water and light.

The color that I would put last…
on my list would be black.

Much too hot when the sun gets on it.

I think what ever color a person likes is the best for that particular person.

I found that a white hull is the easiest to match when doing repair work, (from experience repairing several different white hulled boats), but I would put a white deck second last on my list, just because it is too plain.

jack L

Dark colors
Speaking from experience in trying to find kayakers in need of rescue on the Mississippi River. I can tell you the darker colors are hard to pickout from the river water. So stay away from blue, black and dark green as I’ve had problems spotting them in rough water. As for the lighter colors the yellows and neon green ones are a lot easier to see.

None of that makes a real difference.
Just pick the color you like, and quit obsessing. I’ve been on the rivers since 1960, and apart from a mild visibility preference for certain colors (which seems not to make any actual difference) color just doesn’t matter.

That is a pretty funny story!
Might have made the whole post worthwhile.

Yellow is out
based on the fact it is the least popular color and the bee issue. I am not a huge fan of yellow anyway … however it looks really good on some small cars. Like the sweet little turbo Subaru Baja they stop making a few years ago. I wish I would have bought one of those!

I was looking at an Ethos and thinking that maybe it would look nice in the sky colored white and bright blue. Or the green hornet - black and neon green but that is kind of on the dark side for safety.

This was kind of an interesting thread to read. I liked some of the experiences with colors. Oh, and I kind of research everything … my wife says sometimes to death. I just like knowing what there is to know about things I am involved in.

It seems to me…
you are asking which colors are easiest to keep clean, and show scratches least.

From what I read, light colors show less scratching. From my experience, materials matter more than color when cleaning. Gelcoat covered boats clean up nicely. Plastic boats seem to depend on surface texture and possibly the type of plastic. A bit of Softscrub and some elbow grease get them looking fine. A coat of Armorall or 303 will always help.

Keep everything out of the sun as much as possible. Fading from UV is more than cosmetic.

Get what pleases you, or if buying used as I do, get the hull that pleases you, color be damned. Scratches are the sign of a well used boat.


Yellow boats show up well in
pictures. I haven’t had any bee trouble with mine.

Pollen here usually means light green. Pine pollen.

Its nice NOT to have the most popular color. Easier to spot if someone is making off with it. Ever try to find a grey rental car at the WalMart in Gulfport MS (its huge)?

Thanks for the cleaning tip.
Leaning toward the ice or sky color - blue and white.

Someone mentioned 303 and other
UV screening products.

Poly boats by the best manufacturers have enough UV inhibitor in them that frequent use of 303 is a waste of money.

Royalex boats are skinned with a top layer of vinyl, inside and out. Vinyl is the most UV resistant of commonly used plastics. Frequent use of 303 on a “young” Royalex boat is not necessary. When Royalex gets old and looks kinda chalky, 303 can make it look nicer.

I have several composite (glass/Kevlar) boats that have no gelcoat, only a colored topskin. That resin is somewhat UV vulnerable. The maker of two of these composite boats recommends using a premium yacht wax rather than 303. Such waxes contain good UV inhibitors. Wax also protects a bit more against scratching the colored topcoat than does 303.

The 303 people are very tight-lipped about how long the stuff stays on and stays working. My opinion is maybe 3 standard driving and paddling outings.

Dragonfly Love Nest

– Last Updated: Apr-26-13 3:06 AM EST –

I always thought dragonflies loved red. It seems any kayaking trip in one of my red kayaks I ended up with 20+ dragonflies getting busy on my deck.

I grew to like having red kayaks and it seems anytime I get a new one my choices are always red or red. If you keep them out of the sun and 303 them a couple of times a year they keep a nice bright color.