Royalex....Am I missin something?

A recent post has a potential canoe buyer wanting to buy kevlar over royalex due to easy repairs. Don’t get me wrong, he may know something I don’t but how often does a recreational paddler that does flat water with the very occasional class I and II damage royalex to the point of needing repair? Now I will say the only royalex boat I have experience with is my 30 y/o Blue Hole which is built like a tank but after reading that post I’m sincerely wondering about the quality of today’s Royalex boats. My Blue Hole has been beat to death and while it has a tweak here and a tweak there it’s never had a hole. I’m looking for a new solo and inquiring minds would like to know?


You might go to and read
the “Sticky” on the forum about Royalex quality issues. Some pro-environment changes in Royalex are causing new Royalex boats to be soft and somewhat easily dented for a year or two. After that, they harden and are OK.

Also, very few builders use the heavy Royalex stock that used to be routine for Blue Hole canoes.

On the matter of repairs, for an equal amount of abuse, a Royalex whitewater canoe will stand up better than an S-glass/Kevlar whitewater canoe. But the latter weighs much less, and handles better in complex maneuvers. That’s why some of us buy them.

I find repairing Royalex and repairing Kevlar about equally difficult. And, usually, Royalex boats need fewer repairs.

To everything g2d said.

If you are doing FW with just occasional class 1 and 2, and you are a good paddler, you shouldn’t do any serious damage to either a Royalex or composite canoe even over a long period.

In that case, I would always go for the composite canoe. Not for anything to do with repairability, but for the lighter weight and superior handling.

me too
Yeah, that thread made me wonder too. I mean, what’s not repairable about Royalex? It’s easily repaired. I should think that for just flat water and sub-Cl 3 WW, your main damage on a Royalex hull is abrasion from uncareful landings and scraping in shallows, etc. Maybe dings and dents from the odd rock and banging stuff while portaging. All easy to repair with glass patches and epoxy fills. Can’t think of anything that would actually put a hole in the hull. But then again, for primarily flat water paddling, kevlar is probably better in nearly every way than Royalex, except for cost.

Yeah that was me…
I figured some one would call me out on that. Haha. I did say I. “wanted” a Kevlar , not that I needed one. I’m just trying to rationalize the price. So the wife won’t kill me. But here’s another question along the same lines? Would a Kevlar oil can as much as a royalex when empty?

Not a well made one NM

the general idea
Of composite is that it is stiffer.

Trick I pulled on my wife, first buy an expensive new boat. Just cash in all your points you’ve earned and do this around the house. At first she’ll be mad but she’ll get over it.

Second, buy used boats from then on and they will seem cheap.

Third, realize that I can never trick my wife and just get her to like boating as much as you do.

Ryan L.

Royalex v. Kevlar
I was kinda wondering about the construction of the newer royalex boats. Not so much of a comparison to the Blue Hole which I realize is substantial but lets face it, not much is built as well as it was 20 years ago.

So while I’m sure it’s been beat to death, which is currently the better material for someone doing generally slow (unless the waters up) creeks, streams and rivers today? Lot’s of rocks and wood and the paddler in question is sometimes a bit lazy and finds that sometimes it’s easier to let the canoe bounce off of something than to go around. During low water scraping the bottom may be the norm instead of the exception.

Too me these conditions cried for royalex in the past, has this changed?


i would still rather have royalex
To me, and it might just be me, a royalex boat will often not be as fast or easy to paddle than a composite boat. But the conditions that make royalex great is moving water with rocks or shoals. In those conditions the water is moving and any advantage of the composite boat is minimal.

The other advantage is in portaging. But really it doesn’t bother me because I don’t portage much and I like the workout.

I don’t know about todays royalex, but I do know that I would rather patch a royalex boat that cost $1000 dollars instead of a kevlar boat that cost $2000.

Ryan L.

Major vs minor damage
I agree Royalex is good stuff for bashing down rivers, and that it can take a hit, and that it can be repaired with epoxy and glass patches. However, long term abrasion pretty much destroys a Royalex boat sooner than a composite boat.

Put another way, while a royalex boat will withstand bigger blows, and is therefore a good idea in whitewater, it will die the death of a thousand cuts.

Fiberglass will abrade too, but it can be sanded and painted or polished and it will look like new.

Point being if you are frequently going to scrape the boat with little mishaps (flatwater) but not frequently hit it hard (whitewater), I think fiberglass or fiberglass/kevlar is a fine choice and will last longer.

In reality, if most of us buy a new boat and care for it, it will last as long as we need anyway . . . so it makes sense to just get the kind that makes us happy. I like Royalex on rivers not because I think it is tougher, but because when I make a mistake, it doesn’t complain as loudly. Perhaps everyone should have to learn whitewater in an aluminum boat, so as to be able to hear where every rock is!

Spot on
like Canoehead said - depends on what damages and paddling conditions we’re talking about.

More flexible Royalex is better on impacts, and it is “maintenance-free” - which is both good and bad. You can only patch it. You can’t restore partially abraded Royalex surface like you do on Kevlar and Fiberglass. Another thing is that composite hull typically has cleaner, sharper bow shape - which is important in flatwater. Yet one more thing is lighter weight of Kevlar (Fiberglass hulls are about same heavy as Royalex), and nobody will convince me that heavier is better in itself.

There is no “oil-caning” on composite, AFAIK (somebody asked). It is stiffer than Polyethylene or Royalex and when it does flex, it returns to initial shape immediately (or it cracks if the blow is too heavy).

i feel like
I made it sound like I would rather have a royalex boat over a composite. This is only the case on rivers with ww. Every other application composite is the winner. So that means I need two.

Ryan L.

Aint that the truth!
2 canoes, one of each would be nice!

Regarding Royalex and oilcanning, I think it varies from model to model and even boat to boat. In general the thickness of the Royalex layup and the shape of the hull have are the greatest determinant. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that thinner materials and flatbottom hull shapes oilcan the worst. Many Royalex canoes don’t oilcan perceptibly at all. My Esquif Avalon doesn’t.

yeah you can

– Last Updated: Jul-02-11 8:32 PM EST –

"You can't restore partially abraded Royalex surface like you do on Kevlar"
The black on the royalex boats is brushed on ABS slurry.The tan was some leftover polyurethane from my first "BlueMoon" sailboat...but that's another story lol. These boats are all 10-20 years old,and all are generally used weekly, poling or running. The only oilcanning I have is on my green Encore, where the d-ring holding th efront airbag is attached.
That being said, I find these guys
a lot of fun, easy to repair, and the light weight and super quick handling puts me in a whole 'nuther zone.

Latest project was a hybrid, a mix of Royalex and glass. I have become a firm believer in the wonders of G-flex, on both my royalex and kevlar boats.

Getting older, and my favorite paddling spots being down steep banks, next boats will be composite.

leaving Royalex out in the sun…
Not something to worry about…as said, will harden the material. First three spring/summers…not a problem…over that…and someone else online here can answer that better.

Concerning hits with composites…as I believe BOB once told me something to the effect that it’s often the density of the hull + behind the hull(paddler + gear) that will often create more damage.

Royalex UV
"First three spring/summers…not a problem…over that…and someone else online here can answer that better."

I can answer that with regards to my old boat. When I found it 6 or 7 years ago it was in a backyard of a customers. Stored bottom up in the sun for it’s whole life to that point. They vinyl had worn thru on the ends exposing the black abs. I promptly didn’t treat it much better. Bet it’s spent 80% of it’s life with me stored bottom up in the sun and only recently did I put some paint over the exposed abs and put on a good coat of 303. While the vinyl had faded I can see no damage from UV on any of the boat or any cold cracking along the gunnel’s.

Now keep in mind, this is my old Blue Hole and it’s royalex is among the tops in quality (IMO of coarse).


UV exposure
It partly depends on your altitude and percentage of cloud cover. I’ve seen a couple of stored-outside-in-high-altitude-high-sun-mountain-states get very brittle to the point of cracking.