Royalex Canoe - Material Thickness

I’ve luckily located a new Mad River Royalex Canoe (Explorer 16) within driving distance! I have a rather odd question, however. How thick is the royalex used on the MRC Explorer 16? I imagine it’s thinner than poly…? I’ve seen some Poly canoes that are very stiff and inflexible, but my previous experience with Royalex was that it was fairly flexible.

There is no standard Royalex thickness
Furthermore, the Royalex sheet used by all manufacturers I know of varied considerably within the same canoe. The sheet is thicker at the stems and seating areas, thicker on the hull bottom and thinner on the sides.

Manufacturers could specify the thickness of the various sheets they used to make different canoes as well.

There is also no standard for poylethylene canoes. When you speak of poly canoes being stiff you are no doubt talking about three-layer, rotomolded poly boats. These boats have a foam core similar to Royalex. Other polyethylene canoes are made of solid thermoformed, single-layer poly material and are quite floppy, requiring some type of endoskeleton to achieve minimally acceptable stiffness.

Stiffness of a hull is basically a function of thickness, not material. In both Royalex and three-layer poly boats the foam core adds thickness with less weight than a solid core does. The core also provides buoyancy.

I can’t speak for the Royalex MRC Explorer 16 personally but I know a number of people who have or had them and don’t recall anyone complaining of them being unduly floppy. The Explorer 16 weighs over 70 lbs which is substantial for a 16’ hull, so I would expect it to be acceptably stiff so far as Royalex goes.

Everyone I know who has owned both Royalex and three-layer poly boats of similar build prefers Royalex by a considerable margin.

Explorer is well made and designed
I owned one. It is a really nice all around canoe in my opinion. Hard to go wrong. Royalex is excellent material and it was a sad day when they discontinued manufacturing it. I predict that royalex canoes in good shape will hold their value very well. I would buy a good condition exployer in a heart beat. I hope I never get in a position where I have to buy a poly canoe - (kayak yes, canoe no). Just one man’s opinion!

Yeah, it’ll be a good boat for you.

– Last Updated: May-12-16 9:10 AM EST –

I can say that because the RX Explorer is a boat that's pretty well good for anyone. Sure there are better performers, but it's just such a versatile and user friendly hull you can't go wrong owning one, and when cared for properly Royalex boats last a LONG time. So, if you can buy it without paying an exorbitant price do so.

As to your questions: Flexibility is a positive attribute of Royalex. That's part of what makes it slide over things (like rocks) so well. Thickness, as Pete said, varies depending on the spot and corresponding need. I will say there are those whose opinions I trust who think "newer" Royalex sheets weren't as tough as "older" ones. I own a boat made with a "newer" sheet and a boat made with an "older" sheet and can't discern an appreciable difference but that's just one person's unscientific opinion. I can tell you that first gouge will make you cry, but it's inevitable.

Generally speaking the main thing to watch for is stem (where the bow and stern start to curve up toward the decks) wear resulting from dragging on gravel bars, parking lots, etc. Don't do that if you can help it.

Buy it, paddle it and tell us how much you love it!

Much appreciated!
Thank you for the responses! I was just used to seeing the big Poly boats that were thick and rigid. I was a bit surprised by the relatively flexibility and thinner gauge material but that now makes sense.

I don’t think I could go wrong with this boat so I’m going ahead with it! I’ll post back once I get it in the water!