I’ve been shopping for my first canoe. Mostly used for fishing and exploring small to medium rivers here in N Alabama. I have narrowed my choices to old town ,something like a discovery,probably around 16 ft. If price is no object ,is royalex a better choice than polylink? Is it as durable on sharp rocks? Which last longer? Can they both be repaired? any other pos. or negs.about either…I really need to decide which material I want so I can settle on a particular model to shop for. I understand the weight issue but 15-20 lbs doesn’t seem that much lighter if it isn’t as durable. thanks
Agree - Royalex *NM
cross link polyethelyne
Eric, i wouldn’t question just about anything you write but i don’t think that polylink boats are rotomolded like the linear plastic kayaks are. i believe that the OT canoes are a different plastic with different properties that are much more like Royalex than not, but in a heavier, less expensive form. i also realise that there’s the secondary issue of bonding to cross link, but that’s another issue.
i was just having this conversation today with a friend who owns a canoe guiding company and has boats of both materials. he likes the RX for lighter weight and slightly less flex but says that the crosslink boats are actually tougher, and less prone to cutting and abrasion than the RX. the vinyl layer on RX is actually pretty soft in my experience (though there may be variability in batches and years - another good thread to start for materials geeks) and can cut and wear away pretty quickly. “durability” can mean so many different things as we know; like “strength” and people’s perceptions of materials like kevlar. the ability to deform and reshape is incredible in RX and i doubt that polylink would have that same quality.
I think that bit about rotomolded canoes was just his way of offering his opinion on yet another type of canoe made from "less expensive" material. I believe those new monstrosities with the molded-in seats, utility boxes and cupholders are rotomolded (I can't recall any model names, but I think Mad River makes one). I didn't get the impression he was implying that poly-link hulls are rotomolded.
If you keep them out of the sun, tupperware boats will last a long long time. They can be worn down by repeated grinding over rocks. But most of us don’t paddle like that.
Roylex boats will show more wear from rocks.
Roylex is a little bit lighter. On a 16’ canoe that can be quite noticeable.
Roylex is also a bit stiffer which can make for a better paddling canoe. I’m pretty sure that the reason many kayaks are poly and canoes roylex is that a cigar shape is inherently stiffer than a trough shape.
If you don’t mind the extra weight and the reduced performance then a poly boat is probably what you want.
I like to paddle. All my canoes are roylex or glass. All my decked boats are poly or glass.
I guess the durability I’m concerned about is 1… me dragging the boat up on the bank and at launch 2…our creeks are very rocky, I’m talking about very rough ,sharp rocks 3… alot of the faster parts are very shallow and have big limestone bedrock type shoals,its kinda like sandpaper.
Old Town poly boats are heavy and almost without exception end up badly warped. I have seen very few OT poly boats that don’t look like “wavy gravy” after a season or two. A warped hull eats up energy/efficiency. They are the boat of choice for canoe liveries because they are nearly indestructible – and of course it doesn’t matter to the average livery customer if they paddle like mortar boxes. The 15 to 20 extra pounds of a poly boat compared to a Royalex boat is a very big deal IMHO. In the end a canoe will end up being carried to and from the water and must be lifted overhead to car-top and/or to portage it. Sooner or later you’ll be in a position where you’ll need to do that single-handed… That’s when the weight will matter – big time.
Though we primarily paddle solo canoes these days we also have an OT Penobscot 17’ 3-seater that we have used as our “family barge”. It has given us many years of dependable service and we don’t baby it. At close to 70 lbs with its third seat it feels like it weighs a ton… I can’t imagine a scenario where I’d put up with a canoe that weighed more than that.
If Old Town was my only choice and I wanted a 16 foot tandem I’d waist no time putting my money down on a Penobscot 16 and be done with it.
So, get your ankles wet and don’t abuse
the boat so much. I have a six year old Mad River Synergy (ABS) which I’ve paddled in northern Alabama as well as Oklahoma, Utah, CA, Oregon, Idaho, WY, etc. It has stood up to all sorts of rocks and gravelly beaches. I have also used composite boats in many states, and they stood up to abrasion very well. I don’t think abrasion should be an issue, but I know there are some people who will drag a loaded boat onto the rocks when they could lift it, or leave it in the water and tied to a tree.
PE whitewater canoes
If you notice, whitewater canoes are primarily Royalex. That should
tell you something of the durability.
probably the main reason that whitewater canoes are – still –
mostly made from royalex is because of the much lighter weight.
Otherwise they would probably be all or mostly made from PE,
like whitewater kayaks are, because PE is a little more abrasion
resistant and much cheaper. Matter of time also, when they
manage to make better PE in time…
Look up “Kudos to REI” Thread
This thread details problems I had with a MR 14 TT polylink. I had it for 6 months doing the exact kind of stuff that you’re talking about. The result: a 3 " vertical crack in the floor. I’m waiting for my new Wenonah Prospector 16 RX eagerly. The little bit of extra money will be well worth it! I learned the hard way, no more plastic boats for me. God Bless. Dwayne
P.S. If someone can tell me how to attach a jpeg to this I’ll post what happened…
Maintaining hull shape
Doesn’t the reason have more to do with the ability to keep the same hull shape over time? A plastic kayak, which is essentially a hollow tube and therefore inherently stiff against stresses in all directions, is much less susceptible to warping in the sun than a canoe, the shape of which is self-reinforcing to a much lessor degree. I’ve never seen a plastic canoe of any type which wasn’t warped completely out of shape after on summer out in the sun.
poly is good
For all poly people. poly is tough and as far as repairing, its easy. the best tool I ever got was a plastic welder, and any one can do it. and you will never have to use it as much as you think having a Tupperware boat. Take a look at arizona tools.com for a miniweld MODEL5; even comes with a video. and every thing you ever needed to fix made out of poly. when it comes to picking a hull skin its just up to your taste, and what white water likes to snack on. The nice thing about poly boats is that they can be repaired on the spot with almost no cure time. For a quick fix all you need is a hot iron right off the camp fire or burner and a few poly sticks that are the same composition as your hull; or a big can of INSTA-FOAM(HAHA). I have never had the best made boat, but always had as much fun as the one that thought he did. What ever you do buy first and what ever you are stuck with in the end you will always love the first one. WHY? Just because. However if your gonna spend your days hunting white water(ROYALEX) trust me if ya ever run into Great falls on the Potomac you will wish you had a barrel made out of ROYLEX,carbon fiber,Kevlar and goose feathers. In the long run you can't beat Mother Nature, at best you break even.
"I wish I put this much thought into helmets."
I used to have an OT Disco.174 and an OT Disco.169, I just got started in canoeing and money was issue. Early on, I notice, when I was sitting in the boat on hot days, the bottom was distorting and I had a big bulge from the water pressure pushing the bottom in. On the 174, the bottom became wavy (Oil Caning) and I used to block a 2X2 between the thwart and the bottom to push it out in the hope of keeping it strait. I tried to glue D rings in them but nothing really stick to polyethylene. After two years I became genuinely discussed with canoes and sold them. I now have two Rx boats; they are stiffer, paddle so much better and no distortion problems. I run rapids with them and yes the bottoms are scratched and I had to glue skid pads on the bow and on the stern. One can find an almost new RX canoe for the price of new Poly. canoe. A $700 or $ 800 new poly. canoe is worth about $400 after a few years (2). I purchased one of my RX canoes new for $950 and seen many good canoe Rx for $650 to $700. I would not recommend a polyethylene (Crosslink3, or similar) canoe.