Royalex vs. Royalex Lite

-- Last Updated: Mar-04-05 10:12 AM EST --


Thanks for your opinions on the Nova Craft canoes. I am probaly going to get a Prospector 16 in either royalex or royalex lite. I was wondering what trade offs there are in performance when going to the royalex lite. How durable is the royalex lite? I was also wondering of the kevlar skid plates affect the performance of the royalex canoes?

Thanks for the help.

Royalex Lite = R-84?
This question has come up before, but I can’t recall if Royalex Lite and R-84, like Mohawk uses in some of their boats, are the same thing. Most of what I’ve heard on R-84 has been negative.

Royalex vs Royalite (R-84)

– Last Updated: Mar-04-05 11:10 AM EST –

Royalex vs Royalite (R-84)

Less cut to the bone. I too got tired of all the conflicting opinions and asked someone connected to a manufacturer that seemed to know what they were talking about. What I was told made a lot of sense to me so I'll pass it on.

Very simply stated Royalite is Royalex without it's outer vinyl skin. What does this mean? It means the boat is lighter which is the main reason for doing it. What else does it mean? That Royalite is not shielded from the suns damaging rays as well as Royalex is. The vinyl layer withstands UV, etc better and shields the inner parts of the material. What does that mean to us, the user? Royalite turns brittle sooner from exposure than Royalex. There are no firm numbers here as each boat experiences different exposures. I was given the example of in normal use if the Royalex hull is going to last you 20 years, the Royalite hull in the very same environment will likely last 10 to 12 years. Now, who on this net is paddling a 20 year old rough use hull in really rough conditions?! We all progress, change our minds, etc. The only 20 year old boats I have seen are those of collectors and they paddle very gently if they paddle them at all. Difference in strength? The difference in initial strength seems hardly worth talking about. We covered brittleness with age above.

So now. Will you REALLY keep that boat over 12 or so years? Would you like a little lighter hull? You decide.

I lean more and more towards R-84 unless the boat is going to live in class III, then I'll take the little extra strength over lightness.

I have a Royalex hull that is bubbling, factory defect that occurred in Royalex sheets for about three year starting around 2001 I think. I can either slit and glue each bubble as it occurs or peel the outer vinyl off and make it a Royalite boat. Think I'll do the latter as there are a lot of bubbles and no sign of letting up, and I only use it in up to mid class II water. I have a real WW canoe if I want to go higher.

Happy Paddl'n!



Not to brag, but I paddle 20 yr old
hulls in rough conditions. But, then, I take some care about limiting sun exposure, and I don’t absolutely hammer my ABS or composite hulls. Heavy creeking is going to hammer any WW boat into crud in just a few seasons.

One thing about composite hulls, I do keep in the habit of missing rocks rather than boofing or splatting on everything in sight. This transfers to my ABS hulls.

In about 1982 I bought an early-edition Old Town Tripper from a friend who had used it often on rocky rivers. We used it as a family WW boat until I sold it in about 2000. It needed two multi-layer cloth skid plates (thought the ABS underneath was not cracked), and one of the vinyl gunwales was cracked. Even in the late '90s, the hull showed no indication of getting brittle.

R vs R84
By chance I met Jeff Richards in Nashville. Jeff used to be a beta tester for Mohawk Cnaoes. He was an international whitewater paddler and is even in “Thrill of the Paddle” by Paul Mason.

We were discussing paddling and canoes when I asked him what he thought of the R vs RL question. He said he always paddled RL boats and his style included boofs, falls and lots of CIII-IV water. He said a RL canoe would last him 3 years or so under those conditions.

Like Mick says we should be realistic when buying a canoe. How many of us paddle the same boat year after year? I maintain an active paddler adds to the fleet, trades or swaps boats every 2 years or so, so a R84 boat will give good service while being lighter on the shoulders AND pocketbook.

Mad River Explorer

I have a Mad River Explorer in Royalex vintage 1975. It was a leftover boat that I picked up new in 1976. The first 15 or so years it was stored outdoors and uncovered, but shaded under tree canopy. It has been stored in my garage since then. It is still going stong with no hull problems. Two summers ago I had to replace all of the ash gunnels as they were completly rotten. I have also replace the cane seats twice. I should put kevlar skid plates on it because all of the exterior vinyl has rubbed off one section of the bow, but it really doesn’t affect performance and it is now stored out of sunlight, so I probably won’t get around to it. Wish I new the HIN, but back in the day they were written on the hull with black marker and have long since disappeared!


Kevlar® Skid Plates
does anyone know where to get the kevlar strips w/ the resin for ABS at a good price?