Has anyone had any experience/advice about thermoform Avocet VCP? Considering buying one but cautious about the material , its durability and repair ease. Also wondered why they are discontinuing the thermoform?/

Thanks to all!

Great material
I have only paddled the Eddyline boats, other thermoforms may be different. Thermoform boats are quite light. The ones I have used weight less than similar fiberglass boats but generally more than kevlar and/or carbon boats. They are substantally lighter than rotomold boats. The material is nearly indestructable. The one exception seems to be if it is well below freezing when the materials appear to become more brittle (don’t ask me how I know this). TF boats are much easier to repair than rotomold although maybe not as easy as composites. TF boats are usually priced between rotomold and composite boats. The TF process is more versatile in the types of designs so TF boats are often mistaken for composite - something that never happens with rotomold boats whose shape is limited by the methodology.

So if this is such great material why do so few manufacturers use is and why have some given it up. I am not sure. The manufacturing process is more demanding and that may keep small producers out. The total demand is not as great as for rotomold boats and that may keep some of the bigger makers from being interested. The market may be limited by the higher prices. Personally I think it is the best material out there. The boats are light, nearly indestructable (above freezing), and look great.


Just a note. Rotomold is no longer
significantly limiting on shape. Look at what they are doing now in ww kayaks. The relative lack of stiffness of poly can be limiting on design. Make it thicker to make it stiffer, and you make it too heavy.

I had a eddyline Nighthawk 16. The thermoformed plastic is great. It can be repaired and there is even a video on eddylines website showing it done. I sold it because I didn’t like they way it handled in rougher water but the material is great. I wish more manufacturers were using it. I now have fiberglass and Iam very cautious not to damage it. Not near as tough as thermoformed.

Had an Eddyline Fathom LV…
…and now a Eddyline built Rockpool Alaw, both TF. Big thumbs up. Only thing I don’t like about the RP is the round rear hatch:)

Fabulous material
I only know of one vice, that it can crack in very cold water if you hit a rock with quite a bit of force or it falls off your car in the winter. Otherwise it has every advantage: light, stiff, durable, easy to repair, retains its shiny finish. My thermoformed kayak is four years old and the deck still looks new

Best all-around kayak material in my opinion.

The build, not just the material . . .

– Last Updated: Jul-16-12 8:15 PM EST –

. . . that goes for polyethylene, thermoform, fiberglass, kevlar, and carbon is the key.

Without naming names, I'll state that I've seen thermoform boats suffer significant cracks right through the hull from sliding over rocks in a lake.

I would not recommend thermoform kayaks to those who want to paddle in rock gardens or run even easy whitewater.

Doesn’t make sense for VCP
"Also wondered why they are discontinuing the thermoform?"

Thermoform makes sense for a company like Eddyline which offers no rotomode nor fiberglass. Because thermoform has some advantage and some disadvantage of each.

For Valley, thermoform has no place in the line up. For those who wants a rock garden boat, plastic is much better. For those who wants to baby their boat, there’s fiberglass which is much easier to work with. Thermoform splits the difference, making it too crowded (too many choices) for the same model.

I have one.
I have one of the very few thermoform Avocets made. There may be as few as 15 or 20 in existence. They were produced by Eddyline on contract for Valley as far as I know, so the material performance and durability should roughly match Eddyline’s. The boat is a bit of a hybrid as it uses Eddyline’s skeg system (nice, smooth) but Valley’s seat, recessed deck line giudes and hatches, and obviously shape.

My other boat is a plastic Nordkapp, and the Avocet turns more easily when leaned, hobby-horses more in waves (due to being shorter and having more bow and stern volume), but is surprisingly fast and tracks very straight with the skeg down. It is more playful than the Nordkapp, but despite being 2’ shorter has a similar gear volume since the forward bulkhead is more sternward and it has a slightly higher deck near the boat’s ends. The deck at the cockpit is quite low, but I like that fit. The cockpit is a tad snugger in thigh brace height than the Nordkapp, and getting a paddler with an inseam longer than 33" in could be a challenge.

The thermoform plastic is quite flexy. It oil-cans easily but pops back into shape. You don’t feel this on the water obviously, but if you are used to a stiff hull material it can be a surprise. I have not had the boat long enough to comment on durability. It is very light.

The price point and the current economy may have put production on the back burner. It is a ‘plastic’ boat, but only retails for about $500 less than a fiberglass boat. It costs way more than a rotomolded kayak, but thermoform has not established itself as a proportionately more desirable material to the consumer yet compared to plastic especially when the Valley line has plastic and glass boats in it already.

It’s a lovely boat for a smaller intermediate paddler or an advanced boater looking for a rough water play boat.

anecdotal statement

– Last Updated: Jul-17-12 12:04 PM EST –

I don't think that statement bears itself out. I'm not knocking TF but I don't think it's significantly stronger than composite.

It depends
>>I’m not knocking TF but I don’t think it’s significantly stronger than composite.

“Stonger” needs to be defined here. Composite boats are stiffer, i.e., less prone to bending. Thermoformed is less brittle, standing up to bumps better, and resisting cracking. Surface hardness against scratches is probably about the same, not sure.

thermoform is less brittle?
I don’t buy that. Composite has a cloth matrix where thermoform does not. And composite holds it’s strength when cold.

Are you sure you didn’t reverse those? Or maybe thermoform is more impact-resistant but when it does crack, more likely to crack all the way through?

I don’t know about that. You can beat on a TF hull all day with a hammer and not do significant damage. We didn’t actually beat all day but there were a dozen of us that took a swing or two. I have never done that to a fiberglass boat but I suspect you would hole it. TF will get brittle below freezing and you drop a TF boat off a car in zero degree weather and you can crack it (don’t askhow I know). I suspect you would do less damage to a fiberglass boat under those conditions. I take boats out in that kind of weather but I doubt if there are many other such fools.

I’ve dropped my composite boat from
the car top twice, once on the bow, and not a crack other than some gelcoat damage. I have endless gashes on my hull from beaching on cobble, and only one down to the cloth. No cracks in a fifteen-year-old boat.

I see where someone else says thermoform boats have been holed simply moving over a rocky bottom.

I imagine the construction of each is a great variable.

I punched a hole in one
During a rough water rescue. I punched a hole in thermoform boat with the bow of my boat. Not that hard a hit but made a 2inch hole in the boat. We field repaired with tape but I haven’t seen the final repair.

I’m not sure why people think they need to be super careful with fiberglass unless it’s a lightweight race boat. Granted, gelcoat gets scratched up but gelcoat and glass are infinitely repairable.

now that would not have happened
…with a composite boat with anything resembling a decent layup. Not even with chopped mat…