Thermoformed Avocet - experience?

I am looking to pickup a play boat and have started my usual research into the obvious choices such as the Avocet, Romany, Zephyr, Delphin, etc.

Noted that Kayak Centre has a very pretty Avocet in Thermoformed plastic on sale and sure like it’s lines/looks, but have no experience with that boat material, how sturdy it is, how the seams might hold up, repairs, etc.

Does anyone have any experience with a thermoformed boat - I know that Rockpool has the Alaw Bach in this material so that might even help.


Wow - Thermoformed seems to be rare…
I am the kind of boat buyer who likes to try just about anything…but will have to think on this one some more. I can score a like new Capella 160RM, Delphin 155, Avocet RM or others much much cheaper when I consider that the reason for buying it is to take it near the rocks. The extra thousand bucks can go for a new ski next spring…ah well.

Thermoform boats
I do not have any experience with the boats you are looking at but have paddled thermoform boats for the last few years. They are about as bullet proof as rotomold so toughness is not a question. The one difference that seems to hold is that they appear to get a little brittle at temperatues below freezing. I have seen them bounce without incident in the summer but have seen three crack when blown off of cars at 0 to 15 degrees. There are a few advantages. Thermoform boats seem a bit more rigid than rotomold, they can be formed into a broader range of shapes - not as many as with composite but more than rotomold - and they are lighter than rotomold and often lighter than fiberglass. These are significant advantages with sea kayaks but maybe less so with whitewater boats.


Our club has a couple and they’ve held up well. The commercial rental company beside us has switched much of their rental fleet to Delta thermoformed kayaks, and they say they’ve held up great to the abuse rental kayaks get.

Bear in mind different companies use different types, thickness and qualities of thermoformed plastic.

Thermo-Forming is not Special

– Last Updated: Dec-06-11 4:19 PM EST –

Millions of items are thermoformed everyday.
It's a hot sheet of plastic over a metal form,
with vacuum applied to suck it onto the form.

It's easy to skimp on material thickness, the amount
of vacuum used, and the temperature of the ovens.
Lousy stuff can be made - just as easy as high quality.

Adding items like UV inhibitor to prevent sun damage
and other "goodies" can really affect material costs.

Buyer beware for kayaks - understand their use and
the intended application for which it was designed.

Compare to a Roto-Molded process for a kayak
There is a big difference in the two processes.

Only one vice

– Last Updated: Dec-06-11 10:01 PM EST –

The only vice that I know of for thermoformed plastic is its potential to crack under signficant impact at very cold temperatures. In all other respects I feel it's comparable or superior to fiberglass and definitely superior to rotomolded plastic. You can buy this material with confidence, and just be careful in very cold weather. I've had a thermoformed Eddyline for three years and it has held up very well. There are scratches on the bottom but the deck looks practically brand new. Repairs are said to be easy.

What price did you find for the Avocet? Kayak Center has it listed at $3699. That seems very expensive to me. Take a look at the Eddlyine Fathom or the Delta 16'. The Delta could be a bit hard to find. Both of those have excelletn reviews. At this season I would look for a sale price around $2000. Feel free to make an offer to shops; they need to unload these boats now.

My Eddyline boats seemed to be very

– Last Updated: Dec-06-11 8:27 PM EST –

sturdy in their Carbonlite 2000 construction. I bought both used and the surface was roughed up a bit from surf landings on Lake Michigan's gravel shore.

I sold the Nighthawk 16 and am selling the Merlin LT because they don't fit my usage as well as some other models.

I don't know anything about the models you mentioned.

Edit: You asked about a particular model, which hasn't been on the market very long, so it's not surprising that you haven't gotten many responses on general thermoformed boat construction, for which there are many archived threads to read.

Thanks for all the responses!!
I feel pretty confident that the thermoformed will fit my requirements for toughness, light weight, and speed compared to RM equivalents. As to very cold weather use - thanks for that tip!! That gives me ANOTHER reason to tell my paddling group NO THANKS when they want to launch on icy shores in the very low temps. BRRRRRRRR

I have…
…a RockPool TTC and it was a demo before coming home with me. I’ve run it into rocks and even managed to drop it off the roof of my car hence it’s got some scars but it’s holding up fine.

I love not having a worry about messing up the gel coat.

You probably already know this
A lot depends on the workmanship, design, and materials. I’ve only owned one thermoformed, the 13.6 foot Perception Sonoma. I ran that on flat and white water for a couple of years, including freezing conditions. I did not feel that it changed properties in clod weather, but I might be wrong. While I did not drop it from the roof or hard-land it on a rock, I did scrape over submerged rocks regularly and have bumped the stern or bow into rocks when getting into eddy lines on the river a bit faster than expected - only shallow scratches that would have resulted in deep gauges on a poly boat or cracks in gel coat on composite. Mine had double seams, meaning the deck was glued inside a “U” shaped channel on the hull side (or was it the other way around, the U being on the deck side?). Some other makes do not do that and only glue on one side, which is weaker. That is not to say a 17 footer will be as strong or as light as a 13 footer -:wink:

Mine was about 40lb and the deck felt fairly flexible - if I sat on it it would give. The full was thicker and stiffer but would give-in if I hung-up over a submerged rock. But while paddling, I never felt any flex. And this little boat was faster than much longer boats (due to its shape but also I think due to the material being smooth as opposed to fuzzy as would be the case with a used poly boat).

However, $3K + seems a bit excessive for a plastic boat at the end of the season…

wrong material
"Kayak Center has it listed at $3699."

That’s a fiberglass Avocet.

What’s wrong with fiberglass?

– Last Updated: Dec-12-11 9:24 PM EST –

Right, playboat!

If you're going to crash into rocks a lot, I'm not sure if thermoform plastic is such a good idea.

At least with fiberglass, it can be repaired back to as good as new. And the repair knowledge base is pretty wide. With thermoformed plastic, you're on your own. (though if you have a good relationship with the shop, you can count on them to teach you the repair)

I don’t get it either
The price is only marginally lower than a boat you can repair almost anytime, anywhere. Why not just buy composite?

Surface is more abrasion resistant.
Scratches are generally less deep and certainly don’t show as much. Can handle much more abrasion abuse without having much effect on skin friction.

Same color all the way through.

UV resistant all the way through - don’t have to be concerned about exposed cloth/resin.

Those are some of the advantages of thermoformed boats, such as the Eddyline Carbonlite 2000 and others.

And, I’m pretty sure - recyclable -:slight_smile:

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I'm fairly sure that one can dump an ABS kayak in the recycling bin after use -;) where a fiberglass one as far as I know will remain a pile of irritating fibers for a very long time -;(

not sure…

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"Scratches are generally less deep and certainly don't show as much. Can handle much more abrasion abuse without having much effect on skin friction."

I'm not really sure about that!

Before I bought my own boat, I used to rent Eddylines. One time, I got into an argument with the rental shop about scratch marks!

And I've own only fiberglass since. I'm relatively careless about my boat, knowing I can repair it for a song (plus a bit of elbow grease). But so far, I've seen very little scratch marks, and needed only 1 repair: when I dropped the boat from the car and it landed on a sharp rock!

I would hate to drop a thermoformed plastic boat from shoulder height. The outcomes seems somewhat unpredictable.

compared to what?
>“Scratches are generally less deep and certainly don’t >show as much. Can handle much more abrasion abuse >without having much effect on skin friction.”

I'm not really sure about that!

Compared to rotomolded plastic, yes it is less prone to scratching. Not sure how the comparison would go between thermoformed plastic and composite - they seem pretty similar to me.

But as you said, it is brittle, so may not take hard impacts as well as rotomolded plastic (which is more flexy).

I’m trying to believe you
…but I’d have to see some sort of industry backing for those statements. I’m really not trying to be difficult but:

  1. “Scratches are generally less deep and certainly don’t show as much. Can handle much more abrasion abuse without having much effect on skin friction.”

    This sounds like a fancy supposition. Will it save me money?

  2. “Same color all the way through.”

    OK. That one has merit, cosmetically and for repairs. Unless I have a white or off-white hull. How many kayaks do you see with other colors as opposed to white or off-white?

  3. “UV resistant all the way through - don’t have to be concerned about exposed cloth/resin.”

    This has merit for anyone who doesn’t want to take care of their boats.

    I’m a notoriously methodical shopper. I’ll let someone else take the plunge and watch to see if the novelty endures or wears off. If they get the orders they need it should result in a price increase. Otherwise, I’ll stick with the merits of composite at a marginally higher price.

composite vs. thermoform

I’ve seriously considered thermoform

– Last Updated: Dec-13-11 6:52 PM EST –

that is, before I settled on fiberglass instead. ;-)

The biggest thermoform maker, Eddyline, had been selling boats at price point half way between plastic and fiberglass. That's a nice nitch. Other makers follow suite.

However, the boat in question, Avocet, already have a plastic and fiberglass model. Majority of plastic Avocet owners use their plastic boat for surf or rock gardening. While touring paddlers own fiberglass.

So the big question is: will the thermoform material stand up to use in surf and rock garden?

It's also not clear the price of the thermoform model is substantially less than the fiberglass model to tempt touring paddler.