Thermoformed vs Rotomolded


Looking for some advice on buying a kayak

There seems to be two main differences in material, either rotomolded or thermoformed.

We intend to use on a lake and slow river.

Whilst we have hired out a rotomolded kayak and know that it will take a few knocks from rocks etc, I am concerned how well a thermoformed kayak would stand against rocks or stones.

Can anyone offer any advice and guidance as to the best material or option to go for.

The two main kayaks we are looking at are the

Ocean Kayak Frenzy and the Bic Sports Bilbao


Thermoformed plastics under whatever branding seem to somewhat occupy an area between traditional PE boats and composite boats. In as much as they are touted for their higher rigidity and lighter weight than a PE boat, while generally costing less than a composite boat.

As far as durability, they are tough, but like trad PE boats cannot be as easily repaired as a composite boat can.

Either a PE or thermoformed boat will generally take ‘normal’ abuse in stride. A thermoformed boat will generally weigh less and cost more than its PE counterpart.

But IMHO don’t start with material. Start with finding the proper BOAT, then decide on material. So demo boats, determine which one best meets your needs as a paddler, and THEN look into construction options.

Until you know what you want out of a boat you’re going to have no real instinct as to what is of value to you. I.e. a crappy paddling boat that is lighter, or a boat that weighs more but paddles better? Is saving 15lbs of weight worth however many hundred dollars in price difference? Etc. Gotta paddle em before you can make those calls, cause they are individual choices that different ppl have different answers to.

TH is more expensive but better
IMHO the PE is heavy and not as stylish looking. The TH is lighter, more expensive and more attractive. Here’s a link to how to maintain and repair TH

Rotomolded will out live you,
maintenance may be a water hose. Mine doesn’t get a chance to collect dust. Storage on the side is all that it needs.

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– Last Updated: Aug-12-07 11:56 PM EST –

This question as been asked many times. I like my thermoformed boat, Hurricane Tracer, light and nice looking.

I’m for Thermoform
Own a CD 14’ Kestrel in TCS. I have taken this boat over light shoals and a few unintended oyster beds in gulf side bays. It has held up better than either my husband’s or my expectations.

I agree that it is best to decide on a boat before deciding on material. But if your chosen kraft is available in a Thermoform and the additional cost is not prohibitive, go for it.

After the first scratch, it won’t matter much. My thermoform boat seems to be less likely to the deep scratches that can often happen with rotomolded plastic. Its pretty tough stuff.

Anyway, good luck in your search. There are a lot of wonderful boats out there and the decision is nnot an easy one.


I think PE would be the toughest. Certain composite boats have a layup sufficient to approach the durability of a PE boat IMO. I don’t think I could say the same for a TF boat.

Composite (fiberglass) kayaks are easiest to repair, generally.