To add skid plates or not

I just purchased new a Wenonah Spirit II in a Royalex makeup and was debating on whether to install skid plates or not. I installed them on a previous boat with a gelcoat because I got tired of patching gelcoat and they worked well but I am not sure how resilient or forgiving the Royaled will be. My paddeling varies from Missouri Ozark streams with lots of gravel to Illinois lakes and flat water.

Skid plates are heavy, rough, junk.
Kevlar felt is a convenience material with that “Kevlar” image, but it is not worthwhile on Royalex or composite.

Just paddle your boat, and when you manage to wear the vinyl off the bow, ask me how to add really effective S-glass skid plates.


– Last Updated: Mar-14-11 3:31 PM EST –

Put a little more effort into landing your canoe with the bow facing upstream, and stepping out of the canoe onto land; instead of driving the bow of the canoe onto gravel bars(if you do that) before you exit the canoe.
Once you've exited the canoe; lift the bow of the canoe & set it down on shore.

Later, if/when needed; add the grunge pads.
I understand the reasoning behind them, but a little "preventive maintenance/technique" goes a long ways towards prolonging their need.

I hate the way grunge pads look on a nice canoe; they look so......... "grungy"!



– Last Updated: Mar-14-11 5:40 PM EST –

add the skid plates. Royalex is tough, but it does grind away as it is not particularly hard. Even with wet foot entry/exit, the bow and stern take the brunt of scrapes. Of course, you can always wait and add the plates if you find that you are getting some where on bow/stern.
By the way, the skid plates are made of felted kevlar... they're designed to be sacrificial.

I think he should poll the users before
commiting to this rather expensive and ineffective step. Us whitewater paddlers usually don’t put anything on the bow or stern until wear requires it.

How many boats have you seen made of Kevlar felt? None.

How many boats will you find with an outside layer of S-glass? Quite a few, especially the whitewater boats that take the most wear.

Kevlar felt skid plate kits are for suckers. They aren’t strong, they don’t wear well, and the only thing one can say for them is they are “Kevlar” (ooooh!) and they are fairly easy to apply.

A properly done skid plate made of S-glass weighs less than Kevlar felt, wears much smoother than Kevlar felt, doesn’t cause as much hydrodynamic drag as Kevlar felt, is stronger than Kevlar felt, and is much easier to augment or repair than Kevlar felt.

Rebuttal? But then, you haven’t been watching the mediocre performance of Kevlar felt since the 80s like I have.

Wait till you have wear
Skid plates make a canoe paddle like you have a bunch of leaves stuck to the bow. Wait till you need them; if you ever do need them.

I paddle an almost 30 year old Spirit in a composite lay-up. It has been paddled hard and by lots of different people. The gel coat has been scraped away over a 6 inch section of the bow, but the kevlar cloth underneath is still not visible. I patched the gelcoat several times in the spring when i noticed the wear; and once midseason when it took a full speed hit onto a rock crib just under the surface that the bow paddler did not see.

The need for skid plates is greatly overstated for even moderately careful paddlers.


I paint melted abs
onto the ends of a few of my boats. Lighter, cheaper, less obtrusive…except for that black color, but you can color match lego blocks and melt them down…when needed (after you wear through the vinyl.)

seen on the red boat

Kevlar felt skid plates cause leaves
and trash to catch on the bow. I bought a demo Bluewater tandem that already has thin Kevlar felt glued on the bow and stern. That stuff is a junk catcher. I’m going to have to paint epoxy over the felt to smooth the surface and blend the borders in. Not easy to remove from a glass/Kevlar boat with no gelcoat.

Angle Grinder
I had good success removing/tapering a roughly applied kevlar felt skid plate with an angle grinder. It takes some courage, but I was working on an old composite canoe anyway, so any slip could be fixed.

Unlike the warnings about sanding kevlar cloth, the felt just flew off with a typical angle grinder wheel. I wore a serious dust mask and worked outside. I don’t know for sure that it was necessary, but figured better safe than sorry.

Oh - and my vote is no to skid plates - though I sure wish companies would add them internally like the old “end pours” that kayaks had, or the glassed in rope of a Kruger. Souris claims to have integral skid plates, but I’m not sure what that means. Several layers of S-glass is what I would like to see in the bow stem.

Skid plates on a canoe, of Royalex material is really a repair more than a preventative accessory. If you saw what a good boat shop does with a grinder to even a well worn boat you’d just go without until you need them, if you ever need to. I’m as rough as they come on my canoes, I bash rocks, I high speed beach ram my boat to get up on shore and the front of my boats still looks way better than what a shop would take it down to just to get the plates to stick. Wait and see if you ever need em. Most never do.

Never on a new boat
Just don’t drag it.

Then when and if it needs them do it

jack L

I’d use an angle grinder for the typical
thick felt skid plate, but the ones on our Bluewater are very thin. The real problem is getting the skid material to release from the surface of a boat that has no gelcoat for error.

I might try a super-sharpened bullnose plane, swinging the blade so as to cut rather than wedge the bond.

Bastard file.
That’s what I used to smooth and feather the kevlar skids that were on my royalex Prospector. Using the file didn’t create any flying fine dust or fuzz, and was easy to control. Make sure the file is a sharp one and be careful around the edges.

Listen to God
Apparently god is using the alias, g2d. Do what he/she tells you to, or else.

Kevlar skid plate
Thanks for the heads up about kevlar skid plate. I was thinking about adding one. I bought something like “frog spit” to paint on the bottom to have a sleek protected coating. “Wearlon F2” is the product. it is a special epoxy the airboats use on their bottoms. They reapply every so many years. I read where using truck liner to coat kayak keel causes boats not to ride as smooth on rollers, etc…so I’m looking for something to protect the keel & gel coat a little…but do as little damage and be as slick as possible. I know folks add things like (graphite or copier toner) to epoxy to make it slick…or aluminum shavings, sand, silicone to make it more wear resistant, flexible (whatever) and I have access to TONS of epoxy… BUT I decided to buy something pre formulated with co-polymers(in graphite color -had several color options). The wearlon can be thinned with water…

I hope it works… May paint the edge of my SWIFT fiberglass paddle too. I taped it…and the tape wore…darn rocks.

The wearlon…also goes on any surface…like gelcoat without a primer…seemed like a good option.

New Composite
I just bought a new composite kayak. Current Designs Kestrel 140 SOT. kevler/fiberglass hull.

My current boat is plastic and after one year beat to holy hell. (gouges everywhere). And I do put the cart on in the water but you have to point the bow in to the sand to land.

I’d rather put frog spit…on the edger of my paddle…and on the keel…than to have to redo gel coat.

I do welcome and appreciate any reassurance that I was not a dumb bunny for buying a freaking composite boat…

I’m worried about hitting shoals here in Florida on some rivers.

There are a ton of cement boat ramps too.


Guess the kevlar is out.

Kevlar vs S. Glass…
from the web…

“Kevlar felt skid plates offer little protection for BIG hits… They only offer some protection against abrasion and minor whacks.

I bought a MR Freedom, set up for whitewater, and the vinyl is worn off, exposing the aqua ABS underneath. I have protected the very UV vulnerable ABS by keeping 303 on it in the meantime. I ordered a batch of premium S-glass fabric, 6 oz, from, and soon I will apply three or four layer S-glass skid plates using West epoxy. The result will be lighter, will have better compression strength, will sit flush without hurting speed, and will slip off rocks more easily while wearing smooth.

The popularity of Kevlar felt skid plates is due not to their superiority. but to the mere fact that Kevlar felt is real easy to handle, wet out, and shape to the ends of canoes. But for those who want the best result, layered cloth patches (concentric, biggest laid on first, bias cut for easy conformity to boat contours) produce a superior result.

So, if you decide to try to do it the hard way, let me know. Otherwise, you will get a generic result with the Kevlar felt.”

another link…more discussion
This link seems to be in favor of felted Kevlar but only AFTER the canoe is worn and only is needed.

anyway…I guess we all can disagree agreeably.

Thanks for all the helpful discussion. I can’t tell you Wearlon Super F2 is smart…

but the tape did not last long on my paddle.

Wearlon F2
The Wearlon epoxy works well. Cleans with water. Next time I may try F4 instead…more abrasive resistant formula. It scrapes right off kayak bottom when I drag kayak on cement, etc. (can scrape off with fingernail).

Looks great on the paddle edges and I put a bit around the cockpit…and that has held. I just touch up. I used GREY since my boat is white so I can see where it needs to be repaired. But you could do more of a color match to your boat. Comes in lots of colors. I’m happy with it…but I did buy Keelguard for the front and back of keel since it keeps wearing.I figure to try to install That once I scrap off the wearlon. Just not sure how well it will stick with the the shape of the hull. ALSO the keel guard will wear too…but it allegedly has a lifetime warranty with original owner.

It is not problem mixing up a tiny bit of touch up epoxy.