to Keel Strip or Not to keel strip

I am about to receive my first composite boat, and I plan to take great care of it. Question: should I add the keel strip or not. And if so, does it effect performance?

add it when you need it
I’d add a keel strip if you start wearing through the gelcoat in a few years. Until then, there’s no need to add one.

Second Nate’s reply
Our first composite boats are just starting rounds to get a keel strip now. The gel coat is intended to be a sacrificial layer - when enough of it has ended up on rocks etc to take care of you, then get the keel strip.

We’ve seen boats that were in pristine condition and hardly new, but they are not common. Boats are tools and most people use them that way.

Absolutely not.
If you plan on taking good care of it you will never need a keel strip

Jack L

don’t do it

– Last Updated: Oct-09-11 12:58 PM EST –

repair as needed. A strip going the entire length of the keel only makes sense if most of the abrasion was along the entire length of the keel the exact width of the strip. It isn't.

Most abrasion happens at the stern from dragging a short distance or the bow if you land hard at the bow. After that deep scratches that cut into the glass occur in the midsection of the hull beyond the center of whatever defines the "keel". That's why keel strips don't make sense. If you want to reduce the damage to scraping impacts on the bottom of the hull just make sure the glass is thick there over the entire midsection of the bottom.

Putting in a thicker ablative layer at the areas of highest wear makes sense if you are heading out on a trip that involves enough dragging that repair would be needed sometime during the trip but like JackL said if you don't drag, you don't need it. Besides a "strip" of any kind of cloth at the stern will provide minimal resistance to sustained dragging on hard surfaces. I could put on two layers of any kind of cloth at the stern as a "keel strip" and wear through it in 5seconds dragging the kayak on concrete (or any other hard surface). I unintentionally proved this at a boat show showing off the dynel wear strip I put on the stern of a s&g kayak. I put the stern on the ground and dragged it back and forth a few feet on the road. Wore right through the "keel strip" made of dynel, epoxy and graphite. Which is a much tougher keel strip than you'd get from one layer of 1 1/2" 9oz glass tape set in vinylester resin or epoxy. 5oz dynel swells up thicker than 9oz tape.

So go ahead, USE the kayak and repair as needed. It should collect a whole bunch of stress cracks in the gel coat that don't require repair, gouges in the bottom of the hull that will bother you at first and possibly you'll have some kind of damage that occurs from handling/falling off of a roof rack. And if after a few years you've worn through the gel coat in the stern and it starts getting squared off as gel coat and glass are worn down you could add a thick ablative layer that would do a LOT more good than a "keel strip" ever could.

Latest stern "strip" I"ve put on is a 3/16" cord of braided polyester line soaked in epoxy and bedded down with thickened epoxy. I'm thinking the next thing I'll try is 3/16" half round stainless steel about 10" long.
But like Jack implied, if you pick the boat up you don't wear the stuff away to begin with.

Agree with ‘not until you need it’.
Esp. since I botched the job on my bro’s Tempest 170.Wish I’d never touched it.

“you will never need a keel strip”
…if you never take it into rocky waters, shores, etc… Some people will never have their boat touch anything that removes gel coat. Some folk use their boat in a greater variety of conditions and seas.

Wait until you need a keel strip.

nothing a sander can’t fix

keel strip
Why not put a keeleazy strip on it? Simply to apply, looks good, protects you keel and easy to remove/replace. Waiting until the hull is damaged is like waiting to close the gate until after the cows get out. Unless of course you like doing fiberglass repairs.

Also, Keeleazy will not affect your boats performance.

I would be happy to send you a fr ee sample. Just go to


once you get past the stern and bow the wear is across the entire bottom of the hull and not just the “keel”.

Which is obvious in this photo of the yellow hull where there are scrapes all along the bottom.

$.02 the issue of stern wear is a large part dependent on how narrow the stern or bow is. On my old Mariner Express the stern was a 1 1/4" wide skeg. It was worn down into the glass. never bothered to build it up because there was a lot left. Whereas on plywood/glass s&g kayaks the end panels come to a very sharp 3/8" wide wedge that wears through anything quickly.

I could see those 3/32" ABS strips being useful on the ends, but so would 1/8" thick piece of epoxied dynel cord with a section of 1" kevlar tape stuffed inside. Did that on a s&g kayak once. Thick works better than thin when it comes to a sacrificial layer.

Any one who puts a keel strip on a high
end composite canoe that is new should be ashamed of themselves !

If the boat needed a keel strip, the manufacturer would have put it there.

Jack L

Shame is for wusses
Why stop at just being ashamed? How about mortified? Self-flagellated? Suicidal? I like that one best, then there will be lots of nice new (albeit keel-stripped) boats up for grabs on Craigs List.

mildly anxious

Keel hauled !
Jack L

Epoxy vs KeelEazy
A materials testing lab told us that KeelEazy is 14 times more abrasion resistant fiberglass tape with epoxy resin. The pic you are referring to is a used boat that I installed keelEazy on. We also stock 3" and 4" for wider keels, canoes, jet skis etc…I am happy to sent those of you that think it might not work a sample for you to test.


Look,I was ermbarrassed enough.
Now I have to go end it all.

By taking my beer on the back porch and watching the sun set.


Havent read the other responses
Here’s my take. I’ve paddled several thousand miles and have not needed a keel strip. Having said that I have needed to add surface coat to the keels of my boats every few years. I used an epoxy paste.

Now, where I live I see a lot of Brit boats atop cars parked outside the pubs and they mostly all have “keel strips” of a different color than the hull. Also of course all the appropriate stickers and PVC tubes on the fore deck for spare paddle stowage. So, it seems kind of a uniform among local clubs etc. One of those things one must do to be “proper”.

Just paddle the kayak and over time if you see wear deal with it. It’s easy to refresh. If you’re a follower in a club that has an unwritten edict about such things then add a keel strip, but be sure it’s a different color so others know you are “hard core”.

Hi Salty
Why deal with wear, why not prevent it. You refer to clubs parked outside of pubs with contrasting keel strips to show they are hard core. How about people with matching Keeleazy strips that show they are interested in preventing inevitable wear on there composite boats through normal wear and tear. I have paddled lots of miles myself and worn out several kayaks in the process and am happy to offer a product that adds life to hulls regardless of how hard core the paddlers are.


KeelEasy Really Protects the Keel
As Falcon noted, KeelEasy is more abrasion resistant than fiberglass and epoxy strips. I have used it on my keel since June, (I paddle 3-4 times per week) and have observed only minor surface scratches on the KeelEasy strips; I have seen no deep abrasion. I have done rocky landings and often launch from concrete boat ramps as they are about the only launch sites in many Illinois inaland lakes.

It looks to me like KeelEasy prevents having to deal with constant damage and repair high wear areas such as the narrow bow and stern keel sections. If the KeelEasy strip does start to wear through (and it looks like it may not do so for a long time), simply remove the old and apply a new strip. I think that it is a very good idea to install KeelEasy on the keel area of any new kayak. Then, you don’t have to deal with constant “wear and repair”.

Yes, I do have scratches from landing on rocks over a wider area in the mid-section of my kayak that is not protected by KeelEasy, but I doubt the midsection area of my kayak will actually wear through any time soon as new scratches are almost always in new spots. These type of individual scratches are unsightly, but do not generally cause wear through or abrasion.

My take…
1) leave it as is until gelcoat wears. Then repair the gelcoat, add keel strip all on 1 go.

2) add keel strip, replace when IT wears.

It’s really just personal preference. Having done gelcoat repair once, seems to me the work to add (or replace) an EasyKeel is much less than gelcoat repair (no sanding & buffing after the gelcoat cures).

So, if I were to have a new boat that I intend to use heavily and for many years to come, and I paddle where rough launch and landing are common, I’d probably add the keel strip right away without waiting to do gelcoat repair later.

But why am I not adding one to my current boat? My paddling doesn’t involve rocky launch/landing too often. Nor do I typically drag my boat for long distance. So my keel won’t wear all that much worse than the rest of the hull. The keep strip would not give me that much advantage.