While looking at kayaks in the buyers guide I see kayaks that list the construction material as thermofoam. Does anyone know what this stuff is? Is it as tough as the poly plastics that most rec boats are made of, and what are its strengths and weaknesses.
You’re right it says thermoform not thermofoam. Duh! This is not the same as rotomolded plastic is it?
Thermoformed kayaks are made with sheets of ABS (various qualities are available) which are heated in a huge oven (think of a giant pizza oven and you’ll be on the right track).
The sheets are heated, then the mold is typically pressed into the hot sheets. The sheet is vacuumed over the mold, then the sheet is cooled. Decks and hulls are typically formed separately then joined together with glue.
Thermoformed kayaks tend to be lighter than rotomolded boats with a smooth, shiny exterior that could be confused with high end composite boats from a distance. They are reportedly easier to repair than roto as well. Prices tend to be higher than roto but less than composite.
Eddyline is a pioneer with thermoforming. Many other medium to large kayak companies are thermoforming or planning to these days.
thanks for the info.
Common trade names …
are Carbonlite, Airalite, Trylon …
IMO, the weight savings over rotomolded poly are more hype than reality. They do exist, but are pretty small compared to rotomolded poly vs. composite weight differences. They do look nice and you can get different hull and deck colors like in composite boats. Also, they don’t deform like poly kayaks will when strapped down to your roof rack in warm temperatures. That alone may be worth the slightly higher cost. Sounds to me like the jury is still out re: long term durability and repairability. Personaly, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy one.
My guess is that in 5 or so years the thermoformed boats will replace poly.
They are prettier to look at, a little lighter and stiffer.
Eddyline has been building this way since mid '70’s I think.
Polycarbonate, not ABS
ABS is common styrene plastic, the stuff model airplanes and cars are made of. Thermoformed kayaks are generally some form of polycarbonate.
yep, weight hype
The smaller thermoformed kayaks are lighter than the bigger rotomolded ones,but a thermoformed Eclipse is NOT light. Two similar sized rotomolded and thermoformed boats aren’t that much different in weight for the price difference. Perception played fast and loose with advertised weights for awhile on the ruddered thermoformed kayaks. I’m curious how a fully loaded thermoformed Eclipse would hold up to rough use compared to a fully loaded rm Eclipse. They had some seam problems with the Sonoma13.
I think engineering/design/quality control still matters more than the materials.
Hurricane Aqua Sports
builds thermoform boats. Theirs tend to be much lighter than other companies' and about the same price as rotomolded boats of equal size.
I have a 16.5 foot Hurricane Tracer and it weights 46lbs. Lighter that my wifes Looksha Sport.
I’m particularly interested in whether thermoform has proved to be as durable and as repairable as fiberglass reinforced plastic.