Why would I want a Non plastic Kayak?

Ok time to tap into your wisdom folks, I am a covid newbie slowly building a small fleet of Kayaks, I have a feel free 13.5 fishing kayak , a barge but super comfy, a 14.5 foot Riot Edge , which I use the most, a old Dagger Megellan 17.5 foot IIRC that I picked up cheap and may add a Ocean Kayak SOT this week if I like the test paddle. I am looking to add at least one more Kayak this fall, right now a Eddyline Fathom is looking good but somewhat hard to find. I could get a 18 foot eddyline Falcon for cheap but have not tested it yet. All my boats are plastic bc I really do not care about weight, I have a house right on the Delaware Bay so I do not car top, it is open water Kayaking. While searching for used Kayaks I see a fair amount of fiberglass or Kelver ones , am I missing the boat on these, I launch off a beach and am more of a low maintenance paddler in term of care, I rinse them off after every paddle and store them covered but that is it, maybe some 303 to clean them up, I have not really considered a glass boat, not sure it suits my needs, am I missing something, only do day trips , mostly paddle by myself, want my next boat to be under a grand used, I am 54 5’7 190 ish and a crappy paddler but getting better.my min length Kayak is roughly 14 feet bc of where I paddle if that makes a difference. Should I look at gladdest boats or are they to high maintenance for my needs?

Depends on your use, goals, and likes from a hull.

I would strongly suggest you try several different boats. Composite boats tend to be stiffer and lighter then the equivalent in plastic. Also not to sound snobbish, but the composite boats made by P&H, CD, Valley etc…. Are usually (but not always) a little higher quality.

You say weight isn’t an issue, but think about this, the more a boat weighs the more physical effort is required to propel and maneuver the boat.

I’m reasonably careful with my boats but I don’t consider them to be especially fragile or high maintenance, wash them, wax twice a year. Really no big deal. But they are easier to repair then plastic if needed.

Composite isn’t for everyone, it’s kind of like opening the skeg or rudder can of worms.

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If I can paddle for an hour, day, or week it’s no big deal for me to wash and care for my hull for 5 minutes. It’s just more exercise. You can eat steak with a dull kitchen knife but a steak knife makes it more enjoyable. I can drink from a paper cup but prefer glass, I can eat from a paper plate but prefer ceramic. The only thing poly does better is bounce off rocks for a while better. If it breaks it’s hard to repair. Composite hulls could be quartered and put back together and work fine.

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Lighter weight is nice. Stiffness and responsiveness of hull, but really that’s mostly important for racing and maybe if your really into rolling.

Otherwise it’s really not that big of a deal IMHO.
in fact, there are some benefits to plastic. Not the least of which is price and durability.

If your goal is to get out on the water and and have a good time at a decent financial entry point–it’s a good way to go.

Although I will say this: I went camping alone on an uninhabited island once with a plastic boat. The surf was high and offshore waves were pretty big. I had a rudder issue that I did not have the tools to fix and ended up beaching . It was my last day and I had used up most of my water.
I made the decision to drag the boat along the shore to an inlet that was sheltered. It was a bad decision. It started to heat up out there and I quickly ran out of what little remaining water I had. I was dragging the heavy boat along the sand for miles and I soon became pretty dehydrated. I started to truly become concerned about heat stroke.
Anyway–I eventually came across a wildlife researcher who gave me some fluids and I made it out–but man, what I would have given for a lighter boat in that instance–
but that’s kind of an exception. Really it was my fault for not having the tools I needed to fix this issue.

I don’t see a composite hull as higher maintenance unless it is something more precious like kevlar. And most people who have those boats are more than happy to invest the time to have the weight benefit.

Much is the same - replacing deck lines, bungies, rinsing out the inside and hosing down the exterior. You should not have to redo the sealant around the bulkheads in a composite boat like you do in most plastic boats after the first year.

If you scrape the hell out of a composite boat and want to replace some gel coat, it is doable.

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I’ve found that composite boats feel a little livelier, probably because the lighter weight results in less inertia and the increased stiffness results in less flex. But realistically, just being out in a suitable hull is 95% of the enjoyment, and since you have the convenience of pulling your kayaks up on a beach you might find that plastic suits your needs just fine. Yes, you can fix scratches in a composite hull, but you don’t care about scratches in plastic.

Do you know if the Falcon you’re considering is an early composite one, or the later ABS plastic? I have an older Kevlar one (18 foot) that I really like, but some reviewers seem to consider the Falcon a little tippy.

There is no oil-canning in a composite boat. All of the effort you put into power goes to moving the boat forward. The composite boat will have a better glide. Plastic is great around rocks. I use my plastic boats for rescue training so I don’t beat up my composite boat during a T-rescue.

It’s tippy because it’s fairly thin but it’s fast as I remember. Paddled one 10+ years ago dealer was selling.

In addition to composite boats being lighter and stiffer, they can also be molded to have much sharper lines and more acute angles than is possible with rotomolded polyethylene hulls. This translates into sharper, more efficient water entry. The performance enhancement is significant, although might not be appreciated by all.


They’re not necessarily more expensive either. I’ve often seen used composite boats for prices very comparable to used plastic ones. I’d focus on getting a boat that fits you well, that feels good to you, rather than rule out any material. Anyway to me the composite hull just feels a little nicer and goes through the water a little bit more smoothly.

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Listed for 750 purchased for 680.

Depending on the thickness of the plastic you can go through the hull pretty quickly. They may be easier to fix now than in the past. Fiberglass/kevlar lasts a long time even in rocky areas. These hulls are very fixable. We don’t buy kayaks any more as our thirty year old fiberglass/kevlar boats are doing just fine.
I went through a plastic one in two years.


My experience with fiberglass/kelvar kayaks is the same: they last and last and last. I’ve owned my fiberglass CD Solstice GTHV for 25 years, have done many rocky beach landings over the years and never had more than a scratch to the bottom, which is easy to repair which a bit of gelcoat (the cream colour hull has several white spots).

I’m not against plastic boats, just want people to know that composite boats are much tougher than some people think.

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Wolf, I believe it is ABS plastic or whatever Eddyline calls it ( carbonate ?) it is from 2008 and comes w a skeg, have not seen it yet but it has been sitting for sale for months, just not sure if it will be to tippy for my skills and at 18 feet I will have storage issues.

Thanks for the education, I will add them to the list I am gathering while searching FB marketplace and c List, It seems most composite kayaks are longer , are there 16 foot sea kayaks , I am mostly seeing longer? TIA

I guess my other concern is I do not know as much about composite boats so the seem above my pay grade as a newbie paddler.

Totally agree, If a composite boat is out of budget get a plastic one and go have fun.

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Quite a few at or under 16’. Most marketed as day paddlers or ocean play boats like the P&H Aries/Delphin line but quite capable of more.


My wife’s first kayak was a 14’ Necky Looksha. She used it for 10 years until this past Feb when she sold it and upgraded to a kevlar CD Solstice GTS, which was done mainly due to it weighing around 44 lb, compared to the Necky’s ~65 lb weight.