For many years, there were two types of widely available sea and touring kayaks: plastic and fiberglass. Plastic boats were more durable, standing up better over time to obstacle hits and the wear and tear of launching and loading. Fiberglass boats were lighter and faster, making them ideal for racing or long-distance touring. But their decreased durability meant the boats had to be replaced more often. More recently, fiberglass boat manufacturers began adding Kevlar to the layups of their boats. The result? A light, fast kayak that's extremely strong.
Fiberglass and Kevlar composite kayaks are the lightest available. Thanks to the added strength of Kevlar, fewer layers of material are required when laying up the boat, so composite boats are even lighter than fiberglass-only kayaks. A lighter boat means more paddling efficiency and speed in the water, which makes a big difference if you are into racing or long-distance touring. Of course, it sure does help when portaging, loading and unloading your boat, too.
Kevlar adds significant durability in a fiberglass composite kayak. Kevlar is the same material used to create bulletproof vests and can withstand hits upon rocks, wood or other obstacles that may have put cracks or holes in a fiberglass-only hull. It is debatable whether a composite boat is stronger than a molded plastic one, but plastic boats are much heavier and slower. Pound for pound, a fiberglass and Kevlar composite kayak is the most durable on the market.
Fiberglass hulls have always moved faster through the water as opposed to their plastic brethren. Now, take that and combine it with the reduced weight of a fiberglass and Kevlar composite kayak, and you have the fastest boat possible. Paddle strokes become more efficient, with more power going toward propelling you through the water with less resistance from the mass of the boat and a perfectly smooth hull with almost no drag.
Article Written By Christopher Williams
Christopher Williams has spent over 11 years working in the information technology, health care and outdoor recreation fields. He has over seven years of technical and educational writing experience, and has brought strong skills and passion to the Demand Studios team in articles for eHow and Trails in 2009.