should I get a plastic or fiberglass kayak?

I was leaning towards getting a plastic kayak because they are cheaper and you don’t have to get them repaired at a special shop. Is the fiberglass kayak really worth getting?

I will be using the kayak for sea kayaking, multi day trips, lakes, big rivers, fishing ect.

2 thoughts on “should I get a plastic or fiberglass kayak?

  1. c_kayak_fun Post author

    Fiberglass is much lighter. It can also be repaired by the owner (you don’t need to take it to a shop, you can do this easily yourself). You really can’t fix a plastic kayak if it gets badly smashed, though it will hold up a little better than fiberglass to superficial scratches and dings. I’ve seen my friends’ fiberglass whitewater kayaks get torn completely in half during surf enders but they were able to patch them back together good as new. Can’t do that with a plastic boat.

    The weight factor is the main reason people pay twice as much for fiberglass. Since a 17 or 18 foot sea kayak made of rotomold plastic can easily run over 60 lbs and a similar FG boat can be under 45, that can make a huge difference, especially for a shorter or older person trying to haul and load it. Also, a heavier boat takes more work to paddle.

    Another drawback of plastic is that you have to be careful how you carry and store it in hot weather because the hull can soften and deform (this is called “oil-canning” because it develops a dent like the pop-out surface of the old style metal lubricating cans.) FG doesn’t have that problem but you do have to watch out for storing a FG boat in direct sunlight for extended periods because the material will age over the years and get brittle.

    Since you will mostly be flatwater paddling there would not be any structural reason to pay extra for fiberglass, but if you wanted ease of paddling distances and of portaging, the weight factor might be something to consider. And some high end kayaks are not made in plastic.

    Other options are vacuum molded plastics (like some of Eddyline’s models) and hybrids of carbon fiber and fiberglass — extra light and strong. There are also wooden kayaks, either stitch and glue or strip built — strong and light. You can buy these ready made or make them yourself from kits. Chesapeake Light Craft and Pygmy are two manufacturers of these (there are many others).

    And the strongest of the lightweight kayaks are the skin on frame, using traditional Eskimo technique with a bent wood frame but ballistic nylon coated with urethane instead of sealskin. I have an 18 foot long touring kayak made this way that only weighs 32 lbs, less than half what my 17′ 6″ plastic touring kayak weighs. I can bounce a hammer off the nylon skin and it won’t puncture. A very light and fast boat.

    And, finally, you can get folding skin-on-frame touring kayaks like Pakboat and Feathercraft which are lighter than plastic and near to fiberglass with the advantage that you can break them down and carry or store them in a duffel bag.

    Maybe way more information than you needed, but I am often surprised that people don’t know how many options there are in kayak materials.

  2. Miky Post author

    Hi, I want buy sea kayak. Is better buy laminate FG kayak or plastic. About your experience? Thanks (kajak@szm.sk)

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