Canoe weight

Todd Bradshaw

While Kevlar can add a layer of cloth with improved tear strength to the outside and a substantial increase in abrasion resistance, that same abrasion resistance can present a problem on whitewater boats. As Kevlar abrades, it gets fuzzy. Anybody who has ever tried to sand it knows this. You sand and sand and sand and don't get very far. It just gets fuzzier. If you're running a lot of shallow whitewater, the rocks will do this for you and the fuzzier your canoe's bottom gets, the slower your canoe gets because fuzz increases drag. About the only way to return the boat to a smooth bottom then becomes a task of flooding the fuzz with resin or gelcoat and trying to get it fair and smooth by sanding, but not sanding deep enough to start re-exposing the fuzz. It makes for a pretty difficult repair.

Whether they mention it in the catalogs or not, a lot of high-end Kevlar composite boats for tripping or whitewater actually have a layer of fiberglass as the outside composite layer over the Kevlar. It's main function is to wear away evenly when abraded and to be repairable, since it will sand cleanly. If you eliminate the fuzz problem, returning your scratched-up boat to one with a nice smooth bottom is a much easier job.

So adding a layer of Kevlar to the bottom of a stripper for whitewater could add both some good characteristics and also some less than desirable ones. Unless you plan to paint over the Kevlar portion, it might also be pretty ugly on a varnished clear finish. Kevlar is opaque and sort of a dirty gold color. It's also fairly difficult to cut and to apply while maintaining a crisp, clean boundary line. Even if you could live with the gold color, you might need to do something to cover up what will most likely be a rather ragged-looking transition line.


New Member
I knew kevlar would not be attractive and I think it was stated that he did not care about having a pretty canoe. I did not know the aspects of how difficult it would be to apply. When I was thinking of using the kelvar, I had planned on applying another layer of glass like you mentioned so I would have been OK. Since hearing how difficult it is to cut and apply, I'm glad I did not go that route.


Canoe/kayak builder/resto
not too heavy.

I have found that the overbuilding of a stripper is often not nescesary. If you want a solid canoe fine, add an extra layer of 6oz cloth below the waterline, You can maybe go a 1/8 of an inch heavirier on the gunnels, but dont go crazy. The boats are designed to be plenty strong as they are. Use them how you want and short of bouncing down a whitewater trail you should not have a problem.


Unrepentant Canoeist
Sounds like a fun life, and a great perspective on things. Once you're done building it, you can repair anything bad that happens to it, so even that part's covered!


Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
canoe weight and damage


Any adventerous person who has spent a lot of time outdoors hopefully has plenty of story telling to do around campfires. I would submit however, with all due respect that if you continue to run rivers without scouting rapids you are doomed to kill somebody. You may have been fortunate to this point and maybe you don't attempt anything more than Class II rapids. Unless somebody was stupid or made major mistake we try not to sink or wrap any boats, or damage them. Duct tape is my friend. Most of the good rivers in the West are remote with little chance of any help.

All it takes is a big sweeper or a boulder sieve and a mistake and somebody drowns. Remember that. Who goes on trips with you more than once?

I think other writers got it right about weight. Whatever you are up to. My OT Guide has 6 ounce canvas, but will get 10 ounce this summer to save weight. Good luck to you in your future adventures.


Scott Imus


Unrepentant Canoeist
I suspect we all have had our Good Days, as well as our Not So Good Days... war stories for the campfire, indeed! I've also paddled and hiked past grizzlies in Alaska, and done my share of stoopid things. We learn from them, and maybe share them, hoping to prevent anybody else from doing something quite like that...

Of course, I was much younger then. I'd do it differently now...

yeah, right... I wouldn't trade it for the world.


canoes range in length from 15 feet to 18 feet. There are much larger “freighter” canoes designed for big loads or more than two paddlers, but most users won’t need such a boat
unless a big expedition in the far north is planned. The most common and perhaps most versatile tandem canoe size is the 16-footer.