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Thread: Kevlar and We-no-nah owners: Input Please

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    Default Kevlar and We-no-nah owners: Input Please

    Okay, so I'm seriously considering pulling the trigger on a We-no-nah Backwater 15 in the Ultralight Kevlar, probably in then ext two weeks. ($2500, which is a lotta jack for me.) Main uses will be duck hunting, then camping, then fishing. It's a 15' square stern, and I will be powering it with a 2 stroke 4 hp o/b.

    One of my hang ups is the lack of information on carrying capacity. The dealer I spoke to (in the Lower 48) said We-no-nah doesn't rate capacity on any of their boats because they don't want people pushing it to the maximum of the sticker. (I.e. if the sticker says 700lbs they don't want people trying to cram 700 lbs into the boat.) Of course, that makes less than no sense at all to me. If the sticker says 700 lbs, then why can't you put 700 lbs in? In the end, all I could get is "You can carry two 250 lb guys plus enough gear for a 3 day trip."

    The other hang up is I'm still unsure on just how puncture proof these kevlar canoes are in comparison to Royalex and Fiberglass.

    Does anyone here own and/or use any of the We-no-nah kevlar canoes (or any kevlar canoe really) and can address these questions with actual experience? I'd like to know what I'm buying before I drop that much money and haul it all the way up here.

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    my question:

    why in the world do you need a square stern in Kevlar? They already paddle like slugs compared to double ended paddling canoes. The light weight means thin material too. A 15 ft canoe is going to be light-weight regardless of material, so why the extra cost of Kevlar?

    Get it in royalex, it will be almost 1000 dollars difference..........for not a good enough reason. You should be able to haul yourself, another hunter, a light camp, gas, and a caribou or a bear.

    You could do three duck hunters too. A moose will be out of the question without multiple trips. Money better spent would be a 17 footer IMO. Standard clipper mack sport, esquif cargo, or an esquif rangely. All will be about the same price as that wenona kevelar. Rediculous how expensive that thing is.....honestly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mainer_in_ak View Post
    my question:

    why in the world do you need a square stern in Kevlar? They already paddle like slugs compared to double ended paddling canoes. The light weight means thin material too. A 15 ft canoe is going to be light-weight regardless of material, so why the extra cost of Kevlar?
    I'll only be paddling on a camping trip or if the engine quits. The Royalex version ($800-ish less) is 80 pounds; I don't quantify that as light weight. I'm looking at the kevlar because it's 53 lbs, which means I can solo portage it for more than 100 ft and, more importantly, I can get to the top of an F150 pickup/topper and on the thule load bars by myself.


    My current canoe is an Old Town Guide 147 Royalex boat at 72 pounds, and even the "easy" portages along Nancy Lake Canoe Trail require me plus another person. (One of the harder ones required 4 of us, and we had to take a break half way up the hill.) It takes two of us to get it on top of the Subaru. (Haven't tried to put it on the truck yet.)

    I take it you don't fancy the kevlar canoes? If you could elaborate, I'd appreciate it.

    As a side note, I could buy the Royalex version AND a two place canoe trailer for the same price as the kevlar canoe. But I don't like the idea of carrying a canoe that close to the pavement on some of the gravel logging roads I travel.

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    so if you're portaging, what about the 40 lb motor, the gas ect?

    square stern canoes offer better technique for car/truck topping. With utility racks as rear-ward as possible. you set the bow on the rear rack. the flat stern keeps it stable. You can then go rear-ward, pick up the stern, and slide it up on the rack.

    When you talk of portaging, your paddling canoe would be better, because now you have a motor, and gas to carry too. I don't think that outrageous price justifies the 30 lbs difference, still have a motor and gas to worry about.

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    I've got a kevlar 16-6 Escapade that checks in at 42 pounds. It a sweet paddling boat that is easy to carry. I have treated it with a fair amount of care, but nevertheless it seems to scratch/gouge somewhat easily when you paddle up on rocks. That might be more of an issue if you're running faster with a motor. I don't know about punctures because I've never hit anything that hard.

    I still have a 30+ year old ABS/royalex-like boat probably similar to your 14-7 boat; I'm fairly sure I'd have broken bones before that thing cracked. I sympathize with the weight carry, it's the reason I got the kevlar boat. On weight, it seems by the time you put a motor on a 50+ pound boat, you've still got a lot to hump. Is it an option to get a light double-end boat and hang a motor off the side when you need to be motoring? That way you might have a better paddle/carry boat when you're not powering.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mainer_in_ak View Post
    so if you're portaging, what about the 40 lb motor, the gas ect?

    square stern canoes offer better technique for car/truck topping. With utility racks as rear-ward as possible. you set the bow on the rear rack. the flat stern keeps it stable. You can then go rear-ward, pick up the stern, and slide it up on the rack.

    When you talk of portaging, your paddling canoe would be better, because now you have a motor, and gas to carry too. I don't think that outrageous price justifies the 30 lbs difference, still have a motor and gas to worry about.
    Well the motor doesn't quite weigh 40 lbs, but I get your meaning. Hadn't really planned on portaging much with the engine. Although, I ran into a guy on a Tangle Lake with a sq. stern and a small 4 stroke o/b. He said he makes an additional trip each for the engine and gas can. He and his wife portage the boat together.

    My plans for portaging centered around a paddling canoe/camping trip where I would leave the o/b at home, unless I knew I had to go up river or something.

    I agree with your if you're only looking at 30 lbs for an added $800 ($25+ per pound??), but if it makes a boat light enough that I can handle completely solo, from loading on the truck, unloading, launching, portaging, reloading on the truck (because my dog isn't going to help-lazy bum that he is) then THAT might be worth an added $800.

    Even if I can load the Royalex boat on my own (which, by the way, your technique is exactly what I was planning, stern on ground-bow on truck) I'll never get it from one lake to the next on my own.

    But I agree, $2500 for a canoe is pretty darn steep! =)

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    HA!!

    Just got off the phone with Wilderness Way in Soldotna. They can't answer the carrying capacity question either other than to say, it's got to be pretty high because it's the widest boat in the store. They actually have one in Royalex in stock down there for $1500.

    They also said that, while the Kevlar is pretty much all but bullet proof, why would you bounce a $2500 canoe off rocks when you bounce a cheaper one of rocks instead.

    A thousand dollars less and don't have to carry up the Al-Can.

    80 pounds. *shudder*

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    The guy at Wilderness Way also cautioned me about putting much horsepower behind the kevlar boat as the flexibility in the fabric/composite might be too much under power.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toofewweekends View Post
    I've got a kevlar 16-6 Escapade that checks in at 42 pounds. It a sweet paddling boat that is easy to carry. I have treated it with a fair amount of care, but nevertheless it seems to scratch/gouge somewhat easily when you paddle up on rocks. That might be more of an issue if you're running faster with a motor. I don't know about punctures because I've never hit anything that hard.

    I still have a 30+ year old ABS/royalex-like boat probably similar to your 14-7 boat; I'm fairly sure I'd have broken bones before that thing cracked. I sympathize with the weight carry, it's the reason I got the kevlar boat. On weight, it seems by the time you put a motor on a 50+ pound boat, you've still got a lot to hump. Is it an option to get a light double-end boat and hang a motor off the side when you need to be motoring? That way you might have a better paddle/carry boat when you're not powering.
    It is certainly possible to power a double ender. Don't much see the advantage in it, though. If I were to do that, I'd probably give all this up, keep my Guide, paint it camo, and put an engine on it. (2 yrs ago, that was my plan, I even went and got it registered with hull numbers.)

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    We have a Wenonah canoe in the ultra light Kevlar. We bought it for racing and it is awesome for that purpose. It is 18ft and only 38 lbs, super fast and straight! We have not punctured it, but the area between the reinforced ribs is super thin. You can see through it. I am always worried we are going to puncture a hole through it. It is also a natural color and not gel coated. This can cause the Kevlar to break down faster in the sun. Personally, I would go with the flex core for a recreational boat. It is a little heavier, but a lot more durable. As for carrying capacity, if they told you two 250lb guys and 3 days worth of gear, then I would not be worried. Unless you want to go moose hunting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cristancanoe View Post
    We have a Wenonah canoe in the ultra light Kevlar. We bought it for racing and it is awesome for that purpose. It is 18ft and only 38 lbs, super fast and straight! We have not punctured it, but the area between the reinforced ribs is super thin. You can see through it. I am always worried we are going to puncture a hole through it. It is also a natural color and not gel coated. This can cause the Kevlar to break down faster in the sun. Personally, I would go with the flex core for a recreational boat. It is a little heavier, but a lot more durable. As for carrying capacity, if they told you two 250lb guys and 3 days worth of gear, then I would not be worried. Unless you want to go moose hunting.
    Thanks for your input, Crista.

    I have enough money to go either way on this, but I don't have enough money to do it twice. So I have to get it right the first time.

    By the way, I just spoke to a customer service rep at We-no-nah, who asked me not to repeat the numbers he gave me, so I won't, but they were comparable to those of the Grumman Square sterns and high enough, well high enough, for my purposes. (Apparently, the whole "no published numbers" game is all about liability.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post
    Thanks for your input, Crista.

    I have enough money to go either way on this, but I don't have enough money to do it twice. So I have to get it right the first time.

    By the way, I just spoke to a customer service rep at We-no-nah, who asked me not to repeat the numbers he gave me, so I won't, but they were comparable to those of the Grumman Square sterns and high enough, well high enough, for my purposes. (Apparently, the whole "no published numbers" game is all about liability.)
    We were able to get carrying capacity numbers for our boat as well. Customer service at Wenonah is awesome. Good luck with your decision!

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    I can't speak to your specific canoe, but I can speak to the product.

    I used an aluminum canoe for years, but that was when I was young. Eventually the weight got to me - especially when I was doing week-long wilderness canoe trips on a regular basis. So, I did a lot of research and wound up buying a Wenonah Champlain. It's 18 feet long and about 42 pounds. That was ten years ago. If I remember rightly, that canoe was about 2500 bucks back then, but I always consider it a wise investment. I've never had a complaint about the canoe.

    I don't take very good care of my stuff. So in other words, I have beat that canoe plenty. Hitting rocks. Dragging it over the rocks. Dropped it a time or two. Banging it on trees when I'm bushwhacking. Etc. You get the picture. Lots of guys are super careful. They load and unload it while the canoe is in the water, and carry it everywhere - not dragging it. They take pride in their canoe and don't want a scratch on it. That will no doubt keep your canoe looking good, and might well make it last longer, but, that is not me :-)

    Mine will carry an adult bull moose (shot a 55 incher here in MN - butchered down of course), but not if you are loaded down with two guys and a week full of gear. Then it's a two trip deal. I use mine regularly for ten-day trips in the BWCA (Minnesota) and Quetico Provincial Park (Ontario) which is ALL rocks. We canoe rocky lakes, rocky rivers, streams, and camp on rocks :-)

    It is hard for me to imagine busting a hole in my canoe under power of a paddle, but then I have not experienced the rivers of Alaska either, nor have I ever powered mine with an outboard, so that is something to consider. I've also never used the Royalex or Fiberglass, so I can't speak to that. I have a bad back and knees, so weight means EVERYTHING to me. I always thought of mine as a lifetime investment. Another thousand bucks spread out over the rest of your life is, like I said, a very good investment in my book.

    I'm 47. Have a fused lower back and an artificial knee. I can carry my canoe for a mile or two without putting it down. That should tell you something about the canoe... Yeah, I'm a Wenonah guy!

    Good luck with your decision.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cristancanoe View Post
    We have a Wenonah canoe in the ultra light Kevlar. We bought it for racing and it is awesome for that purpose. It is 18ft and only 38 lbs, super fast and straight! We have not punctured it, but the area between the reinforced ribs is super thin. You can see through it. I am always worried we are going to puncture a hole through it. It is also a natural color and not gel coated. This can cause the Kevlar to break down faster in the sun. Personally, I would go with the flex core for a recreational boat. It is a little heavier, but a lot more durable. As for carrying capacity, if they told you two 250lb guys and 3 days worth of gear, then I would not be worried. Unless you want to go moose hunting.
    I agree on the flex core at a minimum. I have a flex core Escape 17'6" and for a general purpose largeish boat, I'd do the same thing again for a fishing and camping boat. Mine is gel coated as well, which adds weight, but also some durability. Even with gel coat and the flex core, the sides are thin. I know a whole lot about duck hunting conditions and I would not get a kevlar Wenonah for duck hunting, but I understand your threshold for weight. I don't know what I'd do in your shoes. You didn't mention transporting big game, I've never done it in mine, but the light weight components would not lend themselves to that either, I would not think. It would work for sure, you would just have to be more careful and there would be effort in that.

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    I think you are making the mistake of trying to buy one boat to do too many things. I have the wenonah Voyager 17'6" solo in Kevlar. I paddle that thing upriver for exercise (you also don't need a second vehicle that way). I don't paddle that canoe in the rocks. I do paddle a Royalex canoe in the rocks. I also have a square stern Esquif Cargo. you don't want to buy a rocky river running canoe in any of the lightweight expensive composites. These are made for racing or deep water type paddling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pipercub View Post
    you don't want to buy a rocky river running canoe in any of the lightweight expensive composites. These are made for racing or deep water type paddling.
    That's really interesting Pipercub, what's the story,...??

    is it the finish on the Kevlar, that takes a beating, cause I thought Kevlar was supposed to be pretty tough itself
    or is it actually the threat of punching through it, as it's constructed so thin ?

    I've never been able to pull the trigger on Kevlar, purely for budget minded reasons,
    figure I could buy too many other things with that extra 1000, as the OP is debating.

    and I have had a Royalex boat, that was pretty impressive, like near indestructible
    one of those little OldTown Packs, 12ft long and 33 lbs
    I loved that little rig, you could pick it up like a suitcase, with one arm,...and walk down the path, for a long ways

    My current 14 ft Mad River Explorer is some kind of fancy plastic also,....and super tough, (can't remember, but it's maybe 60lbs)
    Works like a champ grinding it's way onto barnacles, etc. but bordering on heavy for portaging

    but when it gets to bigger boats, the weight factor really is a big consideration to myself also

    So, thinking beach action in Alaska,...Kevlar is a total No Go, then,...??
    if they're not for Rocky Rivers,...it's not going to make it on the beaches At All,...or are you talking aesthetics of the finish ?
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Carrying heavy game, like a shot moose or something, isn't out of the question, but pretty unlikely. I'm not that experienced of a hunter. (Would love to do it, and maybe I will some day.) I would consider a similar trip for camping, though.

    As far as one boat to do many things: that's the only choice. There is no option (no budget and no storage room) for multiple boats. I can swing the $2500, but that's it. Besides, I already have two kayaks. (I hate kayaks.) So anyway, I have to get as versatile a boat as I can, but I just absolutely cringe with the thought of portaging 80 pounds. (I cringe when I ACTUALLY portage 72 pounds-the OT Guide I have now-and I always do that with a partner.) Still, a 50 lb canoe does me no good when I'm pulled up on a bank somewhere breaking out the fiberglass cloth and resin, and the MEKP to fix a hole or a crack.

    I hate tough decisions lol.

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    The lightweight canoes are very thin walled. They are tough, but, it is still thin epoxy resin around Kevlar or Graphite. Mine has a gel coat finish which makes it a tad bit heavier but also smoother and faster. This is a racing canoe hull that is enlarged a bit to carry a load. I would not hesitate to take it on a long expedition. We are talking slow water conditions not high gradient rivers with rapids and quick turns.

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    http://www.clippercanoes.com/pdf/mackenzie_sport.pdf

    If you must go Kevlar/lightweight in a square stern for portagability, the above link to the clipper models is a good way to go. I would go bigger than the 15' though. My Esquif Cargo in Royalex with Kevlar/epoxy beef-ups and extra thwarts is heavy. The 17' makes it stable enough to stand up in and also you could put a moose in that thing and get it home. I run an 8hp 2-stroke on it.

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    There's something about those clipper boats that just looks Too lightweight,...and I mean in a durability way,...

    too lightly built, for AK environments
    maybe it's the square stern thing, that to my eye, looks weird,...

    it is a tough decision FL 2 Ak,....
    but I'd sure go heavier tougher, than lightweight hightech material

    from my experiences, the Royalex or whatever the stuff they make Mad Rivers out of now, is going to be well worth it
    just not worrying about everything you bang into,...

    has anyone ever used one of those, "portage wheels," setups, that might be part of a solution ??
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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