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Thread: Pros and Cons Hypalon vs. PVC

  1. #1
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    Default Pros and Cons Hypalon vs. PVC

    I have checked the archive, maybe I missed a specific thread, but I am trying to get idea of the differences between materials. What I think I have figured out so far is that Hypalon is lighter and PVC is easier to repair in the field. I am shopping around for a new/modern self bailing first raft and am trying to grasp the differences. I am a beginner so it may not make much of a difference at this point.
    Thanks for your time.
    Mike

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    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    The debate! The SAGA~, the simple answer.

    Beauty is also in the eye of the beholder if you get my drift. When one is speach-a-fying about the diffference and we all "do" some basic things come to mind however that being said I am sure someone will bless us with the techincal differences as they stand or should be.

    Hypolon is basically Synthetic Rubber and has actually been around for some time. It is what it is i.e. a rubber boat DuPont in the USA is one of the Major Manufactures at this time. By definition it is a resistant to weather, ozone, water and aging although I would still treat it if you plan on sunning it often. IMO it has better air retention in cold weather / water is easier by far to fold and does not scar or crease as easy as PVC. Wieght differences are normally based on fabric count / density i.e. 30oz fabric versus 42 oz fabric. some manufcatures are treating it with a coating to make it a little more durable / slippery. It has a history of being the material that sticks to rocks i.e. not that slippery compared to other material.

    PVC tends to be a little heavier even with the same oz count however does tend to be a little more user freindly. It is also treated by some manufactures with a coating. It tends not to fold as well is much stiffer in cold weather and does not tend to hold air IMO as well as Hypolon in colder weather. That is not to say it is not a sound material or proven far from it great boats can and are made out of PVC.

    So to stop rambling and let someone else chime in. What would be your applications for said boat? If I was purchasing it for general rafting without a ton of fly-ins and mostly using it for fishing and summer time I would lean toward PVC. If I were looking at remote fly-ins Spinrg and Fall and needed to use a super cub to getter done I would consider Hypolon which IMO gives you a little more bang for your buck for fly-ins.

    There are quality manufactures that offer outstanding options from 12-16ft for rafts and or hy-bred raft/ canoes.

    Best wishes and happy rafting

    Moose-O

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    Being that Hypalon is a rubber and is more flexible & folds easier, it rolls tighter and is easier to stuff through small plane doors. That's why BlueMoose prefers them for fly in trips. Another similar rubber compound that was used to make rafts is neoprene. Not sure anyone still uses neoprene.

    PVC is stiffer and holds it's shape better, so in some whitewater scenarios it is better for punching through waves. At other times you might prefer a more flexible boat to stick to the water surface better. I'm not at all sure one is really superior to the other for whitewater. PVC is easier to walk on though. You can almost never get a rubber raft to feel tight & stiff enough to easily walk on the edge.

    PVC is often less expensive.

    Urethane is another plastic like PVC, but is more expensive and has better wear resistance. There are ways to coat both PVC and Rubbers like Hypalon with urethane.

    Plastic boats can have welded seams that traditionally have held up better than glues seams, and you can't weld Hypalon. Newer glues seem to have all but eliminated most seam issues though.

    Some PVC boats (like Aire) us a zippered outer PVC tube with either urethane or vinyl bladders. These are often regarded as easier to patch, in the field because you can zip them open and use duct tape, or whatever to do a quick fix on them. But if you're in a heavily silted river, the zippers get full of the stuff and become very difficult to zip open and closed. Personally, I don't think either material offers a significant material advantage over the other as far as patching goes, and I prefer to do exterior patches on rubber boats. Others think differently. Apparently I'm in the minority on this issue.

  4. #4

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    There is another fabric 'URETHANE" that puts the tried and true HYPLON and marginal, toxic, PVC to shame. Cost about 5 times more per yard-- BUT much stronger and lighter than the afore mentioned fabrics. Hence a more pricy, welded boat. Just depends on your needs- lots of good rafts out there these days. Good luck.
    Goo

    You may want to check out Jeff Bennett's whitewater rafting book. Breaks it all down in more detail than you will find on any forum as well as many tips on reading water, running rapids, ect.

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    Thanks for all the information.
    There are a couple of books talked about on this forum I need. I have been looking at some of the more affordable new import rafts and also have had my eye on an second hand Otter (never used)that I might be able to pick up. It seems to me, though still an import it might be a step up from the others. The Otter is Hypalon and all the others are PVC I believe. I want the raft primarily for easy fish floats with the family and friends, but I do aspire to do a Moose or Caribou float hunt someday. Besides being taken down the lower Willow a few years ago during the King run I have never rafted, but this winter my mind keeps going to that trip.

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    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Ah the old combo Boat.

    Research Research Research> Lots of outdoor shows coming in April :-) Talk to Mark and Tracy at Alaska Raft and Kayak NRS / AIRE of course Goeaux Sotar, Jim King and Max "Alaska Canoe about Alaska series boats in the Anchorage area. I would also visit the manufactures webs sites as well and do some general searches on the web about the material in question.

    When pushing boats to clients I also ask them three simple things to consider: Application versus Warranty versus Cost. You answer those questions and purhcasing a particular boat becomes somewhat easier.

    Other Manufactures include Zebec, Soar, Maravia, Hye-Side, Avon and Grabner. So many options so little time.

    Have a wonderful night eh!

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    You'll be happy with any quality boat from the major manufacturers. Having a local dealer is nice. But, once you have your first boat you'll start looking at adding a second. lol

    Here's a 15' Otter rolled fairly tight (the blue burrito).


  8. #8

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    I prefer hypalon, I think it does a whole lot better in the cold, rolls tighter and is not that difficult to repair, even in the field. PVC is cheaper, cracks in the cold and gets pinhole leaks from creases. I won a hypalon raft, about 20 years old still holding air as it was new ( I am anal when taking care of my equipment. I also have a n AIRE (PVC w/ bladder) 14' cat and I love it too; about 8 years old and still beautiful. I do not have much expeirence with urethane, but it sure is pricey and not sure of field repairability. I too like the Otter, great boats, rolls small, light weight, available locally at AK raft and kayak.

    If you find a slightly higher priced hypalon I would say go for it, it will last you more years than a PVC. However do not buy a Saturn raft. Checkout the www.mountainbuzz.com forum for lots of discussion on pvc vs hypalon and lots of talk on the Saturn raft as well.

  9. #9

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    I have not ever owned a PVC model raft, but I can say this. About five years ago a close friend of mine bought a brand new PVC raft in Anchorage. I will not say from who, because I do not want to spread rumors. As the same time, I bought a used 14' Otter made with Hypalon. We both went on a float hunt together. It was a pretty shallow river and there were many sharp sleepers and obstacles in the river. My used raft that I paid less than $2,000 for did fine. He ended up with a pretty bad leak in his about half way down the river. He paid almost three times as much money as I did. Not only did he have a bad air leak, but because of the weight of his raft, he did about 5 times as much dragging as I did on that river. Needless to say, this may be an isolated incident, but after that trip I became pretty pretty partial to hypalon myself. It is lightweight, strong, and easy to roll up and put in an airplane.

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    Bushwhack Jack; here's very little weight difference between PVC, urethane and Hypalon boats. Certainly not enough to make one boat drag more than another. Same for durability and developing bad leaks.

    All these materials are good. Some are better in one area, and another good in a different area. One has better wear characteristics and another has superior puncture resistance. One has better air retention and another has better UV fade resistance.

    BTW, according NRS, Dupont no longer markets Hypalon. They are now using Pennel Orca, which they claim is the same stuff, or nearly so.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Strutz View Post
    Bushwhack Jack; here's very little weight difference between PVC, urethane and Hypalon boats. Certainly not enough to make one boat drag more than another. Same for durability and developing bad leaks.

    All these materials are good. Some are better in one area, and another good in a different area. One has better wear characteristics and another has superior puncture resistance. One has better air retention and another has better UV fade resistance.

    BTW, according NRS, Dupont no longer markets Hypalon. They are now using Pennel Orca, which they claim is the same stuff, or nearly so.
    Hey Jim, I'll admit I am not expert when it comes to boat materials, but the story I told was true all the same. It maybe true what you are saying. But I know his boat was way heavier than mine was. And is wasn't any bigger. Both were 14' round boats. Both were self bailers. And the difference was quite obvious to the both of us. He was rather disappointed in his investment.

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    Well,
    This popped up on Craigslist last night and now cant wait for summer. Its only been in the water a few times. Boat 009.jpg

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    I have a 15' Otter that weighs about 135lbs. An Aire 15' round boat ways about 169lbs. The 34lb difference probably won't make the difference in dragging or not. However, the amount of weight loaded on the floor vs supported by the tubes/frame could have made the difference between the two boats dragging in your example.

    Aside from the wieght difference between the two boats for a fly-in, you also might want to consider how much weight and bulk you can move by yourself if you'll ever do a solo day trip, etc.. My boat is about all I can comfortably handle by myself while lifting it in and out of the truck. I'm a big guy, but much heavier or bulkier and I'd need help.

    If I had to do it all over again I might have ponied up the extra money for a SOTAR...argueably the best boat available, especially considering the issues discussed in this thread.

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    Bushwack Jack,
    One factor that may have come into play is the floor. I have an aire (143 d) and it comes with a floor that takes on water for ballast (low center of gravity) to better keep you on the whitewater. Yeah, it rides a little lower due to that water. I could put a whole new (non-balast) floor in it for something like $700. I'm probably not going to do it, mostly because it's not worth it to me.

    Also, I ran into a guy with a nrs cat who said hypalon does not drag well. He was looking at having the bottom of the tubes coated with pvc because the hypalon didn't drag well in his secret moose hunting spot - they drug the cat for miles in a little stream until they got to a bigger river.

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    You have to compare apples to apples on weight. Look at fabric weight etc... The NRS Otter is a lightly built raft. My NRS E140 (a much heavier fabric'd boat with a full bottom wrap) weighs 149#'s on the dot. With 3 oars at 30 #'s, frame with seats at 36#'s, and straps, suspension nets, pumps, first aid kit, repair kit, winch, and winch rope I came to a total of 250#'s for my raft on a recent fly in hunt. A lighter raft would have probably served me better weight wise for flying in. That being said I also use the raft for fishing locally a lot. Since the rivers around here are chock full of logjams and such and other people end up rowing my raft frequently. The full bottom wrap has possibly prevented my having to perform a few riverbank repairs. Just another thing to think about.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by scott_rn View Post
    Bushwack Jack,
    One factor that may have come into play is the floor. I have an aire (143 d) and it comes with a floor that takes on water for ballast (low center of gravity) to better keep you on the whitewater. Yeah, it rides a little lower due to that water. I could put a whole new (non-balast) floor in it for something like $700. I'm probably not going to do it, mostly because it's not worth it to me.

    Also, I ran into a guy with a nrs cat who said hypalon does not drag well. He was looking at having the bottom of the tubes coated with pvc because the hypalon didn't drag well in his secret moose hunting spot - they drug the cat for miles in a little stream until they got to a bigger river.
    Scott, I see your point. Thanks for your input.

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    An NRS Otter series compares most directly to the Aire Tributary series. While there are plenty of differences, both are the lower end lines of top tier boat builders. If you look at their weight specs they are nearly the same. I'd rather have the Otter though. Pretty much the same can be said of their high end boats.

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