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Home > Gear Guides > What is an ocean kayak made of?

What is an ocean kayak made of?

When considering your kayak purchase, the material it is made of might not be the first thing to come to mind. But it is helpful to know what a kayak is made of because it affects the weight, maneuverability, and price.

Here are some common materials used in kayak construction:

  • Composite material: Composite kayaks are the most expensive. A high-end river kayak or ocean kayak is usually made of composites, which are blends of fiberglass, carbon, and other synthetic materials. Composite kayaks provide the lightest weight and the greatest stiffness.
  • Thermoformed plastic: Thermoformed plastic is less expensive than composites, but lighter and tougher than polyethylene. These kayaks can be easily repaired if they get gouged.
  • Polyethylene: Polyethylene is the most common material used in current kayaks. Most recreational kayaks, inflatable kayaks, and even an inflatable kayak canoe are likely to be made of polyethylene. Polyethylene is fairly durable and can be repaired, but a polyethylene kayak should be retired when you notice that it is becoming brittle after years of sun and water exposure.

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