Frequently Asked Questions

General Skin-on-frame Kayak Questions

Traditional Paddles

Shipping Your Kayak

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What are the skins of the kayaks made of?

Our sea kayaks are covered with an 8.5 ounce ballistic nylon, specially designated for skinboats. This fabric was formerly used for military FLAK vests, to protect its wearers from shrapnel. The skins are coated in a special two-part polyurethane, a coating that is highly abrasion-resistant and UV resistant. The result is a skin that will take an enormous beating, even in heavy surf zones and rock gardens.

How much do your sea kayaks weigh?

The Selkie Sea Kayak weighs 28 pounds, completely decked with all fittings, including the seating pads. A similar sized fiberglass kayak weighs about 55 pounds, and a plastic one weighs about 65 pounds.

Are skin-on-frame boats durable?

After paddling my skin-on-frame kayaks offshore in some of the most life-threatening conditions, I have to say I the skins have never once let me down. I have dragged them across beaches loaded with a hundred pounds of gear (on their rub strips), rammed them into sea walls in front of waves, and been tossed end over in the surf a dozen times. But, seeing is believing, take a look at this YouTube video.

How do skin-on-frame kayaks compare to fiberglass kayaks?

Fiberglass kayaks are literally twice as heavy as skin-on-frames. (65 vs. 28 lbs.) In addition, the ability to quickly prototype and make changes in kayak designs allows me to constantly refine and develop my kayaks from one class to the next, from one comment to the next, allowing a multi-year evolution in my boats that no production kayak can ever have. Because each boat is always custom-built, I am never held to a shape simply because of mass-production rules or economy-of-scale.

I have endured heavy hits on rocks with my kayaks that would have easily cracked fiberglass hulls, and done field repairs on skins simply and quickly when hundreds of miles from help.

On the other hand, in theory, fiberglass kayaks have smoother hulls, resulting in more efficient water flow. However, in practice, I have not charted by my GPS any noticeable difference in speed or fatigue when paddling either type of kayak hull, even when comparing different materials with the exact same design. Other factor in boat design seem to make a much bigger difference than hull smoothness in the real world.

What are comparable costs for other sea kayaks?

Building a skin-on-frame kayak may seem expensive at first glance. When you look more closely, however, you will find that a comparable sea kayak in fiberglass or plastic carries a price tag of at least $2800. Kayak designs vary widely in their abilities and their cost– a high-end seaworthy kayak will always be expensive due to the high cost of small production. Don’t forget, buying a kayak also does not include the unique experience of crafting your own while learning valuable woodworking skills and more.

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Why are your paddles so skinny?

Modern paddles, often called ‘Euro-Paddles’ or have come to the shape that they are today because of history. Derived from the British canoe paddle, the first European paddlers that began using kayaks in the Western World took with them what they were most familiar with.

Today we know that traditional paddles designed for native kayaks offer some advantages over spoon-paddles, particularly for long-distance touring or paddling for over an hour at a stretch. With a lower resistance blade surface, traditional paddles like Greenland paddles require increased cadence, building aerobic strength but removing high strain to the shoulders and arms. Additionally, Greenland paddles allow a much wider variety of strokes for maneuvering kayaks.

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How can I get my kayak home?

The best way to ship your kayak within the US is via KAS Transport. They specialize in shipping kayaks, and are the safest option by far, but it takes quite a while for your kayak to show up. Commercial LTL shipping works as well but you are placing your boat in the hands of shipping gorillas so we recommend building a full crate for your boat. Cost of shipping across the continental US is around $450 by LTL freight. This price can vary.

Before I get involved with specific LTL shippers, though, let’s talk about packaging. Protecting a kayak for shipping is crucial, and will end up costing a bit of money because the handlers can be rough. If foregoing a full crate, I highly recommend a layer of bubble wrap around the entire boat and then all saran-wrapped or heavily packaging-taped. Imagine your boat getting tossed around onto anvil-like objects and you can imagine the protection you need. AVOID using uSHIP carrier 1st Class Shipping, as they have damaged boats and ripped us off before. Another option may be other uShip carriers. If you use KAS you will not need much, if any protective packaging.

Hope this information helps you decide about shipping! To get a quote, you will need the dimensions and packed weight of the kayak. With packaging, our Selkie sea kayak measures near 204″x28″x18″ (LxWxH) and weighs roughly 45 lbs.

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