Buying canoe sounds like an easy job, but there are some things you should consider when buying one. One of those things is the aluminum vs fiberglass canoe debate. In this article we’ll go through the pros and cons related to these two canoe types, so when the time comes to go and make a purchase you know what to look for and, even more importantly, why to choose that one in particular.
They can be used for different things, and which one will fit you better completely depends on your needs and what you’ll be using your canoe for.
Because of its speed, weight, durability, and design, fiberglass canoe is becoming more and more popular, especially in the last few years. Here are some of the main pros:
Because they are most often made out of fibers and resins mixed and left to form the desired shape in a mold, fiberglass canoes are usually lightweight. This is a big plus side whether if you’re canoeing by yourself, or if you’re a traveler. It is way easier moving a lightweight canoe around than the heavy one, so this is one of the greatest advantages of this canoe material.
Although lightweight, the fiberglass canoe is extremely durable which makes it great for basically any canoeing related activity. The hull surface most often has a layer of a smooth gel, which adds up to the canoe knocks and scrapes resistance.
As we’ve stated above, fiberglass canoes are made with the use of molds, which gives the manufacturers ability and a chance to change something to get the most efficient boat possible. This mostly affects the vessel speed, because with every upgrade the fiberglass canoe looks to be faster and more reliable with higher responsiveness when needed.
This means that many fiberglass canoes have a pointed shape of the bow and the stern, while sometimes the entry line is rounder and it will provide stability in case of waves.
Variety Of The Hull Designs
We’ve already said that fiberglass canoes are made using a mold, so it is more-less possible to make the hill any way you could want. This means their overall ability can be improved majorly, especially if the canoe is being custom made and with a specific activity in mind. To simplify – you could make a fiberglass canoe for whatever you want, from white water canoeing to easy and relaxing canoeing or ocean canoeing.
Easy To Maintain And Fix
For many canoe owners, one of the most important things is the ease of maintaining it and fixing the canoe if needed. Maintaining a fiberglass canoe doesn’t require more than basic care, while if something goes south and your vessel gets damaged, and there is a great possibility that you’ll end up having to repair something on your canoe sooner or later, it is easy to fix using a patch repair.
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The main con is the fact that sometimes you’ll have to repair your boat, and with fiberglass canoes, this may be a case more often than with the other canoe materials.
The second con is connected to the fiberglass quality, so make sure you get the best canoe available.
Aluminum canoes are, unlike the fiberglass ones, way heavier, made for slower waters, but they are also more stable and durable.
Durability And Toughness
Aluminum as a canoe material is one of the most durable that exists. No matter the conditions, it could take hits, knocks, bumps, without the fear of going down.
Great For Beginners
The fact that it is slower than the fiberglass canoe makes the aluminum canoe a great choice for beginners. It will allow the new canoers to learn how to properly paddle a canoe, and how to react and behave while on the water.
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Another plus side of the aluminum canoe is its weather resistance. This means no matter what the conditions are outside, there shouldn’t be any problems with your vessel. Although it may overheat if you leave it under the direct sunlight, which could make sitting in it a bit uncomfortable, it won’t affect the performances.
Aluminum canoes don’t require any special maintenance, so it will essentially be enough if you take regular care of them.
Some cons make these canoes not so popular among canoers around the world:
- Limited hull design
- Lack of speed and maneuvering ability
Unlike fiberglass, aluminum made canoes will most often be really heavy. This may not be a problem if you have a helping hand, but if you’re on your own and have to either lift them and take them to the other side of the water, or if you have to carry it all by yourself, it will take a lot of effort.
Most of the time, small hits and bumps won’t affect the overall performance, but if something does happen, you won’t be able to repair it by yourself, so you’ll have to take it to a professional, which could be costly.
Some take this as a con, some actually love it, but no one can deny it – the places that have been repaired are easily spottable. Again, you may not see this as a problem, some people think it adds up to the vessel’s identity and makes them unique, but it is good to know. Also, it is worth mentioning that if dented, aluminum can’t be placed back into its previous shape. This is why aluminum canoes are not recommended for river canoeing.
Limited Hull Design
The design of the hull is more-less the same for all aluminum canoes. There may be some smaller step backs, but in the end, the differences between the two aluminum canoes are most often insignificant.
Lack Of Speed And Manoeuvring Ability
Although easier to control because of the lack of speed and great if the goal of paddling sessions is pure relaxation, they are not as easy to maneuver like the fiberglass canoes are.
Aluminum canoes can be rather noisy by creating an echo with every stroke.
This may seem funny, but it is the thing that some paddlers consider con and it surely does provide some unpleasant feelings. The thing is that when the water is cold, the canoe itself is as cold as the water or the air temperature. The same goes for the heat, if it is warm, the canoe can become unbearably hot. This also may not be the safest thing.
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If the question is which one should you choose between the aluminum vs fiberglass canoe, the answer is – the one that fits your needs better.
They are both great vessels, the key is to find the one that will be the best choice for your planned activities. For instance, if you plan on going somewhere where the speed is important along with the overall performance of the vessel, the better choice is a fiberglass canoe.
If you decide you need something that will easily carry your family and you won’t have to spend much time and effort maintaining it, then you should go with the aluminum one.
You won’t find the one that will perfectly meet your every need for your every trip, so relax, get the one you like the most and check the list of possible fun games you could do with your canoe and essential canoe equipment!
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- Fiberglass vs. Aluminum Canoes, homesteady.com