H2O Canoe Company

Now accepting orders for Summer / Fall 2022

H2O Canoe Company Logo White

Construction

Overview

When you purchase a canoe from H2O Canoe Company, you’re buying a boat with consistency, longevity, and value. Your canoe is processed in a system that ensures it will perform to its utmost potential. For repeat customers, you can be sure to get the same canoe time after time and be confident that each canoe will come with the same reliability and predictable results.

We believe that the construction of a quality canoe begins with the hull as the primary focus. With each canoe that we build, we ensure that specific targets are met regarding weight, strength, and appearance. Our focus is to achieve these ambitious targets while offering a large selection of canoes with remarkable value. We are always implementing changes to the construction of our canoes to pursue continuous improvement over time.

A better canoe can only be made from better materials. We select materials and products to use in our canoes that are inherently performance oriented, tested, and proven to excel. Our canoes are made with first grade materials from professional textile and resin distributors worldwide. 

Our canoes are constructed in what we call a system. By system we refer to the choice of specific materials and finishes that complement and reenforce the quality of one another.

 

For example, gelcoat and vinyl ester resin are a match for each other and are used together in our Great White North series, while a clear skin coat exterior and epoxy resin are matched together for our Brute Force series. The Pro Lite series is unique and pushes many construction boundaries, using labour intensive and costly techniques that result in an ultralight canoe without sacrificing durability.

 

The systematic part of our construction is its totality. For example, solid foam core floors are combined with reinforced sides, and our Pro Lite series uses our Integral Composite Gunwale (ICG) to complement the lightweight hull so that weight is reduced throughout all stages of the build.

Each canoe is made within a master shape of the canoe called the mold, which is sealed and infused with resin to cure. Essentially, the hull is made in reverse, starting with the exterior surface against the mold, and then finishing with the inner fabric reinforcements. This process is consistent, reliable, and repeatable.

 

The infusion technique is done using vacuum pressure. Once full vacuum is achieved, every hull with the same laminate matrix requires the same amount of resin introduced under vacuum to saturate the matrix correctly. We use the precise amount of resin required to maintain consistency, resulting in accurate and predictable finish weights. The wood components of a canoe will often have more weight variability than the hull of the canoe.

Build Series

Great White North

Our toughest series for canoeists who want the most durability.

Brute Force

The perfect balance of being strong while staying lightweight.

Pro Lite

The lightest option to breeze through those long portages.

Materials

The fabrics that we use at H2O Canoe Company are textile products engineered to perform either for rigidity, flexibility, thickening or wear resistance. The weight of the cloth directly impacts the end weight of the canoe and we use a special resin infusion process to optimize the resin to weight ratio.

 

When asked which is our strongest fabric, the answer depends on the fabric characteristics along with how much of the fabric is used. For example, innegra basalt has a higher oz per square yard ratio than other technical fabrics, resulting in a comparable overall strength since more of it is used.

 

Our three build series (Great White North, Brute Force, and Pro Lite) are offered in multiple fabric combinations. With our construction methods, most build systems are similarly resilient in typical backcountry canoe tripping usage so fabric finishes are often chosen for their aesthetic appeal. Our innegra basalt would usually be considered the “toughest” at a slightly higher weight, while all other fabrics would have similar durability at less weight.

Fiberglass:  Fiberglass is one of the simpler, often utility fabrics. Fiberglass is used in many laminations as the outer wear layer and in inner areas for wear resistance and repairability.

 

Kevlar: Kevlar is a brand of aramid. Aramid has a very high strength to weight ratio and characteristically has low resin consumption when wet. Kevlar is traditionally durable on its own in canoes and has been relied on for decades with rental outfitters for their lightweight fleets. Kevlar will provide impact resistance as well as rigidity; it is woven and can be used on its own or in combination with other products.

 

Innegra: H2O Canoe Company has been using Innegra in our canoes for over 10 years. Innegra is a polypropylene product turned into yarn and has characteristics inherent with plastic. Its feature characteristic is its excellent absorption of impact. Innegra does not provide rigidity on its own, so we combine it with another fabric to provide longitudinal strength.

 

Carbon Fiber: Carbon Fiber is both rigid and striking aesthetically. H2O Canoe Company uses many carbon fibers including woven cloth, bi-axial and hi modulus carbon. Carbon Fiber need no assistance in strength or rigidity, however it is not as flexible as Innegra or Kevlar. Carbon Fiber is the dominant fabric in most performance-oriented racing canoes that we make. Carbon Fiber is used to make seat bases for our Adirondack Pack Canoes, along with specific parts of our Racing Canoes, and optional parts for our Tripping Canoes.

 

Carbon Kevlar: This combination is aesthetically pleasing, with black Carbon and yellow Kevlar woven together. The Carbon provides great rigidity and the Kevlar provides a level of impact resistance while maintaining light weight.

 

Carbon Innegra: Carbon Innegra combinations are black Carbon with either white or black Innegra. The white Innegra is very pleasing and contrasts beautifully with the black Carbon. Carbon Innegra produces similar results as Carbon Kevlar, but with more emphasis on impact resistance rather than overall rigidity.

 

Basalt Innegra: Basalt provides a similar level of rigidity to Carbon Fiber but at a lower cost. The Basalt Innegra woven product is similar in appearance to Carbon Fiber. The Basalt provides the rigidity while the Innegra absorbs the impact.

 

Co-mingle Basalt Innegra: This combination is very similar to the Basalt Innegra but with a more burlap appearance resulting from Basalt and Innegra chopped strands oriented over each other, rather than woven from lengths of thread.

Canoe laminations are comprised of skins and cores. Skins are the majority of what is visible, which are our fabrics. The cores provide rigidity and strength; some core is firm and some is flexible. In a canoe there are specific areas that are cored to keep its shape and to help resist damage.

 

Closed Cell Foam: This foam is used in the floor of our canoes as well as the ribs of our Pro Lite series. Closed cell foam is buoyant, lightweight and does not absorb resin. Resin surrounds it and adheres to its external roughness. Foam core is one of the lightest and strongest ways to core a composite laminate canoe.

 

Integral Composite Gunwale (ICG): The ICG is also made of closed cell foam which is significantly lighter than an aluminum or wooden gunwale. The ICG is incredibly strong, rigid, and surprisingly durable upon impact.

 

Kevlar Flexible Ribs: The flexible Kevlar ribs are used in our Great White North series and Brute Force series, and perform a similar function to the foam ribs in our Pro Lite series. They create an area of firm strength in strategic spots, leaving flexible areas in-between to absorb impact. Our Kevlar ribs absorb resin and bond to the inner and outer layers.

 

Soric Microsphere: Soric products create a core without the resin consumption of more ordinary core products. Soric is used in areas undesirable to flex like along our freeboard area in our Great White North series and Brute Force series.

Something has to hold the all of the reinforcements together. This is called the resin. Resin in vacuum infusion processing is mixed and then drawn into the mold via the vacuum. The resin needs to be sufficient to wet out all product that can be saturated and all of the voids in between. There is no benefit to an excess of resin as it is not required for strength and will only add excess weight. Correct amounts of resin vary but are often around 50% the weight of the reenforcement in a closed mold application.

 

Vinyl Ester Resin: Vinyl Ester is a snap cure product derived as a byproduct of Epoxy. It is much more technical and resilient than Poly Ester resin. Vinyl Ester resin is structurally sound and a match chemically to gelcoat. Inherently it is not very flexible and it is best used in less flexible products to help resist damage.

 

Epoxy Resin: Epoxy Resin is a 2-part polymer with a complex chemistry and challenging to process. Epoxy requires post production elevated heat to fully cure the resin to its optimal physical properties. High quality Epoxy cures as a polymer that maintains its physical properties including some inherent flexibility and impact resistance. Epoxy excels in ultralight composite construction and is found in leading products in Marine, Flight and Aerospace industry.