Appomattox River Company started in 1977 as a canoe retailer. We've been one of the largest specialty canoe retailers ever since. Between owner Bob Taylor, and staff members Bo Tucker and Al Quinlan we have decades piled on decades of canoeing experience. Why is this important? Because a good canoe will last you for decades, and we want you to make an informed decision. We have one of the best selections of canoes available. Why? Because we believe in the good that a great canoe can bring to the world. We are a company built on the foundation of family canoeing. And we are a company that has long believed in a community built on canoeing with friends.
For most of our time in the industry canoes have been made from Royalex. That changed in the last few years. A couple years back, word went out across the paddlesports industry that Royalex was dead. Canoeists lamented the loss of the composite material that canoes had been constructed out of since the 1970's. What would life be like after Royalex? Currently we stock canoes in many different lay-ups, but two of the newest composites are Tuff Stuff from Nova Craft Canoe and TFormex from Esquif Canoes. So we'll start there.
Esquif Canoes explains TFormex:
"Comprised of an ABS plastic foam core, layers of ABS plastic sheets, and a protective outer skin the various layers of T-Formex are bonded together with heat and pressure in a large autoclave. When it is time to make a canoe hull, the sheet is again heated and then vacuum molded to form the hull." They also have a good Q & A section on this new T-Fromex compound at the Esquif website (see below):
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How does T-Formex compare to Royalex? A: With a structure, weight, and strength that is similar to Royalex you can confidently paddle your T-Formex canoe into all of the situations that you would have taken your Royalex canoe. We always used the strongest sheets of Royalex that were available and we have been able to match those properties with our new T-Formex sheets. Many of our customers have been telling us that they think T-Formex is even tougher than Royalex was.
Q: What happens if I wrap my T-Formex canoe around a rock? A: Every time a canoe wraps there are extraordinary force at play so depending on the specific situation you may break your gunwales, seats, and decks. As mentioned above, T-Formex has an excellent structural memory so the hull should pop back into shape and remain intact (with some creasing).
Q: Can I use the same outfitting and repair techniques that I used on my Royalex canoe? A: Absolutely! You can use vinyl adhesives for gluing in outfitting, contact cement for foam kneepads, and epoxy resin for repairs.
*The reviews are coming in. The videos are hitting social media. The word is out. T-Formex is legit. T-Formex is a lightweight ABS laminate with structural memory and strong resistance to abrasion and impact.
And just recently we got in new Mad River Explorer 16 Canoes in TFormex!
This new layup is now being used in the manufacturing of canoes like Wenonah as well. Wenonah has a number of compounds including Kevlar. Here's Wenonah on kevlar:
And regarding the other materials they use:
"At Wenonah, we have a lot of different ways to build our canoes. Our Kevlar® Ultralight canoe construction is kind of like a ten speed racing bike. There are many bikes around; three speeds, five speeds, ten speeds, bikes you can race distance on. Now, if you had a nice ten speed road bike, you probably wouldn’t use it as a mountain bike. That being said, we also build a “mountain bike” style canoe construction. That would be our T-Formex."
Then there is Nova Craft Canoes and there new Tuff Stuff. They produce canoes from a variety of compounds outlined below:
Composite canoe construction involves combining different woven materials with resin in a mold. The benefits of composites are they result in lighter canoes with excellent durability. They also offer superior glide and much better long-term repairability. Our composite materials include fiberglass, TuffStuff, TuffStuff Expedition, Aramid Lite and Blue Steel.
- Fiberglass is an affordable composite material with a proven track record of durability. Our fiberglass hulls are among the lightest and most rugged on the market today. We use woven fiberglass cloth to make a truly superior hull. Fiberglass canoes are great for recreational and cottage use and are a good choice for budget-minded individuals.
- TuffStuff is a cutting edge proprietary composite made of basalt and Innegra fibers. Basalt fibre is made of melted basalt rock and Innegra is a fibre consisting mostly of polypropylene. When they are woven together into a cloth and infused with our high impact vinylester resin system, the result is simply amazing! TuffStuff canoes are a great choice for paddlers looking for a light canoe for extended flatwater tripping with more than enough strength to handle lots of abuse in the back country.
- TuffStuff Expedition (TSE) is a more robust, heavier duty version of our standard TuffStuff construction. These canoes are an excellent choice for an expedition grade canoe for extended wilderness trips and some whitewater use. Stiff for great performance, incredible impact resistance and lightweight all in one canoe. You can see some of the abuse these canoes can take on YouTube channel Plastic
Nova Craft builds plastic canoes using rotational molding. This technique results in very strong canoes that are much more affordable than their composite counterparts. Our plastic canoes are made of three layers of superlinear polyethylene which we refer to as SP3.
SP3 canoe hulls are made by roto-molding three layers of superlinear polyethylene powder. The two outer layers are solid and the middle layer is foam. These canoes are extremely strong and are an excellent choice for river use or general recreational use. These are the most affordable canoes we make. Our tough SP3 canoes are very popular for outfitters and rental stations.
Last, but certainly not least is Old Town Canoe. Here's there construction set-up:
"We have two manufacturing processes for our line of canoes. The first process requires rotationally-molding three-layers of polyethylene. This three-layer process is used to make our Discovery, Penobscot, NEXT, Guide and Charles River models. Our second process thermoforms a single layer of polyethylene into the shape of a canoe. The Saranac and Rogue River models are made using the thermoforming construction method."
Life is a funny ride. The photos above and below feature my wife as a little girl. She grew up a child of Appomattox River Company and now she is the mom in the first two photos of this post. Life has come full circle. And canoes have been a central theme in that journey. Make a canoe part of your journey too.
We have a large selection and are here to help steer you towards the right canoe for you and yours. Give us a call at 800-442-4837, stop by the shop or surf the huge selection online at PaddleVa. Know that we are here to talk you through all the options, all the composites, and to ensure that you are set to make your own memories.