T-Formex Canoes

Royalex is back.

Back in the late ’90’s and early 2000’s I worked for Rutabaga, a big canoe and kayak store in Madison, Wisconsin. It was an exciting time to be a part of the paddlesports industry. Sea kayaking had exploded onto the outdoor industry scene and was rapidly becoming mainstream. Whitewater kayak designs were evolving so fast it seemed like there was a new design launched every week. Recreational kayaks were flying off the racks. Canoe sales were booming.

Back then, the most popular canoes we sold were made from a material called Royalex.

Royalex was a foam-core ABS plastic material with a vinyl outer skin. It could be molded into efficient canoe shapes and had a well-earned reputation for durability.

Fiberglass and Kevlar canoes were stiffer, lighter and more efficient, but when it came to toughness, nothing compared to Royalex. That toughness made Royalex THE choice for whitewater canoes, but also made it a favorite among recreational paddlers. Especially families looking for an affordable, low maintenance canoe.

In fact, Royalex canoes were so popular the staff often had trouble selling anything else. We sold ultralight Kevlar canoes for Boundary Waters trips and a handful of heavier Kevlar and fiberglass models for everyday paddling, but Royalex outsold these designs by three to one.

Why?

Value.

Why Royalex?
Royalex had a unique set of characteristics that set it apart from any other canoe material.

Royalex was tough. You could bang a Royalex canoe down a shallow rocky river and come away with nothing worse than a few scratches and a dent or two. There were loads of stories of people who had wrapped their canoes around rocks in whitewater and later stomped them back into shape and paddled home. Compared to even the strongest composite canoes Royalex was far more durable and impact resistant. It wasn’t even close.

Tough as nails. For shallow, rocky rivers nothing beat Roylex.

The proof of this is how completely Royalex dominated whitewater canoe design. Early whitewater kayaks and canoes were made of composites. Then came plastic. Today, fiberglass and Kevlar whitewater kayaks have been almost entirely replaced by designs molded from highly impact-resistant polyethylene. In canoes, Royalex was the choice. It had all the impact resistance of rotomolded plastic but was lighter and stiffer.

The lighter weight of Royalex helped it gain traction as a good material for recreational canoes. Back then a typical plastic canoe cost about $700 and weighed close to 90 pounds. A similar design in Royalex might cost $500 more, but it weighed twenty pounds less. Seventy pounds was light enough for a young couple to get on top the car. 85 or 90 pounds wasn’t.

And then there was the scratching thing.

When you scratched a Royalex boat, the scratch was the same color as the hull (at least until you wore through the outer skin). The gel coat on the outside of composite canoes scratched white. This meant that even a well used Royalex canoe tended to look better than a composite canoe after a few years. It’s a small thing, but it was surprising how often it came up when we talked to people about canoes back then.

The scratching thing was part of what you might call the “worry free” aspect of Royalex. If you bought a Royalex canoe odds were that you would never have to do anything in the way of upkeep beyond replacing a seat from time to time. If you really beat the hell out of in in whitewater you might need to put some skid plates on the ends. That’s it. No gel coat repair. No fiberglass patching. Virtually maintenance free.

These factors added together to give Royalex a unique position in the canoe market. Royalex canoes were affordable, tough and worry free.

They were a great value.

Then they went away.

T-Formex sheets waiting to be turned into canoes at the Wenonah factory. The last Royalex sheets shipped in 2014.

Royalex is Dead
Royalex was developed in the 1970s by the Uniroyal Corporation. Since then it’s been used by dozens of canoe manufacturers to produce thousands of durable performance canoes. In 2000 the Royalex division was sold by Uniroyal to Spartech, which continued to produce Royalex sheets for canoe production. In 2013 Spartech sold to plastics company PolyOne, which took a hard look at Royalex sales numbers. The company determined that Royalex was unprofitable and took steps to shutter the operation. PolyOne closed down Royalex production in 2014. Canoe manufacturers ordered up their last sheets, built their final Royalex canoes and turned the page on a historic chapter in paddlesports history. Royalex was dead.

The remaining Royalex canoes made their way through the retail pipeline. Prices crept upward as demand for a finite number of canoes rose. The value of used Royalex canoes increased. By the time all the remaining stock was gone, the price of a Royalex canoe rose above $1700. Even at those prices they sold out. There simply wasn’t an alternative to fill the Royalex niche in the paddlesports world.

A T-Formex mold at the Wenonah Canoe factory.

Doing Without
What happened next depends on which canoe company you’re talking about. With Royalex gone, some companies shifted their Royalex production into rotomolded canoes. For example, Old Town Canoe had previously produced the iconic Penobscot 16 and 17 canoes in Royalex. With Royalex gone, these models shifted over into polyethylene. Other companies worked to replace Royalex with composite constructions. Wenonah Canoe, where I work now, had long produced durable canoes from a polyester/fiberglass material called Tuf-Weave. Wenonah promoted Tuf-Weave as a Royalex alternative. Nova Craft Canoe developed an impact resistant composite construction that they called Tuff-Stuff to fill the Royalex niche. Both companies produced rotomolded plastic canoes as well. Many canoe companies were learning to do without Royalex.

But not all companies.

Several prominent canoe brands produced boats almost exclusively from Royalex. For these companies, the loss of Royalex was a crisis. Without Royalex they would go out of business entirely. Esquif Canoe was one of these brands.

Esquif owner and founder Jacques Chasse came up with a novel solution for the Royalex crisis–he would make his own. Chasse set out on a four-year quest to develop a Royalex replacement. The end result was T-Formex, a material that perfectly mimics the performance profile of Royalex.

T-Formex is a foam-core sandwich of ABS plastic with a proprietary outer skin. When sheets are heated, the foam core expands and the sheet becomes pliable enough to mold into performance canoe shapes.

T-Formex
T-Formex is a sandwich of ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadine Styrene) plastic, expanding foam core and a proprietary outer skin. It shares Royalex’s extreme impact resistance and durability. The outer skin slides smoothly over rocks and doesn’t show scratches as much as composite canoes. Weight is very similar to Royalex. Stiffness and paddling performance is excellent.

T-Formex canoes cost more than Royalex canoes did. By their nature they must. Royalex was eliminated by PolyOne because it wasn’t profitable. For any replacement to be sustainable, it must pay its own way. So pricing has to reflect cost of materials and manufacturing. That said, T-Formex canoes are still quite affordable. They cost around $2000–at least $1000 less than a comparable composite canoe and about a third more than a heavier polyethylene canoe.

Like Royalex, T-Formex offers exceptional value. T-Formex canoes are modestly priced, light enough to cartop and tough as nails. No composite canoe material can match the impact resistance and worry free maintenance of T-Formex. Rotomolded plastic canoes are tough and affordable, but they’re much heavier.

T-Formex hits the sweet spot.

T-Formex sheets are heated in a giant oven before being molded.

Market Reception
So, there you go, job done, right? Now that we have a true Royalex replacement things should go back to the way they used to be. T-Formex will come to dominate canoe construction the way that Royalex did back in the 1990s.

Maybe.

In 2017 Esquif and Wenonah launched T-Formex on the North American canoe market. That’s three years ago. Sales have been good, but they haven’t come close to the numbers that were being produced in the heyday of Royalex. So far, T-Formex hasn’t taken off as quickly as we had hoped.

Part of my job at Wenonah is to think about why this is.

T-Formex components, ready to be assembled.

T-Formex Myths
One reason may simply have to do with market penetration and volume of production. Back at the height of it’s popularity, Royalex was used by all the major canoe manufacturers in North America. There were some heavy hitters out there slinging Royalex hulls. Old Town was almost certainly the biggest, but the combined impact of Royalex canoes from Wenonah, Esquif, Dagger, Mad River, Nova Craft and others can’t be underestimated. Royalex was ubiquitous. The material was well known by the paddling public.

Today, T-Formex is only being used by a small group of manufacturers, the largest of which are Esquif and Wenonah. Compared to Royalex it isn’t as well understood or widely promoted. T-Formex is less visible.

Visibility is certainly a factor, but I think the marketing environment is nearly as important. When Royalex disappeared, all the manufacturers had to make do with different materials that weren’t as good for the job. Heavier plastic canoes that paddled like tanks. Less durable composite canoes that required more upkeep. Neither of these constructions were an adequate replacement for Royalex, but they were all the industry had to work with.

The forced change in materials came with a major change in marketing. Composites companies pushed composites. Rotomolders worked hard to convince the public that poly canoes were as good a value as Royalex. All the stories changed. All the sales pitches. The ads. The narratives. Those narratives are still out there, driving the conversation in the paddlesports world.

On top of this, most canoe manufacturers aren’t using T-Formex yet. Maybe that will change in the future, but for now, the majority of the canoe industry has a vested interest in downplaying the advantages of this new material and keeping the narrative focused on poly and composite. As long as this the case, those companies who are working with T-Formex will be going against the dominant stream of the paddlesports industry.

Obviously Wenonah and Esquif have a vested interest in promoting T-Formex. It works both ways. We all have our own unique perspectives and biases. People tend to do what they are paid to do.

I’m paid to sell Wenonah canoes, so I’m far from an impartial observer. On the other hand, I’m in a unique position to make a comparison between materials. Wenonah makes canoes from composites and rotomolded polyethylene as well as T-Formex. We make durable composite canoes from Tuf-Weave and aramid fabrics, and we build heavy, impact resistant canoes from poly. Since we manufacture canoes using all three processes we aren’t locked in to promoting one of them. This makes it easier to consider the advantages of T-Formex in an unbiased way.

The more I’ve learned about T-Formex and it’s current place in the paddlesports market the more I’ve realized that there are some persistent myths about T-Formex that need dispelling. A big part of why I wrote this post is to correct some of the misconceptions that people have about the material. Even people with years of experience in the industry.

Here are my top four.

Myth #1: T-Formex is too heavy
Too heavy compared to what? Rotomolded poly canoes are much heavier than T-Formex canoes. There’s a big difference between picking up a 70 pound canoe and a 90 pound canoe. Most people can get a 70 pound canoe onto the roof rack and carry it from the car to the water. Cartopping a heavier poly canoe is a real challenge. Compared to poly, T-Formex canoes are light.

Of course, T-Formex canoes are heavier than composite canoes, and if weight savings is the primary concern composites are a better choice. That said, composite constructions don’t have the same kind of durability that T-Formex canoes have. Even the toughest composites are more fragile and require more maintenance than a T-Formex canoe. On top of this they cost much more.

What about comparing T-Formex to Royalex? Weren’t Royalex canoes lighter? Yes. They were. At the height of Royalex construction it got to the point that practically every canoe design had a specific sheet of Royalex that was spec’ed just for that hull. This, combined with some fine tuning in the thickness of the ABS substrate and foam core allowed weights to come down a little bit, especially in recreational designs. It’s safe to say that Royalex canoes were a little lighter than T-Formex canoes are today.

How much lighter? Not much. Our records show that Wenonah’s T-Formex canoes come in at about 5 percent heavier than similar models built from Royalex. In most models the difference is a few pounds.

Myth #2: T-Formex is too expensive
I hear this one a fair bit from retailers and sales reps. A lot of us have been working in the paddlesports industry for a long time. We remember $1200 Royalex boats, and compared to that price, $2000 for a T-Formex canoe seems expensive.

Again, you have to ask, compared to what?

Comparing the price of a T-Formex canoe today to what Royalex cost back in the 90’s doesn’t make much sense. Today, $1200 will buy you a rotomolded poly canoe. Back then, that same plastic canoe would have cost $700. Like just about everything in this world, the price of canoes has gone up. But the relative cost of T-Formex and polyethylene canoes has remained fairly constant.

Like Royalex canoes before them, T-Formex canoes represent the best value in the canoe market. They’re much tougher than composite canoes, much lighter than poly canoes and priced in between the two. Right in the sweet spot.

Composites definitely have their place. My old Tuf-Weave Spirit II has seen a lot of wilderness miles, but if I’m heading to the river I’ll always take Royalex or T-Formex. Composites are durable, but T-Formex is tougher.
Photo: Mike Robinson.

Myth #3: Other materials are just as good, or better than T-Formex
This one is just plain wrong. There are a lot of good materials out there for canoebuilding, but none of them matches the performance characteristics of T-Formex.

Burly composite constructions will do in a pinch to run down a rocky river, but they’ll get pretty beat up in the process. None of them can be wrapped around a boulder in whitewater, Z-dragged to the bank and pounded back into serviceable shape. None of them are a good choice for a family canoe the might get left Up North at the cabin for the kids to use. All of them are more expensive than T-Formex.

Poly canoes are heavy, don’t paddle as well as T-Formex canoes and don’t hold their shape as well over time. They’re a decent option if price is the single most important factor, but they’re not in the same class as T-Formex canoes.

Like Royalex, T-Formex has a unique set of qualities that set it apart in the marketplace.

Proof of this comes from discussions I’ve had with outfitters and summer camps across northern Minnesota. Liveries up on the Gunflint Trail that outfit trips on the Granite River in the Boundary Waters have been nursing along their aging Royalex fleets because nothing else held up to the abuse the same way. Camps that run wilderness trips have experimented with different materials but found that the poly canoes were too heavy for campers and the composite canoes couldn’t take a beating like Royalex. T-Formex is the only real solution for situations like these. Nothing else comes close.

Myth #4: There isn’t enough demand for T-Formex
This one I hear once in a while from retailers. T-Formex is a relatively new material and some shops are unsure about stocking it. Wenonah dealers have done very well with our composite canoes over the past few years and trying something new always comes with a risk. Is there really a demand for T-Formex out there?

I believe there is.

We’re coming to the end of one of the most extraordinary years in the history of paddlesports. It’s hard to overstate the impact that COVID-19 has had on the canoe and kayak industry. Factories were shuttered during lockdowns. Demand for canoes and kayaks exploded as people spent more time outdoors. Warehouses went empty. Shops sold through their inventory. Orders went through the roof.

Demand for canoes is at all-time high levels and there is no way to meet that demand with composite canoes.

Right now at Wenonah we have orders for composite canoes on the books that will fill our production capacity well into spring. All the other major composite canoe manufacturers are in the same boat. Some builders are so backed up that a canoe ordered today won’t be delivered until July of next year.

The shortage of composite canoes means that more people will find themselves faced with the choice of a heavy poly canoe or no canoe at all. T-Formex is a much better option.

In the current marketplace there is definitely a demand for quality canoes at an affordable price. That means there’s plenty of demand for T-Formex.

The Future of T-Formex
Where will T-Formex go from here? I see a couple potential paths.

First, T-Formex could carve out a small niche in the canoe market for whitewater and expedition trippers who need a seriously tough canoe. A specialty niche within a specialty market. Small numbers of technical canoes for true paddling enthusiasts. Never breaking out into the mainstream.

More likely, I think, is that T-Formex will being to make inroads into the recreational canoe market much in the same way that Royalex did back in the 1990’s and 2000’s. One of the reasons that Royalex canoes were so popular with dealers and paddlers back then is that you could get them. Yes, they were quality canoes that outperformed other materials, but they were also available in greater quantities than composite canoes were.

Like Royalex canoes before them, T-Formex canoes are faster to build than composites and can be produced in greater volume. Hulls are quicker to mold. Assembly is more standardized. The whole process is streamlined in a way that composite construction is not. This means that T-Formex production can be ramped up to meet demand in a way that composites construction can’t.

In the end this may mean that T-Formex will break into the mainstream canoe market because it is the only material that is capable of meeting current demand for quality canoes. The material has a unique performance profile, but its also uniquely suited to rapid production. There’s no other material that can be used to build as many quality canoes and offer them at an affordable price. Once again, T-Formex is in a class of its own.

There are a whole lot of paddlers out there right now looking for canoes. T-Formex canoes are affordable, tough, worry free and…available.

UPDATE:
This post has seen a lot of discussion and comments here and on Facebook. After reading through the comments I realized that I neglected to discuss one of the key differences between T-Formex and rotomolded polyethylene canoes: selective reinforcement.

One of the reasons that T-Formex canoes are lighter than rotomolded canoes is that T-Formex allows for consistent, selective reinforcement of a canoe hull. T-Formex sheets have added layers in key areas where the hull needs maximum stiffness or increased durability, like the center of the hull or the stems. They have less material in areas where stiffness is provided by the shape of the hull. The ability to vary the thickness of the T-Formex sheet allows canoes built from T-Formex to be lighter and stiffer than those made from rotomolded polyethylene.

Rotomolded canoes are far more uniform in thickness across the entire hull. This has to do with the rotomolding process itself and how plastic flows within the mold. Molders can use tricks to retain more heat in some parts of the mold than others to make sure plastic flows to the correct spot, but the effect is more subtle than it is with a reinforced T-Formex sheet.

For the most part, the weight and stiffness of poly canoes have to do with the thickness of the foam core layer and the density of the plastic being used for molding. This usually results in a canoe that is either heavy or overly flexible. Lightweight rotomolded canoes frequently suffer from oilcanning or flattening of the hull when loaded on the water. Adding stiffness to such a design requires thickening the plastic across the entire hull, which can significantly increase weight.

If I were to pick out a single most important factor that distinguishes between rotomolded poly canoes and T-Formex canoes it would be the ability to vary the thickness of the T-Formex sheet to optimize stiffness and weight in the finished canoe.

Links
Hasta Luego, Royalex Canoe
First Esquif T-Formex Canoe
T-Formex is Real

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22 thoughts on “T-Formex Canoes

  1. Larry Cooper

    Well said, Brian. I worked in an outdoors shop back in 1975 and we sold Old Town, Sawyer, Phoenix and Perception. I remember a photo in Old Town’s catalog of them throwing a royalex (Oltonar) canoe off a 5 story building at the factory to show how tough it was. And it was tough stuff.

    I’m glad to see that material back in the main stream, so to speak. I paddled a lot in a royalex boat and loved the performance and the bullet proof durability.

  2. Brian, Great information. However I don’t think you will see the surge in sales of T-Formex Wenonah Canoes until more models are offered. Solo Plus? Heron? Fisherman? Kingfisher? Argosy, Fusion (come on, only one solo?) And the Backwater; to my knowledge one of the few (if not only) Royalex square sterns available other than Esquif. These are all boats we (Blue Mountain Outfitters in PA) sold and would really like to see available in T-Formex. Thanks for listening.

    1. Thanks Mary. We look forward to bringing back as many models in T-Formex as we can. I personally would love to see the models you mentioned back in the lineup. In time that may be possible. For starters we’ve reintroduced the best selling models from our Royalex lineup. We’ll take a hard look at the remaining models to determine if and when they can be reintroduced in T-Formex. Not something that is guaranteed and definitely not something that can happen overnight. For now we’ll work on getting the word out on T-Formex with Prospectors, Spirits and Auroras. And of course, the Wilderness.

  3. Merka

    They need to get the old Ocoee plug. and look at the new WW canoe designs. People still want the best RX designs but WW canoe design has come a long way in the last 20 yrs. Gotta stay relevant.

  4. Jim Nighswonger

    A large factor in the Ozarks and plains states is that paddlers have gone to kayaks and away from canoes to a large extent. Many new paddlers have come on the scene the last two years especially and virtually all newbys want kayaks for several reasons but the primary ones are cost and ease of portability. They can get on the water cheaply and haul it easily. Here that will continue to eat into potential canoe sales. I have canoes for over 50 years and have had boats of nearly every material, Royalex being far and away my favorite for ozark rivers. I hope T- Formic makes it and stays in production. I feel it and composites will be of limited appeal because of cost with most sales going to die hard canoeists that know those are the boats they want and are willing to pay the price. Good luck T- Formic builders. Thank goodness this material option is available!

  5. Robert Plewa

    Brian, I worked at Rutabaga Paddlesports during the period between Royalex and T-Formex. It was a tough time as manufacturers searched for a new product to fill the void. New materials and processes were developed and the industry moved beyond aramid, rediscovered glass, combined innegra and other fabrics, used space age technologies, and developed a new Royalex. There are so many products out there that need to reach a ROI for many of their developers. As soon as the opportunity presented itself, I purchased my first T-Formex P16– shortly thereafter I added a Zephyr 2.0. Eventually I will own an IXP Whitewater solo for river expeditions. Thàt will round out my layup collection. I will have to look you up next time I get to Winona. There’s a lot going on in the canoe world as I see it and I’d find it fascinating to know how Wenonah sees the future. Bob Plewa, WI

    1. Hi Bob,
      I missed the last years of Royalex because I was outside the canoe world working for Pyranha/P&H kayaks. Had to dig into a little of the history to put this post together. Must have been an interesting time to be working at Rutabaga selling canoes.

      Glad to hear that T-Formex is filling the Royalex much in your fleet. Once the situation improves with COVID you should stop by for a quick tour.

  6. David Hardie

    I have a “royalite” workhorse Scott Legacy 15 that is approaching 20 years old and has many battlescars from the rigours of Nova Scotia’s dark granite-strewn waters. My navigator in the bow likes to look up at the rugged scenery, as one should, more than keeping watch for rocks, so we leave red plastic “zest” behind us as we go. The deepest of those wounds (when I can see yellow) are filled occasionally with JB-weld and we keep on our long and happy journey together. There is no obvious end in sight, and that’s OK with me. I also have a lovely little Old Town Pack – which I snapped up as soon as I heard that Royalex was going the way of the Dodo. Also a wonderful boat for my solo adventures. So I’m familiar with the Royalex products. I now also have a two-year-old Esquif Heron square-stern. If there is a functional difference between it and my Royalex boats (in terms of material) I can’t detect it. I’ve been giving it the same indelicate treatment that I give my other canoes (and everything else that I own for that matter) and it’s still going strong. Check back in in 2033 and Ill be able to provide a comparison of longevity, but so far, so good!

  7. Your article certainly captures the challenges of building durable, cost effective canoes in todays competitive boat manufacturing market. Unfortunately your effort to dispel some of the ‘Myths’ that you believe have caused the slow acceptance of T-Formex does not really do justice to the advances in materials and processes that at least partly explain Uniroyal’s decision regarding Royalex in the first place.
    You are correct that the earliest rotomolded polyethelene canoes and kayaks were heavy with very basic hull designs that often warped. But you don’t acknowledge that the initial advantage of rotomolded polyethelene over Royalex was the lower material handling, processing and raw material costs. Nor does your review discuss the current foam core rotomolded boats that have managed to incorporate superior hull designs with the cost effectiveness of rotomolding polyethelene. The result of the recent advances in rotmolding materials and technologies has been a number of less expensive foam core, rotomolded canoes and kayaks that are every bit as durable and light as the current T- Formex and previous Royalex boats.
    My company, Paluski Boats of Lakefield, Ontario, Canada is but one of a number of state of the art rotomolding boat builders that have increased their share of the high quality, ‘plastic canoe’ market because we are making really good boats that provide the consumer and rental market with a cost effective alternative to T-Formex.

    1. Hi Graham,

      One of the most exciting things about the paddlesports industry is the innovation that comes from each company doing it’s utmost to create the best possible products. When I was with Pyranha Kayaks we produced and sold PE canoes using high density plastics that were stiffer and lighter than conventional poly canoes. Here at Wenonah we’re proud of the progress we’ve made in maximizing the performance and durability of our poly canoes.

      This said, I do believe that Royalex had a unique set of attributes that made it a standout as a canoe material. T-Formex shares those attributes and we’re very happy to have the opportunity to work with it.

      1. Scot

        Nice article! I think there are 2 reasons T-formex will not be as popular as Royalex. As noted many manufacturers were forced to create alternatives that they spent tons of time developing and tons of money promoting. Secondarily, some manufacturers may not be comfortable building product with a competitors proprietary material.

  8. Lucas

    Great article and encouraged in the broader use of T-formex. Royalex canoes in certain models are getting difficult to find. Is Wenonah considering manufacturing the Sundowner in T-Formex? That model is of course extremely popular in the downriver canoe racing circuit and are highly desired in Royalex.

    1. Hi Lucas, I don’t expect to see the Sundowner make a return to the lineup. It has been phased out in all other constructions and even though there is a demand for downriver racing it’s unlikely we would sell enough to justify putting work into developing a T-Formex version.

  9. Mark Butland

    Interesting article think that one way forward is to follow Landrovers approach many years ago where they had factories assembling landrovers around the world from knock down kits
    Maybe wenonah should establish relationships with say Pyranna or Palm in the uk ( who make dagger boats )
    And just export the T formex sheets to the uk

    1. Hi Mark, the investment in infrastructure to produce the boats is the biggest barrier to this sort of thing. There’s a significant capital outlay required to get up and running with oven and molds.

  10. Gordy Sussman

    Excellent piece. Some history:

    1) Early on, Uniroyal supplied molded hulls rather than Royalex sheet to manufacturers who tricked them out. This first generation of Royalex canoes was known as Warsaw Rockets for the factory in Warsaw, Ind.
    2) Old Town wanted to give the impression of using a proprietary material so they always called it Oltonar (as in Old Town). In response, Roy Guinn at Blue Hole mused about claiming his whitewater canoes were made from Blueholium.
    3) Sawyer made one of the strangest Royalex canoes which I don’t recall ever having a model name. Being as molding a foam sheet couldn’t approximate a hand laminate for fine water entry, the company attached a rubberesque plug to the bow foe a finer line. In order to keep the flat hull from flexing while under way, the hull was molded with a prominent tunnel arch running the length of the boat.
    4) Another strange Royalex canoe came when whitewater canoe specialist Blue Hole briefly built the high volume MGA & MGB (same boat tricked in wood) designed my freestyle paddling legend Mike Galt.

  11. KARL I ZAUNBRECHER

    I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of the R-Light canoes (Dagger Passage) that were produced in small numbers in the 90’s.I consider it the best I’ve ever used for canoe camping on rock-bottomed rivers that can be pretty hard on a canoe’s hull, and I appreciate its light weight (compared to Royalex), but it’s approaching its 30th year and sadly is due for replacement soon. Thanks for the information which I think will be quite useful when the time comes.

  12. Good article. I’m down in southeast Texas. I ordered a Minnesota 3 last year, but when covid hit and production was delayed I ended up buying an Old Town Penobscot 174 poly canoe from REI for a trip I had planned in March. I finally received my M3 in July. I just did a 40 mile trip on the upper Brazos with the Penobscot because I didn’t want to tear up my M3. My buddy had an old Royalex Penobscot that he took. There is a big difference in weight. I would loved to have had a T-Formex Spirit II for that trip. I literally left strips of red polyurethane behind on the rocks. I am excited about T-Formex and I hope it takes off. My goal is to get rid of the Penobscot and buy a Spirit II in T-Formex as soon as I can save up $2G for it.

  13. john h swift

    Today I learned of Royalex’s demise, and the emergence of T-Formex. I have a 1996 Wenonah Adirondack in near-perfect condition, which I moved from KS to NH last summer, after storing it the past twenty years on a specially built rack in my garage. Selling it today, as we plan yet another move, and we don’t know what storage space we’ll have. It’s not been used for years, sad to say. Once we get stable in our new setting, if the canoeing bug once again bites, the plan is to pony up the 2G for a new one just like the old one, if a few pounds heavier. Keep up the good work!

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