When paddling your composite sea kayak to distant shores it’s important to bring along a patch kit that you can trust. This is especially true during multi-day trip or in situations where the integrity of the hull need not be in question. The patch kit will provide the option for a permanent fix that will sooth your kayak’s wound and put your mind at ease. Granted, the chances that you’ll put a hole in your kayak are very low as composite hulls are much more resilient than their “eggshell” reputation leads us to believe. However, on that off-chance rock shot that hits you hull in just the right way to produce a small hole or crack then you’ll be happy you packed your patch kit. So what’s in a composite patch kit anyway?
The best patch kit is small, light, and simple. All of the pieces should be stored in a waterproof case to maintain the integrity of the patch components. Recently, I developed a kit that fits within a standard, waterproof cellphone case and weighs in at only a half a pound. It contains the following:
- One small tube of quick-set epoxy resin
- One small tube of quick-set epoxy kicker
- Strip of fiberglass or composite fabric
- Tool for mixing and applying the epoxy (not shown)
- Piece of medium-grit sand paper (not shown)
- Strip of waterproof duct tape (not shown)
- Pair of rubber gloves
- Small waterproof case
The choice of epoxy is the most important part of the patch kit. You should choose an epoxy that has a quick set time so that you can get on your way quickly and avoid missed time on the water waiting for slower curing epoxies to set. “5 minute” or “quick-set” epoxies harden in ~ 5mins, carry a load within 15mins, and fully cure within 24hrs when mixed appropriately. I recommend an epoxy that is “self-mixing” in that it dispenses both the resin and kicker in the correct amounts. This is important because the ratio of these two epoxy components must be correct in order to achieve the desired results. If the two parts come in different tubes then take care to dispense the proper ratios as indicated on the epoxy directions. Always include the directions in the kit because they can be very helpful when your mind is clouded with a thousand swears and frustrations.
The next most important part of the patch kit is the patch material. This can be a piece of fiber glass or carbon fiber fabric. I recommend using fiberglass or carbon fiber “tape” because it tends to be easier to work with than bulk fabric and will not fray so much at the edges when wetting out the material with epoxy. A few pieces of 2-inch wide tape cut to 8-10inch long lengths should be enough material to solve most problems. The waterproof duct tape will serve as a “band aid” solution to cover the hole or crack in the case that you encounter trouble with the composite patch or decide that it’s not worth the time to make a more permanent fix. The rest of the kit contents are tools to help you get the patch job done.
Check back later this week to learn more about how to use your new composite patch kit. As always, feel free to comment with any questions.