Inventor of Integral Infused Gunwale Technology

building a Placid Boatworks lightweight pack canoe


The Clean Lamination Process Placid boatworks uses to manufacture our hulls, floatation tanks and composite seats using a proprietary system known as “vacuum infusion.” Why? Because it’s healthier for our Adirondack Mountains, our neighbors, our customers and ourselves (we’ve cleaned up 90 percent of our air emissions over the process most small boat shops still use – hand lamination). And, vacuum infused hulls are stronger and lighter than their hand-laid counterparts.Initially, we mask-off the top of our molds and spray a low-emission, cream-colored gel coat, covering the waterline footprint of the canoes. This waterline scuff patch protects the fabric from abrasion damage and hides most incidental scratches.

It is also easily repairable. On “skin-coated” boats where the fabric and resin constitute the outer surface, scratches are much more than cosmetic; they abraid the structural fabric and compromise the laminate (you may have seen how yellow aramid composite boats “fuzz” when the stems are abraided…). Boats with skin-coated bottoms tend to be shorter lived, becoming “pinholed” in just a few years with sun, weather and wear. Fine for racers who tend to replace their boats every few years, but not good for most folks. The waterline patch also gives an immediate, visual, trim check. When a Placid pack canoe shows more of the scuff patch at the stern, move some weight aft!

applying gel to Placid Boatworks lightweight pack canoe


Secondly, we apply transparent gel above the patch. The gel protects the initial carbon laminate layer and, again, allows easy scratch repair. This above-the-patch coat may be selected in clear Black Onyx, Emerald, Sapphire, Garnet, or Amethyst tint to personalize your canoe and increase its beauty.

After applying the waterline patch and tinted upper, multiple carbon and aramid (we use quality materials like Dupont’s Kevlar® or Teijin’s Twaron) sheets and shaped pieces are precisely placed in the mold. A bag is positioned over the fabric and sealed to the outer edge of the mold. A vacuum is then applied that pulls a measured amount of vinyl ester resin through the layered fabric components, perfectly wetting the entire hull.

The benefits of this process are multiple. The single vacuum “pull” and resin application to a mold purged of oxygen greatly reduce resin, laminate and processing material waste (compared to hand lamination or traditional vacuum bagging) and virtually eliminate release of noxious fumes. The resulting hull is lighter and stronger than a hand laminated hull because all voids and styrene inclusions are eliminated. Vacuum infused tanks and seats are then bonded into the hull.

multiple Placid Boatworks lightweight pack canoes stored away


Placid Boatwork’s goal is to develop rugged but lightweight laminates that are stiff. Flexible laminates that “oil-can”, or flex under load, slow the hull in the water and increase the possibility of breakage when rocks or beaver dams are inadvertently impacted. A good laminate will be of light to moderate weight, yet offer good abrasion resistance and be easily repairable.

Our epoxy vinyl ester resin is chosen to match modulus of elasticity to our carbon and aramid fabrics, maximizing material performance for high strength to weight ratios. The laminate is a symbiotic hybrid, combining the stiffness and abrasion resistance of carbon with the tensile strength of aramid. Behind the carbon blanket, we insert carbon partials, then aramid partials, to reinforce stems, bottom, quarters and seat stations.

Each solo pack laminate includes 15 carbon and 16 aramid pieces; kneeling and tandem laminates include more. Placid pack canoe bottoms are stiff – they do not flex, or “oil can,” under power. You can step anywhere in the hull without worry. Light, stiff, flexible, and incredibly strong, Placid Boatworks laminates are the finest available.


We are proud of our distinctive trim. The Cobra XLT (that’s Xpedition Lite Trim) 50/50 carbon/aramid gunwale system developed by Placid Boatworks has been imitated, but never matched. XLT features rails that are integrally infused with the hull, a process Placid Boatworks developed in 2005-2006. This process gives you a zero maintenance hull which weighs 5-7 lbs less than a comparable wood-trimmed boat. If you are looking for the absolute lightest hull, check out our Ultra laminate.

Our faceted, furniture grade, plywood mycarta decks reinforce the rail junction, enhance your canoe’s beauty, and are slotted to drain water and release condensation during storage. This highly water-resistant laminated wood product will never require maintenance but can be refinished with sandpaper and marine spar. Kneeling boats feature seat frames constructed of cherry with unique shaping and radiused edges for increased comfort. Sculpted for both form and function, our seat drops strengthen the seat installation.

dragonfly on custom Placid Boatworks lightweight pack canoe
dog sleeping in Placid Boatworks lightweight pack canoe
raccoon in Placid Boatworks lightweight pack canoe
custom Placid Boatworks lightweight pack canoe


Pack canoes are really open top kayaks, with the paddler sitting on an angled seat raised off the canoe bottom just enough to get one’s heels in close enough to stand up. Our normal pack canoe cockpit offers the paddler a choice of contoured carbon seats with a comfortable, fully adjustable backband and adjustable footpegs. Seats are stackable, so if you choose a low seat to be mounted in your boat, you can still get a medium or high seat later for different paddling conditions or for paddling with a single blade. Stacked seats are held in place during portages with our “seat lasso” system, shown below. The combination of this fully adjustable outfitting improves paddler comfort, control of the boat and stability. All contribute to better performance.

Sitting in a canoe with legs outstretched is more comfortable than kneeling, but reduces paddler height and reach. This makes it mandatory that boats with narrow beam, lower sheer height at center and (ideally) tumblehome for easy access to the water using a shorter paddle be designed for this type of paddling. Dedicated sit-down canoes need low-mounted seats and foot braces to improve stability and power transfer to the hull. That’s why our boats come standard with backbands, footpegs and your choice of seat.

Our boats can also be rigged for the kneeling paddler with a seat or kneeling thwart hung from the gunwales.