- Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:29 pm
That is a very good question. Here is my take on it...
Plastic is much more durable and needs almost zero maintenance. However, it can be heavy!
Wood/fiberglass/stitch and glue boats can be less durable than plastic. (I have some wooden yaks, but I don't think I would ever take them on white water runs!) Also as mentioned, they do need touch-ups from time to time to keep them in good shape.
But wood does have many very good aspects. Building your own offers the ultimate flexibility. The whole reason I started building boats is because I could not find what I wanted in a pre-manufactured one. You can start with a basic design, but can build/customize it as you wish. The selection of plans for home built boats is almost limitless. In fact, if you can't find what you want, some hobby designers will take your needs and design a boat for you!
Next, wood (for the most part) is pretty cheap and easy to work with. I build super simple boats that I don't glass the whole thing (nor even the bottom for that matter). So I can build a usable boat for around $100.00. But when you build your own you have the option to go with the best materials, or just build a simple boat to get you on the water. So cost can range from $100.00 or so up to several hundred...but again it's up to you and what your wallet is comfortable with.
Wood boats can be really light in weight. As mentioned mine are simple boats that I don't glass. They may not be as strong as a glassed boat, but mine only weigh in around 35 lbs. Where as many plastic boats can weigh 60 lbs or more! So for a one man boat, I can easily handle mine as a one man boat. I have been on trips were we have to take turns carrying the plastic yaks as a team (because they are too much for one man to handle), where I can always easily carry mine by myself.
So each has its good and bad points much like any boat out there. I just love the flexibility of building my own boats. The low cost of building my own boats. The knowledge in the fact that if I want a new boat I'm not at the mercy of what the manufactures offer, because I build what I want how I want! And last but not least...the pride of using your own self built boat. Mine are simple funny looking boats, but whenever I take them out I always get flooded with questions..."Did you build that? That is flipping cool! Can you build me one? " and on and on...