Canoes and KayaksReviews

Initial KeelEazy Review: an Easy-to-Apply Kayak Keel Strip

KeelEazy review tape on my keel

KeelEazy is an adhesive keel strip designed to replace fiberglass or Kevlar kayak keel strips and canoe skid plates. It comes in multiple widths as long as you need. It’s available in two colors by the foot and additional colors by the roll. The manufacturer claims that it can be applied to fiberglass, polyethylene, thermoformed ABS and metal surfaces. According to the manufacturer it’s 14 times more abrasion resistant than a composite keel strip. It runs $4 to $8 per foot. Kits are available. In September, I received a small sample to do a KeelEazy review.

I applied the sample KeelEazy strip to the stern of my Kevlar canoe. Years of abuse have worn through the gelcoat  into the keel area. The Kevlar was fuzzing up, which makes it difficult to repair. Since the stern of my canoe sees the most wear and tear, I decided to cover the section that looked the worst and head out on a 17-day paddling trip on the BWCA Border Route.

Application of the strip was easy. To apply, clean the area with rubbing alcohol or acetone, peel the blue backing from the tape, and then stick it to the hull. I used a hair drier to get the KeelEazy to conform to the shape of my keel. It seemed to stretch and change shapes easily. KeelEazy recommends applying it in 70 degree weather. I live in northern Minnesota, and we get that temperature for one month out of the year. September isn’t it, so I used the hairdryer to heat the tape up.

During the trip, I did my normal get-out-of-the-boat-and-pull-the-boat-onto-shore portage routine which tends to scuff up the stern keel area. I also ran several miles of bony whitewater fully loaded. After the trip, I inspected the KeelEazy strip. It showed some creases and scratches where rocks had run across it, and the forward section had chipped in places (see picture). It seemed to hold up satisfactory, but I wasn’t pleased with the chipping.

Will it replace a fiberglass keel strip? At this point, it’s hard to say. For the BWCA and flat water canoe trips, I’m sold on the product. It’s lighter, easier to apply and probably produces less resistance than a Kevlar skid plate. Plus it looks better. I’m much rougher on my kayaks and would need to test it out over a season. My main concern is impact resistance. A Kevlar or glass keel strip offers some impact resistance, but the tape doesn’t offer any. I’m still not sold on the claim that it’s 14 times more abrasion resistant than a composite keel strip.

At $78 for an 18 foot kayak kit, it’s more expensive than if I bought fiberglass and did a fiberglass keel strip myself. If the 2-inch tape cost only $2 to $3 per foot, it would be a no-brainer to recommend, but right now, you can make your own fiberglass kayak keel strip for less than it would cost for a KeelEazy keel strip. If you don’t care about that and just want something that’s easy-to-apply, then KeelEazy might be exactly what’s needed assuming it lives up to the abrasion resistance claim.

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KeelEazy Responds:

It was interesting to read your review. A couple of comments I’d like to followup with.

Regarding the chipping, it’s not completely surprising that there would be chips on the leading edge of the strip (to the right in your picture). As you are pulling (or paddling) the boat over rocks, the edge of the strip is going to hit the rock. Since that edge has glue all of the way to the edge, it sticks up and is going to occasionally catch on a rock. In that situation, a sharp rock could catch and cut off a bit of the strip, and I suspect that is what happened. If the strip were applied down the entire length of the hull, there wouldn’t be an edge like this to catch.

By the way, the sides of the strip do not have adhesive all of the way to the edges. When the KeelEazy strip is applied, especially when applied with a little heat and a roller, the adhesive will spread towards the edges. This actually pulls the edges down tighter against the hull of the boat, so there is less to catch.

It was interesting to read your review.  A couple of comments I’d like
to followup with.

Regarding the chipping, it’s not completely surprising that there
would be chips on the leading edge of the strip (to the right in your
picture).  As you are pulling (or paddling) the boat over rocks, the
edge of the strip is going to hit the rock.  Since that edge has glue
all of the way to the edge, it sticks up and is going to occasionally
catch on a rock.  In that situation, a sharp rock could catch and cut
off a bit of the strip, and I suspect that is what happened.  If the
strip were applied down the entire length of the hull, there wouldn’t
be an edge like this to catch.

By the way, the sides of the strip do not have adhesive all of the way
to the edges.  When the KeelEazy strip is applied, especially when
applied with a little heat and a roller, the adhesive will spread
towards the edges.  This actually pulls the edges down tighter against
the hull of the boat, so there is less to catch.

15 comments

  • I just requested a sample.

    I have been putting off adding skidplates to a couple canoes, this looks like an easier way to replace the outer layer on royalex boats. I think the little bit of added cost, especially for something easially replaceable, is worth it. The 2′ skid plates of 2″ stuff would be $16 or $24 for the three inch stuff.

    • For flat water canoeing, I think it’s a good option. Although the more I look at my sample, the worse it looks. All that wear-and-tear was from one 17-day trip with about 2 miles of whitewater out of the entire 240 miles.

  • Is it more than chips? From the pic, it looks as though there is remnants still stuck forward of the strip, as though pieces were torn off.

    • It looks like that, but that’s an old coating of dyed epoxy. It’s not part of the KeelEazy strip. The strip starts where it’s rounded.

  • Have always considered a keel strip a sacrificial layer, not permanent protection.

    Fiberglass is cheaper, but takes longer and is more of a hassle to install and at the end of a couple of seasons must be sanded away and re-fiberglassed where as the strip I would guess also peals off with heat and a replacement strip applied?

    • Yep, that’s true. I’m not sure that the KeelEazy will last as long as a glass strip. My 17-day test didn’t convince me of that. And keep in mind that I didn’t seal launch my canoe like I would with my sea kayak. The wear and tear came from a flat water canoe trip in the BWCA (with a short section of bony whitewater).

      Before I could address the durability on a sea kayak, I’d need to try it for a season. I do think it would make a nice rub strip for flat water canoeing vs. Kelvar skid plates.

    • I just realized I didn’t specifically answer your questions. KeelEazy claims that you can easily heat the strip up to move it or remove it. I didn’t try that.

  • It appears that the main body and sides of the patch held up well. Could the excessive wear be because the ends were left in an abrasion prone area? Looking at the remnants of the last skid plate, it’s easy to see abrasion well beyond the patch. Weight and thickness usually limits the size of a kevlar felt skidplate, but with the benefits of this material I would think covering a larger area is more beneficial.

    KeelEazy sells a skid plate kit which is a 2″ strip covered by a longer 3″ strip. Is this what you used or is this merely a single layer?

    • Just a note, there was no skid plate installed on this canoe before the KeelEazy strip. I applied epoxy turned black by graphite powder, which is a treatment often recommended by wooden boat builders. It didn’t hold up and lasted only one 200 mile trip. The abrasion surrounding the patch and the old coating is from 10+ years of tripping on flat water with this canoe.

      The majority of the abrasion occurred along the keel as you can see where the old epoxy wore off, and the majority of the abrasion on the KeelEazy strip followed that pattern. There’s no doubt that the chips on the ends are because of abrasion. Would they be prevented by changing the position? No doubt it would on the upper end as extending it would put it out of the water. For the forward end, I don’t know. I plan on buying enough to cover the stems on this canoe, so I’ll know in the future.

      I used a single layer as that is what is recommended for sea kayaks. In my understanding, KeelEazy designed the skid plate kit for whitewater canoeing and not flat water canoeing. If, as claimed, a single layer is good enough for sea kayaking, it should be strong enough for flat water canoeing — sea kayaking is much rougher on boats than flat water canoeing.

      So, the question is, are you going to use it for flat water canoeing? If so, use a single layer that’s longer, maybe 3.5 to 4 feet. I think for this application most canoeists would be fine. For whitewater canoeing or kayaking, I’m not convinced it would hold up. I need to test it to be convinced.

  • Hi Bryan,
    Any update on KeelEazy? Have you tried it on your kayaks? I think this would work well on my older canoe, especially since I don’t have the time (or inclination, it seems) to apply a DIY glass skid plate like I have used in the past. It’s been a decade or so and that glass skid plate has worn through so it’s due for some work. I’m also pretty hard on my kayak it seems so the KeelEazy product would probably save some wear and tear there too and be much quicker to do than a glass keel strip.
    Even my kevlar skid plates on the royalex canoe have suffered the most damage at the ends. So, it seems reasonable that a longer strip that takes the edges out of the wear zone would suffer less.
    Cheers,
    Bryan S.

  • Oh, and I agree, if the price were 2/3 of what it is, I wouldn’t even be asking, I’d just go ahead and get it. At the price it is, I’m having to weigh the cost versus the convenience, and if the durability isn’t what I’d expect, then that tips the scales.

  • I just spent a couple of hours trying to install the KeelEazy rub strips on the bow and stern of my kayak. I think I wasted money. I cut the length I purchased in half. One half I ruined because, as you know kayakers are not the swiftest, and it was not clear to me how to separate the back from the strip with the glue being left on the rub strip. I had the glue left on the blue backing, not the rub strip. Their one tip in the skimpy instructions was about putting the strip into the freezer . That tip was helpful but did not save me. Trying to put it on the curve of the bow and stern was not done well by me. They really need to improve their instructions and post photos on a web sit that they could refer you to in the short sheet instructions.

    If one can get the strips applied to the boat without all the air bubbles due to the boats curves I think the Keeleazy would work just fine. Instead I got only one half on and feel it will soon be off. For me, a waste of time and money and highly do not recommend if they do not greatly improve the instructions for unswift boaters like me. Telling me to use the freezer and a hair dryer just was not enough. They need to explain step by step how to apply the rub strip on the curves of the bow and stern.

    Bob Millhoolen

  • I just installed a full length of keel eazy on my boat. Went smoothly, no problems with separating the backing from the adhesive. A bit of wrinkling at the stern corner, just along the edge where there is no adhesive, otherwise all smooth. Biggest difficulty was hitting the skeg box so it was even. Off to one side by a bit, not too bad.

    I chose this method mostly because this is a new boat and at the moment I don’t have the time or space to install a glass keel strip. Cost wise it was about $75.00 Canadian including shipping, and about an hour worth of prep and work, pretty cheap I think for some temporary protection. I say temporary because even a glass keel strip is temporary. I just need to wait and see…depends on how long it lasts. Certainly I am not expecting it to last as long as a glass one but until I have the the resources I think it will be interesting to see how it does. I’ll tray and post some pictures when I get the chance.

    Paul

Comments are closed.