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I think Jackson Kayaks are the only ones using cross-link plastic. The cross-linking of the molecules makes the plastic stronger. However, working with the plastic is difficult and toxic, so you need special gear. Jackson Kayaks outsources the plastic molding, so they don't have to deal with it. I think most other kayak companies make the boats in-house.

I've seen a one year old used Fun and it had almost no scratches on it, supposedly because of the strong plastic.

Is this stuff for real? Is cross-link plastic significantly stronger?
 

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Cross Link is tough as nails

I just picked up my buddies old Stubby from him to do some retro-fitting on it. I was reminded of how tough the old cross link is / was when we were reminiscing of the time it fell off the roof of the truck in Montana and got run over by the horse trailer we were towing. It also has seen about every creek in the state, is 9 years old, and still is in better shape than my 3 year old EZ.

Stuff's the goods!
 

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Crosslink is no joke, it rules. People will say "Oh but you can't weld crosslink!" but give me a break -- how many people do you see paddling a welded superlinear boat? I've seen two in about as many decades. I will be surprised if Jackson keeps crosslink around for too long. No one else seemed to be able to make enough profit using crosslink, Wavesport, Riot, Dagger, etc. Maybe by outsourcing the molding they have found a way around that?

Having said that, I once had a crosslink Z and it was seemingly indestructible. I have two days in my new EZG and it looks about ten times more scratched than my buddy's new AllStar, which has about 15 days in it. All park-n-play. Crosslink is great stuff, but it won't make the decision for me. I think it's still best to use the boat that paddles best for me, regardless of plastic. I've beat the crap outta crosslink boats and never had one break after hundreds of days on the water, boofing, splatting and rock-spinning every stone in the river. So, crosslink is great, but I recommend choosing a boat on performance foremost.
 

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i respectfully disagree with the post right above this......i have no idea about types of plastic but i do know that my two riot boats (booster 60 and turbo 52) both had considerably more damage after "park and play" sessions then did my LL boats (airhead, gus) with considerably more useage and they appear to be completely different plastics not to mention that my booster exploded......I will buy a boat that has the goods when it comes to plastic and if someone could explain a little better as to why this stuff is better i would consider it as a factor in my next purchase....and who uses what? what actual tests have been done to determine durability other then jackasses like myself with only personal experience?

-aaron
 

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So here's a question...

So here's a question. Jackson has crosslink and made to be lighter weight so Im interested but can anyone that has actually creeked in one of them please give some feedback on their performance? The rocker looks like the java and the heros look like a Y/Gus bred together. Im curious because they dont seem to have the innovative looks like the other "new" creekboats.
 

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Sorry no offense to the guy with the booster, but wasn't that like your third day in a boat? Gore race - 2003? right. . not good idea no matter how much of a quick learner you are. . . any boat would have suffered a similar doom. I'd still be pissed at my friends for taking me in there.
Did they ever hook you up with beers or anything? Buy you a new Kayak maybe?
Kent
 

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It was the Blue one, right? I think we all saw that one coming.
 

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It was the Blue one, right? I think we all saw that one coming.
 

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ok be nice.....yes the rumors are true. :oops: but to my own defense, it shouldn't have come out looking like that, riot didnt believe the pics, they thought it had been hit by an eighteen wheeler going 80. and my point in the post was that the boats (yes I bought another one, in fact three, cant get enough) had shown considerable wear after only a few sessions and that I really like the way my LL boats have held up and finally that I wish someone could better explain the whole plastic vs. plastic thing to me because it is a factor. I threw the booster comment in as a side note. and yeah I think certain people own me beer but its been made up with bowls and last year I styled it (thanks to the people who know who they are) one of my most proud moments in life. nothing like working hard and over coming something that scared the sh!T out of you.
-aaron
 

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Russel,

Let me preface this with the fact that I work for Jackson Kayak, but just want to comment on your questions about Crosslink and creeking

I just got back from an 11 day cali trip with my prototype Rockers and they are amazingly nice to paddle. The plasitc is very burly and although we did some creeks with very sharp rocks the boats look great for what they went through. They definitely have scars as do all boats, but crosslink in my "uneducated in the science of platics" opinion... is that the hype is all true.

My last years 4fun was used a TON and looked pretty damn good when I sold it last week.

Crosslink is gnarly to work with (toxic and requires special treatments) and not cheap either, but EJ believes firmly in using it and we have multiple molders that we work with to deliver the hulls to us. I don't think you will see a change in that policy until something better comes along.

Just to plug the Rocker... as someone commented in this post, it is different then the current style of several other manufacturers out there. And in my humble and biased opinion you won't believe the predictability, stability, speed and comfort from that boat. I am soo fricken pumped it turned out so well... Try every creeker out there. There are some great boats coming out right now and many of them are going to make your experience on the river/creeks much more enjoyable.

Have FUN

Crawdad
 

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The difference between cross-linked and linear plastics is somewhat similar to the difference between diamond and graphite. They both are composed of the same atoms (carbon). However, all of the carbon atoms in diamonds are bonded together. Only some of the carbon atoms in graphite are bonded together, otherwise "weak" electrical forces keep carbon intact. Graphite can be oriented to be very strong, but it is not nearly as strong as diamonds.
The difference is not as dramatic in plastics, but it is similar.
Cross-linked plastics are definitely stronger and will be less likely to bend or scratch, but they will be more difficult to fix if broken.
Cross linked plastics in creek boats is probably a good thing, but it is probably unnecessary in playboats since they don't see the same amounts of abuse and people tend to pass the playboats on quicker.
 

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About Crosslink:

And let me preface this by saying that I have not personally researched this issue in depth, nor do I know that my claims are factual. I'm ranting about assumptions I've made based on what others who know about kayak production have told me. However:

I have heard that crosslinked plastic creates a highly toxic by-product. To put it bluntly, making crosslink boats is probably the most environmentally harmfull way of producing kayaks. Sure who cares, right?? We should care! If you dont want to get cancer, this affects you. If you dont want even more toxics leeching into the rivers you paddle and the water you drink, you should care.

Kayakers are one of the few demographics who have a general agreement that we are at a critical point where environmental protection is a serious issue, not just for the sake of squirrels and nice views but to ensure economic vitality, national security and human/ecological health. YES, the two are tied.... who woulda thought?

To get back on point, whitewater is one industry that should not tolerate companies that are excessively damaging to the environment (ie: all of us). I would much rather have a few more scratches in my boat than know its a toxic piece thats probably leeching toxics into the river I'm paddling, as well as onto my skin and in to my blood (yes I know, assumption). We all put up with so many toxic and environmentally harfull products in our daily lives that when we escape all that and go out on the river we shouldnt have to accept that the boat we are paddling was produced with the most toxic plastic (the byproduct) available.



ps- Jackson et all. - I hope this doesn't sound like a bash... If I'm wrong let me know. You designs and paddling accomplishments over the years speak volumes. If I'm right I hope you will get a clue about whats going on in the world and do something about this. The time of the individualistic destruction of 'the commons' for personal gain must come to an end if we are to avert disaster....
 

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A few more things about cross-linking -

Let me prefice by saying I was composites engineer, but I have never worked in the kayak industry.

There are two types of plastic (polymer) materials used in boats: non crosslinked (thermoplastic) and crosslinked (thermoset). The easisest way to differentiate between the two is noncrosslinked (thermoplastic) polymers can be remelted after solidification and crosslinked (thermoset) polymers cannot be remelted after solidification. This is an issue when it comes to recycling - the only way to recycle thermoset polymers is to chop them up and use them as fill in another product, whereas thermoplastic polymers can be melted down and reused. Patagoina recycling soda bottles for their flece products uses thermoplastic polymer materials. Epoxy is a type of thermoset polymer.

Both types of materials go through a polymerization reaction that can have byproduts, some good and some bad. I'm not familiar with the type of material used in Jackson Kayaks (Craw?), but there are crosslinked (thermoset) materials that give off WATER as the reaction byproduct. In fact, most of the toxic materials come into play during processing of the material - solvents, mold releases, etc... which are used regardless of the type of polymeric material (read - processing of both crosslinked and non-crosslinked polymers can use toxic materials).

The great thing about crosslinked plastic is once the reaction has occured, the material is HIGHLY STABLE. Meaning it will not react, and CROSSLINKED BOATS WILL NOT LEACH TOXIC MATERIALS INTO THE WATER. This is not to say that crosslinked materials are completly environmentally friendly, but noncrosslinked materials are just as bad when it comes to processing. The main environmental issue is you cannot recycle crosslinked materials (at least not very easily), whereas you can recycle noncrosslinked materials.

I've never worked in the kayak industry, but I can say with 99% certainty that every piece of composite gear has crosslinked polymer materials in it. Your composit helmet - probably a fiber reinforced epoxy polymer construction. Composite paddle, again a fiber reinfoeced epoxy polymer construction. So its not just boats that use crosslinked polymers.

Hope this helps...

Erik
 

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Kayak plastics 101 for the armchair geek.

First off, all kayaks use the same basic polymer material: Polyethylene (PE). PE is about as simple and generic as plastic molecules get. I think it's the most widely used plastic in the world. The difference from one PE to the next is in the length of the molecular chains. PE with short chains is like paraffin wax. Prijon and Eskimo are able to use PE with longer molecular chains than anybody else, because they blow-mold their kayaks rather than rotomold. When you hear terms like Metalocene (Pirrahna?), they're talking about a catalyst that helps to control molecular weight (chain length).

Crosslinking is something that's done to the PE after you've got the right form (i.e. boat hull). You knock electrons out of the hydrogen atoms along the chain, forming free radicals that link up with other free radicals on other nearby chains. Like the rungs between the two sides of a ladder, only in a billion places between multiple chains throughout the boat. This is usually done with gamma radiation, but I think the boat makers use a chemical process. After crosslinking, there's no recycling or re-shaping the plastic--ever.

Crosslinked PE (PEX) is definitely tougher (impact) and harder (wear) than standard PE. It's not indestructible--I've personally broke two crosslinked Wavesport boats. It degrades over time more than standard PE (over time => like 5 yrs), because of damage to the PE molecules from the crosslinking process (unlinked free radicals). It's also less environmentally friendly due to the crosslinking process and the non-recyclability.

So, like everything else in life, there are tradeoffs...and any of these processes can be done wrong and produce a bad batch of boats.
 

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Yeah but if I buy a crosslink kayak that lasts 15 years won't this extra durability allow me to stop buying a new linear creeker every year? My wife has creeked in a crosslink Stubby for six years. Had she been using a micro 230 she would've had to buy six micros. I'm using Pyrahna as a random example. Regardless of their makeup, six boats is a lot of plastic and is likely more harmful than ONE crosslink boat (?). That said, I agree with you and am playing devil's advocate, because most people upgrade every other year (myself included) regardless of their boat's shape. So until KAYAKERS change their ways, and realize we don't need the latest and greatest, don't blame the companies for spewing forth toxins because we allow and encourage them to do this.

If every kayaker placed the environment foremost in their decisions we would be plying the interenet in search of used Phats, making custom kayak trailers out of used Radio Flyer Wagons, and towing them up to rivers on used bikes.

Plastic is plastic--are we supposed to wait for some company from Boulder to make a creeker out of hemp? IMO the best way kayakers can make a difference right now is to carpool to the river. This means pitching a tent or sleeping on the ground every third or fourth weekend rather than in your pimped out boater rig.

Great topic BTW.
 

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Hey, I'm not blaming any "evil kayak companies" for making Fine New Toys for us, just trying to shed some light on the topic.
 

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Roy and 22West, you guys RULE!

I love it when someone actually gives some plain old information up on this board.

Just a reminder, there's a lot of ways to recycle. I have seen old kayaks used as mailboxes (Poudre Park), as cartop carriers instead of rocket boxes, and as wall-hanging story pieces (i.e. - yep, no-shit-there-I-was, I ran the NF in that boat [some 12' thing] back in 1980-whatever, then everyone got laid).

So, what's the best plastic for kayaking abuse? Linked-PE or the HTP stuff that Prijons and Eskimos are made out of?

And for historians, which group of old WS boats were made from Linked-PE? I have a friend who's had a Z forever, is that because it was Linked-PE?
 

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I've paddled the rocker (for 11 days in Cali). I will preface this post with the fact that I have paddled the Salto for 2 years, the M3 (1 year), the gus, the Huck, creeker 225, embudo, gradient, Nomad, and probably a few I've forgotten. This is no exaggeration......If I could take all the great qualities of those boats and put them in a single boat it would be the Rocker. This boat is extremely predictable, very stable (primary and secondary), tracks when needed, responds perfectly to quick direction changes punches holes, catches any eddy, BOOFS precisely, and is sooooo comfy (the ONLY boat that doesn't numb my legs). The construction is super simple but VERY Durable. This boat should be demoed before you make any creek boat purchase. We ran everything from Giant Gap at 1500 cfs to Pauley at 150 cfs, Waterfalls steep mank, highly technical moves to outright BIg water 3000 cfs (Cal salmon) . Try out this boat. My order is in

One last thing. I break a ton of stuff. One Salto two M3s and one s6. Countless back bands a few bulk heads and The ROCKER seems VERY Tough in comparison.
 
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