Submitted: 07-21-2011 by Emotion Kayaks
I'm sorry to hear that your experience has been so rocky getting to the water. Our goal at Emotion was to make kayaking more approachable to all users, budgets and ages. However, that is not done at the cost of quality and I hope to help you believe what a commitment we make to our customers 24 hrs a day. We are still a family run company and we care about every family that uses our products to play outdoors.
Emotion kayaks is proud of the numerous awards and achievements of both our roto-molded product and our blow-molded product. As with any material and production method, there will always be trade-offs in benefits. I think that you make a good point that a lot of the confusion resides with same model names to two processes and this has been brought into our planning for 2012. We have also had customers that prefer the blow-molded glide because of the slightly different seat. In the end, we don't want people to be confused and will make adjustments going into 2012.
We feel that we should weigh in on some of the assertions that you have picked up in your interactions with staff and with the Glides you purchased.
The advent of blow-molding in kayaks has been around for some time and some of the burliest expeditions to the arctic and tropics have been done in blow-molded touring boats from another manufacturer. Emotion has been one of the firsts to create a line of recreational kayaks using this process while we continue to roto-mold for more color options (one of the reasons why independent retailers continue to get roto-molded glides). The plastic that is used in blow-molding is called HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) and it actually carries many traits that make for very strong and long lasting boats. Roto-molded plastic uses LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene) Take a peek at this chart:
|Tensile Strength(psi)|| 4,500||1,700|
|Flexural Strength(psi) ||5,800||1,400|
|Flexural Modulus(psi) ||120,000||22,000|
Blow-molded boats are actually quite strong! The blow-mold equipment and mold is much more expensive than roto-molding but the efficiency is in the very low blemish rate, running efficiency and longevity of the mold. We feel that these manufacturing efficiencies should be passed right on to the customer. But, to say that blow-molded HDPE is of lower quality than roto-molded LDPE is not correct. They do have a different "look" and "feel" and subjectively we know everyone has their favorite but the lower priced boats from Emotion are not lower quality. In fact, our Spitfire has features like the "no hole" pad eyes that hold the bungee cords in the tank well and seat back assembly. Blow-molding makes it possible to actually cool the plastic around the screws that hold the pad eyes in place making for a stronger and more water tight fitting than conventional rivets. Innovation can come in affordable packages!
The issue with the glides warping (according to an REI staff member) might have more to do with logistics and the larger qty of Glides that go to the REI via our Factory/REI Distribution Center/Warehouse at REI DC/Shipped to Store (a lot of travel). We have been investigating this but also know that we ship a lot of Blow Molded Glides and do not have shipping warpage in every instance. Especially when qtys are smaller.
Like any issue, there are a lot of factors at play. Here is just one example:
The numbers that you see in the chart above might promote the argument that a blow-molded Glide might have more elasticity than a roto-molded glide. There are strength benefits to that but if in the heat of the summer with a lot of boats shipped in a closed container there may be a larger chance of deformation from these traits. Small boats like the glide are a bit too long to be shipped vertically but small enough that a lot of boats can fit per shipping container. There have been manufacturers in years past that ship their kayaks in air controlled containers but we have found that a little sunshine and time to "breathe" does bring any dent back to shape. Often times, independent retailers have a bit more time to let boats recover from a long trip. If you go down to the local shop and speak with the owner I think they would tell you that even "pancaked" kayaks will come back to shape after a 1/2 hour in a lot of sun. This "elasticity" is what makes Poly boats so tough when they knock into a rock. It is always a trade-off to balance a paddler's need for a light weight craft and their need for rigid stiffness in high heat. Poly is tough when bumped, bounced and impacted but the trade-off compared to composite boats is that 130 degree surface temperature can cause heat distortion. If you put pressure into that equation the forming temperature decreases dramatically (on your rack with strap pressure or bow and stern lines).
If a dent that mostly reshaped is still noticeable, a little boiling water and pressure safely applied to the remaining dent does the trick. It should also be mentioned that a dark boat is going to heat up more in the sun than a lighter colored boat so the blue Glide may be more prone to heat distortion than an orange or yellow boat. Heat distortion is a common occurrence in the lifespan of any poly boat. Even our friends at Hobie have made a video that admits that poly boats sometimes have to be "coaxed" back to shape http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpuIJzMotDg.
In 2010, the Roto-molded glides were sold out beginning in early summer. For 2011, Emotion invested heavily in a new blow-mold to greatly add to the production of the glide "model". We replicated the blow-molded glide features as close as we possibly could so that two exact same hulls did not need different names but your review brings up a valid argument that this might cause confusion in the market place. The price savings are not because it is a "cheaper product" but because it is a more efficiently manufactured product. However, both of our Glides are suggested to sell at the same price--$349. The costs of blow-mold development and the blow-molded glide was everything but "cheap"! We will continue to offer a roto-molded version so that we can make all the fun colors our customers love but we also know that a lot of folks wouldn't have Glides if we didn't also blow-mold versions in select colors. You might not feel this way but we have had a lot of customers who sought after the features in the blue glide you purchased compared to the roto-molded glide. Everyone is a little different in the features they value. That is why autos have so many versions within model. The dealer network would not let us retire all those fun other colors we make but perhaps a more clarified sub-model name is the way to go.
I'm sending you a care package for your input if you would email us with your contact information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
President, Emotion Kayaks