I have canoes with wood, vinyl, aluminum and carbon gunnels.
The wood is beautiful but requires yearly maintenance, the carbon is very delicate but is the lightest.
The aluminum and the vinyl can both take a beating and both are tough.
I find that on sliding them on the roof racks, they both go on easy but the vinyl is more slippery. Some times the vinyl ones slip around too much until I get them between the gunnel brackets, and if the vehicle is parked on an angle I definately prefer the aluminum.
I picked aluminum for our old seventeen foot Jensen kevlar canoe primarily for it's lightness and toughness since we bought the canoe for racing stock.
If I were buying a new canoe and the choice was either aluminum or vinyl, I would pick aluminum.
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