Hypalon vs PVC Raft: What's the Difference?

Hypalon vs PVC Raft: What's the Difference?

AQ Staff
3 minute read

Wondering what the differences are between Hypalon and PVC rafts? They each have their own sets of advantages which we’ll discuss in this short article.

With so many rafts on the market these days it is getting harder and harder to determine which is the right choice for boaters. In this article we address one of the questions we often field in our stores which is ‘What is the difference between Hypalon and PVC rafts?’

As with anything, there are pros and cons to both PVC and Hypalon rafts. Below we have addressed the ones we have deemed as the important ones. For context Tom and I, who have put this article together, have many years of guiding and recreational rafting experience. From Big Water on the Zambezi, to multi day missions in the interior of BC, technical daytrip paddle rafting to big fun family floats. 


PVC Rafts

STAR Outlaw 130

STAR Slice Paddle Cataraft

STAR High Five

STAR Lightning Bug

Shop AQ Outdoors PVC Raft Collection


Hypalon Rafts

NRS Otter 140 

NRS E-160 Raft

Shop AQ Outdoors Hypalon Raft Collection


PVC Raft Advantages

  • Less Expensive
  • Stiffer material
    • Less flex in the boat in the boat in harder whitewater
    • Often have drop stitched floors which is great for standing and casting when angling
  • Easy to repair
    • PVC glue shelf life is longer so you can neglect your repair longer than a hypalon repair kit


Hypalon Raft Advantages

  • More supple material
    • Smaller roll/pack size
    • Generally lighter overall
  • Better UV resistance
  • Longer lasting material
  • Better abrasion resistance
    • Note: We have been told this for many years, and are not 100% sure this is the case. Hypalon is tough, though a well built PVC boat from our experience seems to hold up just as well.
  • Better chemical resistance
  • Typically carry a longer warranty than PVC rafts
  • Unaffected by extreme temperatures (ie. when stored in the cold over winter)


Hypalon vs PVC Raft Summary

Although there are some pretty major differences in the 2 materials, they are both durable and well suited for the rigours of rafting. In full transparency, this is only a shallow dive into the differences in the 2 types of materials.

Some PVC rafts are treated with a Urethane coating which enhances UV resistance. Thinner Hypalon may not be as abrasion resistant as a heavier denier PVC. You can go down a rabbit hole on this; the intent of this particular article is to just give the ‘birds eye’ view of the differences when it comes to recreational whitewater rafting

We hope this short article helps you understand the pros and cons of both PVC and hypalon rafts. 

Our team would love to chat further about these materials or any other raft related questions you have. Check out our contact info below for more details.


Shop AQ Outdoors Raft Collection


Related Raft Articles

How to Size and Customize a Raft Frame

How to Attach a Frame to a Raft

NRS Modular Frame Overview

How to Size a Raft Perimeter Line

How to Size Raft Oars

Centre vs Stern Mount Raft Frame


AQ Outdoors Contact

Edmonton:  (p) 780 463-4892 (e) info@aquabaticsedmonton.com

Calgary:  (p) 403 288-9283  (e)  info@aqoutdoors.com

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