lightweight canoes

What is Blue Steel?


his proprietary composite material was first introduced in 2002, and yes, inspiration for its name did come from the movie Zoolander. After all it makes a ridiculously good looking canoe. In the past couple of years we’ve seen Blue Steel surge in popularity. It’s not hard to see why: for folks looking at a top-of-the-line canoe Blue Steel offers the best strength-to-weight ratio. With increased interest surrounding our Blue Steel materials we’re addressing some of the frequently asked questions we’re fielding here at HQ.

What is Blue Steel?

Blue Steel is a proprietary composite material consisting of fabric woven from aramid fibres and carbon fibres. The Blue Steel fabric is 50/5o aramid/carbon. We also incorporate strips of basalt and innegra woven fabric in key strategic areas. The result is a canoe that is lightweight and rigid, ideal for efficient flatwater performance and trips that require frequent portaging.

How much does Blue Steel weigh? 

This depends on the model you’re ordering. For our most popular canoe model, the Prospector 16, expect around 48 lbs. You can view our full spec chart here to compare the weights of various models and materials. Keep in mind that the weights we list on our website and in our spec chart are based on production averages – actual weights can vary from the published average.

Does Blue Steel have a gelcoat?

Yes. All of Nova Craft Canoe’s composite products are gelcoated. We use marine gelcoat which acts as a water barrier in order to prevent the material underlying it from absorbing water as you use your canoe. Gelcoat is a coating with UV inhibitor which will protect the underlying material from UV degradation as well as abrasion. Blue Steel comes standard with a clear (untinted) gelcoat which means that the underlying aramid/carbon fabric is visible through it.

What does that look like? 

The best description is that Blue Steel looks like a pair of dark wash denim jeans. The aramid fibres in the Blue Steel fabric are dyed blue, and the carbon fibres are naturally dark grey. Up close, you will be able to distinguish these two colours in the weave pattern, but from a distance it will look similar to a navy blue.

I want a different colour. Is it possible?

Sure! You can special order a Blue Steel canoe from us in any colour you like, but there is a catch: believe it or not, tinted gelcoats weigh more than clear gelcoats. And, we need to use more of the tinted stuff to achieve opacity. If you decide you want a Blue Steel canoe with a coloured exterior you can expect your canoe to weigh between 3 and 5 lbs more than the standard clear option. If you also want the interior tinted, that will add a few pounds too. We offer 8 colours for the exterior gelcoat: red, green, yellow, blue, oxblood, olive, sand and desert white. If these don’t suit you we also offer the opportunity to order a custom colour. This is an extra charge and will add to the build time for your order. Tinted interior gelcoat is always sand.

Is Blue Steel suitable for whitewater? 

We don’t recommend using Blue Steel in whitewater. This material is ideal for flatwater and river trips that don’t exceed CII. Hulls made from carbon fibre are meant to be rigid and stiff, which are not typically characteristics one looks for in an impact-resistant whitewater canoe. If you want to paddle whitewater, take a look at our SP3 and TuffStuff Expedition materials instead.

What is included in the standard trim package of a Blue Steel canoe? What upgrades are available? 

The standard trim package of a Blue Steel canoe includes our slim profile anodized Aluminum Lite gunwale system, bootlace ash seats, and a deep dish yoke (on tandem models). If you have placed a special order through your dealer you may choose to add upgrades to the standard trim package. The most common upgrade options are skid plates and white ash gunwales. Keep in mind that upgrades and add-ons will add to the price and weight of your canoe.