Kayaks made an hour east of Raleigh
by Jessie Ammons
As planning commences for summer trips to the lake or statewide river treks, you might be dusting off the warm-weather watersport supplies. If you’re a casual paddler, a kayak made nearby might be just the one for you: Hurricane kayaks designed and manufactured in Warsaw. Founder Pat Renfro says the super-lightweight model is at its best on calm, still waters like many of those found in North Carolina. “Hurricanes are easier to get to the water, and more fun to paddle once you get there.”
Renfro began making kayaks in the early 1990s when he was looking to diversify his plastic-molding company in Wendell. An outdoorsman himself, he says a buddy living in the mountains tipped him off to the growing popularity of kayaks. Renfro applied a lesser-used production method, thermoforming, which creates boats by forming the shape over a mold instead of inside of one. The result is about 10 pounds lighter than traditionally manufactured kayaks, which makes for easier packing and paddling. Hurricanes also look and feel distinct: “it’s shiny and it’s stiffer, so it doesn’t scuff and mar.” The kind of kayak, in other words, that can handle a stuffed-to-the-gills boathouse and the wear and tear of multiple family members.