Technically, a skin boat is nothing but a frame with a covering. Earlier made from animal skins, skin boats were simple and easy to make. However, the modern skin boats are made from aluminum tubing instead of wood or skeletons. Also, instead of animal skins, modern skin boats have canvas or other synthetic material to cover the framework. At some places fibers such as nylon or polyester are also used to form a cover.
Nylon is an excellent material for covering a boats framework as it has high elasticity and water resistance qualities. However, nylon is affected by the ultraviolet rays from the sun and it also loosens up because of atmospheric moisture.
Polyester is another good option for covering boat frames, but it is less used because of its lack of elasticity. However, it has a good resistance against UV rays and is not affected by atmospheric moisture.
As far as frame covering is concerned, canvas is supposed to be the best option as it is cheaper and has all the qualities needed for a boat cover. Canvas can also be easily coated with normal paint to give it extra shielding. Canvas shrinks with moisture; however it is considered a good trait as it holds the covering tight at one place.
Also, in the ancient days, animal fats were used as a covering to provide water resistance qualities to the boat. However, the fats used to get dried up or rot in few weeks. In the modern skin boats, the boat’s cover is coated with waterproof material such as urethane rubber or other chemicals.
Thus, skin boats are both helpful and easy to make boats, which have also been an inspiration for many boats that we see today. The shape of a skin boat is flexible and depends on the shape of the frame. However, as skin boat is considered light and unstable it is not suitable for sea water.