Ellsmere 530

Fujitas, Chinesemade boats, etc.

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Ellsmere 530

Post by dhup »

MomtBell Arfeq Ellsmere 530: Too many names for a fine folding kayak from Japan.

In 2003 I was looking for a single folder that would be efficient, have clearance for my size 15 feet and weigh under 50 pounds. Read a review in Sea Kayaker magazine (06/03) when the Ellsmere 530 was available in the US through REI for $2200 but had to be ordered sight unseen as they did not keep it in stock, at least in the northeast. Since I was going to Tokyo in January it seemed a good opportunity to try the boat on for size and then if by some chance it happened to fit, buy it back home in the States. To my great surprise it fit my 6’3” 180 pound frame as if a tailor had made it for me. My feet were so happy under the deck I couldn’t resist falling in love with it.

Then came the bad news. REI was no longer distributing MontBell kayaks nor was there any other North American outlet, and because of US fiscal mismanagement the dollar is collapsing against other hard currencies, the 280,000 yen (now 294,000 yen) retail price went from about $2150 to $2600. The folks at the MontBell store, fearing they would be responsible for a broken heart if they did not do something radical, came to my rescue with a sweet deal after I demonstrated to them that the optional rudder would not work with the 2004 upgrade of the hull. So I flew home with an additional bag, actually a fine backpack that comes with the kayak that, fully packed, tips the scale at an airline acceptable 24 kilograms. MontBell claims the boat weighs 20 kg. (44 lb.) Maybe the bag does weigh 4 kg.

The 530 in its name refers to its length in centimeters, just under 17 ½ feet, with a beam of 61 cm. or 24 inches. The frame is all aluminum with five full length and two ¾ length shock corded stringers that lock into nylon clips on 7 cross ribs that is almost completely assembled and slipped into the front half of the tough, seam welded, coated polyester hull. The rear deck has a full length zipper which allows the frame to be dropped in and levered into place. Internal sponsons below the gunwales provide additional lateral tension on the hull. When the boat is fully set up there is absolutely no sagging in the middle when one end is lifted off the ground. I can now get the boat together in under half an hour but I haven’t done that often as it usually stays assembled and car topped to most paddling locations. It only gets bagged for the long trips.

The boat is great in the water. The shape is a shallow ‘V’ with a well defined chine and, because of the thin sponsons, slightly rounded sides that produces a sense of stability reminiscent of a Klepper, but I wouldn’t stand up in it as I do in my Aerius II. The boat is fast and handles 2-3 foot waves with aplomb. It rides high in the water and it was only with a turbulent surface produced by a 25 mile an hour wind that a spray skirt was needed to keep the cockpit dry. With the wind and waves from behind it did want to weathercock, but this was countered somewhat by leaning back and more effectively by using the ruder.

Ah, the rudder. The waterproof pass through for the cables is unadjustable and only large enough for a cable and its cover – not any kind of releasable attachment device. If the cable is threaded through and then joined to the snap hook it is not removable so folding the hull would render it useless. More on this if any one is interested.



Re: Latest version re. Ellsmere 530

Post by dhup »

arm173 wrote:I think that installing the latest version might help and do not forget to do its updates.
Are you referring to my Kayak or my computer operating system?

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Location: Kansai, Japan

Post by chrstjrn »

That's the "spoiler" that showed up in another thread. Ignore him-- Mike will probably ban him soon.
Chris T.
Klymit Packraft
In storage in the US:
~'91 Klepper A2 w/ BSD schooner rig
'64 Klepper Passat/Tradewind
'64 Klepper T12
Early '90s Old Town Canoe
'04 Pakboat Puffin II
'05 Swift (prototype)
'84 Hobie 16.


ARFEQ Voyager 460

Post by dkenn »

I see that this is an old post, so maybe there is no one out there, but I just bought my first folding kayak, an ARFEW Voyager 460T, a little shorter with a bigger opening than the Ellsmore.

I've had it out a couple times, and it handles well and rides waves comfortably, but I find myself spending too much time assembling it.

The instructions are poor, all in Japanese (which I am just learning), and I have been looking for a PDF of the documentation in English. Have you ever seen anything from when they were sold threw REI?

Thanks if anyone can help!


Unreadable instructions

Post by dhup »

Hey dken, what do you mean "there is no one out there". Here I am.

I have never seen any assembly instructions in English for the Ellsmere 530 or any other MontBell boat. There was a Zeroxed instruction booklet with a promising cover sheet that announced " Ellsmere 530 Assembly Instructions" but those were the only words in english. Same thing with their "Canoe and Kayak Safety Instructions".

It took me over an hour to set up the kayak the first few times but adding color coded plastic tape to the ribs and rods helps a lot. It is also very important to get the frame lined up perfectly with the hull when inserting it or it will give you lots of grief if you try to adjust it afterwards. My biggest problem is having to undo and redo things when I discover that I screwed up and left something out or trapped the rudder cable between the frame and skin.

I have learned to stop for a few seconds after each part of the assembly and check that everything is right. Adds a minute or two to the total time but is well worth it. It now takes about half an hour to set it up. I car top the boat most of the time so I haven't set it up too often but it definitely gets quicker each time.


Any Pictures?

Post by Christov_Tenn »

Hi Dhup,

Do you have any pictures of your boat you could share in the regular's gallery?




Ellsmere 530 photos

Post by dhup »

Hi Chris,

I've had the Ellsmere for two and a half years and never photographed it. I always seem to be in that boat with the camera so I have great pictures of my other boats with other people in in them. Last week I did a circumnavigation of Manhattan Island with a group and a fellow paddler snapped a shot of me in my boat on the East River. It is not enough to post in the Gallery so I will go out to the barn and take a couple of photos of it hanging from the rafters. If there are some useful images I'll post them. If not, I'll take some photos next weekend when I get out on the Hudson.


PS. Can't see much in the photos when it's hanging in the barn. Too high up and bad light. I will post some pictures this weekend.




Post by Christov_Tenn »

Nice looking boat, kind of literally sharp-looking, and the inside hospital-spotless. What's the S & X Bones thing on the front of the boat?

Have you paddled the urban waterfront up close, and the industrial waste places, crumbling ruins from a lost world? I used to explore and poke around a lot - didn't have a kayak, then. That's what I miss most from San Pedro, Wilmington, Terminal Island, and Long Beach, California. Well, that and one or two old friends.

Thanks for posting the photos,


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