Which foldable / inflatable kayak to buy?

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Which foldable / inflatable kayak to buy?

Post by cowisdom19 »

Hi everyone,

Newbie here looking for advice. I live in the SF Bay Area and would like to start paddling in the bay, hence looking to purchase my first kayak. I have some paddling experience from the past, but am essentially a beginner.

I'm looking to purchase a kayak that I can ideally disassemble and store after every outing, as I unfortunately don't have the space to store a hard shell kayak. I've read through all the information I could find here, on paddling.com, read all reviews I could get my hands on online, but am still unsure what I should buy. These are the products I'm most seriously considering:

Oru Bay ST
Pros: Foldable and packs nicely, assembly seems reasonably easy and short (10-15m), not inflatable so no need for extensive drying, looks good, tracks reasonably well based on online reviews
Cons: Reported durability issues, fragile plastic components often breaking based on user reviews, anecdotally horrible customer service that fails to deliver replacement parts for months, pretty high price (~$1,800 new tax and delivery included)

Pakboats Quest 150
Pros: High-quality parts and assembly, historically amazing customer services (unclear how the recent company sale will affect this going forward), good performance based on online reviews
Cons: Hard to buy (no dealers / retail options, have to order directly from the company, small operation), uncertainty about company future (recent sale to new owners), long and difficulty assembly process (20m+ based on videos/reviews I've seen), high price (~$1,600 new tax and delivery included)

Advanced Elements Expedition
Pros: Low price (~$800 new tax included), theoretically easier assembly (~5-10m if everything goes well), company doing well and has good customer service (plus they are local to the Bay Area)
Cons: Performance issues (many reviews suggest it is difficult to assemble/inflate the kayak just right so that it tracks straight, the fin tends to bend/get out of shape frequently), Storage / disassembly issues (many reviews suggest people have to inflate the kayak again when they get home and leave it outside for a few days so that it properly dries off -- this significantly decreases the convenience of the product)

Klepper Aerius Single -- Scout / Classic / Expedition
Pros: Legendary company with great quality products historically (though the recent shift in production to Poland has supposedly had an effect)
Cons: Very high price (~$4,000-5,000 new), difficult/long assembly process (seems even more difficult than a Pakboat)

Other considerations: Neris Kayak, Itiwit X500, etc

I'm currently leaning toward getting a Quest 150. Do you think I'm making the right choice. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

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Re: Which foldable / inflatable kayak to buy?

Post by mje »

You get what you pay for. The Oru is interesting, but the one-year warranty suggests that this isn’t a boat you’re going to pass on to your heirs. It’s not really repairable. Inflatables have a high freeboard relative to other boats and aren’t as suitable for windy areas.

There are several boats you’ve left out. The Long Haul Mark 1 and Ute will last a lifetime. The Ute goes together faster than any other skin-on-frame boat I’ve tried, and the Mark 1, like the Aerius I, can be assembled in well under 15 minutes with practice. Nautiraid boats are the cheapest of the wood-framed boats but are very seaworthy. I had a Raid 1 for a while, and it’s a very lively boat. Used Kleppers are in good supply and can be repaired and restored by Long Haul.
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Re: Which foldable / inflatable kayak to buy?

Post by JohnSand »

I wasn't really in a position to buy new, and it took some searching to find a good used Folbot at a price I would pay. Oh yeah, I did buy two. But combined they cost less than any new boat. Good luck, keep us posted.

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Re: Which foldable / inflatable kayak to buy?

Post by Jake »

If weight is not a major consideration I’d lean toward the Long Haul Ute. The boat weighs about 50# but packs into two bags. As Michael notes it is the easiest and quickest folder to assemble, something you’ll want to consider if you must assemble/disassemble every time you go off for a day’s paddling.

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Re: Which foldable / inflatable kayak to buy?

Post by lkampf »

Another question is what part of the bay? I paddled my Kiawah almost daily in Richardson bay from my Sausalito studio and I'd do the same in the East bay, but the bay proper is no joke to navigate with the wind and currents there. It's not unusual for hapless kayakers to get flushed out under the bridge in ebb tide and not be able to get back. An oru or many inflatables would be a little light duty imho for the bay proper. I suggest self rescue gear and skills, a wetsuit and some good fitness in addition to a more substantial folder for that. To me experience, planning and fitness is as important as the boat for that area.

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