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Advice on folding kayak

Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 11:13 am
by rhlogan
Hello and thanks for any help you can offer. Excuse the long post, but I figure the more info. I give the better advice I'll get.

I live in New York City and currently keep my recreational kayak in the racks at the 79th boat basin. My kayak is a Perception, 11 or 12 feet, polyethylene hull, very stable. I have used it mostly on the Hudson around and north of 79th street for two hours or so after work and for longer day trips up further north past the George Washington bridge. I've never gone all the way out into the middle of the river because I don't want to see who's faster - the oil barges or me. I also have rented hardshell touring kayaks further up the Hudson and in the bays along Long Island. Never been in the open ocean or serious white water and probably will never be. Might at some point want to do a 2 or 3 day drip on rivers / lakes.

I consider myself a novice, though pretty comfortable paddling and really enjoy it. I have no interest in serious white water or being in open water conditions that are too rough - though it's fun surfing over the boat wakes and the river chop after a storm.

I am looking to upgrade to a folding kayak for a few reasons:
  • I feel like I'm ready for a somewhat higher performance kayak
    I want something lighter - the 79th street boat basin kayak dock has been out of commission for a while and it's become necessary to carry rather than wheel the heavy Perception through the tight spaces of the marina to get it down to where it can be launched
    I like what I've read about the "feel" of skin on frame kayaks and having tried a non-folding one a couple of times and really liked the way it moved in the water - on a completely impractical note I also like the way they look and I really appreciate an elegantly designed thing
    I would like a folder rather than a non-folding skin on frame because, while the kayak will mostly be stored assembled on the boat basin rack, I would like the option of folding it up and taking it in the car to other cool places to paddle. It's unlikely, but not impossible, that I might want to take the kayak on an airliner
I am 5'8", 150 pounds, reasonably fit, not an athlete.

Looking online it looks like the Feathercraft Kurrent 2.0, the Folbot Kiawah or the Pakboat Quest 135 would be the major candidates. The Trak is interesting but at 60 pounds is not exactly superlight. I looked at an Oru and while it's a very cool concept I didn't like the way the top seam sealed, especially at the front of the cockpit and the materials like buckles and straps and such seemed kind of flimsy.

So I guess the first priorities would be handling, lightness and durability, secondarily ease of assembly (though I'd like not to have to swear too much while going about it) and price (though I don't want to pay more than I need to.) The Feathercraft is obviously the more expensive, but I'm willing to pay a premium if it's a better, more reliable and more satisfying boat.

Thanks very much for any input.

Re: Advice on folding kayak

Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 1:39 pm
by chrstjrn
Welcome to the forum, rh.

All of those boats would be pretty durable.

It sounds like lightness and ease of setup would be priorities, and that would incline you towards the Quest and the Folbot. Pakboats has discontinued the Quests and is selling them off at a discount, so you ought to rush if you want one. I believe the reason for the discontinuation was that the owner of Pakboats feels it wasn't selling well enough, and not due to anything negative about the boat. Pakboats-- the company-- will continue to exist, so there should not be any warranty or support concerns. I would urge you towards the Quest.

Feathercraft are famous for being great on the water, but they are expensive and are notoriously slow to assemble.

Re: Advice on folding kayak

Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:33 pm
by mje
If you're thinking Feathercraft, Randy at New York Kayak Company has some in stock you can test paddle.

You might also look at Folbots like the Cooper, which is stable and will give you a lot more performance.

And with your height and weight, the Long Haul Ute might be a good choice. It's light, and super rugged: ... 2/the-ute/

Some years ago I was looking for a used a wide boat, like a small double, when Randy suggested a used Feathercraft K1 he had in stock. "It's really time for you to upgrade your paddling skills," he told me, and he was right. That K1 made me a much better paddller,, even is short, wide, boats.

Re: Advice on folding kayak

Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:52 pm
by chrstjrn
Good comments from Mike-- particularly the last point-- and good to offer you more options. The Ute would be very easy/straightforward to assemble, and very solid. Weight is close to 50 lbs, compared to approximately 30 for the Quest. But wood is more beautiful than aluminum, IMHO (as if you couldn't tell from my all-wood fleet... I had two pakboats, ten years ago). The Cooper weighs about 40 lbs and might be a happy medium. Folbots are known as some of the quickest-assembling boats, although I have not assembled one myself.

Re: Advice on folding kayak

Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 11:16 pm
by rhlogan
Thanks for the considered advice. At the moment I am leaning toward the Kurrent 2.0 - though obviously it's the most expensive. I saw a review in Adventure Kayak that said the seat placment in the Quest was high enough to affect the center of gravity. The Kiawah or the Cooper seem like good options, though I'm not sure if I really need the speed that the 16 footer would give enough to go with the extra weight. This is going to sound stupid, but I just don't like the way the Folbots look. I'm assuming that any folder is going to be kind of a pain to assemble and wouldn't plan to do so often - leaving it assembled unless I'm going away for a long weekend.

The Longhaul Ute is gorgeous and if I had a place on a lake or the Maine coast I would love to have a boat like that - but for my situation now the weight is more than I'd prefer. Wood and fabric though, is a beautiful thing.

For sure I will go down to Manhattan Kayak and see what they have to say and if they have something to try out. I'd like to be ready to get on the water in spring.

Thanks again - much appreciated.

Re: Advice on folding kayak

Posted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 1:59 pm
by idc
rhlogan wrote:I'm assuming that any folder is going to be kind of a pain to assemble and wouldn't plan to do so often - leaving it assembled unless I'm going away for a long weekend.
Its funny, but of the several folding boats I have the one that I really enjoy putting together and taking apart is the Klepper t9. It can be done in about fifteen or twenty minutes, and I really enjoy the feeling of assembling a well-engineered craft. My least favourite is the Ally Pak canoe. It is a great paddle once assembled, light, manoeuvrable, with a great load carrying capacity, but goodness, putting it together is over an hour of misery, wrestling with aluminium snakes!

(That said, I understand others who regularly assemble the Ally can do it faster.)

Re: Advice on folding kayak

Posted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 2:28 pm
by chrstjrn
The older Kleppers really are nice-- works of art. But not what this person appears to be looking for, I don't think.

For myself, it has been unrealistic to think I will assemble for every time I go paddling. Storing for the winter, or going on a trip-- those are different. But having the boat assembled makes it easyier to just take out on the water. Not how I initially planned it all, but it works.

Re: Advice on folding kayak

Posted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:20 pm
by Jake
I've owned my Kurrent 2.0 for more than a year. It's a simple boat, well designed and made to very high standards. It performs well in the conditions I've encountered and is light enough to make a shoulder carry of considerable distance possible without significant pain. In short it's an elegant little kayak. Because I have difficulty assembling the boat on the ground, I need to find an elevated platform when I put the Kurrent together in the field; a waterfront picnic table or bench usually works well enough. Since I bought the Kurrent 2.0 Feathercraft has introduced the Aironaut, a very interesting inflatable that they claim paddles as well as their Kahuna but weighs a scant 20 pounds and takes about six minutes from stuff sack to the water. If I were to choose between the Kurrent and Aironaut today, I might give favorable consideration to the Aironaut simply because of the weight and assembly time factors. Nevertheless, I'm very pleased with my Kurrent 2.0; it does the things that I want it to do and does them very well.

Re: Advice on folding kayak

Posted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:15 am
by rhlogan
Thanks again for all the input. The first real kayak I saw was a Klepper and I thought it was gorgeous. I would love to have a canvas on wood frame boat like that. But alas I live in a NYC apartment and the place where I keep my kayak really requires something light enough to throw on my shoulder to get it down to the water so a Klepper or Longhaul is going to make it hard to get out on the water.

Jake, I'm glad to hear about your experience with the Kurrent - I'm really leaning in that direction. Part of the decison has to be the intangible feeling that I just like the way the boat feels and looks and the sense that it's an elegant piece of design and engineering. I thought about the Aironaut and as great a solution as it seems to be it just doesn't make me feel like I want it. I figure if I get a really well done folder I can mostly leave it assembled as the regular go to boat and if I feel like I need something really easy to move and put together to throw in the car for a couple hours paddle somewhere I can eventually get a cheaper inflatable like an Innova.

Thanks all. This is a good problem to have. Finding a boat I can love that will stay with me for a long time.

Re: Advice on folding kayak

Posted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:48 am
by gbellware
Just be careful leaving the feathercraft assembled for too long. The aluminum tubes will oxidize and seize. How long? not really sure. I have left my Kahuna assembled for 2 months with no problem, with boeshield of course, but I would consult Feathercraft for best advice.

Let us know how you get along with your new ride.


Re: Advice on folding kayak

Posted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:51 am
by Jake
Feathercraft warns that their boats should not be left assembled for more than three months without a complete take down, fresh water wash and an application of Boeshield on all frame joints. Personally, if the boat is used in salt water, I'd disassemble it more often.

Re: Advice on folding kayak

Posted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 11:12 am
by Jake

I see that you live in NYC. I'm located on the Jersey coast about a two hour train ride south of the city. I'll be back from Florida by mid April and, if you're interested, perhaps we could get together for a couple hours of local paddling. That should be enough for you to get a proper feel for the Kurrent. I'll paddle my new GPX (I've come to really enjoy well designed, short, lightweight paddle craft).

A digression: A couple of days ago, I was paddling some local water near Anna Maria Island here in Florida when I came upon a couple of burly young guys paddling 12 foot SOTs. One challenged the other to a race and away they went using just their arm muscles to swing the large, heavy plastic paddles. As I was going in their direction, I stepped up my stroke rate and quietly glided past the two thrashing paddlers in their churning plastic barges. They stared at me but made no comment. Good design and technique can, on occasion, trump youth and raw muscle. Not often but sometimes.

Re: Advice on folding kayak

Posted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:48 pm
by mje
One other benefit of assembling your boat every time you use it- you get much faster at it ;-) The first time I did my K1 it took 45 minutes, but I eventually got it down to an enjoyable 15-20.

Re: Advice on folding kayak

Posted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:18 pm
by Jake
You're right about that, Mike! That's probably why it takes me about 40 minutes to assemble the Kurrent, Feathercraft's most simple design. I should practice until it feels like fun:D Still can't scrabble around on the ground, though :(

Re: Advice on folding kayak

Posted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:53 pm
by berniem
Thanks for the advice about disassembling. I left my Cooper assembled for the past several months because I can attach it to a bike trailer and pedal to the river. But I had better take it apart and clean it up.