trak 2.0 newbie questions & alternatives?

A place to answer questions from newcomers.

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notarobot
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trak 2.0 newbie questions & alternatives?

Post by notarobot »

hi
i apologise if there is a better place to post this, new to this forum.

& also fairly new to paddling, for context:
i am located in hamburg, germany, and have paddled here & there for many years. but i only really started this seriously last year. i bought an old hardshell (which i love), joined a local kayaking club, and am spending a lot of time on the water. i am very much a beginner.
hamburg is a major port, and most paddling here is on the elbe-river with plenty of traffic in the summer, so conditions can get a bit choppy.
i dont own a car, and have no plans to change that, but i do know i will want to explore other paddling locations by train or plane, ideally touring with a tent for multiple days, so i am interested in a folding boat. long term (years from now) i will want to kayak in the open sea too, so i am looking for a folding boat that can meet such conditions.

research into folding boats quickly brought me to the trak 2.0 website - and it looks like a fantastic boat, versatile & portable (& pretty). but being relatively new to kayaks, i realise i may be falling victim to traks marketing , so there are a couple questions regarding this boat i hope someone could clarify for me:

1. there is no rudder or skeg on the boat, instead weathercocking can be adjusted for using the hydraulic jacks to change the lateral hull shape. is this really a practical solution (and "just as good as using a skeg" as trak claims)? to me it sounds a bit finicky to get right. is this really a boat one would comfortably take out to sea?

2. how vulnerable are the hydraulic jacks? i often get a bit of mud in my boat here, so i would worry about their health. i dont know a lot about hydraulic jacks, but sand & mud can't be good for them? is it possible to service them while on tour or generally?

another boat that has been suggested to me is a nortik navigator (or argo). not as quick to set up, no hydraulic elements to change to hull shape, also slightly cheaper. any other boats you would recommend over the trak 2.0?

thanks in advance!

JohnSand
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Re: trak 2.0 newbie questions & alternatives?

Post by JohnSand »

Hello, welcome aboard! I haven't used a Trak, only Folbots, so I can't answer your questions. This forum can be a little sleepy, but someone will come along with a useful reply. You might browse the Trak section of this forum. There may be reviews on REI or Paddling.com.
Good luck, keep us posted.

youngpnw
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Re: trak 2.0 newbie questions & alternatives?

Post by youngpnw »

Hey there,

I recently acquired a used Trak 2.0, but I haven't gone on any long multi-day tours out on sea yet. I'm very much a beginner as well. I haven't had any issues with the jack. There's an owners group on Facebook and people post problems/solutions there. No one has reported any issues the past year or so.

The stability takes a bit to get used to as the cockpit area is fairly narrow, but once you get used to it, it's great. I can lean pretty far over on the edge while turning and not reach the point of no return.

I've kayaking with roughly 5-10mph winds? No issues with tracking.

The main issue with Trak will be getting your kayak more than anything else. Especially during the era of corona. Their factories are still shut down and the estimate is 2021, but I would hazard to guess late 2021 at this rate. So if you're willing to wait, it's a solid kayak. If you can find a good used one, that's what I would do.


I was looking for a folder for roughly a year before choosing Trak. Here's what else I considered:
- Pakboat Quest 150 <- you should be able to get this in Germany from the same folks who sell the Nortik folders
- Neris Smart Pro S
- Nortik Argo
- Oru (definitely not for multi day sea touring)
- Used feathercraft
- Used folboat
- Wooden folders

notarobot
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Re: trak 2.0 newbie questions & alternatives?

Post by notarobot »

many thanks for the welcome @johnsands & the thorough reply @youngpnw. id probably pick up a used trak in a heartbeat, congratulations on finding one!
yes availability is an issue, i am not in a rush to buy a boat, but the sooner i can come to a decision the earlier i can get in line. some resellers here are claiming they should be able to secure some boats within the next months, but who knows whether this is really the case.
thanks for the list of boats you were also looking at, thats helpful. any particular reason that made you decide against the nortik?

Jazznow
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Location: Luenen - NRW - Germany

Re: trak 2.0 newbie questions & alternatives?

Post by Jazznow »

Hi,
Im from Germany too and recently started looking into folding kayaks. We have some great manufacturers here, and u can get used boats often on eBay Kleinanzeigen (look for pouch or klepper). some crazy dude even crossed the atlantic in a klepper.
You could look for boats from French manufacturer nautiraid too. They are reasonably priced, available with Aluminium frame or wood. Qualtity is said to be good. I ordered a narak cross 405 on Saturday. One of the longer naraks could fit your needs for paddling the ocean.

Jake
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Re: trak 2.0 newbie questions & alternatives?

Post by Jake »

A few years ago I spent an afternoon paddling one of the early Trak kayaks. Nice boat, paddled a lot like the Caribou hardshell I owned at the time. I didn’t try using the three hydraulic jacks to alter the shape of the boat, thought the concept a bit quirky. As it happened, two of the jacks on this particular Trak failed later on and it took some time to get replacements. I think that the Trak 2.0 is lighter and may have better mechanicals. It’s a very simple, even elegant boat and I like that the tensioning system does away with the need for sponsons. Expensive but might be just the right boat for those who are willing to spend $3,600.

notarobot
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Re: trak 2.0 newbie questions & alternatives?

Post by notarobot »

Jake wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 11:29 am
I didn’t try using the three hydraulic jacks to alter the shape of the boat, thought the concept a bit quirky. As it happened, two of the jacks on this particular Trak failed later on and it took some time to get replacements. I think that the Trak 2.0 is lighter and may have better mechanicals.
ah. yes. id love to hear if anyone is actually using the jacks to change the lateral hull shape. i dont mind getting used to a quirky system as long as it is practical and reliable. my hardshell does have a rudder, i dont use it 90% of the time - but when the occassional gust picks up it is very useful to have.
not good to hear about the broken jacks. :(
i also don't like the idea of being dependent on customer service on the other side of the atlantic.

thanks also for suggesting nautiraid @jazznow, i had not come across them yet & will take a look.
does anyone have experience with the nortik navigator or argo? much easier to obtain here..

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KerryOnKayaks
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Re: trak 2.0 newbie questions & alternatives?

Post by KerryOnKayaks »

You might want to peruse the discussions at the paddling.com forums about Trak's extreme difficulties in manufacturing and shipping their boats. There are many frustrated people who paid in full for them months and even over a year in advance and who still cannot get confirmed delivery on the boats. I have never been in one but ran into one of their "pilot" field rep/guides at my local lake two summers ago and was very impressed with the quality and design of the two he had with him and his client. It's definitely an object of desire but I would be hesitant to own something that complicated made by a company that has so far demonstrated an inability to serve their customers. I already own a beloved Feathercraft that is essentially an orphan if anything ever goes wrong with it since they closed shop 4 years ago. So for many reasons I consider the Traks as "unobtainium" for now.

Since you are in Europe, look at ScanSport's Pakboat kayaks. Several of us on this forum are pretty happy with our Pakboat Quest kayaks and they also make the very seaworthy XT-17. By the way, Pakboats are significantly lighter than other folders and therefore better for travel, in my opinion. I took my 24 pound Pakboat Puffin from the US to the UK and packed with everything I needed to paddle including all my clothing kit, the bag was under airline weight and dimensional restrictions (22 kg) and qualified for no fee baggage. My Quest 135 is only 27 pounds and I would not hesitate to take it into coastal conditions when properly outfitted with sprayskirt and inflation bags -- it performs nearly as well as my high end Feathercraft Wisper but was one quarter of the cost!
Current:
Feathercraft Wisper
Pakboat Quest 135
Pakboat Puffin 12
Pakboat Swift 14
Greenland SOF
P & H Easky 15LV
Curtis Lady Bug solo canoe
Previous:
Feathercraft Kahuna
Feathercraft K-1 Expedition
Pakboat XT-15

notarobot
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Re: trak 2.0 newbie questions & alternatives?

Post by notarobot »

KerryOnKayaks wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 12:12 pm
It's definitely an object of desire but I would be hesitant to own something that complicated made by a company that has so far demonstrated an inability to serve their customers. I already own a beloved Feathercraft that is essentially an orphan if anything ever goes wrong with it since they closed shop 4 years ago. So for many reasons I consider the Traks as "unobtainium" for now.
(...)
By the way, Pakboats are significantly lighter than other folders and therefore better for travel, in my opinion. (...) My Quest 135 is only 27 pounds and I would not hesitate to take it into coastal conditions when properly outfitted with sprayskirt and inflation bags -- it performs nearly as well as my high end Feathercraft Wisper but was one quarter of the cost!
good points. i am aware of the issues re trak delivering the boats as promised, and that a lot of people felt burned by their communication of all this as well. i have no idea of what is involved in running a small but very successful business like this, and would like to assume that this is going to improve (and that they stay in business), but of course i cannot know that. that is part of the reason why i asked about the reliability of the hydraulic jacks, and in how far it is possible to service them yourself if needed - they seem to be what makes & breaks these boats.

while i would like a folder here tonight, i will of course take my time researching all the other options that have been mentioned here so far, including the pakboats. weight is indeed a consideration i have not really taken into account with the traks yet, but i have read that they are relatively heavy for folding boats.

youngpnw
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Re: trak 2.0 newbie questions & alternatives?

Post by youngpnw »

Just another follow-up post. I agree with KerryOnKayaks. They still have yet to prove themselves capable of serving their customer. After being added to the owner group, there are some very nice folks who got very frustrated and disappointed because they had to wait 24-30 months. I will say that they are responsive in providing best practice and advice on repairs and care for kayak. I do think spare parts will be difficult to come by until they resolve their production issues.

That being said, the folks are nice people and I do think they'll eventually get their production issues sorted, even with COVID-19. For now though, that's still very much unproven no matter how much they've insisted on learning from past mistakes and issues. On a personal level, its easy to like the crew, because I didn't have to wait 2 years after full payment to receive my kayak.

I just went on a 52 mile paddle at Ross Lake here in Washington State. It was very difficult at times to keep the boat straight with strong tail wind (15-20 mph) and 4ft rolling waves. I never really figured out how to use the jacks to counter for the way the waves seemed to be throwing me around. I tried adjusting so that the bow pointed left since I kept getting thrown right and found myself sideways and unable to turn for a solid 10 minutes. I wound up learning on the spot how to keep my boat straight just by paddling with no adjustments other than lots of rocker (made it easer to correct).

In calm conditions it was easy to paddle fast, efficiently and straight. The seasock and spray skirt kept 95% of the water out of the hull. The hard chined shape also gave me a lot of secondary stability, edging was fun. The seat is pretty darn comfortable as well. I didn't find it too difficult carrying the boat empty and I'm not a strong guy that works out. The hull material is fairly tough. I've scraped against rocks a number of times, a couple times fairly rough. There are some cuts/scratches, but no punctures. I plan to preemptively patch these, but haven't decided how.

I think one thing I wish this kayak had was easier storage access. It was difficult to dry bags in and out. By the middle of the trip I had it down and it was mostly easy to take storage in and out. I couldn't help but think of Pakboat's removable deck system and wish I had that as an option. So i'd definitely urge you to look into Pakboat's quest series. The argo seems like it would have the same storage access issues. Check out the assembly video and you'll see why. In hindsight I wish I could have demo'd both boats before making my decision, but I made the what I believed was the best decision at the time.

Bit of a rambling and scattered post, but I hope it helps you in your decision making process. I'm still very happy with my boat, but there are some drawbacks for sure. Spare parts, access to storage and I need to learn how best to use the shape-shifting ability to help me in strong tail wind scenarios. It was actually really easy to paddle in headwind, tracked really straight, albeit slower of course.

Jazznow
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Re: trak 2.0 newbie questions & alternatives?

Post by Jazznow »

Heyho

just a follow up on the nautiraid. Im really glad i biught this kayak. Its easy to assemble (i usually need 5 min longer to set it up, than my wife to pump up her Gumotex inflatable kayak). From car trunk to water is around 20-25 minutes. Set up time is around 15 min.
QualitY seems to be good so far.

One Thing to consider: Customs are high for boats from the US. they are currently 25% because of the difficulties in relationships between usa and eu. Maybe gets better after US election in november.

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