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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 2:46 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 17, 2017 6:17 am
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yogavnture wrote:
I JUST contacted epic. asked them to resurrect the Feathercraft jetstream. best inflatable kayak. (actually its a surf ski) ever made hands down. i have one in mint condtion. i want another.


I seriously doubt that Epic will go this way. Sure, they are into surfskis, but they have no experience/machinery for manufacturing inflatables. I'm also not convinced there is a big market for inflatable surfskis. You and me, maybe a couple others...

That being said, they would certainly be able to reach potential customers in the surfski world. Feathercraft was not able to do that. They were awesome at designing and building, but not so good at marketing.

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Feathercraft Java and K2
Homemade sectional hardshell
Homemade inflatable surfski
Rigid surfski (Epic V10sport)


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 2:15 pm 
knight of the folding kayak realm

Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:22 am
Posts: 423
Location: Coastal New Jersey
There are scores of SUPs scurrying over the waters of Florida's Gulf Coast where I now spend a large part of each winter. The last folder I came across, other than my own, was an old Klepper being sailed swiftly and skillfully across Sarasota Bay. And that was a few years ago. The recent proliferation of the SUP is, in my opinion, at least partly due to their essential simplicity: just slide the board off the car's roofrack, grab the long paddle and go. No time consuming assembly, no sponsons to inflate, neither seasock to install nor footrests to adjust, nor strap-on skeg to attach, no inflatable seat to fuss with before it can be called "comfortable". Just step aboard and paddle away. This may be one reason why the SUP has become so attractive to impatient, time-starved millenials. If I had to assemble my Feathercraft Kurrent each time I had the notion to spend an afternoon on the water, that pretty little boat would get much less use than it does.

I don't think there's much chance of a resurgence in the folding kayak universe; quite to the contrary, it continues to contract. It pleases me to see that Pakboat survives and I hope it continues to do so (not the least because I think that my next paddle craft might be one of their lightweight Puffins) but I think that the future of the folding kayak may decline to the point where it becomes a sort of cottage industry where boats are built on a one-off, custom basis by a few dedicated part-time craftsmen who are otherwise employed with outside, unrelated work to make financial ends meet.
Maybe there's a possible future for performance inflatables produced by a highly experienced manufacturer like Gumotex. I'm thinking of an SOT along the lines of Feathercraft's Java or, at least, something with performance attributes that would make it a fun boat to paddle without the barge-like dimensions of most inflatables. Still, the future for the bag-boat does not look bright.


Last edited by Jake on Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:40 pm 
faltbootemeister

Joined: Sat Apr 22, 2006 3:00 pm
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There seems to be more potential for innovation with inflatables and they may have a brighter future than folders. Although Sea Eagle is mostly known for its low end inflatables, they introduced a drop stitch kayak called the RazorLite, which comes in single and double models. The specs suggest that it is very rigid. There are glowing reviews on the web but they lack specific data. It would be great if someone in this forum has paddled one and would let us know how it compares to Gumotex models.

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BernieM
Folbot Cooper, Pakboat Sport, Innova Sunny, Epic GPX, Oru Kayak, Wike Bicycle Trailer


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:43 pm 
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle
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I started a thread on the Razorlites, a couple of years ago. It seems, to me, that dropstitch holds promise for the future of bagboats.

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Chris T.
~'91 Klepper A2 w/ BSD schooner rig.
'64 Klepper Passat/Tradewind and T12 restoration projects.
Non-folding: Early '90s Old Town Canoe.
Previously owned '04 Pakboat Puffin II and '05 Swift (prototype), as well as an '84 Hobie 16.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:55 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 13, 2015 2:10 pm
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I think part of our problem is well illustrated in Jake's post. Take the SUP off the roof rack and grab your paddle - and you are ready to go. The implication is that a folding kayak has to be folded and then reassembled the next time you want to go paddling.

It has been interesting to find that many of the people who love their folding kayaks keep them assembled and carry them to the water on a roof rack (just like an inflatable SUP). I don't think I would use a folding kayak much if I had to assemble it every time I go on the water. So I take my folding kayak off the roof rack, grab my paddle and go paddling - almost as conveniently as with an SUP.

A folding kayak has the advantage that it can be folded for travel and storage. Some are also much less expensive and more comfortable than hard boats of similar weight. Many Puffin customers buy their boats as an affordable upgrade from a plastic boat that has become too heavy. If you can no longer lift your 40+ pound plastic kayak, you may find a 21 pound replacement very attractive.

Folding kayaks are not quite dead yet :)


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:40 am 
knight of the folding kayak realm

Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2011 6:09 pm
Posts: 291
Alv wrote:
It has been interesting to find that many of the people who love their folding kayaks keep them assembled and carry them to the water on a roof rack (just like an inflatable SUP). I don't think I would use a folding kayak much if I had to assemble it every time I go on the water. So I take my folding kayak off the roof rack, grab my paddle and go paddling - almost as conveniently as with an SUP.

I think this illustrates why the market for folders is so challenging. Paddlers with enough space for a hardshell might be interested in a folder for two or three reasons I can think of: 1) Insufficient storage space for a hardshell, 2) travel/portability, 3) lower weight.

It seems to me most paddlers with a vehicle probably have enough storage space for a hardshell. As far as the 2nd reason goes, in most cases it's easier and simpler to just rent a kayak at your destination rather than bring a folder on an airplane, train, etc. I can't even speculate as to how many paddlers might be interested in the lighter weight of some folders.


Last edited by Apathizer on Thu Feb 21, 2019 3:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 6:12 am 
knight of the folding kayak realm

Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 6:42 pm
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Different in different countries perhaps. Here in the Southeast of the UK even many of the relatively better off under 50 can no longer afford a house with a garage and storage for a hardshell canoe/kayak (owing to increase in price of housing to ten and even twenty times average household income, but also to the increasing casualisation of employment and fall of pay in real terms). Flats and terraced houses and parking on the street ought to make folding kayaks more desirable because you can fold them away. But there aren't many to be seen here ... (And you wouldn't want to leave your folding kayak assembled on your roof-rack parked on the street.)

It is interesting to observe that while many people of my parents' generation and the baby-boomers who followed them could often afford to raise a family on one working income (of course by no means all), my generation (I'm in my forties) has a norm of two working adults working full-time flat-out and they still can't afford anything approaching the standard of living that our parents had (more people chasing the same number of houses, apparently none having been built in the intervening years). And of course two working adults impacts the availability of spare time to engage in hobbies. My father and mother could enjoy a weekend with their 5(!) children, take us for walks, drives in the countryside, to museums (which in those days were free and state-subsidised) thanks to Mum looking after the house and the laundry and so forth during the week. My generation has to cram all the housework, shopping and stuff that my mother did into the two 'days off'. One usually needs a holiday by the time Sunday evening comes round.

And all the while being told there will be no pension provision for most of our generation ...

;-) Sorry if that sounds like a moan--it is hard to add a light-hearted, observational tone to text. It is just interesting to see that forty years of the pendulum swinging in one direction has had a result that causes considerable difficulties for much of the economy. I was always impressed by the story that Henry Ford wanted his workers to be paid well enough that they could afford to buy a Ford. It is notable that in many areas (my own is education) employers no longer want their employees to be well enough paid to buy the expensive goods they produce (education aint cheap), or even to be able to afford a house and food for their children (I can afford food but the growth of food banks in the UK is shocking). My instinct is that social pressure will eventually start the pendulum swinging the other way and suddenly we'll find taxes start to get paid and income inequalities begin to reduce a little, thereby helping the economy no end ...

One can live in hope! And in the meantime I might be able to fit in an extra paddle or two over coming weeks as our universities are about to go on strike in the hope of saving our pensions ...


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 4:01 pm 
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle

Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2005 3:40 pm
Posts: 1155
Location: isles of scilly UK
We are of course getting away from the question about the future of folders. It has to be realized that a producer of these kayaks cannot produce more than they can sell, which might mean it,s almost a shed operation with low overheads and low production and almost made as a hobby with little profit. There could be once again a market for skin on frame kits, I made two Tyne kits which were very good, but then you need a storage shed. I am now designing one 24 feet long for my hard shells and somewhere that the skins for my folders can be laid out full length as I stored them in Canada, it can only be about 5 feet wide and 6 feet high to avoid expensive council fees and I only have a narrow yard anyway. When I looked at cars in Canada I always checked them for size, would the long parts of my kleppers fit in, and a lot of cars are too small for a folder, especially these dinky ones that are in the UK, the trunk or boot seems to be made for grocery bags, if it,s a four seater and each seat is occupied then it,s the roof rack. One logic I never understood is that someone buys a folder then keeps it assembled. I think this should be in the coffee house. One farm machinery firm I worked for had virtually hundred of unsold machines when it closed, we produced far more than we could sell. And the same would happen to a producer of folding kayaks.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:23 am 
lord high faltbotmeister
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I appreciate the space concerns, especially of folks in the UK and other places where storage and transport of boats is a challenge. Most of the Pakboats are nowhere near as bulky as Kleppers when packed. I could fit my Pakboat Puffin solo and all the gear to use for it in the boot of any subcompact and still have room for other luggagge. When I was in Yorkshire last year I set it up and carried the 12' Puffin on the roof of a rented Citroen C4 using an inflatable rack assembly. Set up of a Puffin is very simple compared to other folder models I have owned (3 Feathercrafts and 3 other Pakboats.) I can do it without breaking a sweat.

My impression, after 16 years of using folders, is that they simply are not all that well known in the market, and that is partially the fault of the manufacturers. Much as I like Pakboat, their marketing efforts are non-existent and their advertising is minor -- they don't even regularly update their website. But I get the impression they are not really interested in expanding their market. If Alv gets tired of the business, I expect they will also fall by the wayside, which is why I've bought several of the boats while they are still available.

Even Feathercraft mostly sold due to word of mouth and the efforts a few dedicated dealers rather than targeted marketing and visibility outside a narrow community. I worked for some years in the wilderness sports industry and one problem with a lot of niche outdoor gear products is the failure of makers to support loyal dealers -- when you sell direct to customers there is little incentive by your dealers to stock or hustle your products. I bought my Feathercrafts from a couple of the few dealers they had, but all of them ended up dropping the line because it was too costly to stock and customers tended to looky loo on the shop floor and then order factory direct. I never saw Feathercraft or Pakboat product displays or deos at recreational trade shows in the US (though I understand they did do some in Europe).

Feathercraft's advertising was more artsy than Pakboats, but was nearly always just shots of assembled boats sitting on a picturesque beach -- pretty but never a shot of assembly or of somebody effortlessly lifting one over their head so that the casual reader of whatever magazine would have some idea of what made these boats different from the dozens of others in pretty beach shots. Contrast those companies' limited market to that of the novel but inferior (IMHO) Oru kayak, which has had two slick Kickstarter campaign that each raised 6 figures and multiple pre-orders. Oru also engineered a lot of free publicity through magazines and social media, even got on the TV show "Shark Tank".

Every place I have taken my folders over the years, people are drawn to them and most are completely unaware that folders even exist. The few people who have heard of them know very little about them and presume they are fragile and slow, also difficult to assemble. It's frustrating to be a folder evangelist and not really have good manufacturer resources to which to refer people who are curious about them. There are some Pakboat owner videos on YouTube but nothing from the company.

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Current:
Feathercraft Wisper
Pakboat Quest 135
Pakboat Puffin 12
Pakboat Swift 14
Greenland SOF
P & H Easky 15LV
Previous:
Feathercraft Kahuna
Feathercraft K-1 Expedition
Pakboat XT-15


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 10:07 am 
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle

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I agree, the lack of advertising folding kayaks means that most people don,t know they exist and at most boat/outdoor shows I went to in Toronto they were hardly there, often completely absent but plenty of hard shells on view At one show I attended I was looking at hardshells and a sales person spoke to me and I told him I had folders, he said we have an old Klepper Aerius two for sale in our shop so I went around and bought it. They had a new Aerius one with a sail which looked excellent and the quality stood out. But I was told that was the only one they would have owing to supply problems and the fact they knew nothing about folders. For interest in the 1977 canoe magazine the folding kayak section shows that FOLBOT had 21 kayaks (not all folders) including two hard shells, Klepper had ONE plus the inflatable single seater made for them by Metzler, Granta had 8 kayaks, Tyne had two, and there were many kits by various people


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:06 am 
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I will add a few comments from a manufacturer about working with dealers. It is true that none of the manufacturers of folding boats have the resources to help push folders through the store, but that is not the only problem. Sales staff rarely know folding boats. They typically find folders time consuming to sell - and why would the sales person push a product that he or she does not have confidence in? We find that stores sell folding boats to customers who ask for one. That customer would probably order one anyway - may be from one of the on-line resellers who get a much lower discount from us than a "real" store and are easier and more profitable for us to work with.

Whenever I see one of our boats in a store, it is almost always poorly assembled and looks bad. Unless inflatable parts are "refreshed", they will eventually lose pressure. Decks need to be installed with some care, stems need to be straight etc. Often the folder hangs near the ceiling, so it will not be in the way of product that moves. It works better for us to work with Internet based resellers.

I was an exhibitor for over a decade at Canoecopia (the largest and best paddlesports show anywhere) and at the Jersey Paddler show. The NJ show went belly up, and to continue at Canoecopia, I would have to register with the state of Wisconsin as a vendor - which would require us to provide financial reporting to the state, whether we attend the show or not. While I enjoy the Canoecopia experience, I can do without the state's paperwork. Other shows are too small or not targeted enough to justify the effort and expense of attending. We still attend a Wilderness Canoe Association symposium in Toronto (we start driving there later today) and a similar event in Vermont in March.

It is tempting for us to focus on selling canoes instead of chasing kayakers. We'll keep making the kayaks, but it is not a growing market - for us or in general. Canoe sales are growing, and we are gaining market share in expedition canoeing. In fact, half the canoes shown in last year's presentations at the Toronto wilderness symposium were PakCanoes. That translates into both inspiration and return on our investment of resources and effort.

We do sell direct to consumers to stay in business. To avoid creating a problem for our dealers, we sell at the list price, except when we need to move used boats.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:11 am 
knight of the folding kayak realm

Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2011 6:09 pm
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Alv wrote:
It is tempting for us to focus on selling canoes instead of chasing kayakers. We'll keep making the kayaks, but it is not a growing market - for us or in general. Canoe sales are growing, and we are gaining market share in expedition canoeing. In fact, half the canoes shown in last year's presentations at the Toronto wilderness symposium were PakCanoes. That translates into both inspiration and return on our investment of resources and effort.

Alv, I'm curious about something: Have you ever considered making custom kayaks? I like the Quest, but would prefer something a bit longer and slender; something like 16' length, 22" beam. Admittedly there might not be much demand, but it might still be profitable if it were done on a small made-to-order scale.

Unless someone designs and builds their own, there are very few options for kayaks custom made for the specific size and needs of individual paddlers.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:00 am 
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Apathizer: Since Alv's kayaks are made offshore (unlike Feathercrafts, which were all made in house in Vancouver) that "custom build" idea would probably be unworkable.

What you are describing is close to a Feathercraft Khatsalano -- 17' 10" x 22". Those rarely come up for sale used but occasionally appear. One sold on this forum last November.

The Trak Seeker is 16' x 22.5" but is around $3,000 new.

There are builders of rigid skin-on-frame kayaks that will custom craft them to your body specs.

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Current:
Feathercraft Wisper
Pakboat Quest 135
Pakboat Puffin 12
Pakboat Swift 14
Greenland SOF
P & H Easky 15LV
Previous:
Feathercraft Kahuna
Feathercraft K-1 Expedition
Pakboat XT-15


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:36 am 
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KerryOnKayaks wrote:
Apathizer: Since Alv's kayaks are made offshore (unlike Feathercrafts, which were all made in house in Vancouver) that "custom build" idea would probably be unworkable.

What you are describing is close to a Feathercraft Khatsalano -- 17' 10" x 22". Those rarely come up for sale used but occasionally appear. One sold on this forum last November.

The Trak Seeker is 16' x 22.5" but is around $3,000 new.

There are builders of rigid skin-on-frame kayaks that will custom craft them to your body specs.

I guess I was just thinking since Pakboats are built around a flexible paradigm it might be possible to just create a specific blueprint that could be manufactured at the offshore facility. I know it would cost more than production models, but some might be willing to pay more for a custom build.

A Khatsalano is nearly 2' longer than the specs I provided, which is a large yak for a medium-small paddler. I like what I know about the Trak, but they are pricey. I'd rather have a rigid wood kayak (which can also be custom built) than a rigid SOF.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 11:39 am 
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I heard you. Yes they did price themselves out of a shrinking market. A lot of things working against themselves - no advertising, no movies, no books. Yeah adding a GO PRO mounts, costs near nothing but the benefit is free advertising that comes out of social media. For the young folks a boat in a bag in the corner on the dorm room ought to be a no brainer - with clever advertising.


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