Folders and whitewater

Paddling technique, boat packing technique, anything having to do with how to use a piece of equipment (except sailing, which has its own section).

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Folders and whitewater

Post by PK »

Hi there,

Do any of you ever use your folding kayaks in whitewater and if so, what kind of limits do you impose?

Anecdotal evidence is that some people are quite happy running whitewater up to class II in their Kleppers or Nautiraids (and perhaps this is a particularly European mindset).

My first-hand experience involves taking my GII down a local river - class II, with boulders, but not big or fast. Other than the two paddlers, the boat was unladen.

In a small rapid I bent the bottom keel section very badly. The kayak was still serviceable but the entire rear keel section had to be replaced. Naturally, I don't think I will be running whitewater in my GII again.

That said, I wondered what, if any, techniques there are for paddling whitewater in a folding kayak? And how about doing it in a loaded boat on a longer, multi-day trip?

Thanks and cheers,



Re: Folders and whitewater

Post by cline »

After I bought my first Klepper (an Aerius II) in the mid 60’s, I took it out on Class 2 rapids on a few occasions over the early years; nothing difficult, but enough to keep a newbie to foldboats on alert. I had done some paddling on rapids in a canoe when I was in my early teens, so that knowledge helped even though it wasn’t recent. My wife went with me on a couple of trips, and sometimes I would take a friend.

I haven’t done anything like that recently, but after I get my AE I SL490 next year, I’ll probably take a refresher course on whitewater paddling with one of the local companies, and take it out to play. How far I’ll go with it at that time, I couldn’t tell you right now. But, I’m older now, and maybe a bit more cautious, so we’ll see what happens. As to techniques or things to look for, the only thing that comes immediately to mind is that as with any folding boat, especially a long one, don’t put yourself in a position where you have to make tight turns between the rocks or anyplace where you might get jammed into the obstacle. Some folding boats are very capable in the right hands, as the pictures below will show, but they are not as maneuverable as your average whitewater boat. There are other techniques as well that are important, but I’ll leave it up to those folks more knowledgeable than I am to describe them.

If you would really like to see some foldboats in action, this is the book to get:

Der Handernkahn
Geschichte des Faltbootes
By: Ursula and Christian Altenhofer
ISBN 3-925660-09-7
Published in 1989

It’s written in German, but that shouldn’t matter. The pictures are fantastic! I got my copy from The Book Depository in England through It was a used book, but a wonderful copy.

Here are a couple of pictures of Whitewater paddling in a foldboat from that book. There are a lot more on the subject in there, plus many others in different situations. As I said, it’s a great book for any lover of Folding Boats.




Re: Folders and whitewater

Post by PK »

Thanks, Cline,

I guess the other secret with running whitewater in a folder is depth as well.

I bent my Folbot in a shallow rapid. We don't have too many fat, deep rivers here in South Africa, which is why plastic playboats and creeking boats rule the kayak scene (and sluggish two-person inflatable rafts dominate commercial rafting.

I'll hunt for the book an - sure to find a copy there.

Thanks for the tip and I look forward to hearing more.



john allsop
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle
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Re: Folders and whitewater

Post by john allsop »

From my experience of the shallow rivers in Ontario the wood longerons "bounce" off and don,t break where the metal longerons bend. Everthing i thought i could go through the Aerius 2 went through, more damage seem,d to be done to the skin pulling it through very shallow places.Of course there are limits, the current craze of going down waterfalls would not be for a Klepper and common sense should prevail.

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