3 Piece Sectional Kayaks and Flying

-- Last Updated: Jan-15-07 10:38 PM EST --


I posted a thread about three piece kayaks last month and learned that several makers have these kayaks--NDK, Valley and now Rockpool. I have seen photos of Freya with hers at the airport. But can one actually check these in? Damage potential? Extra charge?

Several posters mentioned the definite heavier weight of these kayaks. How does that play into the flight potential of these kayaks?


consider the tot. number of parcels
you’ll have to deal with…once you picture yourself with 3 pieces for the kayak a bag of paddling gear (spraydeck,paddle,paddle clothes,etc) and then a bag with the normal oddities of travel then I bet you’ll rethink the 3 piece unless you are doing a major expedition like the south georgia island paddle trip where you might die anyway :slight_smile:

After all of this the FC boats start looking real good, I dont think an FC Khat—in the right hands–could not do or go anywhere a 3 piece composite would.

Now if you are a big name paddler with the local paddling club salivating over your arrival then they will sledge the whole kit to the water for you…

I have both a 3 piece and folders
I will say that a 3 piece is harder to move around than a folder. A large cart is all that is necessary. Pay attention to your transportation at the destination. Your kit can be checked in like anything else.

The bow, stern and middle sections have their own bag. I stuff clothes in with them to pad for abuse. The bow and stern section lashed together are under 50 pounds so I add part of my kit in the hatches til it just gets under 50. All food and valuables come on board with me as carry on except liquids. I don’t want the TSA (Take your Shoes off Agency)to be walking off with my Leica’s or headlamp.

The cockpit section is where I add my paddles and bulky things. It also has its own travel bag. You can expect to pay $50 per bag/bundle as they are oversized. If the bow and stern are lashed together you may only get charged once, for the cockpit section, as it is the longest section.

The main difference in travelling with a folder and a hardshell is moving the bags. It is harder if you do not do it right. Assembling my Khatsalano is harder than the 3 piece, as is loading it. Either of them are comfortable and rewarding to paddle.

Let’s say you want to go to Baja for a 2 week paddle. Buy a ticket. Buy a chart or yachtie cruising guide covering the area you want to paddle, I recommend Ed Gillette’s for Baja. Have someone drop you right in front of the ticket counter. Get a big cart. Roll right to front of line and get in back of the line. Check on. You don’t need a big name or a big trip to do this. Ordinary, everday run of the mill suckers like you and me can do this, too.

Upon landing get a big cart and one of the locals to help. They work inexpensively and make life easy for you. Get your kit and go outside and of all the taxi/bus options, get the guys with the big roof rack. Your 3 piece fits fine in most of those. Go to hotel near launch point. Ask them to hold on to your travel bags and travel clothes, otherwise you will have to schlepp them along. If you have to schlepp them along, roll the bags together and put behind seat and in front of foot pegs. Wear camp clothes on plane, (nice ones, have some panache when you go to REI). Put boat together and paddle.

The daily loading and unloading with hatches on your hardshell is easier than the folder. The internal frame trips things up and there is not nearly the space. The Khatsalano has 50 pounds less recommended burden than my Nordkapp. The hatches are WAY more surf proof on my Nordkapp than my Khats. The roll up drybag style does not stand up to surf. My buddy’s back hatch in the K1 was bombed through in our Costa Rica trip. It has to be supported from underneath by your kit.

All in all, it’s 6’s or pairs of 3. They each have advantages and disadvantages. It is easier to travel with the Khats, but there are little daily nuisances that eat up that margin to where it no longer exists. If you like hardshells over the softer, Lowrider like ride of the folder, you will love the 3 piece. If you like hair nets and white tank tops you will like the folder’s ride. The Nordkapp puts 10-14 day water dependent trips on the map for me. The Khats, I’m lucky if I can get a week of water plus kit in the boat.


Rob G

Outstanding info, RobG
I am glad this is on the Advice Forum, so that you experiences can be archived. There is so much information in your post,. I am going to re-rwad it now. Tank tops and gray hair; it’s funny, too. Thanks.

Is paddling your primary objective
when flying? Each trip with a 3 piece is going to be an extra $300 over the cost of bringing along a folder.

different kayak
and if you want to paddle for a month, and have room to store all your stuff, get the Feathercraft K1 over the Khats. double the capacity.

awesome write up.

I thought you had a folding Bic kayak

Boat whore admission
Got one of those, too. Heh, heh. K1 is nice, post 2000 skin, too, got a smokin deal on it. It hauls a big load and is competent traveller among hardshells. I hate the squishy rudder pedals, though. The rudder was surf torqued out of position a couple of times, too, another thing to add to the rudder-skeg-neither-all three debate. Not my cup of tea, but I’ll paddle it happily.

Chuck, I once paid about $200 to get my Kapp to Florida. But I did it wrong then and that airline, American, has reduced baggage/pain in the ass fees since then from $75 to $50. Most charge $50 bucks per oversized bag. The cockpit section will definately hose you for that. If the stern and bow bags are lashed together or one is made competently it will set you back another $50. The sections are a little less than 6’ and if you keep the pair under 50 pounds you may not pay that at all. I can pretty well say though, that your mileage will definately vary each time you step up to the counter. The airlines are a mystery to deal with. I mostly enjoy my travel with them but man can the interpretations of the rules get out there.

One of the beauties of transportable kayaks, folding or hardshell, is that it solves the destination ‘piece of crap factor’, so common in rental fleets. If there is even one in the target area. I will offer this piece of advise: if you go to the expense of getting a transportable kayak, get one that you want to paddle. Don’t just get some ‘adequate for the application’ thing that aren’t as fun to paddle. Get something you WANT to paddle. Feathercraft does it for me. The take-apart hardshells do it for me, because they behave no differently than my other hardshells, though a weight penalty of about 10 pounds.

It would be a good problem to have, in having a less than zen like transportable kayak. Having the folding Sea Pig from XYZ company is much better than not having one. At least you can go from Puerto Derricko to Puerto Hurricaneo this August(sorry Derrick, I’m only kidding) in something more than whatever, if anything, is available locally. You will likely curse the heat and humidity more than the Sea Pig.

But, it isn’t much more of a stretch to wait for something really cool like a Khats, K1 or a take-apart Nigel Dennis/Valley/Rockpool to come along. Who do you check out while waiting for the light to turn green, the poor schmuck in the banged up Yugo or the bastard in the convertable beamer? Even better when the convertable beamer is being driven by a babe and is by default no longer a bastard driving something cool but a babe driving something cool which is the best of all possible worlds.

Sorry if I’m going on and on about this, but I’m passionate about kayaking where you want to go with only safety concerns as the limiting factor. The biggest mistake I see alot of paddlers make in investing in these lovely craft is that they buy a big ol expedition boat as a first boat and become limited to within driving distance to where they want to go. Some solve this by shipping, barging it to cool places to paddle but that is a pain in the ass if I ever heard of one.

Being in a business that is dependent on shipping, they really beat the crap out of your stuff. (I love you guys, truckers are my heros, you guys are the greatest, but hey you can be a little hard on my stuff, lighten up, eh?)You think airlines are bad, try the trucking outfits, proving grounds for former airline baggage handlers.

If I had it to do over I would have started with a day/play boat as a first, then bought a Khats as a traveller/home base trip boat. If I could only have one boat, it would be a 3 piece Nordkapp or Explorer as they do alot of things, really well. But I’m a boat whore, so I don’t have to, do I? The world is every paddlers oyster, especially when they are lookin sharp in their sexy machine, cruising the waves of some awesome place and they are not driving 89 hours just to get to the put in, paying bribes to the local Don getting out of the ticket, having some big burley trucker testing the layup of your precious NDK. No thanks, take it apart, check it on, order up a frosty one, casually open up your charts while snacking on some peanuts, talk up your trip to the folks next to you. Smile knowing that you spend your hard earned vacation hours paddling more and dealing with your transportation less.


Rob G

The Bic model
I bet the Bic model drives a convertable beamer.

: () And I don’t care about how the appearance of her forward stroke on film looks. The point is, she looks.


Rob G

Bic Yakka 80

– Last Updated: Jan-16-07 5:23 PM EST –

Yes, Bohemia, I do have a Bic Yakka 80. The issue with it is actually not performance (even though it is only a fraction as good as a Khat or a Nordkapp--a small fraction), but that it weights in at 46 lbs for a 9 foot SOT. Just the same, if I am going to pay that extra $50+ at the airport ticket counter for a three piecer (as I am reading this thread, even a larger folder like the Khat does not require extra fees at the airport, right?), maybe I should just take the Yakka. Rob is making many points here-- and in summary, it seems from his two posts that, in essence, the hard shell paddles better, is easier to put together (esp if someone will be taking apart and paddling every day), has drier hatches, but is heavier both for storage and transport and requires likely an extra charge from the airlines under theri vague rules that change week-to-week.

When I paddle, as TSC mentions, I really don;t do a week long expedition, I really would be going on more of a week long vacation with about 3-4 days of paddling about 2-3 hours daily each. One issue that I have thought of was, in a rental car with a clear trunk, how would I break down the yaks to transport it and keep it in a hotel room. For instance, I would hate to fully break down a Khat and put it together every day, that is a fact. Can I partially break it down to fit in a 4 foot car trunk and remake it the next morning? With the sectional 3 piecer, I envision 1 section each in the trunk, the back seat and in the passenger seat.

Here's my review of the Yakka:

Heck, maybe my lowly Yakka at 4 feet 6 inches long, 46 lbs, is not such a bad thoughht after all to schlepp to the airport.

Tough call
The Khats takes an hour or at least 45 minutes. The bow and stern sections can be made up in a couple minutes, so no real time savings having them assembled. My 3 piece is just bolts, so alot easier once you’ve done it. The newer breeds have buckles, but I’ve no experience with them.

If your vision is only a few hours over a few days it may be overkill to bring one along at all. We left the boats home on our Anglesey and Ireland trip as half the trip was walking around Dublin and the countryside. We just rented boats from Simon Osbourne for a day and Nigel Dennis for a week.

The Khats is a hell of a boat on the water. It is different in feel than a hardshell, but it has some very good performance characteristics. It weathercocks like a metal rooster, too. In order to get it down to a sub 50 pound bag I pack everything into a lighter duffel and wrap the tubing into bubblewrap. The seat goes into the kit duffel to keep it under 50 pounds.

Sectional’s can be stored half in the trunk and the other half in the vehicle. You can request a bottom floor room in ‘door’s facing out’ hotel’s and bring it in the room, at the most taking one section off. Vehicles with nominal racks are available commonly. Use the grey mini-cell foam blocks or pipe insulation and ordinary car straps like you would at home.

Nothing like having a good boat wherever your travels take you. I was in Maui once and rented a 12’ SOT for the day and had a blast. It was not my kind of boat and its seaworthiness was dubious at best, but we still managed a really good day on the water. If I had a place there for a week, definately bringing my own. But that’s just me.


Rob G

Being a bit of a boat slut myself

– Last Updated: Jan-16-07 7:41 PM EST –

With similar boat tastes as RobG, I agree that the luggage/assembly hassle is a great problem to have. But I have had some really good times in an older KLight. it was just shy of 13ft and 25in wide. I took that on lots of transpacific medevac flights and vacations. Took about 15 minutes from bag to water. One of my most memorable trips with it was a day trip in Tokyo. I went to the train station with Jun. She went to work, The bagged K-Light and I went the other way to the Tone River. I walked about 1/2 mile from the train station to the river. Assembled the kayak, stowed the backpack and launched. I ended up crossing Imbu Lake and ended up at Sakura, near Narita Airport, about a 15 mile paddle and a couple 100 yard portages, that were surprisingly scenic. I let the boat dry for about 15 minutes, packed it and carried it about 1/2 mile to the train station and headed back to Jun's place. I was dressed in fuzzy rubber and managed to get on the packed train ok. http://tinyurl.com/ynmadb http://tinyurl.com/26jh7t
Cooldoc, you are looking at boats that are expensive, both in $ and one in time , the other in airline fees. There are other folders out there. such as the Feathercraft Kahuna, The Folbot Cooper, The Atatl and others that may serve you as well and be less costly in terms of $ and time yet still get you paddling in an enjoyable boat.

The Wisper would be another I’d add to the list if the Dr is under 200 pounds.


Rob G

awesome thread

– Last Updated: Jan-16-07 10:36 PM EST –

this thread should go in the sticky section for folders versus assemblers, we do have a sticky thread dont we?
anyway many important things mentioned especially this: ' If there is even one in the target area'
On the s. island of NZ the places to rent are beyond few and far between, if only had had a Wisper then.
My first assembler is on order and hopefully by summer i can compare first hand a folder and one with bolts or twisties (dont know yet how it will pop together).
There is one more advantage of the folder not mentioned yet. I can store the Wisper and all required gear in the back seat of my car or a rental....that is hard to do with an assembler and in some locals here in the states that is a good thing, can imagine same in some other countries x9

may I suggest
a Thule or Yakima travel kayak rack? It’s actually the ordinary rack, but you take it off your car and pack it into your luggage.