folding kayaks revisited

After 5 years of spending up to and now well over $1000 to rent a kayak for my 3+ weeks vacation, I’m looking at options.

Shipping my only kayak doesn’t work since I’m deprived of the kayak for too long before the trip starts and worse, the risk of damage to kayak and my limited vacation time is too great.

I’ve seen too much drama with 3 piece hard shells; they are too expensive, plus recent airline costs add too much to consider this option.

I’ve only been in a folding kayak once, a Khatsalano and I didn’t find it a pleasant experience. The ribs were uncomfortable and the kayak drifted all over in a very mild wind. I may be a better paddler now but in any case, I don’t think this model is large enough for a 24 day trip.

Someone suggested a Feathercraft K1. Financially, I’d break even in a few years and would still have a kayak in the closet, but I’d really like to be happy in my boat, even if just for a few weeks. The problem with folders is that there are no demos!! How can one be expected to lay out over $5K without taking a whirl around the reservoir?

Any advice, comments, invitations to try a K1??


Not just the K1

– Last Updated: Nov-02-09 9:46 PM EST –

Look at the Kahuna, Wisper and also the Khatsalano again. I live in the underworld, but you could try NY Kayak Company in NY City or the Small Boat Shop in Norwalk, CT Both are Feathercraft dealers
also try posting on

How handy are you?
You could always build your own-


are built for expedition type stuff. best skin on the market.

Yost kayaks are OK…but not nearly as tough as Feathercraft. for a 3 week trip, I would want the good skin.

Best Wishes


Long Haul
Don’t rule out the Long Haul. It’s a barge no doubt but extremely well-built for a typical river tour. I’m not sure I’d trust one in the open ocean due to the design of the hatch covers and no bulkheads.

RE airline costs - these days, you’re gonna pay through the nose. For domestic trips, you can ship your stuff ahead via FedEx/UPS ground. Dead simple.

International - BOHICA unless you’re traveling to somewhere like Brazil where 2 bags at 80 lbs each is mandated. That means you would only need to pay for one extra bag typically if you max out the carry-on load also. Then, you only have to worry about your bags getting lost. :slight_smile:

We met two guys
On the Noatak River in the ANWR who were in Feathercrafts, and they couldn’t say enough good things about them.

They both had used them on several different expedition trips where they had to fly in, and both agreed that they would never go back to hard shells.

I have toyed with getting them, but the older I get it seems the more I like a destination that I can drive to, but if I were doing a lot of fly in trips, I would get one in a heart beat

Incidently we were in Ally Pak canoes, and I was quite impressed with them.



for three weeks out of the year

– Last Updated: Nov-03-09 7:16 AM EST –

please take a look at the yostwerks site. I built the Sea Cruiser and took it to Brazil for the Amazon trip with K7Baixo and others and except for the wooden coaming which at the last minute I had to cut in half and put hinges on so it woudl fit in the golf bag, it performed admirably. The real beauty is the cost and while the pvc skin may not be as tough as the feathercraft, I certainly had it scraping over lots of trees and logs and stuff on the rio Negro, and have had it launching and landing on pebbles and rocks at the local lake and beach without it tearing or even scratching.
for the time you want to use it for, I think it is a no brainer.


Take a look around the folding kayak board:

For the record, Long Hauls are faster than the Sea Cruiser. :wink:

is full of it. the engine may have been faster. If I recall, the other long haul wasn’t nearly as fast.

And as an excuse (albeit a rather weak one) the rocker was set a lot higher for the Brazil trip specifically because I knew we woudl be going through many winding little river trails and I put in internal sponsons which widened out and increased the drag areas… aslo, because I was going to be with all these older guys, I had to make them feel better…

That is one of the great things about doing a boat like the sea cruiser or the sea tour, you can set the inwales so they curve the boat a bit more increasing or decreasing the rocker just by a couple of simple holes in the tubing and snap buttons.

Anyway, you can’t beat about 300 bucks all told compared to at least a couple of grand for a folder up to 5 grand for the Khat.

Be a completely different story if you were travelling 20 times a year and even then I woudln’t choose the khat because of the time spent in putting it together. I would go for a wisper or a K1.

The other LH…
…was paddled by a near-cripple… a man coming off a broken neck less than a year ago. I’m glad you were faster than him. :wink:

Other than that, I agree…that K1 is a great boat. My LH was about less than half of the cost of one of those and if funds were unlimited or all of my financial goals had been met, I’d get one of those in a heartbeat.

Maybe Chris will leave his to me someday - he’s kind of long in the tooth if you know what I mean.

Chris here…
…after some prompting, I’ll chime in. All of the boats we took to Brazil are great folders. I am lucky enough to own a K-1. I’ve also had a Kahuna. I prefer the K-1. Lyn, I was also lucky to find a good K-1 used and mine was about half the price of a new one. that is always an option if you are patient. If your somewhare in the S.E. part of the country, you are welcome to give mine a try. You won’t be dissapointed. I’ve never paddled a Khats, but I can imagine it will be much less stable than a K-1, not to mention less carrying capacity for long trips.


folbot Cooper
I also have a Folbot Cooper which is another option you should consider. the boat is not as robust as either the Long Haul or the K1. the cockpit is weird too being the size of a whitewater boat. However, again for several times a year, the cost of about 1400 bucks make it a very attractive option. I have had it in two foot seas in the south of Brazil as well as a lot of flatwater and it is a fast and nimble boat. The frame is not as strong as a feathercraft and it flexes a bit more but their unique tightening system can get it pretty rigid.

I left the Cooper in Brazil this time as it is a perfect boat to have there for vacations and the occasional times I get to go down.


Really great information
Thanks to everyone for the helpful replies. I spoke to the Small Boat Shop and they not only have demos but encouraged me to bring all my gear to see how the boats paddled loaded.


more on the folbot Cooper
rereading your original post I really do think you should paddle and try out a folbot cooper. You could buy two for the price of a K1 with cash left over and I definitely do not think that the quality of the wisper or K1 is twice as good by a long shot.

It is a really good boat that paddles really well, tracks and turns easily and is fast. (the seat does suck but there are options) And folbot customer service is second to none. I just can’t justify the money for a feathercraft for the 5 or 6 times I really need a folder. Now having said that, there have been many times i have taken the folbot out just for the fun of it because it is a great boat to just paddle in its own right. Nothing beats having one in your trunk and 20 minutes later you are on the water.


Trak kayaks?

– Last Updated: Nov-04-09 9:29 AM EST –

If you have a chance to view the This is the Sea 4 DVD, you can see what two guys do with their Track kayaks in a very rough WW situation. By the way, the video clip on the web site is in relatively mild waters - the stuff in the This is the Sea DVD is much more entertaining to watch -;) (at least that part, some of the rest was a little boring, I must admit).

These are not huge gear howlers like some of the other folders out there, but instead are nimble day/week trippers.

Have not paddled one though and they too seem quite expensive ...

Folding kayak
Check ou Tom Yost is a retired engineer who has designed a number of easy to build folders. These are not toys. A lot of them have been built to take to the greenland rolling comperitions. One of his newest designs is a folding inflatable. My son built one (the Sonnet). If inflates / deflates in about 10 minutes and behaves pretty much like any sea kayak. Weighs about 35 pounds. I’m just finishing a 19’ tandem inflatable. Plans are free and very well documented on his website. It cost about $300 to build the 16’ Sonnet, and it was remarkably easy to make. It’s pretty much all glued together.

female K-1 owner
Lyn, Call the Wooden Boat Shop in Westport and see if they’ve got a K-1 in stock – if they do, take the train out there (or drive). They are right on the dock and should be able to let you throw it in the water. Nice people (I’m in Pittsburgh but have a paddling buddy in Fairfield who’s friends with the owner and took me there when I came out to paddle the Sound with him). I think you’ll be impressed with the boat. I doubt there are many places you couldn’t go with it in any ocean, lake or flatwater river of the world. It is faster than the Kahuna and tracks better (I own one of each).

If the price is out of reach, they do come up used sometimes (check, one of their US dealers who has a “classified” section for used boats being sold by owners. I have an ad there myself for a bright blue 1995 K-1 in pristine condition (am also selling my 2003 Kahuna). I love the K-1 but fell in love with the Feathercraft Wisper when I was up in Vancouver 2 months ago (the guys at the Feathercraft HQ and factory are right on the water and let me borrow one for a while.) It is closer in style to my favorite hard boat, a Greenland replica, and I think it might be better suited for the paddling I do most anymore. Gotta sell some of the fleet to afford the new one.

BTW, if you are under 5’ 5" and smaller than a size 10, you may find the K-1 a little overly spacious. If you are quite petite, the Wisper XP might suit you better – narrower, but not as tippy as the Khatsalano and very light. Low on cargo space compated to the K-1 though, which is hard to beat if you plan on some ambitious touring.

Folders I know

– Last Updated: Nov-04-09 5:12 PM EST –

I don't think the Yost boats are geared for expedition purposes.

I know two people with folders. One is a Folbot which seems decent enough and one is a Feathercraft. The Feathercraft is awesome but at a very high price.


Can demo my Cooper

– Last Updated: Nov-04-09 6:07 PM EST –


I don't know where you are, but if you are closer to Baltimore area than you are to the North Carolina factory, you can demo my Cooper to get a feel for it. I tried to get someone to do the same for me, but had no takers. I agree, really hard (and not that smart) to spend that much money when you can't try the thing out. And, new summer before last, was a lot closer to $2,000 than $1,400. It does hold a ton of gear.

folbot Sales
they have lots during the year and it is possible to pick up a brand new Cooper for that. I did.