Help me decide on Foldable or Inlfatable

Hello Everyone,

I’m Bryce from Norwalk, CT. I posted the text below to a local Kayaking group near me. I don’t expect you to be able to tell me about the local kayaking scene in my area (but you can infer from the pics), but I would like your help in deciding which kayak would suit my interests best. (Camping on up to week long trips with ultralight backpacking setup as well as mild/leisurely kayaking in the Long Island Sound as well as Hudson River…relatively calm conditions)

I’m having trouble differentiating the pros and cons of the kayaks I’ve listed and which will suit me best. thx.


-Has to fit in my car. I have no storage at my place or transport ability on the roof of my car.

-Has to be portable. I’d like to link up w/ local kayakers, but also carry the kayak on a plane to other farther reaching places.

-Be able to keep up with Rigids when recreational kayaking. I’m not looking to race or be ‘first’ at all, but I don’t want to feel like the guy holding everyone back, or have everyone worry about me in a certain situation. I gather the pace is generally leisurely, but need confirmation.

-Has to be versatile. I’d like to know more about the types of outings this group has, and the types of water conditions you paddle in, then make a decision for a kayak that is as close to a jack of all trades as possible. (save for higher-end white water) I will only be purchasing one kayak. I figure it should handle from:


-I love to camp/hike. I am an ultralight camper/hiker. I’d like my pack to fit in the kayak:

-My camping trips range from an overnighter to 10-day trips.

-I’d generally be camping w/ the kayak on calm lakes like the Saranac Lakes in the Adirondacksand easy flowing rivers.

-I’d like to take the Kayak in and around the LI sound, but not sure any conditions where waves are cresting are for me though. The Hudson River is a definite interest as well as around Manhattan. Generally calm seas, gentle waves are fine.

-How are you transporting your kayaks all the great places in the area? SUV w/ Roof rack or do people generally pay for storage at a local marina and kayak out of that one location for the most part?

-I’m 30 yrs old, I weight 180 lbs. and am 5-9. Would I be able to fit comfortably in a 23in, 24in, or 25in beamed kayak? (is 23in stretching it?)


-What are my options? Seems the less expensive option are the smaller inflatable/foldable hybrid kayaks like this AdvancedFrame Expedition Kayak that have received good reviews in general:

Length: 13 feet, width 32 inches

Weight: 42 lbs

Payload: 450 lbs.

to the high-priced FeatherCraft Kahuna:

Length/Beam: 14.7 ft., 25.2 in.

Weight: 35.3 lbs.

Payload: 300 lbs.

and a couple priced in between such as the Folbot Cooper:

LENGTH/BEAM: 16’ 6” / 24"

WEIGHT: 39 lbs.

Payload: 275 Lbs.

as well as the Pakboat XT-15 Solo:

Length: 15 ft (455 cm), Beam: 23 in (58 cm), Depth: 10 in (25 cm)

Weight: 39 lbs (17.7 kg)

Payload: 300 lbs.

and their XT-16 solo/double:

Length: 16 ft (485 cm), Beam: 26 in (66 cm), Depth: 10 in (25 cm)

Weight: 46 lbs (20.9 kg)

Payload: 500 lbs.

-How long and what is the beam of the group’s average kayak? I realize these are very basic factors in selecting a kayak, but it will give me a ballpark.

-What else should this newbie know before diving in?

-Any other kayakers who camp? Tricks of the trade?

-And of course I’d love to hear from anyone with experience in these types of kayaks.

Thanks, I hope to join the group soon!




Would be great if I could proof my subj.
haha…oh well.

If u invent yak u describe, I’ll buy 4!
There is no yak that fits the bill as you describe, or elase we’d all own one. Long Island Sound can be anything but calm, you need a good kayak. Depending on the size of your vehicle, a take-aprt kayak might fit the bill:

Hard to fly with one these days, however.

The best folders are the Feathercrafts, but take 45 min to put together, such as the Khatsalano. Perhaps a K-1 or other might suit you, but still, putting together is the key impediement. Others you list (e.g Pakboat) would never keep up with your pals in Brit boats.

You ask a great question, for which there is no answer, youg Grasshopper. :slight_smile: Thanks and g’luck

Top of the line folders …
like Feathercraft are quality sea kayaks and can handle rough conditions and have enough storage for a light backpack person. I assume you are not really interested in an inflatable, and you should not be given what you want to do. I would choose a boat that meets your storage and travel criteria and also is up to the worst that can happen while paddling. It will also handle the lesser stuff.

Small Boat Shop
I assume you know them, as they are in Norwalk. They used to carry Feathercraft and Klepper and are generally very knowledgeable.

The NY Kayak Company in Manhattan has long carried foldboats.

Folders aren’t very popular, so it may be hard to get info from Connyak and other kayak clubs. Best thing to do is to see if you can demo a few and form your own opinion.

advanced frame
For what you’re looking to do the advanced frame boats are not good choices. Poor camping ability, and the larger ones with more storage are too heavy. Check out the Innova inflatables or the Aire Sawtooth.

if you can afford the feathercraft
Khatstlano(sp?) than buy it but I suspect that if you could affor that boat you could afford storage space and/or a rack for your car and a regular rigid kayak.

the FC Khats takes 45 min to build

– Last Updated: Jun-07-09 9:31 PM EST –

You won;t be building it often, I assure you, unless you are paddling all day long or keeping it assembled for instance, on a week long trip.


Don’t rule out
the Feathercraft Whisper, it is a good seaworthy kayak (Dubsides current comando choice) A friend had one and we paddled in some water that others might not appreciate. The boat performed great, I could just keep up in my Romany.

Feathercraft Kahuna
I can recommend Feathercraft and have owned a Big Kahuna for 8 years. I have been impressed by its quality and seaworthiness. I have been caught in rough conditions with cross currents and wind, waves rolling up over the bow and smacking me in the chest. I remember thinking my number was up, but the Kahuna just soaked it all up. I assemble it in the spring and take it apart in late fall moving it around on my roof rack. I lube the aluminum tube connections to keep salt from causing any problems. I have never been the last guy in a group and am not sorry I purchased from Feathercraft. They are nice people and have answered many a question quickly.

Feathercraft Kahuna
I can recommend Feathercraft and have owned a Big Kahuna for 8 years. I have been impressed by its quality and seaworthiness. I have been caught in rough conditions with cross currents and wind, waves rolling up over the bow and smacking me in the chest. I remember thinking my number was up, but the Kahuna just soaked it all up. I assemble it in the spring and take it apart in late fall moving it around on my roof rack. I lube the aluminum tube connections to keep salt from causing any problems. I have never been the last guy in a group and am not sorry I purchased from Feathercraft. They are nice people and have answered many a question quickly.

There is no “Jack of all trades”

– Last Updated: Jun-07-09 10:31 PM EST –

Which is why many of us paddle enthusiasts who post here regularly, usually have more than one boat!:
A boat for recreation...A boat for whitewater/surf play...A boat for extended open water touring...A boat that packs light for airplanes. Remember, the flipside of a "Jack-Of-All-Trades" is--"Master of None!" A craft marketed as a versatile "generalist" type of yak will only leave you wanting in most group paddle situations (that being behind and holding others up thing you mentioned above...Trust me, I been there.)

Every boat is in someway a form of compromise. To start, you have to decide which category of boat strengths you will be using the most and/or the least. (Unless you're well-off enough to go out and buy 4 or 5 different class of yaks at once --In which case, you would be a "Master of None" anyway.) As with golf clubs, each has a turf-specific use(or in this case, "surf-specific") You will not find a highly portable fast long tourer that can also turn on a dime in whitewater. Period.

Even though I have three in my fleet, I wouldn't recommend an inflatable kayak for you. Why? The places you want to paddle: Long Island Sound, The Hudson, Lakes in the Adirondacks(I paddle all three places--But not with my IKs.) They are seemingly "relatively calm" bodies of water, but all are subject to instantaneous high winds, extreme chop/current and changeable conditions. An IK works best for technical whitewater-fast flowing rivers-recreational surf play (which are where I specifically use mine.)

Aside from the Pakboats, I would pick the folder from your list that you like best, can easily afford, and start with that...Master what gets you on the water first, then move on to another boat if you find yourself still wanting later. You say you're a minimalist camper anyway, so maximize whatever space you have.
--All boats get charged as extra baggage when flying these days.

While the Feathercraft is an excellent boat it’s not cheap and would I’d think be a poor choice for starting in the sport. Would be an excellent boat to move up to though.

I’d think the Folbot Cooper would be a good choice, it’s fairly narrow for a folder, is relatively inexpensive and should be at least close in performance to the rigids. It won’t be as fast but most rigid kayakers rarely paddle at full speed for long.

Bill H.

Cooper and Yost
I have a Cooper and chose it over a Feathercraft just because of the cost versus use. (but I have other boats and this was simply for travel)

Having said that, it is a great boat to paddle and easily keeps up. It really is surprisingly fast with a great glide. (I use their seat with no back rest and use a paddle float as the back rest and it is super comfy) downside is the proprietary cockpit that requires its own skirt and some diy if you want to brace with your knees well. Rolls easily, mine weighs in at 39 lbs

Other options are the Yost do it yourself folding kayaks. Lots of different ones you can build. down side is you have to actually make it. Up side is that is is lighter than even the folbot, you can put whatever cockpit you want. I built the Sea Rider and the Sea Ranger LC as wood frame boats and then the Sea Cruiser as an aluminum folder. I did find the Cruiser to be a bit tippy but then figured out that I could take a page from feathercraft and folbot and ordered a couple of 13 ft sponsons which fit right below the gunwales between the skin and the frames and if I want ultimate stability for fishing or photography I put a few puffs into the sponsons. If I want to carve turns etc I leave them uninflated. Best of all worlds. I put a standard cockpit and a zipper in the back for easy packing and I have a boat that is real close to an all rounder.

With practice it takes me 45 minutes to assemble the Cruiser and 10 to 15 to assemble the Cooper.


breaking water
if you want to be able to take breaking water on your deck/Beam (going by the tide rip images) you need to be sure the folder you choose will be up to that (water proof deck, water proof skirt/comaing fit, float bags/seasock), both in build and hull shape. Try edging a single klepper to side surf a 3 foot wave…

As a former feather craft owner (Kahuna), I would recommend one of their models. If you want to paddle flatter water, there are many more option in folding boats.

My .02 cents…
having had a Advanced Elements Expedition 13’ inflatable and a Pakboat Puffin 12’: Expedition is pretty heavy…but durable as hell and able to handle rough water including ocean waves when landing. Speed is moderate and stability is high, made with excellent quality materials…lots of room too.

Pakboat 12’ is darn fun and very well made…excellent bang for the buck at $700. Takes about 30 minutes the first time to assemble and maybe 20 after that. I was pleased and surprised with the speed, glide, stability, and comfort (I’m 6-2/210) and it’s easy to carry at under 30lbs in the bag. I have taken it down some Class II rivers and got hung up on rough rocks/sandbars, bounced off logs and hardly even a scuff mark on the hull. This kayak served me well for two years and many trips (including rivers/ocean in Mexico)…wish I still had it. I paddled their 15’ Swift…fast, great glide, and I could keep up with paddlers in hard kayaks of similar size no problem. If possible, talk to Alv (owner of Pakboats) and discuss your needs…great guy who has paddled all over the world.

A Khats
will limit your gear-hauling somewhat. It also takes awhile to assemble. The K-1 is better for all around use and camping, but takes about as long.

The Kahuna and Wisper (which I have) are much easier to assemble. The gear capacity/packability goes down a bit, but that’s the trade-off. Both just as seaworthy, IMO.

Also look at Nautiraids - they are lesser-known, but less expensive and nearly bulletproof. I’ve had no issues with either Nautiraid I’ve owned. I can assemble my Greenlander faster than my Wisper, it will haul more gear, but I miss the bow hatch. Biggest drawback is that their customer service isn’t great, but I’ve been able to fix anything I’ve needed to (whcih isn’t much) by myself.

on FC customer service. They are head and shoulders above any other manufacturer I’ve ever contacted.

True story and kinda funny: I visited their facility to test paddle the Wisper before purchasing it. I worked with Rob, who was extremely knowledgable and helpful. After the test paddle, I returned to the dock to see my wife sitting on a bench chatting with Doug Simpson, the owner and founder. Because of the rocks where I was getting out of the boat, I tried to be a bit too careful with the demo boat and dumped it. Doug let me change in their bathroom, then gave me a guided tour of their facility. I asked why they didn’t sell any T-shirts (this was before they had them available) and he found one that he gave to me. He also threw in the rolling rib for the Wisper for free.

After I wrote a scathing criticism of a Canoe & Kayak review of folding kayaks that was printed in the magazine (where the author said that folders were fragile and could never keep up with hardshells), I got an e-mail from FC thanking me for my comments.

Since that time, both Doug and Rebecca have been quick to respond to my inquiries about the Wisper and other boats via e-mail or phone. I doubt you could have this kind of personal contact with many other kayak company owners or their staff.

I love my Nautiraid, but I love my Wisper equally and know that anything I ever need for it is only a phone call away.

I am narrowing in on the Folbot Cooper as I’ve appreciated their forum and the support it lends (the pakboat XT-15 seems similar, but can’t find a review, yet alone a user forum. :o)

I agree…nothing is going to be the best of every situation, but gotta pick something.

I believe the Cooper with 24in beam and 16.5 foot length will keep with “the pack” for a recreational paddle and I ~think~ from my research, handle some very decent swells out in the Sound from what I’ve read. Any sort of cresting wave…eh, probably not going to be my day. haha

My last few questions, some specific to the Cooper, some more general:

-Does their 3-piece paddle that comes free w/ the cooper fit in the bag that comes w/ the cooper?

-What sort of spray skirt should I purchase? Nylon or Neoprene? Neo seems more waterproof, but I figure hella hot in the summer. What do most people use for my intended use during the warmer months? Is it total waterproofness over heat when paddling in the sound that can get choppy? Even in the heat of the summer?

-Cooper owners sometimes purchase the FC Sea Sock…being all cooped up w/ a black sea sock, and a black spray skirt…isn’t everyone burning up on a warm day? :o Can they be made out of different colors or is it not that big a deal?

-Can the larger cooper cockpit fit an aftermarket spray skirt or is it best to stick with the Folbot one because of the unusual cockpit shape?


– Last Updated: Jun-11-09 7:49 PM EST –

the 3 piece shovel, errr, paddle does fit in the bag but I STRONGLY recommend you go with another type of break down paddle such as one of the aquabounds at least if you don't wnat to spend a fortune on a lendel etc.
i have the neoprene sprayskirt but I roll my Cooper for fun so I need it. I understand the Snapdragon extra large fits the cooper also..ask Folbot, they can tell you. Remember that it is a large cockpit so i would think a normal nylon one would sag. But I don't know for sure. The type really depends on you. Will you be in conditions where the skirt could implode from so much water crashing down on you? probably not least I would rather not anyway)

Now about the Seasock... You have a skin on aluminum frame boat with internal sponsons, It comes with a couple or small float bags that would be barely adequate if your sponsons were to fail. (you can order bigger ones from folbot)
I ordered the Black Dog Seasock and am reasonably satisfied (you have to watch that you don't pull it down into the cockpit when you sit down negating its usefulness.) I don't know about the feathercraft but would like to assume it has a more generous cockpit area.

If you are on the forum then you know all about all the other diy tricks and tips folbot owners deploy. the nice thing about the folbot is that it won't hold you back initially, and is still a pretty darn good boat after you have gotten some butt time.

I wouldn't surf the boat in three footers but have had it in swells with no problem.

I did ask Folbot to add additional d rings so I could run perimeter lines which I consider to be essential.