Help withe Portables

-- Last Updated: Sep-17-14 6:49 PM EST --

Hello out there
I'm just getting started and need some advice from anyone who might have insight to my problem. I need a very portable but trustworthy kayak to take on trips with my 5th wheel. I have been looking at the folding porta boat, folding kayak, and inflatable kayaks. I'm now leaning toward an inflatable. I am 6' 270 lbs. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


– Last Updated: Sep-17-14 8:18 PM EST –

One caution on inflatables: unless you get the type that have a rigid "spine" (a sort of metal backbone that reinforces the keel) you may find at your size that the boat becomes difficult to paddle because the weight concentrated in the center deflects the hull and raises the bow and stern.

Have you looked at Pakboat kayaks? They are sort of a hybrid in having a breakdown aluminum frame plus inflatable sponson tubes along the sides that add flotation and tension the skin. Well built boats that are easy to set up and very comfortable to paddle. Mid range pricing, too, and more versatile than a lot of inflatables.

It would be helpful to know what sort of waters you are considering for paddling in which regions of the country. That will have a lot of bearing on which models of kayak you should look at. And what is your optimal budget?

There is also a forum site like this one that is strictly for folding and inflatable boats that might offer you some insights on various models:

Thanks for the info. I have not heard of these kayaks. They look very interesting. I will be anywhere in the south, Fl, Al. mainly. Marsh water to lakes. The key is it has to be safe, fit my camper, and able to support my weight. While I will be fishing, it will be used just as much for site seeing and exercise. I plan on getting something for home use too. Maybe a nucanoe.

How about putting a rack on the trailer?
Around here, I often see large campers with boats on the roof. One couple I often paddle with have a very large pickup camper, for which the roof is actually taller than a normal 5th-wheel camper just because the floor is so much higher, and they put two boats on the roof. It’s actually not too difficult a process for them, using plastic boats and not worrying about a small bit of scraping that occurs while lifting. If it were me, I’d install a rack on the roof and then get a boat that would make me happy on the water.

“Origami” kayak
I saw the episode of Shark Tank these were on, and they look really cool!

I’ve been thinking of getting one for my girlfriend because they are very light and would fit in the trunk of her car.


– Last Updated: Sep-18-14 9:36 AM EST –

IMO you're approaching this the wrong way. Given what you've said I think you'd be much happier with a hard shell kayak, and most kayaks are very portable. You should have no trouble finding a way to transport one on or in the truck or fifth wheel. I encourage you to strongly consider a SOT. BTW, I know you asked specifically for help with folders and duckies, but on these internets one gets what one pays for LOL. Good luck with the quest. That's half the fun!

Thanks for the info. I would not be able to use the roof on my 5th wheel due to height restrictions. I did consider the porta boat that could be mounted under the camper. I would not consider putting any holes in the roof or sides either as the camper cost as much as my first house. The down side to the porta boat is I would need a 2.5 hp motor. I did find a propane motor but it would more equipment to tote. I really think some type of folding or inflatable is the answer. While I do not mind spending the money on a good one, I don’t want to waste my money. And I really have no clear picture as to to what will really work for me. I really do appreciate your help though.

Our local place just starting selling/demoing Oru. I don’t know personally, but they do appear well-made. Spendy though.

Height restrictions and holes in roof
I’m surprised that height restrictions are a concern, but I suppose it’s possible. So, you are barely clearing overhead obstacles as it is? I would not have expected that, for as I mentioned, I see such rigs with boats on the roof all the time, and big pickup campers are a couple of feet taller than trailers.

As to holes in the roof, no doubt the manufacturer has already mounted things to the roof and you are satisfied with how that turned out. You can do the same. It’s the same idea as factory roof racks on cars (requires holes in the roof), and aftermarket roof racks for a lot of people, and satellite dishes on the roof of a house, etc. It might be wise to make it an extra maintenance item (checking integrity of seals), but drilling holes to mount things is hardly an unusual thing to do.

By the way, I’ve seen boats mounted vertically to racks attached to the tail end of campers too. That would eliminate overhead-clearance concerns.

You can do what you want of course, but when you ask people who love boating what kind of boat to get, they are apt to think of ways to make it possible to use a nice boat instead of one that barely gets the job done. I realize that some people, and apparently you as well, don’t like to mess with things, but the fact is, ordinary people can actually do a much better job of sealing any new gear-mounting holes than what’s likely to be done at the factory. Maybe you’d be more confident having the rack installed by the outfit that sold you the camper?

I know I would
That would be my first step, to check with the manufacturer about rack installation. If for no other reason than it’d be nice to know where not to drill.

Personally that would be
my second step. My first step would be to look all over the camper and truck for places I could rack of lay a kayak. Finding a home for a ten foot kayak should be no trouble with that rig.

Still thinking, new idea
I thought of something I’d probably like even better if I were in your situation. I think the ideal solution would be a custom-built rack on your truck. The rear support members of this rack would mount to the front stake pockets of your pickup’s cargo bed. The front supports would attach to the frame behind the front bumper. Too bad that as our ideas of what’s stylish have changed, this sort of thing is more difficult than it used to be, but it can still be done. The key feature of this rack as I envision it, would be that the front and rear of the rack would be connected by two lengthwise rails, so that the cross bars that support the boat could be positioned anywhere (that’s because the rack mounts, especially the rear one, are likely to be poor locations for boat support). Diagonal braces at all the corners would stiffen what might otherwise tend to be a bit of a wobbly structure.

If your truck has an extended cab and the over-hitch portion of your trailer mostly fills the area over the cargo box, a 12-foot boat would fit on this rack with almost none of it poking out beyond the front of the truck (that’s a rough guess - you need not have an accurate “fit”). If you have a crew cab, a longer boat will fit. Longer boats would have to extend forward of the bumper, and if you have a standard cab, this would be the case for a fairly short boat too. That shouldn’t be much of a handicap when driving a rig that can’t go in tight places as it is.

I like this idea more than the first one I presented because this way you can park the camper yet still be mobile, as far as taking the boat to various paddling spots.

some articles
There are two articles you may want to read in California Kayaker Magazine. Both can be read online for free at

First is the article on kayaking and small living places in Issue #9. This talks about inflatables, folding kayaks, and some other option you may not have considered, with their pros and cons.

Second is the article on types of kayaks in Issue #10. be good for you to have a feel for the type of kayak (recreational class, sit on top, touring, white water, etc.) so you know what type of kayak meets your paddling desires.

Wouldn’t go with inflatable in FL
If you’re paddling in FL, especially in marshy areas, I would highly advise against an inflatable. Skimming over a gator (accidentally, mind you) can easily puncture it or if one bumps your yak that can puncture it too.

Hey guys

I appreciate every ones input. As for my camper roof, the front ac is a low profile due to the height. There are many over passes that I already have to keep an eye out for. The walls are gel coat and at the price I paid for it there is absolutely no way I will be putting holes in the roof or the walls. While I am quite capable of sealing it, it just isn’t in the cards. I have looked at the rack system for the truck, but I guess on that note, I just didn’t like that approach. That’s my fault I suppose. At this point, inflatables seem to be a bad choice so I will reconsider the porta boat. I will also still purchase the nucanoe for home use. Again I appreciate everyones input. I have learned a little bit here and hope to see some of you on the water some day. Thanks again !!

Why Nucanoe?
Just curious what the attraction is for you of the Nucanoe? It’s awfully wide and heavy. Probably a good fishing platform but not anything that is going to be good for the sightseeing or exercise in which you expressed an interest. At 41" beam it is nearly twice the width of most touring kayaks and even considerably wider than most standard canoes. Have you looked at solo pack canoes? If the prices seem a bit high, Old Town is coming out with a $999 solo pack type canoe that can be paddled like a kayak. It is due in stores next month and is called the Next. It’s the same length as the Nucanoe but nearly 30 lbs lighter.

Pakboat also makes folding canoes (and the Pakboat Puffin models can be used with or without their decks, both as an open boat or a decked kayak.) Ally is another company that makes folding canoes. Despite the claim that paddling over an alligator would puncture an inflatable, Pakboats don’t rely on the inflatable portions of their structure for their hull integrity anyway. I bought my first one from a fishing guide who used both their kayaks and canoes in rocky streams in Alaska and South America and swore by their durability.

I appreciate your reluctance to try to carry a hard boat on your RV. I have a small motorhome myself (a vintage 21’ Class C) and there is no way I could practically haul my hardshell kayak on it. Being able to stash the folding kayaks in their duffels within the camper is not only convenient for transport, but I don’t have to worry about security at my destination.
I’m 5’9" 220# and have a Trak kayak that I’m happy with. The handling is very similar to a hard shell, and setup is easy. They are pricey at about $3K, but ideal for traveling in a wheeled bag a little bigger than a set of golf clubs. It is far from being my only boat but works great since I can carry it in the backseat of my work truck.



What about in?
Have you considered just tossing a kayak inside the camper for transport? You should be able to do that fairly easily unless you get a real beast of a boat. When you reach your destination you can just move it to the truck bed and come and go with it at your leisure. Or, does the fifth wheel have a receiver hitch? If not what about adding one?

Anyone familiar with RV’s and campers knows that you can’t just “toss” long bulky items into them (unless you have one of the hybrid “toy hauler” versions with a rear overhead door). The doors are not wide and entry requires a right angle immediate turn into the interiors which are also are narrow and have built-ins crowded on both sides.

I’ve been rebuilding the water damaged interior of a motorhome for the past few months – Just trying to get a flat 4 x 8 sheet of paneling in requires major strategy and depends on it flexing. I’m also accustomed to stashing several different sizes of kayak in my basement so I have a good concept of what it takes to get one around a corner.

I just cannot see how one could stuff any kayak (other than a tiny WW squirt boat) into a camper. The OP is a pretty big guy and any boat that would suit his purposes is not going to fit inside the camper. If somebody has managed to do this I would be interested in hearing how they managed and what sort of boat it was.

I owned…
a Pakboat folding canoe for quite a while, though I didn’t use it all that much. It was actually a nice boat, 15 feet, could be set up for solo or tandem paddling. Biggest reason I didn’t use it more was that it took a long time to put together. The instructions said 25 minutes, and maybe if you did it all the time you could do it in 25 minutes or less, but I never got down below 30 minutes. It wasn’t much fun to get to the water and then spend a half hour “building” your boat.