Low profile light SOF or folder for photography and high wind

Inspired by Willowleaf’s beautiful skin-on-frame (SOF) kayak photo, I have decided to save up for a solo SOF or folding kayak. Please kindly recommend one. Application is mostly 4-6 hours of paddle, calm water, nature seeing and bird photography.

I want the following features for sure:

  1. Low profile.
    As we have 25 mph winds quite often where we live. Not a lot waves in our bayou or small river though.

  2. Very light weight and 24" or narrower.
    Less than 50 lbs and about 20"-22" would allow me to easily lift it and keep it on top of our garage shelf. I have a 24" wide kayak and it is more than stable/wide enough for me (but it is too heavy to stay on our garage shelves). I am 135 lbs, 5’9", 38 yo male with size 9 shoes.

  3. 13-17 foot long

Nice feature to have but likely not necessary for now: folding

Considering what I already have now (see below), folding feature will be a nice addition. But as I am only 39yo (at least another 20 years till retirement) and have very young kids, we don’t have time to travel with kayaks. At many places where we really want to paddle, there are rentals or boat tours available already. Folding feature will become useful, only when I retire from work.

I do NOT need:

Surf ski or racing speed
Surf ski probably won’t be stable enough for photography and its cargo volume is not enough to carry camera+water+lunch.

Surfing, whitewater, fishing or family use
I have a modular kayak (Point 65 Apollo), a Grumman 17’ aluminum canoe and 10’ drop stitch sit-down paddle board for those applications already.

I have looked at Pakboats XT-17 and Oru Kayaks Coast XT. Their specifications look good on paper, but I don’t know if they would work well in 25 mph winds. Don’t know if Pakboats Quest 150 would work, as it is 13" deep when decked or 10" when not decked.

Budget is up to $2500, I guess, since I am saving up for it.

Pakayak Bluefin is heavy at 59 lbs and seem too deep at 16". But otherwise looking good on paper. 14’, 24" and modular. https://pakayak.com/shop/bluefin-14/?attribute_pa_color=surf

I am not sure about drop stitch inflatables. The Sea Eagle models seem too wide and too flat-bottomed. Advanced Elements AIRFUSION EVO at 13’, 24" and 32 lbs seems slightly short. Probably not very good against 25 mph wind either.

I have no clue about other options. Please kindly help. Thank you!

Based on what your specs are, I think the Pakboat Quest 150 would be a very good choice. You seem concerned about “depth” - remember that much of the hull is below the water in a sit inside kayak. The Quests are very low profile in the water and shed wind well. Unlike pure inflatables, the Quests have 3 skinny sponsons on each side which serve to tighten the skin – they don’t create the bulbous bulk that makes most inflatables so prone to being blown about and buffeted by waves.

Owing to your slender physique, you could also fit a smaller Quest 135 (like I have) if you could find a used one. They discontinued that 13 foot version a couple of years ago. Or (again, if you could find one, though it would be costly since they are no longer available new and are highly desirable) a Feathercraft Wisper. I have one of those too.

Don’t know what part of the country you are in (one reason I miss the old Paddling.net format is that the profiles mostly included people’s locations.) If you were near me you could test all three boats and see how you felt about them.

By the way, looking towards the future, both the Pakboat XT-17 and their Puffin Saranac can be configured either as a solo boat or as a tandem, in which you could put one or more kids as they get older. And since you mention that you live where there are bayous, I presume you are in a warmer climate. Having the removable deck is a nice option with the Pakboats.

Thank you very much, Willowleaf. I live near Houston, Texas. Quite far away from you, I think.

It is ok to leave Pakboats assembled for storage, as long as joints are coated with lubricants? And what is a safe driving speed for such a folding kayak, when it is strapped on car’s roof, 40mph or so?

Yes, you can leave them assembled indefinitely with Boeshield T-9 on the joints.

Hauling depends on your vehicle. I made the mistake of driving 60mph for 9 hours with my Wisper upright directly on the roof rack of my short Mazda CX5 a couple of years ago and seriously bowed the frame. Took me many hours to straighten the bent longerons – I think it is 98% Ok now but it will never be fully straight. I knew better – putting them on their sides on Thule J-racks with bow and stern lines to the bumpers is the only safe way to carry them at speed that I have found on shorter roofs. I hauled my first folder, a 14’ FC Kahuna all over the interstates for years flat on the rack but that was when I drove a '92 Volvo wagon so it was well supported with a wide distance between the racks. I have thought of designing a PVC or wood “cradle” to support the folders on my close-spaced rack. Another project in the hopper that I may not live long enough to complete!

Maybe a Current Designs Vision 130 composite. Mine seems relatively minimally affected by wind. Relatively easy to keep desired direction with 10 to 20 mph winds from any angle. No rudder or skeg.

It’s 13’ long and weighs 40 lbs. It easily accommodates my size 8 Chota Mukluk Lites.

I’m 5’6" and 165 lbs with 30" inseam.

A stable and pretty wind tolerant recreational surf ski / SOT is the Epic V6 at 40 lbs or less. It’s stable enough that my 60+ year old wife with stiff legs and back is quite comfortable on it, even though she’s afraid of falling in the water and told me that she’d never paddle again if she fell in the water.

They also have a plastic V5 that might suit your needs.

In “my” experience:
SOF as in traditional
I’ll weigh in. 216 okay 225. Having built / rebuilt 10+ SOFs all in Greenland style, Anthropomorphic to big boy size, the SOF’s I have perused for sale are generally built personal. Most of them narrow and tight. Even said my big boy frame is still weak platform for photography. I shoot with waterproof pocket size on a float. I have dumped playing with that a bunch.

SOF as in non traditional/folders;
I have a Folbot Aleut, it is a good photo platform. They are OOB unfortunately. Probably available though.
Owned: Feathercraft Kahuna… also good. Also OOB.
Feathercraft Khatsolano the worst. ROYM has this one now I traded him for a 100lb Anas Acuta (hard shell) equally as bad photo platform.

This was a c/p from another thread. But I’ll add that the Khats was the only boat that car topped poorly.

Good luck in your search for the “perfect kayak” , Grasshopper. I still search

Peace J