Modular paddlecat/ kayak < $1200

-- Last Updated: Aug-30-16 3:25 PM EST --

Thank you for having me.

I would like to buy a modular (sectional), hard-shell, tandem paddlecat or kayak, for no more than $1200 USD. Please kindly advise me. Location is Texas USA.

Application type is < 6 hrs short paddling trip, calm/flat/easy waters, family recreational (non-picky) and apartment dweller.

I have the following two commercial options in mind and wonder if I can buy anything better for less:

1) Expandacraft (tandem paddlecat, narrow version)

Would cost $1200 shipped to me. I like its expand-ability (of accepting a 3rd paddler and/or paddle drive like Hobie Mirage, electric motor and rowing kits).

2) Point 65 N / Snap On Top tandem 3-piece kayak

It is not really expandable, but the Snap branded model only costs $700 shipped to me.

I have spent lots of time researching and reading. There are other brands/models that are more expensive, DIY-extensive and/or not-currently-availble, which I am aware of and not mentioned herein.

I do not want an inflatable or a folder. They are either not durable, not easy/quick to set-up or both. Had (broken) inflatable before and did extensive research on folders. Not for me.

I have to have easy modularity, hard shell and at least tandem seats (my family has 4 members).

Vessel weight/size does not matter much, since it can be broken down into pieces. As long as they all fit inside into my mid-size SUV (Acura MDX), and can carry around 320-400 lbs of total load.

Do not need exceptional tracking. We are happy enough with steering/general performance of a high-pressure inflatable. If I am paddling alone by myself, I would be happy enough with my current single inflatable paddle board.

Modularity seems to rule out most options. Without that requirement, We can easily go to an outdoor store and buy whatever tandem SOT kayak they have in stock (we are not picky otherwise). Expandabiity is highly appreciated and will be given more budget.

No air travel ability is necessary.

I have posted at another forum and was asked why modular and why not inflatable. I have posted my reasons in the following threads:

Are the middle sections of the P56N model symettrical front to back? You could line up a bunch of middle sections and have a kayak bus!

Yes I am aware of that

– Last Updated: Aug-30-16 3:15 PM EST –

Thanks. Yes, I am aware of that. Same goes for the Expandacraft. Symmetrical or not does not matter to my application and I did not look into that.

Like this
Here is a 407 ft version

Can’t advise you as I have no
experience with modulars, but I can point you to a number of reviews of the Point 65 kayaks here at Pnet in the hope you find it helpful:

Thank you Rookie
I have read all of those reviews. I am just wondering if there is a cheaper (and/or better) alternative.

In US, Snap On Top (which is owned by Point 65 N) sells a Snap branded model that is the same as P65N Apollo, for $100 less shipped (with $700 total for a modular tandem).

Appears to be a limited market.
Interesting article by Nigel Foster here:

Pakayak is a new kickstarter project, but doesn’t meet your needs as no tandems.

I’m sending that link to my wife, she finds our kayak unwieldly (21.5’), this puts it in perspective.

cheaper won’t be better
The general rule in buying kayaks is that you get what you pay for. There is not a lot of artificial price escalation in the sport. Hoping for something “cheaper and better” is not realistic unless you luck into exactly what you want used on Craigslist.

It sounds like the Point 65 modulars are the best bet for what you are describing since they are infinitely configurable for as few or as many paddlers as you desire.

Willing to pay more for features

– Last Updated: Aug-31-16 10:56 AM EST –

Yes, I read about Pakayak before and ruled it out, due to its lack of tandem seats. There are at least 2 other brands/models that I ruled out, due to not fitting my requirements. Sorry, I am peculiar and picking about features.

Is there any other commercially available alternative at the $1000 range?

Right now, I favor Expandacraft slightly, even though it costs $500 more. I like its expandable feature, such as accepting motors, sailing, paddle drive and rowing kits. I also have an electric motor that can be useful with Expandacraft, for example.

A narrow catamaran design also allows paddles to sit higher and paddle better more stably, which I like.

I know paying more can get me better tracking/ speed/ rigidity. But those are not my primary requirements. I am only a casual day-trip / family paddler.

not true in all states
Sitting higher in any boat doesn’t make it more stable or easier to paddle. In fact the opposite is true. Raising your center of gravity makes you more unstable, particularly in rough water. I looked at the Expandacraft. They really don’t have any configuration that is anywhere near a kayak. They are simply modular pontoons so they are not really comparable to the Point 65 boats which are actually paddled like a kayak. They have more in common with stand up paddleboards and pontoon boats.

If you just want to sit and fish or have a stable flatwater platform for your kids to jump on and off, then the Expandacraft looks like a reasonable option. But I sure would not want to be in any of their offerings on anything but completely flat water and would not want to try to paddle them any distance. Even in the narrowest configuration they are too wide to use a kayak paddle.

willowleaf made good points

– Last Updated: Aug-31-16 10:30 PM EST –

willowleaf made some good points. That made me think and look into some specs again.

Here is my argument, respectfully, if I may (please counter and I am here to learn - I know you are helping me and can potentially save me lots of money - I highly appreciate that).

Whether or not a narrow Expandacraft can paddle like a kayak is a good question.

People did seem to use it as paddling kayaks in these videos (2 of which were on beach with 30 mph wind):

Do you see any tracking problems there? My eyes are not good enough at telling that.

Expandacraft is a catamaran with widest in-water width of 20 inches (length is 16' for a tandem, center seating is above water and won't contribute to friction or cause tracking problems, if I understood it correctly). See specs at:

Point 65 N / Snap On Top tandem model has widest width of 24'' (length is 12'9") and a near flat bottom:!product-page/c136p/d52e53a5-bc71-5485-e11c-9f2f3ba1f272

I am here to learn - do you think Point 65 would track much better (and being no narrower than Expandacraft in water)? Bow/stern sections of Expandacraft seems sharp/narrow enough, even for a kayak?

I have not paddled Expandacraft to tell if it paddle like a kayak, but I have paddled two inflatables that have in-water widest width of no less than 20'' to 24'' (i.e., wider than Expandacraft). They actually tracked/performed just fine in my hands to my (admittedly not-very-high) standard - I have paddled them for hours just fine. The Exanpandacraft is no wider and much harder, which theoretically should track better than my inflatables at least?

We don't fish much and would use Point 65/ Expandacraft for nature site-seeing and exercise paddling. My kids won't jump on and off.

Sorry for the confusion, but I did not say "sitting higher in a boat makes it more stable and easier to paddle". I knew and agree that the opposite is true. What I meant was a narrow catamaran design allows me to sit higher (than my very low position in my inflatable Sea Eagle 330), which allows me to paddle better (like how my other harder inflatable allows me sitting higher and paddle better). Of course, sitting too high will compromise stability. And catamaran design offers better stability that a typical kayak, though tracking may not be as good.

beams incorrect
I don’t know where you are getting 20" to 24" on the beam of the Expandacraft set ups. The narrowest setup is 34" beam – that is straight from the specs on their site. Their wide stance models are a whopping 42".

Yes, each cat tube is 10" but the connecting platform adds 14" to the craft. 34" is wider than many sit on top kayaks and definitely wider than the Point 65 models. The Point 65 solo sit on top is 24" and even their fishing solo is less than 30".

Yes, a duplex cat tube design will certainly track well due to the wide stance and dual hull, but I expect it must be quite difficult to turn – that’s the impression I got from those videos. And the seating position doesn’t lend itself to efficient paddling since it inhibits torso rotation. The paddlers in those videos look to be putting considerable effort into propelling the boats…

I’m not trying to talk you out of this, just trying to offer realistic perspective on how these compare to the other options. The Expandacrafts may indeed meet your requirements, but they are not going to perform the same way as conventional kayaks. They are more apt to perform like inflatable rafts and SUP’s.

14" platform is not in water

– Last Updated: Aug-31-16 11:24 PM EST –

and thus should not add more friction / inhibit tracking? I got 20" as there are only two hull width in water - 14" (edit: actually 1' or 12" ) platform should be above water. Only in-water mass (I.e., effective in-water beam, not physical dry beam) adds to friction. Am I wrong?

It is true though, if the vessel is physically too wide, paddling won't be comfortable. The question is if 32" is too wide for my shoulder. I have no idea. I am 5'9" 150lbs. Opinion is highly appreciated.

Please kindly elaborate what you meant by:
"And the seating position doesn't lend itself to efficient paddling since it inhibits torso rotation."

Is the seating position too high? Otherwise how does it inhibits? Sorry, if this is a newbie question.

Turning is not a concern for our type of paddling and water areas. I have a 9'8" sit-down paddle board for maneuverability/surf. Single short kayaks are quite cheap too.

Thank you for your opinion. I actually want to talk myself out of Expandacraft and save $500. And your opinion is pushing me back towards Point 65.

disagree on inflatables and folders
I do disagree with your criticisms of folders and inflatables. I’ve owned 5 hybrid folding frame and inflatable sponson boats myself.

There are versatile inflatables that set up fast and are plenty durable. Yes, there are crappy cheap inflatables (as you report having experienced), but there are also high quality ones. Aquaglide makes a range of models, for one. And the fairly recent Sea Eagle 393 Razorlites (solo and tandem) have gotten rave reviews.

With a good high volume pump, setting up an inflatable is quick. Inflatables and folders can be rigged for sailing and some can have trolling motors attached (Pakboat makes a motor support deck for their folding Pakcanoes.)

The Expandacrafts are relatively heavy, even though they break down. A 16’ dual hull for a tandem set up requires 4 midsections at 11 # each and 4 ends at 7.5# each. That’s 74 lbs even before you add the crossbars, platform and seating. It’s a novel design, I agree (kind of like a “lego” concept).

Not criticising folders or inflatables

– Last Updated: Sep-01-16 10:58 AM EST –

they are just not for my particular application this time. I am still using my current Saturn SOT290 inflatable for single paddling, so I am not against inflatables or alike. Just want something different for family use this time.

I have rigged my Sea Eagle 330 with an electric motor and it worked quite well :-p

Any opinion on questions in my previous post? Thanks!

again, not a kayak
You can’t edge the Expandacraft and if you watch the few videos of it being paddled, the boaters are locked in place in what looks like a rather uncomfortable position and are putting a lot of stress on their shoulders to keep it moving. When you are paddling a kayak, much of the force comes up through your torso, engaging your abs and back. To reach the water from that high position on such a wide boat will require a fairly long paddle, which puts more stress on the arms and shoulders as well. Not so much of a problem for short trips but would be fatiguing on longer outings.

I would argue the two tubes have drag similar to a single large tube since the water flows on both sides of the tube. And you have twice the resistance to turning the boat. But, as you say, that may not really impact the sort of trips you plan to take.

The Expandacraft is a novel concept, and could be a fun thing if it works as advertised. One thing that gives me pause is that virtually ALL the YouTube videos of a product that has been out for at least 5 years are by the maker and user reviews are virtually absent. I would be hesitant to buy something that unusual unless I could find some feedback from people who had actually used it.

Point 65, on the other hand, has a good track record.

Your concerns are valid

– Last Updated: Sep-01-16 5:42 PM EST –

and I noticed those too.

Thank you very much for your advice!

Yes, the Expandacraft is physically much wider than a touring or racing kayak. Seating is probably 4"-6" higher than a regular plastic SOT too.

When you said "Not so much of a problem for short trips but would be fatiguing on longer outings."

What is your definition of "short trips"? How about two 3 hr sections, one hour (lunch break) apart, on the same Sunday, on very flat/calm/easy lake water? That is my primary application (single weekend-only day trips). Most likely, our paddling trip won't last over 4 hrs in the beginning. I am 5'9" 150lbs and not muscular at all.

And yes, almost all of videos related to Expandacraft were provided by the seller. Though I wonder if its unconventional form deters a regular kayaker from purchasing or even thinking about it.

Point 65 does have established reputation and some third party user reviews/videos. Being $500 cheaper and a safer choice also helps a lot.

I am reasonably fit and use very narrow long sea kayaks and Greenland paddles (which are light and place less stress on the body for extended paddling. I regularly do 5 to 7 hour day paddles on local flatwater rivers and a large lake, usually with a one hour lunch stop. Though I feel pleasantly tired at the end of such outings, I have had people join me in boats that were not as efficient as mine are who were really worn out by the end of the day.

Not having used anything like the Expandacraft and not being familiar with your fitness and endurance, I can’t really predict how you might feel doing an all day tour in one of those boats.

Another factor to consider is that you would likely have a much easier time re-selling a Point 65 if you decided you did not want to keep it.

Thank you very much

– Last Updated: Sep-02-16 12:55 AM EST –

and I will check out a Point 65 modular kayak at a local Cabela's, hopefully tomorrow.

You have persuaded me. Most likely, I will buy the Point 65. I can always get the Expandacraft later on, if our needs chance in that direction.

I don't mind fatigue or muscle ache after 6 hr paddling. That is how muscles regrow themselves to bigger and stronger forms, right :-)