New to kayaking. Folding kayaks?


I am new to canoes/kayaking and am looking for a kayak solely for exercise. Unfortunately, I don’t have the room for a conventional kayak as I do not have the space to store it or means to transport it. Thus, it looks like I am limited to a folding kayak (or maybe inflatable?).

I have done a fair amount of research online and have learned a decent amount about kayaks but have not so much in the way of folding kayaks. So my questions are: does anyone here have a recommendation for a quality folding kayak? A certain brand to avoid? Or an additional place to look?

Again, my only interest lies in exercise and would most likely only use it for two hours at a time or less minimizing the need for storage space. Information about me: 5’11” and 160 pounds. I would like to spend $1500 or less at this point as this is a new hobby. Any information/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance

Are you sure?
First off, are you sure you don’t have the space to store it or the means to transport it? Kayaks can hang up high on walls or hoisted up to the ceiling. And just about any automobile can haul one on the roof and any vehicle can tow one on a trailer.

But if you’re sure you can’t store or haul a regular kayak, there are factors to consider with folders and inflatables. Setup time is a big one, particularly since you will be using it for fitness - short durations on a frequent basis. Breakdown time is another big one, not only the time it takes to disassemble but the time to let it dry before you fold it up and put it away, since doing that when it’s wet will lead to mildew/other problems.

When you consider the factors above, ask yourself honestly - how often are you going to feel like going through all that for your fitness regimen? Are you likely not going to use it as often as you should for fitness?

If you really can’t get a regular kayak and don’t want the hassles of folders/inflatables, you could look into finding an outfitter near you that might give you a (monthly/annual?) membership to use one of theirs?

How handy are you?
I haven’t spent time looking at folders, for purchase. But, in looking at skin on frame designs to build, I have noted the folder designs at

Aluminum tube frames, HDPE plastic bulkheads, and PVC skin. As I recall, you could build an entire boat for $500.

Several people here have built Yost boats, and may provide more info, if you’re interested.

Folding kayaks are fine
They tend to be expensive (like $5000 for some models). But you may be able to find a used model, especially if you can repair minor problems. Have a look at:

Folder: 30 min assembly

– Last Updated: May-18-09 7:02 PM EST –

You won't take the time to make it every time you wish to paddle for 2 hours.

15 min disassembly.

Best bet: beater plastic kayak, inexpensive, and keep, it at a local friends house or rent space at the lake from a local business and chain it to a tree.

No transport? How about motorcycle?
Pics of user-made folders from Yost’s site, including one being transported by motorcycle:

Puffin Swift?

I paddled one briefly, have not assembled/disassembled one.

not just set up time
but after paddle boat maintenance. I have memories of an apartment in San Francisco, boat skin hung out the window to dry (after a rinse in the tub), aluminum tubes stood up in the corner of the bathroom, frame pieces in the sink.

I liked a lot of things about my folding kayak, one of the biggest being it allowed me to paddle while living in a small apartment in a city. As soon as I moved I bought a hardshell/s and a few years later I noticed the folder was gathering dust and sold it (financed another boat, of course). A few folks I know in my local paddling club have the same story.

Lots of great things about folding boats though, and my story may speak more to my personality than the boats. As recommended above, check out you’ll get a different view from people who choose them than the mostly hard shell boat folks here.

Dubside Time

Set up 30 minutes If you are paddling twice a week I don’t think most of them will take this long. you get faster with practice. Your first set up time might be over 2 hours on some of them. If someone comes by and starts talking to you set up time could get long.

Take down time is 15 minutes after you get it dry. If it is paddled in fresh clean water them maybe it can dry on the roof rack on the way to your apartment and then you can take it apart there. Don’t put up a folder or inflatable wet! If I lived in an apartment where there wasn’t a kayak canoe lockup area outside, then I’d get a 9 to 12 foot boat and hang it up in side like a surfboard.

If I traveled the world by plane I’d probably take an inflatable. If I traveled the world by bus and train I’d really rather have the Folder.

Definately check out Dubside.

I am with the others
Not sure you will find a folder in your price range.

Better to find a place to store the kayak on the water. marinas, kayak shops, etc. all often have storage available for a fee. These usually mean nice and secure storage racks, access to a place to paddle, hose to wash boats, and sometimes even showers for to wash yourself. In expensive NorCal, it runs $25-75 per month. I suspect it would be cheaper in other areas.

Yost folder and or Folbot Cooper
depending on your patience and skill is a great option. I have built two wood frame boats, and built the aluminum framed Sea Cruiser as I am taking it to Brazil on the plane. About an hour assembly time initially but i am sure I can get that down another 15 minutes.

having said that, I Highly recommend a Folbot Cooper for your price range and for an all around great boat. Takes me 15 minutes to assemble it and it is shock corded together so the tubes shake out easily.

their customer service is legendary and they frequently have a sale on so you can keep within your price range. Mine weighs in at 39 lbs so it travels by air easily.

I doubt I will ever get rid of mine. For what it is it is perfect. I can roll it, and have taken it out into swells. it is not a surf boat and I woudln’t want it is real nasty stuff but anything else it works great.


Some folders like the kahuna take 15


No transport? How about a biycle?

– Last Updated: May-19-09 10:52 AM EST –

When you return from paddling you can simply leave the kayak on the trailer, cover it to keep the sun off and it will be ready to go next time.

Check out an inflatable, particularly the Innova series, the Sunny or the Helios. Both are within your price range, easy to setup, take down and store, and both are very capable boats.

My experience
I had a folder for ~ 3 years, a Folbot Cooper. It was a great boat, and I loved paddling it. As noted above, it is possible to assemble in 15 minutes. However, it usually took me more like 30 minutes after fiddling with tension and seat etc. For me, that was too much time if I only had a couple of hours of paddling time in an evening, and I ended up leaving it assembled in the garage most of the time. Plus, it’s not a good idea to put back in the bag long term without drying first. I agree with the others above - if at all possible, get an inexpensive plastic boat and figure out a way to keep near the water, or get a bike trailer and keep the boat wherever you can keep your bike. A plastic boat is fine outside and I would imagine a less inviting target for theft than a bike.

agree on the leaving it assembled part
I purposely had them leave the seat back out and opted for the seat pad that most feel is uncomfortable. A paddle float blown up fits behind the seat perfectly and is a super comfy backrest that does not protrude over the coaming and allows rolling effortlessly.

I dunno. If it was my only boat, I would just take the assembly time as part and parcel of the whole experience. things have a way of working themselves out.

I really don’t know much about inflatables and reallly should go try a few out but they seem very wide and really open canoes rather than kayaks. I am probably wrong though.


Thank you
Hi all,

Thanks to anyone who has taken the time to leave a reply I really appreciate it.

I glad to see that some individuals have had good experiences with folding kayaks. However, I am also glad to hear some negative aspects as exercise can’t be too much of a chore otherwise it will never get done.

I most certainly have several new place to look now.

Thanks again

In whitewater, folding canoes happens
more often than folding kayaks. Though I saw a Folboat neatly folded around a rock on the Conasauga.

not disagreeing some can
but I never got better than 30 minutes bag to water with my kahuna (including float bags and seasock, rudder not used). Used 1x - 2X per week for about a year and a half.

TW, first time I put a Kahuna
together, took me 15 minutes. I get feathercraft construction and their idiosynchrosies, though. Not saying I could do it tomorrow, though. The day after, probably.