Novice kayak paddler thinking about getting a Pakboat

I’m a novice paddler who’s been on the water a few times this season on hard shell rental kayaks. I love the feel of being on the water and am looking to purchase my own kayak to take on expeditions in the future. Because I stay in an apartment I’m looking to get a small foldable one that packs small - I’ve done so much research and I’ve narrowed my search down to the Pakboat Quest 150. It’s light, well constructed, long and narrow, and packs small. I thought about getting an Oru for the longest time but the plastic construction seemed shoddy and it packs so huge - reviews seem to confirm this.

Yesterday I went for a demo event near my city but they only had the Puffin Saco for test, open deck and without foot pegs. The wind was very strong, waters were choppy and I constantly felt like I was about to capsize. Especially since I didn’t have foot pegs, resting my legs on the soft, flexible keel felt really strange. Unlike a hard shell kayak I also felt like I was floating on the water instead of sitting in it, if you know what I mean. In all, the experience is making me second guess my decision. Of course, nothing will beat a pure hard shell kayak and the tricky conditions made it hard to test the boat properly, but I’d be much more assured if I knew I could approximate a hard shell touring kayak experience in flat water conditions. I’d like to know what other Pakboat users think - is this par for the course or do you get used to the skin on frame experience eventually? I’m aware that being novice paddler with prior experience of only hard shelled kayaks also likely played a part in informing my impression.

We have had an Oru Coast for two years. We just got a Pakboat Quest 150, late last year, and I have taken it for a quick spin. The Pakboat seems very nice, and I look forward to doing some more paddling. The first thing I noticed was it does not want to sit upright, rather it likes being a bit off to the side. What this means is that if I try and keep it completely upright, I feel like it is very tippy, and threatening to capsize, but if I let it find its position of stability off to the side slightly, then it feels stable.

I also found that it is easy to adjust direction with edging, very nice! It is more nimble than our Oru, more responsive.

I too find the lack of foot pegs an issue, so I purchased the foot pegs for it, but have not yet given that a try. People have made various foot supports too, but the foot pegs Pakboat sells seem well worth getting to me.

That is all I can say for now, hopefully others with more experience will chime in. I think you would find the Pakboat could be a good fit for what you are looking for.

Thanks for the tip! Yes I would definitely get the footpegs but I saw the inflatable foot peg they sold online and I wasn’t very impressed. I’m hoping I can get a sturdier one or maybe even fix one on myself.

For the boat tippiness, I wonder if it’s to do with the position of the sponsons? I’ve read that for pakboats it’s very crucial where you place the sponsons because this could make the difference between a stable boat and one that capsizes. People have written on this forum about it.

I’d love to your experience if you take your Pakboat out again in the coming weeks! In all likelihood I will go for the Quest along with the footpegs and possibly thigh braces. At least my local distributor offers free returns so in the worst case I’ll just return them.

I have a Pakboat Quest 150 with foot pegs (and rudder). I have multiple kayaks and bought the Quest to take on vacation so I wouldn’t have a 17’ sea kayak strapped to roof at stops along the way.

I solved the “tippiness” factor by slightly deflating the seat. Sitting 1/2” lower made all the difference in the world. I find it paddles comparable to my sea kayaks (Prijon and Ocean) with the exception of flexing lightly rather than slapping head on waves…

Assembly is best practiced before you get to the water, but once you know the steps, it is easy.

This is a real kayak… not a toy, but is designed for travel. Look for reviews by Willowleaf who has posted about traveling to the UK with hers.

I bought a demo model hence the foot pegs and rudder. The pegs are great. I prefer to edge the kayak to turn, so don’t bother connecting rudder when assembling.

Hey thanks abz. Which foot pegs are you using if I may ask? My local distributor sells the inflatable footrest by Pakboat but I was looking for a sturdier option. I don’t need a rudder too just something fixed and solid I can rest my feet on.

Just making sure that you know that the Pakboat Quest has metal and plastic foot pegs available. If you were looking at this site:

Kayak Accessories - Pakboats

You will see the foot pegs for the Quest below the inflatable Puffin Footrest, and they have a photo if you click on them. That is what I got for our Quest, they look solid and are nice and large, about the size in our P&H Cetus, actually, so I expect they will work well.

I bought a Pak Boat Puffin when I was just starting paddling. I no longer use it because I paddle with my dog and we both don’t fit in the cockpit any more. It has the footrests and is very comfortable to paddle. The initial stability is tricky at first, but once you’re in, you feel very secure and like part of the kayak. I loved paddling it. It’s for sale now if you’re interested. I’m in Minnesota.

My foot pegs look almost identical to the ones in the link on the next message. They are rigid, with the pedal itself having a gas pedal style pivot in case you want to use for rudder control.

I am near Philadelphia. If you are close, you are welcome to check out my Quest before purchase.

We went on a short paddle last evening, with our sons. One of them used the Pakboat Quest 150. He has used our Oru Kayak quite a bit previously. The Quest was outfitted with the foot pegs, and I put very little air in the seat. He found it stable, nimble, and slipped through the water easily. He said it was better than the Oru in every way, other than being more complicated to assemble, and harder to fit back into its bag compared to folding the Oru.

I got a Quest 150 last year. It was my first “real” kayak after using inflatables for years. I REALLY like it. Like you, space is limited so an inflatable or folding kayak is the only option. My initial impression was that it felt very “tippy” as others have said. However I also agree that not fully inflating the seat makes all the difference in the world. I generally don’t even inflate it at all now and it is still very comfortable. You can’t really adjust the height of the sponsons because the internal frame dictates their placement. You can however, use less air pressure. GregofDelaware’s experience seems unusual. It seems like maybe the skin isn’t centered on the frame, but this is pure speculation. This can be adjusted by equalizing the pressure in both sponsons. I have thought about getting some footpegs but I haven’t really felt the need for them. The only real drawback I have found is that putting it together is quite a process. You won’t be on the water in 10-15 minutes. It generally takes me about 45 minutes. Getting it all packed nicely into the bag is a little tricky too. With that aside, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend getting one.

I’ve heard people taking as little as 20mins to set up their Quest and I think with practice I’ll be able to nail that down so set up time isn’t a problem for me. As for the fixed footpegs, where are y’all getting them? I live in Berlin and the distributors here only stock the inflatable Puffin footrest which is not what I want. I’ve sent out an email to Pakboats asking if they know anywhere in Europe that sells them and am awaiting response.

Broadstrokes-- what do you plan on using your kayak for? That’s a huge consideration.

If you’re mainly a calm water paddler, lakes and ponds, maybe some gentle rivers (class I), consider a Tucktec. Don’t laugh!
At 72, I was finding hoisting our two Pungo 120’s up onto a roof rack really tough (plus the fact that I’d need a whole new rack system to fit my new car). Foldable looked like a great option. Tried an inflatable, and HATED it. I looked at a friend’s Oru which was really pretty but pricey and I read mixed reviews about rock resistance and durability.
We LOVE the Tucks. 28 lb, and two fit my Mazda 3 hatch easily. They are VERY durable. They are not long, but for the type of paddling we do, that’s not a problem at all. There is a two person version coming out soon which could be paddled solo, if that helps.They are very reasonably priced and come in a wide range of colors if that matters to you. Customer service is terrific.
I’d suggest at least taking a look;

Hi, I’ll weigh in on my Quest and its adjustable metal and plastic foot pegs. My Quest is the earlier 135 smaller model but has the same internal design as its big brother the 150. The adjustable hard foot pegs assemblies just click right onto the frame longerons and are fully adjustable for leg length. They make the boat handle quite a bit better and provide a strong bracing platform so I can paddle hard and fast.

One reason that people new to the Pakboats often have a feeling of “instability” is that these are essentially hard-chined hull kayaks due to how the frames create differing surfaces rather than a smooth transition. If you are not used to that it can feel tipsy, but hard chines actually offer good secondary stability because the hull will rest on those surfaces between the chines rather than capsizing when you lean the boat. Once you relax and get comfortable in the boat (and have the seat position low enough so you are not sitting too high respective to the water line) the Quest is a very stable and reliable touring kayak, especially in rough water. I have been paddling folders for 20 plus years and prefer them in rough water where they absorb some of the water force and flex over waves rather than being battered and pushed around by them. But 2 of my 3 hard shell kayaks are also hard chines (angles in the hull rather than rounded) so I am accustomed to that performance sensation.

You should be able to have the rigid adjustable foot brace assemblies shipped overseas. Check with Pakboat USA in New hampshire and see if they can send them to you if you can’t find a source through a European ScanSport dealer. They really do make a big difference in the Quest. I see they have changed the Quest footpegs to a more costly full footprint design that can be adapted for rudder control. I have the same sliding frame but the simple angle brace in my. Those were around $80 when I got the Quest 6 years ago.

I also have the inflatable foot “pillow” that I have used in the smaller Puffin 12 but that is only suitable for slow flatwater trips. It is also possible to create a foot brace like the one used in Feathercraft folding kayaks which is like one of those HDPE white plastic kitchen cutting boards with holes in the four corners with adjustable 1" nylon straps with quick release buckles run through to attach the thing to the kayak frame so you have a sort of floating bulkhead wall to brace against. And I once fashioned a temporary foot brace for the Puffin by sliding a 15" piece of 1’2" metal electrical conduit inside a 20" piece of 1" PVC pipe and ran nylon rope through it to tie it to the kayak ribs to brace my feet against.

Thanks willowleaf! I know from my searches that you are somewhat of an authority on pakboats in this forum and was hoping you would spot this thread. I think my concerns are put to greater rest now. When I did the demo it was a particularly windy day and the saco came without foot pegs or spray deck. As a result I felt so exposed and the rough waters didn’t help.

For me the footpegs are almost a non negotiable - I don’t feel comfortable paddling without one and I’d prefer a fixed to the puffin ones. Honestly the Quest footpegs with the rudder option is overkill because I don’t foresee myself using a rudder, but I wouldn’t mind it if I could even get my hands on it. For some reason I just can’t find any place that sells them here. I’ve also reached out to pakboat by email and it’s been a week since…I also read that they manufacture in Germany now so I wonder if it’s possible to get hold of parts directly from the manufacturer. You would think that if the footpegs were indeed manufactured here then the distributors should stock them but no, none of them do! It’s very odd stuff.

Since you mentioned secondary stability, I’d also like to know how it feels edging with it? Is it any different than edging with a hard shell, are there any problems rolling, or performing advanced maneuvers?

I have never rolled one of my folders but I have seen people who are adept at rolling do so with both a Feathercraft Wisper (a 15’ folding sea kayak I have had for 12 years) and a Pakboat Quest.

Yes, I am able to edge to some degree with my more slim folders, the Wisper and the Quest 135. Not with the Puffin 12, which has large diameter single inflatable sponsons along each side and is rather fat and wide – it’s a recreational style boat which I would not expect to have that capability.

Pakboat in New Hampshire is a very small outfit. I have found over the years that it can take a few weeks before I hear back from them so don’t give up. Since the Pakboat founder, Alv Elverstad, retired and sold the company to ScanSport a few years ago, the response time has been more sketchy.

I should probably get in touch with them at some point since I am always recommending their products to people and see what is going on with the business. Since the folding kayaks forum, shut down a few months ago it is hard to communicate with people that I have gotten to know over the years through that group.

It’s a shame that it’s such a small outfit because for the same price a PB seems to best an Oru in every way (except the set up time). Oru has done a fantastic job at marketing its products and I will admit to being very taken with them for a while until I discovered the very underrated skin on frame market.

In Germany there is a brand called Nortik which is not very well known outside the country methinks, but is the standard bearer for folding yaks over here. They have origami kayaks almost exactly like the Orus and also skin on frame that is very similar in concept to the FCs. Unfortunately they pack really large and one of the main selling points of the PBs for me was that it was not only light, but that it packed small. PBs are stocked by almost all major sport dealers here but they’re just not as popular as the other brands for some reason. I’d hate to see PB go the same way as FC but I think this will happen unless they get some mass market appeal.

There are other European based folding and inflatable kayak companies including Longhaul, Klepper, Pouch and Grabner, as well as Nortik. Also Ally folding canoes, which is the company that Alv Elvestad worked for before forming Pakboats. Pakboat’s folding canoes are very similar to Ally models due to that. Tgere is also Trak, a US company that makes extremely slick and technologically unique uktralight folding sea kayaks tgat can be set up in half tge time of a Pakboat or Feathercrft. But their boats are extremely costly, require upfront lare cash deposits and in some cases buyers have waited years to receive tgeir boat. Bad business model and though I have seen Trak biats in the flesh and admit I was impressed, I would never buy one for those reasons.

Folding kayaks have been popular in Europe for at least a century and still are more so than in the US, probably in large part due to the fact that Americans tend to have more storage space (bigger yards, cellars and garages) and drive larger cars, so they can more easily manage heavy cheap plastic boats that are heaviky mass marketed here.

I compketely agree with you that Pakboat does not market their products well. Even Feathercraft, who arguably made the best folding kayaks of any company ever, did a lousy job of promoting them. I would see their tiny ads in the major outdoor and paddling magazines and cringe because tgey were not illustrating at all how uniquely light and portable theboats were,

Pakboat also failed to post compelling ads and did not seem to want to market the products to appeal to a broader audience. I also felt they changed their models too often which made it hard to get parts. The Quest 135 I have was discontinued after less than 3 years. And I am still trying to fabricate and source parts for two Pakboat Swift 14 kayaks that had defective sponsons and seats. The company was unable to provide replacements. But in their defense they have had troubles, including a devastating warehouse fire a few years ago that destroyed hundreds of new boats they had just stocked.


I just want to update that today I reached out to Out-Trade, the German manufacturer of Pakboats and I got an immediate response! On a Sunday at that. They told me that they should be stocking the footrests this week and will notify me when available.

Since Pakboats have yet to respond to my email, I would say that a good alternative for anyone looking to contact them is to reach put directly to Out-Trade. Apparently Out-Trade also go by the name and website which I frequented often when researching kayaks in Germany but it never occurred to me that they also manufactured boats for Pakboats. (They also manufacture the nortik and triton advanced line of boats).

It’d probably be easier to get a response if you write in German, DeepL has a very good translator you can use for that.

Thanks for that information and all that is good to know!

I used to be fluent in German (6 years in high school and a year of it at university) but I would struggle to compose anything coherent (after 40 years of disuse) without heavy reliance on a translation dictionary at this point. But I can still kind of read it so I will check out the link and bookmark it for future reference.

Update: I scored a great deal to get a used Quest 150 on ebay and took it out on the water for the first time today!

Some thoughts:

The ‘tippiness’ pakboat users talk about was immediately obvious to me the moment I got in the boat but honestly it’s not much. After a few hours of paddling I got used to it. Another thing that pakboat users talk about is how the boat ‘flexes’ against the waves rather than crashing against it and this was very noticable too. I paddled on a slow moving but busy river with loads of motorised boats and sometimes the waters got choppy, but the boat handled it well - in fact better than hard shells. With hard shells crashing against the waves means possibly getting wet but not with the Quest.

Paddling performance was good, the boat tracks well and slices swiftly through calm water. However I’m not quite sure how to edge with this boat given that there’s no hard deck to press my knee against. I’m still an amateur though so maybe I just need more practice.

Some things I was annoyed by were the packing bag and the velcro along the gunwales of the boat. There’s nothing wrong with the velcro in itself, but I found myself setting up the boat today in a dingy area underneath a bridge with loads of gravel and grass and the velcro catches a lot of that stuff. Finding a nice surface to set up the boat on would’ve been the better call but then you’re not always going to find one. The material for the packing bag is also really thin and any abrasion can result in a tear. That’s exactly what happened today. Had to slide the bag down a gravel path to get to where I set up my boat which resulted in a small hole. Nothing that can’t be fixed but I would’ve appreciated it if Pakboat put a little more effort into designing the bags. I’m now contemplating getting a replacement bag from Decathlon that’s sturdier and can also double as a packpack.

One last thing to note is that Out-trade no longer sells the pivot style foot pegs, only the small angled ones. I emailed them and they said they stopped making a rudder system for the Quest years ago and this is unlikely to change in the future. I don’t mind not having a rudder but getting charged 100euros for what looks like flimsy plastic footpegs really left a sour taste in my mouth. Or maybe my anti-plastic bias is unwarranted and time will prove me wrong.