Ordered a Feathercraft Wisper today

I’ve been thinking about purchasing a new kayak for a short while now and spent a lot of time online doing research and looking in the local Puget Sound WA area at different boats. First of all I’m still a novice paddler, my current Kayak is an Advanced Elements Airframe inflatable. The AE is a great boat for the money and super for new paddlers, very stable and easy to paddle if inflated properly. But after paddling it for a 3 hour outing a week ago along with quite a few shorter afternoon paddles, I decided the speed, lack of foot braces, and the general characteristics of the boat weren’t what I wanted for my primary kayak. I first paddled a number of different hard shells and was thinking hard about buying a QCC400X. Then I read Ralph Diaz’s book on folders and decided that I should think seriously about one of those. After looking at reviews and the online sites I decided on Feathercraft and today had the chance to try out a Wisper and a Kauhna (thanks to Lyle at Folding Kayak Adventures here in Seattle!)

Lyle and I spent quite a bit of time discussing the two models and then it was time to paddle! The weather today was a mild breeze with just a bit of chop on Lake Washington where I was testing the boats. When I called Lyle I had assumed that the Kahuna was going to be my choice, and told him that was the one I wanted to paddle. After asking me a number of questions Lyle suggested that I try the Wisper as well as the Kauhna. First I paddled the Kauhna, what fun! Nice and stable but still reasonably fast and sure seemed easy to turn. No problems at all with the chop going either upwind or downwind, I thought boy was I right in picking this one. Back to shore and changed over to the Wisper. Hmm, feels different as the coaming is lower in the boat so you feel like you are sitting a bit higher in the kayak. Also I wouldn’t call it tippy but a few shakes of the hips and this one sure reacts more quickly than the Kauhna. Boy she gets up to speed quickly as well and look I can even feel comfortable edging her slightly for a turn! Wow is this fun, but without the skeg she does like to weathercock a bit. Still even for a novice this boat feels awesome, I’m a bit tentative right now but it feels like it won’t take long to become really comfortable in this boat and over the long haul I’d have more fun with her than with the Kahuna. Back to the beach to try the Kahuna for another time and yep, while I think the Kahuna is a great boat I’m picking the Wisper for my new ride on the water.

So now comes the one or two week wait while Feathercraft builds a red deck Wisper for me. It’s going to be a long couple of weeks I’ll post my impressions after I get her and run through putting her together and doing some paddling.

An unsolicited plug for Lyle, he is very easy to deal with, not at all pushy, and very happy to chat about Feathercraft kayaks at length. I found him to be very knowledgeable and would highly recommend giving him a call if you have any thoughts about purchasing a Feathercraft kayak (www.foldingkayak.com).

Another tidbit
I was at a kayaking symposium where a fellow named Dubside demonstrated half a zillion different rolls, using a Wisper. He told me he it was a new boat for him and that he had been using a Big Kahuna before that, also rolling it.

I mention this as evidence that a low-volume, skinny kayak is not necessary for advanced rolls. The Wisper, while hardly a barge, is not exactly a sliver. Looks like a great backcountry camping kayak. It has two hatches; no bulkheads but has a sea sock. 23" beam and about 15 and a half ft overall length.

I paddled it a bit and found it surprisingly fast, very very comfortable, and attractive to look at. With me in the unloaded boat, there was a fair bit of weathercocking, but hauling camping gear would probably reduce that.

Best of all, it was so light I could easily shoulder it. 33 lbs with the “regular” skin and 37 lbs with the heavy-duty skin.

Dubside had the assembly time down to something like 11 minutes by the end of the symposium. That’s darned fast.

If I ever buy a folder, the Wisper will definitely be on my short list.

The best thing about a folder…
is when you have the skills to handle the conditions where you want to travel, you merely pack it and another duffel with kit and fly there. Set the boat up and paddle away. The fact that Feathercraft offers the most high performance designs makes it even better. Good choice!

Rob G

Wisper standard and options
Thanks for the feedback, I’ll be taking some classes so it will be interesting to try and do a roll. One quick note, the standard Wisper only has a single medium size stern hatch, the bow hatch is an option. Personally I didn’t want the bow hatch as I thought it would kick up a fair amount of spray if there was any water coming over the bow and my primary use of the boat will be day trips anyway.

Love my Khats
Welcome to the fold. I have not flown alot in the past year so have not used my Khats all that much lately. Still a great boat. Enjoy your Wisper. It is a bit of a change for Feathercraft to get away from decked boats that do no not begin with a K.