Pakboat purchase was major mistake for me

want to post this for other newbies like me so they have this info

I purchased a great condition older pakboat off craigslist in california only because i had some friends who live there and could take it to ups and have it shipped to me in AZ

Finally tried to get it into the water and could not get it together by myself
The steps and parts of it are not a problem but stretching the skin is really hard- i do think this one has not been on the frame for a while which did not help
Since i kayak by myself most of the time this is a no go

Also i live 2 hours away from lakes/rivers etc and did not feel ok leaving it together and hauling it on the roof at 70-80 mph

Then i put it on craigslist to sell it- 3 months and 1 person contacted me that had no idea what a folding kayak was

Listed it on this website and another kayak forum and did not have 1 response

Had a guy from Washington do a nationwide craigslist search and contact me about it, we did a deal through ebay and i just shipped it to him

Anyone that tells you these things weigh 26lbs are wrong
This just costs me over $300 to pack and ship to the other side of the country
So beware if you get one of these they are not easy to resell and very cost prohibitive to ship at todays rates

These may be easier to sell in the states that have more water but out here no one knows what they are and you will be stuck with it

This is a very niche product with a small following , probably like most folding kayaks…

I realize it is like anything else and some people really like them but buyers should beware of the risk of reselling if these dont work out for you

What did you pay for it?

Think after buying it, paying to have it shipped here etc , 2 new sponsons and glue i had 675- 700 in it

And just lost probably 300 selling it, I don’t usually screw up that bad but I definitely did this time

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I’m sorry you had such a bad experience. As the owner of many folding kayaks over the past 20 years, I can feel some sympathy for you but also a bit defensive about the product. There are many of us who regularly use and love these boats. I’ve owned 8 folding kayaks, 5 of them Pakboats (including at least one example of each of their model designs, the Puffin, Swift, XT and Quest). I recently helped re-home a vintage Ally folding canoe, nearly identical to Pakboat’s own Pak Canoes and even the frames for their Puffin series (Alv Elvestad of Pakboat was originally an engineer for Ally).

I agree that the Pakboat assembly instructions tend to be poor, but on the folding kayaks forums we regularly share instruction guidance and tips and, as with any mechanical process, once you get the hang of it, it is not that bad. I’ve posted detailed photo essays on Flickr and the pages for the XT, Puffin and Quest models. Too late now for you, but soaking the skin can help with putting the boat together if the fabric seems too tight when you are putting it together after it has been stored for a while.

I can assemble most of my folders in about the same time it takes to hassle with moving a hard shell boat into position and loading and strapping it to a roof rack and then unloading it.

I don’t know which model you had but I have found all my Pakboats were indeed the advertised weight. I’ve hauled my 24 pound (with deck) Puffin 12 as checked baggage in a standard rolling suitcase with all the gear I needed to wear and use to paddle and it was under the regulation limits. I’ve weighed the Quest 135 and the two Swift 14’s I now own and both are spot on the listed weights (all under 30 pounds).

I’ve also been able to sell my past boats within the market that exists for them for a reasonable return. Yes, it is a much smaller market than most types of boat and sometimes it takes a while to find the right buyer, but there are people out there who do want them especially since Feathercraft and Folbot closed up shop 6 years ago and there are fewer sources for good folders.

You mention new sponsons – is it possible you had one of the batch from around 2007 that had a defective batch of sponson and seat fabric material? Some of those missed having the warranty replacement because owners were not aware of it.

I’m also surprised at the shipping cost you report. I’ve shipped several halfway across the country and never paid over $100 through USPS, by breaking up the parts into 2 or 3 separate cartons. We just shipped that 65 pound 18’ Ally folding canoe from Pennsylvania to Montana with expedited shipping (UPS and in 3 cartons) to make the buyer’s deadline for an expedition he was soon to depart for and it was about $230.

I was totally shocked on the shipping also, I got a quote of 289 or something from FedEx-with me buying all the stuff and packing it myself

took it to USPS and got close to the same quote

I even unpacked it all and packed it up in three smaller boxes -which cost more money - thinking it would be less in smaller boxes and it was still 260 with the cheapest and slowest shipping

All told packing materials and shipping at least 320 if not more

Plus 8 hours wasted

Since I had budgeted $150 for shipping was already losing money at that price I did really bad selling it

I have a feeling in other parts of the country where there are lakes and ponds and creeks everywhere lots more people have kayaks, here where there is not a lot of water and you have to drive a long way these are just not as common

Overall for me it was not the right boat for a few reasons

It would not get used that often and probably always be hard to stretch the skin

And I’m inclined to think my wider inflatable‘s are more stable but hard to say since I did not get it in the water

The Sponsons seemed like to me that being old whether or not they were the defective ones they were likely to be the first/only thing that might go bad
And I was very concerned with the boat being old and not being able to get some to fit it later so felt it was a good idea to invest in them

It is what it is and I hope the new owner gets good use out of it, I think they’re cool but definitely more of a niche thing

I see them on Craigslist not often, but steadily, and they are always little used and people are trying to get their money out of them, ie asking waaay too much. Ultra niche product.

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It’s probably not a lot of comfort to you, but I think there are plenty of us on here who lost that much or more on selling a used boat, so don’t beat yourself up. I bought 2 pristine looking Pakboats from a couple who had gotten them as a wedding gift and barely used them – thought it was a steal until I realized they were from the defective batch from 2007. I’ve invested time and money in making duplicate sponsons (replacements were not available for a rather unique design) and will probably take a loss when I eventually sell them.

As for them being a "niche product, in the early days of popular kayaking (from the early 20th century until the 1960’s), folders were the norm and were the dominant form of kayak, particularly in Europe where most outdoor recreationalists rarely owned large vehicles or had garages or sheds to store hard shell boats. Klepper has been cranking their kayaks and sailing boats out for a century (Long Haul has done the same in the US for 20 yars) and there are still several European marques like Pouch of Germany and Ally of Norway (who have been selling their folding canoes for nearly 50 years.)

And folders remain the craft of choice to this day for many research expeditions and guided hunting and fishing trips to remote locations as well as standard gear for the marine type commandos of many nations.

Properly cared for and with knowledge of how to set them up, they are quite durable. My oldest Pakboat is a 2004 that has all original parts with no issues. I can set it up in 20 minutes and all the inflatable components hold air reliably. My Feathercraft Wisper is 15 years old this year and in excellent condition. I’ve known people with Kleppers and Folbots that were 30 years old and still functional despite annual use. Feathercrafts are the premium brand of folding kayak, hand made in Canada with many unique models until they closed down 6 years ago. There are good reasons why they command top dollar when they come up for sale: they are literally irreplaceable in quality, performance and design.

It’s only a “niche market” in the US because the manufacturers never heavily promoted them (plus Americans tend to prefer that their toys be cheap and handy and are impatient about having to actually study and learn how to use anything new). Artisanal companies like Feathercraft could never have supplied high consumer demand anyway, and the price point was not one for mass marketing. The oddball plastic panel Oru folders certainly had pretty good success at mass distribution and market penetration while Trak has gone the other direction at making themselves “unobtainium” by requiring heavy prepayment for a boat costlier than most of the higher end composite sea kayaks, just to get on a waiting list with endless delays.

I suspect most of the people who dismiss folding boats (and their owners) as novelty relics of some kind of quirky and esoteric “club” have never experienced the unique performance and pleasurable water feel of a good folder (i am not directing this at the topic OP, by the way). Not to mention the freedom of throwing a duffel bag in a car trunk or checking a compact piece of baggage at the airport that contains everything that you need to kayak at your destination without the expense and time and place limitations of rentals or the headaches of local transport or storage. And, as we geezer paddlers age, it’s hard to deny the advantages of a 16’ open water capable kayak that weighs less than the average 4 year old grandchild.

Folding boats are not for everybody, true that. But neither are waxable wood XC skis or driving a manual transmission car, yet there are significant cohorts of people who appreciate all those things.

Manual transmissions, wood xc skis, and wood/gut snowshoes were at one time standard/state of the art.

Pakboats not so much.

There were crappy versions of all those things, and some that were, and still are, sublime to use and superior in performance to more “modern” iterations.

For their price point, Pakboats are a pretty good product. My Pakboat Quest 135 is not as slick as my Feathercraft Wisper, to be sure, but it cost 75% less new , $1100 list price vs $4200, though I paid far less for both of them, one being a factory demo and the other being a used one.

Would like to pick your brains please. I had a penguin sea kayak here in NZ but now need a good folding or inflatable . Pakboat, Trak, Advanced Elements air fusion evo seem to be my shortlist. I’m wary of trak delays ( and costs). I’ve read the quest 150 had an instability to do with a high seat position . Is this true?


The instability issue was only with the first production run of the Quest 150 and smaller Quest 135 back in around 2015 or so. In fact I bought my 135 then and it was one of those affected. It was just a case of a frame connection for the seat suspension beinf fabricated upside down in profuction. As soon as they discovered the mistake they corrected it for the model and figured out a way to fix those first boats with a retrofit. I fixed mine right away with their simple instructions so the seat was lowered an inch and have not had any problems with the boat. And the newer Quest 150 was redesigned again so it is slightly different from the first model and there are no problems with it.

With any of the Pakboats you need to make sure that the inflatable sponsons along both sides are equally inflated and are pulled down in proper place below the frame longerons. This is explained in their instructions for assembly.

The Quest is a great kayak and will outperform any of the Advanced Elements models. Trak is an amazing boat performance wise and for fast assembly but the cost is high and the inability of the company to deliver to customers reliably would keep me ftom trusting them both for initial purchase and customer service. Also Traks require careful maintenance and the hydraulic frame extenders are known to fail. Pakboats are well designed but simple to maintain and repair. And you can’t beat the value, one third the price of a Trak. And they are wonderfully light and easy to pack for overseas travel.

Let me know if you have more specific questions about Pakboats. I can send you a link to a series of photos I put together showing each of the assembly steps. Pakboat has been a great company to deal with for a long time. — my only criticism is that some of their assembly manuals can be hard to follow. So I created that to help new Pakboat owners who were struggling to get the assembly figured out.

Too bad you are so far away — I will be selling one or two of my Pakboats and a Feathercraft folder this year.

I envy you your location. I had booked my first trip to NZ back in late 2019 and was supposed to spend 2 weeks there in May of 2020. After having the trip postponed 3 times during the pandemic by the travel company, we reluctantly cancelled in December when the latest date of April this year was also looking to be unrealistic. I have wanted to visit NZ for many years ( long before LOTR). Hope I can get there before I am too elderly to enjoy its tracks and lakes.


Pro tip: Use a shipping broker, like They don’t care that you’re not shipping a bike… :slight_smile:

And play around with box sizes.

Here’s an example:

Shipping one 20x20x12 box from MA to CO cost $35.

Shipping two 20x20x12 boxes from MA to CO cost $70

Shipping one 20x20x24 box from MA to CO cost $35.

Weird but true. Taped the two boxes together and paid half the shipping cost!

I just sold a vintage pair of wood and rawhide snowshoes on Ebay and discovered a fact about shipping that I had not known about. I had measured the snowshoes and used those dimensions and their weight (just under 10 pounds and I added a pound for a box) so that Ebay would calculate shipping to charge the buyer. A fellow in Colorado offered me $50 and I accepted it, and Ebay added $45 for shipping which the buyer paid.

I had just had to replace my 42" TV and had the box from the new one and the 48" long and 14" wide snowshoes fit in it diagonally perfectly. Once packed my package was 42" x 26" x 5" and 10 pounds 11 ounces. By weight it should have been around $38 for shipping. But come to find out that when a package exceeds certain dimensions, the Post Office ups the weight penalty based on the cubic inches of the box, not the actual tare weight. So instead of paying for 11 pounds the postage was based on 39 “calculated” pounds and I was charged over $80!

I checked with Fedex and UPS and they were even higher for a box that size, regardless of the light weight. I only cleared a bit under $15 on that sale, probably less than $10 since I used a whole roll of packing tape to securely wrap the box in all directions. But the snowshoes found an appreciative home anyway. Live and learn.

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DIM weight or dimensional weight is a industry standard. It all boils down to paying for the space your item takes up. It is especially important with item shipped by air. Car parts (plastic bumpers, brake lines, headliners) are some of the best examples of very large boxes that weigh next to nothing. One plastic bumper box weighing 5 lbs can take up the space of 50 + small 5 lb boxes.

It is important to note that packaging you get from UPS, FedEx, or the post office should not be subject to DIM weight so long as they are not modified (ex: two boxes taped together).


Thanks fir the explanation. That makes sense.

Just got my Quest 150 and I like it how it performs in the water although set up, take down and maintenance is a pain. :laughing:
Got it from Buy Pakboats Quest 150 online at | Pakboats | OutdoorXL
Shipping to Singapore where I am was much cheaper than the US$400 I was quoted from the US.

The setup and take down get easier with practice, trust me (been setting up and taking down folding kayaks for 20 years now). Once you get a routine set up with it, the process gets faster and less fretful. I always take twice as long the first time every season (usually because I forget to do one or more steps in the right order), by the end of the summer I can do it in my sleep. I made myself a set of photos of each step with my Quest assembly and saved an album of them in Flickr. I review it a couple of times before first assembly each year now so I have the routine stuck in my mind before I get started. It helps!