TRAK kayak review

I just wrote a review of the TRAK kayak. It is on the review section here. I have been working with these kayaks for over a year now on my tours in the Amazon and feel as if I have a really good idea of the overall quality and performance of these kayaks.

Just to be clear, I consult for TRAK occasionally and help answer questions from a paddlers perspective for their product development.

I was just on their site this morn…
If I didn’t already have my perfect kayak I would take a serious look.

Sounds great for hurricane country, being able to pack it up and not worry about it.


The Jersey Paddler
has one on display. Really good looking boat but it’s on the weighty side. Seems about as heavy as most composite 16 foot kayaks. I would like to see an optional version without the hydraulic hull benders or whatever they’re called. Just an easy to assemble, lightweight, efficient paddling kayak. If they could just get the weight down to about 40 pounds, I’d be interested.


– Last Updated: May-21-15 4:49 AM EST –

While I understand the weight comment, there has to be some compromise if you want a truly tough boat. The hydraulic jacks are about 2 lbs each but they not only provide the stiffness for the entire hull, but are strong enough to alter the shape so you have the lateral adjustments as well as the rocker.
When I travel, I take the jacks, the coaming and the seat out and I am under 40 lbs. If I put the rest in the golf bag, I am under the airline restrictions for weight and take the other pieces in a separate bag, paying 25 bucks for the second bag instead of 100 for overweight. And I have plenty of weight left over for pfds, paddles, and other gear.
I love the fact that I can throw it on the roof rack as is because it is plenty stiff enough to travel with it on top of your car, or to put the bits and pieces in the trunk.


The boat is listed at 48lbs which is not to bad for a 16’ boat.

standard range for folders
The Trak’s weight is towards the high end compared to other seaworthy folding kayaks in that size range. The rugged Feathercraft K-1 Expedition at 16’ 6" is 51 lbs (with rudder) but their 15’ 7" Wisper XP is only 37.5 lbs. The Pakboat XT-17 (17’) is 44 lbs, their Quest 155 (15’ 5") is only 29 lbs. The 16’ 6" Folbot Cooper is 39 lbs (rudder probably adds 2 or 3).

You pay a premium price for the keel hydraulics on a Trak. If you didn’t think you would need or use that, there are plenty of other packable options that are cheaper.

Folbot Kiawah
Cockpit has identical solid feel as the Cooper. The Pakoat Puffin is squishy in comparison.

squishy Puffin
I have a Puffin and agree that it is 'squishy". But it’s only a chubby and relatively short rec boat, not in the same class as the other folder models I mentioned. In its defense ( and unlike its big touring “cousins”) it can be paddled open without the deck. This is a major reason why the coaming and deck support framing are not more structurally rigid.

not dissing the Trak
The Trak looks like an outstanding boat. I 'm not denigrating it at all. Just pointing out that it is one of many related options, though it is indeed unique in the hydraulic keel modification apparatus. If you don’t anticipate using that function, there are cheaper and/or lighter option.


– Last Updated: May-23-15 6:08 AM EST –

is exactly what the TRAK is all about. Being able to adjust the rocker to go through mangrove tunnels or windy creeks without having to work at turning it and then having a nice long waterline to be able to go a long distance without having to fight to keep the boat on track (pardon the pun) with a hard shell feel to it is the real difference. I own a folbot cooper and owned a kiawah, and neither even comes close to the stiffness of the TRAK. Not even close. Nice boats, dont get me wrong but just not in the same league. I just dont like boats that depend on sponsons to maintain rigidity in the skin. It degrades performance in my opinion or at best you lose space. Having a nearly indestructible skin which does not stretch along with the hydraulic jacks makes the TRAK what it is.


are just something else that can be troublesome though they seldom are. Without inflating both sponsons, my Feathercraft is a very unseaworthy boat. But they do tend to get a bit soft if the water is cold and you must remember to partially deflate them if you leave the boat on your roofrack in the hot sun or they could rupture. Other than that, no probs. I’d be interested if TRAK came out with a 14 foot kayak that weighed around 35 pounds with a simple stretching device that would eliminate the need for sponsons.

The Pakboat XT models have three fairly flat sponsons stacked on each side. They don’t really intrude on the interior volume because they are constrained by the ladder-like side framing. With the large open volume and the completely removable deck skin, they are the easiest boats I’ve ever used to load with gear and they hold a lot of it. Another advantage of the 6 sponsons is that if one ruptures (which happened to us the second time we used the XT-15, due to installing the seat wrong and creating a pinch point), you just deflate the corresponding one on the other side and performance is not noticably affected.

The guy we bought the XT-15 from was an outfitter/dealer who had been using them and the Pakboat canoes for guiding clients on Alaskan and Patagonian rivers.

I have been using mine in the Amazon and am very thankful that I don’t have to inflate and deflate sponsons as the temperatures can get quite hot and it would really really be a problem if one of the sponsons deflated or burst because of the heat.


I will probably own one, some day.
I appreciate the ability to change the boat shape on-the-fly.

I really like it
I’d want to try one firsthand to see how differently the hull behaves at either end of the range of adjustment. But I like the concept and the fact that it packs into a “golf bag”. 40# isn’t bad when it’s in a wheeled bag.

The other question I’d have is the longevity or durability of the hydraulic jacks in salt water.