TRAKs the next best thing to hard shell?

I’ve been having a hard time sorting out marinas and boathouses to store a hard shell kayak in New York (suggestions welcome!) and so have been thinking about getting a couple year old Seeker. I know they are beloved and the 16 feet is attractive, but having had a SOF kayak in the past that eventually split at the seams, I worry about durability and if they can handle Hudson, Long Island Sound, and Jamaica Bay conditions.

I’d use float bags, which I already have, and I guess get a sea sock too but I also don’t want to end up with a boat I’m always worrying about pushing to its limits—both in terms of keeping it in good shape and in terms of the water.

What are people’s experiences with them? Do they edge and take waves as well as claimed? Do the many different parts wear and weakens over time? And will I miss the rigidity and bulkheads of rotomolded and fiberglass boats?

Always eager to hear everyone’s wise thoughts!

You might want to check out “This is the Sea 4” by Justine Genven. It shows Dubside, Greenland rolling expert-city person-without car, taking the bus with his Trak like kayak and paddling.

I think it also outlines a NYC club operation on the docks with an agreement with the city to provide kayaks and services to the public for the facility.

Did you check out the Manhatten Kayak Company?

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Dubside used a Feathercraft folding kayak for a while, which I recall was a black Wisper (15’ 7” sea kayak with a Greenland profile). He had modified the stern rib behind the seat to allow easier layback for rolling. (Feathercraft took the cue and eventually offered a version of that rib as a factory option) I had the chance to talk to Dubside about it for a while at Greenland skills training camp in 2017 , where he was an instructor, when he approached me after overhearing me tell another student about my own Wisper (had not brought it with me, though.). We shared mutual enthusiasm for the model. (trivia note: renowned continental circumnavigator and rolling queen, Freya Hoffmeister, started out kayaking with a Feathercraft Kahuna, in which she used to take her then-toddler son Helgi, back in the 90’s).

It’s a great tragedy that Feathercraft closed up shop 4 years ago, as they offered the best all around combination of model variety, quality materials/construction ( all handmade in their Vancouver, BC, shop) and lightness, as well as excellent customer service, among all the folder manufacturers. Of course I am apt to be biased, having bought a Kahuna as my first touring kayak in 2002 and then moving on to a K-1 Expedition before selling both in order to buy the 2007 Wisper, which was a perfect fit and is still serving me well.

Used Feathercrafts that have been well cared for (and sometimes even barely used) do turn up at times if you watch for them. I would be more confident in the durability of one of their models (like the Wisper, K-1 and Khatsalano) than the Trak boats.

I was intrigued by the Traks when I first learned about them, and very impressed when I got to check out a pair of them in the flesh at a local lake last year where one of the Trak “pilots” was taking a new 2.0 owner out for a training intro at my favorite local launch site. I was impressed with the rapid assembly (10 minutes, versus 30 for the Wisper) and the fit and finish of the assembled boats was formidable — in fact they looked almost like hardshell composites. I confess I was smitten enough to think about eventually buying one. But the combination of the complexity of the frame parts and the troubling business model of the company and their poor delivery history, rapidly dampened my interest, even when I was offered the opportunity to “buy” a spot on their waiting list that would have guaranteed fairly rapid delivery.

While I have mourned the demise of Feathercraft, I know my remaining one well enough that I am confident I could handle any repair it might need in the future. I doubt I would be as confident in a Trak. I did procure a Pakboat Quest while they were still producing the lower volume 135 model — it performs nearly as well as the Wisper and is 10 pounds lighter, making it more practical for overseas travel. Pakboats are an outstanding value at a third the price of a new Trak. And, to modify an old truism: a bird in the hand is worth a peacock in the bush.

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Short answer: Yes

There is no comparison between the Quest and the Trak, Seeker or 2.0. The Trak is almost as good as a hard shell with the benefit of being portable. The Quest is more of a “decked canoe” without the connection of a solid kayak. If that suits your needs, more power to you - but it isn’t even close if you’re used to a hard shell boat.

I have paddled both, waiting for my own Trak and own a Quest which I’ll most likely sell when the Trak arrives.

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Remains to be seen if the Trak 2.0 is a Tesla or a DeLorean. Innovation + high price is only successful and sustainable if you can deliver and service over the long run.


as a new owner of a Trak, I think the only thing that is really a worry are the jack’s. Everything else can be patched, fixed, made as a last resort. The jacks seem to be the only thing I would worry about, but I have 6 of them, 3 of the old style and 3 of the new ones so I won’t worry too much :slight_smile:

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Thanks, everyone this is really helpful! Do people worry about the durability of skin (do the seams seem strong? does anyone know they have split) and what is the breakdown process like in terms of cleaning and drying it? I found my least SOF to take a really long time to dry.

Lastly are there any safety concerns. I’d use the float bags and sea sock. But what are self-rescues like without bulkheads?

my first boat, a first generation Anas Acuda back in the late 1970’s had no bulkheads, I used float bags, no issues. I have had glass boats without and of course with bulkheads, I don’t see any difference in terms of self-rescues as long as you are using float bags, that amount of water difference is minor in my opinion.

I can’d say about the Trak, only owned it a month, I have not practiced self-rescues yet, I of course use the bags and tomorrow I will go out with the sea sock for the first time, I don’t expect any issues with self -rescues due to lack of bulkheads…If I survive, I will post how it all went, if you don’t hear from me, you can make a assumption :slight_smile:

As far as take down, last time I went out I didn’t have the spray skirt on as I was playing in the surf and not sure I can roll it YET so best to get out and pull it ashore. Boat got pretty full of sea water, no self-rescues I was never far from shore and in 5ft of water. I dismantled the boat, put it in the car, not in the bag, brought it home and reassembled it and hosed it down including the inside, let it dry in the sun and bagged it. A extra half-hour at home plus drying time which was short on a sunny day. Other times I had very little to no water in the boat, just rinsed it at the harbor and let the skin dry at home.

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I’ve paddled a Trak three times now.

First time was with a Trak pilot. Float bags were installed but no sea sock. It was winter and I was wearing a dry suit with insulated garments underneath. I wore a spray skirt too. Near the end of the paddle I wanted to see how it rolled (I roll everything I paddle, except the Quest). I did two beautiful rolls then the pilot asked if he could get one on video… So I obliged, waited for him to be ready then went under. I knew as soon as I was just about up that something was wrong and I was going back in. I took a breath and let it happen. Two more times and I was done. To this day I’m not sure what went wrong but the water was damn cold even with my hood. That’s what I’ll blame it on anyway. I was also being very stubborn (too much so) and didn’t want to exit. Let’s just say it was messy and I’ve dramatically improved my rolling since then because I’m not repeating that. After I extricated myself from the boat it turned into an assisted rescue, which went pretty textbook, given I was cold and probably a little shaken from almost drowning myself. There was more pumping than a hard shell with bulkheads, but it’s lower volume than most of the hard boats I’ve owned, so wasn’t outrageous.

I sincerely hope the video was deleted, but I suspect it exists somewhere out there. Not my finest moment.

Contrast this with the Quest… I’m afraid to try a standard re-entry because there’s no support for the deck. Perhaps with a float bag or a bunch of sturdy gear in there, but empty you’d either pull off the velcro or go right through it I suspect. I’m afraid to roll it because there’s no solid thigh braces, and I’d end up dragging it to shore because I’m afraid to try a re-entry…

Second time in the Trak was with a sea sock. I was warm, but my Dry suit and layering does that just fine too. I felt very constricted and limited in motion with the sock. Taking things apart later, there was still some water in the boat from my rolling session but there was a lot in the sock that didn’t go in the boat. The sock took a VERY long time to dry out, and dripped a few liters of water while doing so.

Third time, no sock. No rolling that day but lots of water draining off my drysuit from wandering around waist deep in water taking pictures. Sponging it out when done was pretty easy. I did most before removing the frames then arranged the skin so the water drained to the middle. You can’t reach into the bow very far, so some gadget might be worthwhile here. The good part is that all of the skin’s surfaces are polyurethane coated. They don’t wick moisture, so a wipe with a towel will essentially dry it.

Contrast to the Quest… The inside sides are uncoated fabric. Why? Weight savings perhaps? It -is- lighter than the Trak. But it wicks moisture quickly and takes a long time to dry out. Also the deck of the Quest, though coated, slowly wicks in water over a day paddle and also takes a long time to dry completely. Not to mention, I don’t know if it’s the coating or if due to moisture I have something growing, but it absolutely stinks. I haven’t noticed the same (or really any) from the Traks I’ve paddled.

Yes, there have been problems with slipping delivery schedules. Some have been pandemic related, others before that related to larger demand than they could deliver. I’ve been waiting a long time but in my many interactions with the people at Trak, I don’t believe they’re trying to pull a fast one and run away with your money.

They have been good to me in ways that are possible and reasonable. In return I’m being as patient as I can.


I have no knowledge of the seller but noticed that a used Trak just appeared on Maine Craig’s List:

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