Whilst everyone would love to be able to own a kayak and use it, for some people it’s just not practical or at all possible. Storing and transporting a kayak can be very difficult indeed, they take up a lot of space, and are very tricky objects to find a good place to store for.
In order to combat this, more portable options have arisen over the years. The first of these being inflatable kayaks. Inflatable kayaks are fantastic, of that there is no doubt. However, some people simply just find it difficult to install their confidence in an inflatable kayak. Others would prefer a hard shell kayak that they can transport and store easily – not an easy specification to meet, or so you might have thought.
Folding kayaks offer the abilities that a regular hard shell kayak does, but with portability and convenience too. Not only are folding kayaks great to use, but they are also very convenient and easy to use too.
Folding kayaks are an area of the market that is not as well covered as it should be. We hope that after reading our guide, you’ll be informed on various aspects of folding kayaks including what they really are, what they’re made of, their advantages and disadvantages, and how to use them. We’ll also provide you with a set of reviews on some of our favorite folding kayaks that you can buy.
What Is A Folding Kayak?
What a folding kayak is, is fairly obvious. It’s a kayak that can be folded down into a smaller size, and can then be expanded back into its original shape. This is great, it means that whilst you might not have the shape to own a traditional kayak, you can still have a functional kayak that you are able to store and transport effortlessly.
Transporting a foldable kayak is very easy. Whilst traditional kayaks must be mounted on the roof of a car or van or moved in a trailer, a foldable option can simply be placed into the trunk of your car and you’re good to go.
Why Would You Want A Foldable Kayak Instead Of An Inflatable?
This point is largely down to your own preferences. A foldable kayak means that you are closer to getting the benefits that are offered by a hard shell kayak than you are with an inflatable.
Getting started with a foldable kayak is extremely easy too – all you need to do is unfold is and you can start paddling right away. An inflatable kayak, on the other hand, requires that you inflate it before getting out onto the water. This can be very time-consuming not to mention tiring. Inflatable kayaks are also that bit riskier. Whilst inflatable kayaks are designed to be as tough as possible, they are, of course, still susceptible to puncturing. This is not a worry that you’ll have with a folding kayak.
Performance – Performance with a folding kayak is also better than you might find with an inflatable kayak. Since it is closer to being a hard shell kayak than an inflatable, how it feels to paddle in is closer to this too. They are often faster, and are of course more sturdy and rigid.
How Are They Foldable? What Are They Made Of?
The vast majority of folding kayaks are made from a material called polypropylene. Polypropylene is a highly versatile plastic material that can be bent and folded into a variety of shapes and sizes. It’s so good because it easily springs back into its original form.
As opposed to an inflatable kayak, this can provide a great level of durability and toughness to the boat overall, whilst still being very portable and easy to store. Whilst being durable and resistant, it’s also very easy to bend and compress into a smaller shape.
Due to the type of plastic that these boats are made of however, they are not completely invincible. It is important to remember that, similarly to hard shell kayaks, polypropylene boats can be adversely affected by the sun’s damaging UV rays. There are numerous options of protectants available on the market that will help to preserve the condition of your boat for as long as possible.
How To Build and Dismantle A Folding Kayak
How good a folding kayak is very much reliant on the person that’s making sure it’s put together properly. Whilst the process will vary with each different make and model of folding kayak, the idea is largely the same.
First Stage: Find The Boat Body
Folding kayaks come with all of their parts separately in the box. Open the box, and examine all of the parts. Separate them all, and identify which one is the body of the boat (this will be the obviously large boat-shaped part). Once you’ve found it, lay it out and take a look at the rest of the parts.
Second Stage: Footrests
Some foldable kayaks come with footrests to add to your comfort while riding. If your boat is one of these, find the footrests and attach them to the bottom of the boat as directed by your instruction manual.
Third Stage: Secure the Bow/Front Of The Kayak
This stage will vary with each model of kayak. Have a look at your instruction manual and establish how the bow of the boat should be closed.
Fourth Stage: Secure the Stern/Rear Of The Kayak
Similarly to the hull, the stern must be drawn together and secured in some way. Make sure that you do this as has been directed in your owner’s manual.
Fifth Stage: The Inners Of The Boat
At this stage, you shouldn’t have many parts left. Identify which part forms the inner area of your boat. Install these as directed by the manufacturer, and then attach your seat on top in the same way. You should be good to go!
Taking your foldable kayak apart is without doubt the easier part! You should follow the steps that you took to build your boat, but in the other way – you should start on dismantling the inside of the boat and work your way out to the outside.
After-Care/Care Between Usage
When you’re not using your folding kayak, it’s important that you keep it in good condition.
Cleanse – If you’ve been using the boat in saltwater, it is a very good idea to cleanse it with clean water after use to rid it of sale. Any metal components that are on the boat can be very quickly and very adversely affected by oxidation if salt is not rinsed off. Even if there isn’t salt on your boat, it should always be put away clean.
Dry – After you’ve finished using your folding boat, make sure that it is properly dry before you put it away. If this is not possible immediately after using it, make sure to take it out of the box when you get home to dry it out before storing it away for an extended length of time. This will make sure that the boat is not damaged by damp and mould.
Sunlight – Don’t store your boat where it could be damaged by UV rays. UV rays can weaken the plastic that your boat is made from considerably. Obviously, when your boat is in use sunlight is unavoidable, but you certainly don’t want to be exposing it to damaging UV rays for the entirety of its life.
What To Consider Before Purchasing Your New Folding Kayak
What are you going to be using the boat for? This is one of the most important points to take into consideration before you buy your folding kayak. Folding kayaks come in quite a few different shapes and sizes, so you should be sure that you have considered all possibilities, and that you are able to select one that’s right for you.
Weight Rating – How much weight a folding kayak can take varies between different models. If you’re planning on using your boat for longer trips or fishing trips that you’ll need a fair amount of equipment on, you’ll need to ensure that the boat is able to take that amount of weight.
Main Usage – if you’re looking for a kayak to relax and simply paddle around casually on, a folding kayak could be great for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a touring kayak that will involve constant paddling over a variety of different water-types, a folding kayak may not be your best option. They simply cannot offer the same performance and ease of use as a hard shell can once out on the water.
The regularity of use – It’s important to consider how regularly you are planning on using your folding kayak. If you’re planning on using it very heavily, you should consider that most folding kayaks are only rated to be good for a certain amount of usage. Due to the very nature of folding plastic, it will eventually wear out. You should check how many folding’s the boat that you’re considering buying is rated to.
Size of the boat – The size of the boat encompasses a few different points that you should consider. For example, you should think about how much equipment cargo you are planning on taking on bard your folding kayak. Look for one that has ample storage areas to cater for your needs.
The size after it’s folded up should be considered too. Whilst folding kayaks are undoubtedly more portable and smaller than traditional hard shell boats =, some can still be pretty big and heavy. The distance that you’re going to be carrying the boat to get to somewhere that you can use it should, therefore, be considered too.
Seating – As we mentioned earlier, foldable kayaks come in a number of different shapes or sizes. Before you choose which one’s best for you, you should ensure that you’re able to carry the number of people that you would like to. If there’s going to be two people regularly going out on the boat, you may want to consider a tandem folding kayak. You should also consider how comfortable the seat is, there are some upgrades available for boats that don’t come with the comfiest seat as standard.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Folding Kayaks
Portability and Storage – Folding kayaks are of course easier to transport and store, this is exactly what they are designed for. A folding kayak is much easier to carry around than a hard shell kayak, and will easily fit into the inside of a car without the need and additional hassle of roof mounting/trailers.
They’re Fast and Easy To Use – The main competitors in the market for folding kayaks are inflatable kayaks. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages when compared against each other, but folding kayaks are exceptionally fast and easy to use. There is no need to pump them up with air, and no risk of deflation on the water due to a puncture. Folding kayaks are also very quick to get out onto the water with – setup time is easy and minimal too.
Anyone can use them – before inflatable and folding kayaks, kayaking was, unfortunately, a hobby that only those with large transport and storage capabilities could have. Now with folding kayaks, anyone can reap the advantages of a hard shell kayak without having to deal with the considerable transport and storage downsides.
Cost – Some folding kayaks can be pretty expensive when compared to hard shell and inflatable alternatives
Durability – Since foldable kayaks require the plastic material to be constantly strained by numerous folding’s and unfolding’s, they can become worn out and will often last for less time as a result
Sturdiness – Whilst folding kayaks are durable and pretty strong, they are not completely rigid like hard shell kayaks are. This can affect their performance considerably.
What’s The Best Folding Kayak For You?
Now that you are fully clued up on what folding kayaks are, what they can offer, as well as their advantages and disadvantages, let’s take a look at some of our favorites. Here’s a list of reviews of the best folding kayaks on the market.
Oru Kayak Foldable Beach LT – Highly Durable Folding Kayak
The Beach LT from Oru Kayak is a highly portable and durable folding kayak. It’s the lower model of the range that Oru offer, being followed by the Bay ST and the Coast XT. It’s designed for the more casual user that’s looking for a high-quality boat that they can use regularly. It can be constructed in less than 5 minutes, and it is very easy to get from flat to built in no time at all.
Two of the major problems that surround folding kayaks, as we have previously stated, are rusted components due to saltwater and over wearing due to the folding overworking the plastic construction. The Beach LT is rated for use up to 20,000 folds, this is a seriously large amount of kayaking. The saltwater rusting problem is taken care of with rust-proof components that are fitted to the boat.
The Beach LT is highly portable, folding down to a size that can be very easily carried. It also weighs in at only 26 pounds – whether it’s folded up or built, it’s a very lightweight boat to carry for anyone.
- 12 feet in length
- The Oru Beach LT can carry up to 300 pounds of load – pretty impressive for a foldable kayak indeed!
- Only weighs 26 lbs – it’s very easy for anyone to carry whether folded or built
- It’ll last you a long time – the Beach LT is rated to 20,000 folds
- It’s UV protected – the Beach LT has been treated against damaging UV rays for 10 year’s worth of protection
Oru Kayak Bay ST – The Top Of The Range Option
The Bay ST from Oru Kayak is an extremely high-quality option. If you’re looking for a folding kayak that will offer you superior performance whilst being portable and foldable, it’s a great option to go for. There is no doubt that the Bay ST is one of the best folding kayaks that you can buy.
Folding and unfolding this kayak is very easy indeed. It can be built up from being packed away in only 5 minutes, and therefore makes for a great boat to take if you’re on a time limit.
Similarly it’s younger brother, the Beach LT , it’s very well-made and is equipped with coated hardware that won’t rust. That said, it’s still advisable to make sure your kayak is properly dry before packing it away.
- Hardware that’s rust-proofed
- Great for touring or casual use – neing a high performance kayak it’s very versatile
- Folds down to a small size that can easily fit in the trunk of a car
- A lot of use potential – just like the Beach LT, the Bay ST is rated for use of up to 20,000 folds
- UV protected for 10 years – this doesn’t mean store it in the sun though! Ensure that the only time your yak sees the sun is when you’re using it
- Fast and easy to build
Tucktec Folding Kayak – Lightweight and Cost-Effective Option
The folding kayak from Tuktec is a 10-foot kayak that folds down into a small carry-size. The Tucktec is great, it will fit easily into the trunk of your car, and has the storability and portability of an inflatable whilst being able to boast features that are more similar to a hard shell unit.
One of the great things about this folding kayak is that it can be set up so quickly. From removing the bag from your car, you could have it set up and ready to go out on the water in just 120 seconds. The construction of the boat is very similar, being made from a single durable sheet of polyethylene.
The Tucktec weighs in at only 28 pounds, adding to its very portable nature. When the kayak is fully built, it measures up at 9’6”. However, it will fold down into a size of only 48”.
- Set up is very easy and very fast – just 2 minutes
- Packs away into a tiny 48 inches
- Only weighs 28 pounds
- Comes complete with a 3 year warranty