All you need to know about folding kayaks

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Kayaking activities are fun, and it always allows you to reach the most beautiful lands and beaches, as well as exploring quiet and scenic rivers and lakes, squeeze in that workout of early mornings, or play in the water with someone else. However, you might want all these benefits, yet you lack the space to store your kayak.

If you enjoy kayaking but do not have the opportunity or space to carry a standard kayak around, a folding kayak is a great way to enjoy your hobby. Since you can fold them to a smaller size, it allows you to store them easily and gives you the option of going out for more adventures when you want to.

However, they have a problem – they can be intimidating if you do not know them well. There are great options you can explore, so the kayak you choose will depend on your needs.

A basic introduction to kayaks

The word ‘kayak’ means ‘hunter’s boat,’ due to the stealth nature of the design. Kayaking is credited mainly to the Aleut and Inuit tribes of North America, with the people making basic kayaks by stretching animal skins over whalebone frames, and the other uses light driftwood in its construction. In all cases, whale fat was used to make the boats waterproof. The tribes used these kayaks mainly for hunting purposes.

Aside from these kayak versions, there were vessels known as umiaqs, which were kayaks of larger sizes that could carry families.

The kayak was introduced to Europe in the 1800s and gained popularity in France and Germany before they started to feature in more adventurous uses in the early 20th century. Kayaking then became an Olympic sport in the 1936 Berlin games, with various disciplines increasing until today.

What are the materials you need when kayaking?

The most critical piece of equipment you need, aside from the kayak itself, is the paddle. Paddles will come in different lengths and shapes, as well as their materials and the length of the shaft. To select the right rod, you will need to consider the size of your kayak, the paddling you will do, and your bo0dy size.

You will also require a PFD or personal floatation device. This vest is essential, and you must be wearing it at all times when going on your kayak. Besides that, you will require spray skirts, which help to keep the boat dry, and you will commonly find people using them in white-water and surf kayaking.

Factors you need to consider when selecting a kayak

  • The place you want to paddle – if you wish to go to a river, lake or near a coastline.
  • The design – especially in regards to being a sit-on-top or a sit-in. If you happen to be open to both, it is okay, or you can prefer a sit-in (which gives protection) or a sit-on-top (which guarantees openness).
  • The considerations of size and shape – these will mainly affect the cargo space and handling
  • Kayak budget and weight – the main factor of durability is the materials that the kayak is made of, regardless of the type of kayak it is. They will also affect its weight.

The types of kayak materials

The lighter the folding kayak is, the easier it is to carry, and it is also easier to speed and load to your car. It also permits you to bring more equipment, since a reduction of the total weight is occupied by the boat instead. The only thing you need to note is that the lighter the vessel is, the more the kayak will end up costing.

These materials are:

  • ABS plastic – this is a very durable material that is used in many kayaks, although it is more expensive than certain elements such as polyethylene plastic. It has a lower weight, and the benefit includes UV resistance.
  • Polyethylene plastic – this is among the most affordable, as well as being resistant to abrasions. However, it is the heaviest, and it is not immune to UV rays, so it tends to degrade after some time.

Styles of folding kayaks

There are two main styles – the origami and inflatable. Origami ones come in a non-inflatable and flexible material, which forms a stiff outer hull. Inflatable kayaks, on the other hand, are made up of an exterior that you inflate, and some solid ribs will support it from the inside.

Both designs are great, and none of them will have an advantage over the other, although there are certain factors you should look at to get the best benefits.

Factors to examine

  • The strength of folding – origami kayaks will base their folding power on the frequency you can assemble, disassemble, and use them until you exceed the limit and need to replace them.
  • Folding size – this is the dimensions the kayak will be when you have folded it. Interestingly, inflatable kayaks will have more significant proportions compared to origami kayaks, due to the inner ribs.
  • Time of inflation – this is very important when buying inflatable kayaks in particular, which should take between ten and forty minutes.
  • The positioning of the seats – some of the kayaks will give many seat positions, and allowances for changing the positioning as well as the deck. If you are tall, you will need to check if this gives you sufficient space.
  • Breakdown time – it is easy to assemble and disassemble an origami kayak, but you must deflate inflatable kayaks before you fold them, which makes it necessary to check.
  • Hatches – this will provide you with access to the inner storage areas of the kayak. If you are planning on getting a recreational boat, it will have one hatch, while a bigger tour boat will come with two of them.
  • Size of the cockpit – if you are looking for more control of your kayak even in rough conditions, get a kayak with a smaller cockpit. On the other hand, a bigger cockpit allows you to enter and leave the boat quickly.
  • Resistance to punctures – this is mainly in the case of inflatable kayaks, although it is not a common sight unless you use the vessel outside the recommended conditions.
  • Length – the longer the kayak is, the more efficiently and smoothly it can move through the water, as well as giving you greater space for storage. A kayak with a shorter length will turn faster.
  • The width of the boat – the more full the hull, the more stability it has, while a small hub moves more quickly through the water.
  • Resistance to UV – all origami kayaks will have polypropylene, and this material easily fades when you expose it to radiation, so there needs to be an extra layer of protective coating.

Other considerations

  • Weight – this refers to your weight, the boat weight, and the gear you carry. If you overload the kayak, it will sit too low within the water, and it will make the paddling process difficult.
  • Depth – the more profound the hull is, the more room it gives you for storage. Deeper hulls suffer more wind effects, while shallower shells do not.

 

Final thoughts

If you want to experience the kayaking adventures but have no space to store or carry the kayak, the folding kayak is a great alternative. It has an extensive history, and the good news is that there have been numerous improvements from the initial looks it once had.

The best part of a folding kayak is that you can still get the benefits of the kayaking experience, all in a more straightforward package that is easy to carry. However, before making your decision, it is important to consider multiple factors before buying and make a purchase choice you will not regret in the future.

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About Author

Steve has been into sports all his life. As a young boy, he started with swimming; this only propelled him into more water sports. When he tried kayaking, the thrill captivated him and now, it is his favorite sport. As a ranger, Steve is always in the outdoors where he likes it. He became a ranger right after college. He is married and has three kids whom he loves going to expeditions with. When he is not at work or with his family, he loves writing. He is now the lead blogger at Tandem Kayak Report, always writing about his passion.

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