Should You Buy a Folding Kayak?

ken whiting with his trak folding kayak

Ken Whiting with his Trak folding kayak

If your storage space is limited and you want to travel often with your kayak (especially by air), you should consider a folding kayak.

That’s right, there are folding kayaks! This video with Ken Whiting of Paddle Tales gives an overview of this unique kayak type and talks whether it’s a good fit for you:

At about minute 3:45, Ken starts to assemble his Trak folding kayak to give you an idea of what’s involved.

The Trak consists of two aluminum frame sections—bow and stern—that fit inside a “skin.” Rather than the bulkheads that rigid touring kayaks have, this folding kayak comes with flotations bags. This way if you happen to capsize, your kayak can’t sink. These float bags double as dry bags for gear.

This model also includes a set of hydraulic jacks to set the frames into the skin so it’s nice and tight. Add the cockpit coming, seat and gear bungees and you’re ready to go.

Plan on 15-20 minutes all told from gear bag to the water once you have the process down. Breaking it down takes much less time.

The Trak model Ken uses is 16 feet long and weighs about 50 pounds.

When a Folding Kayak May Be Your Best Option

A folding kayak can fit inside a bag that’s about the same size as a golf bag. This option is especially great for people who:

  • Have very little storage space. A folding kayak can fit inside a closet or the corner of a room. For people with apartments or garages already packed full, it’s a great option.
  • Want to travel with their kayak a lot. You don’t need a trailer, you don’t need a roof rack. Folded, one of these kayaks can fit in the back seat of your compact car or in the trunk. You can even check it as luggage on a plane.

Brands and Price Points for Folding Kayaks

Folding kayaks don’t start as inexpensive as budget-priced rigid recreational kayaks, but Oru has a model for under $1,000. If you’ve already discovered you love to kayak and know you’ll spend the next many years on the water, it might well be worth the investment.

The Trak model packages today (December 2020) are priced at $3,599. These extremely competent sea kayaks can handle large waves, swift-moving water and some banging.

 ken whiting with trak folding kayak

Ken travels with his Trak folding kayak—this photo was taken in Jamaica

Besides Trak, there are a few other folding kayak manufacturers:

  • Oru makes folding kayaks from recreational to ocean-going touring models, and even a tandem option. They range in price from $899-$2,199.
  • Pakboats make both folding kayaks and canoes. Their kayaks range from $1,085-1,425.
  • Long Haul makes several models of high-end folding kayaks, starting at $2,950.
  • Klepper began in Germany a century ago and is now based in Maryland, USA. Their high-end folding kayaks start at $3,999 USD.

What to Think About Before Buying a Folding Kayak

John McCloy of offers some helpful tips about the kinds of details—besides price—you’ll want to know before making your buying decision. Here’s a summary:

  • Folded size. The manufacturer should be able to give you the dimensions when it’s folded up in its bag.
  • Folded strength. How many times can a kayak be unfolded and folded back up over its lifetime? The brands listed above are extremely durable.
  • Time from Bag-to-Water and Water-to-Bag. How straightforward is it to use your kayak? Look for how-to videos from the manufacturer on this.
  • Assembled size. What’s the length, width and weight?
  • Maximum weight limit. this may be lower than for a rigid kayak, so check to be sure it’ll work for you.
  • UV resistance. How long will it take the sun to fade the color?

You’ll need a paddle with your folding kayak! Contact our friendly Customer Service team today with your questions: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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