There are a number of boats from Europe and Asia that occasionally turn up in various markets. I’ll report on what I find here. Note that while such boats can often be had at very attractive prices, it’s a good idea consider the availability of replacement parts and repair before buying.
akiak This is a new boat from a couple of Swiss industrial design students that may or may not end up as a commercial product. It’s small (360cm x 65cm, or roughly 12 feet long and 2 feet wide) and from the photos on the web site, I’d call it a recreational boat, as there’s no cockpit rim or provision for a spray deck. Weight is given as only 10 Kg (22 pounds) and the whole thing fits in a large backpack.
Right now it appears that the designers are looking for partners to produce and market the design. I’ll be watching to see if this turns into a real commercial product.
Butterfly Kayaks Butterfly is a new name in the folding kayak market from Japan. I was contacted in the spring of 2010 by Julio Tecles of Waspkayaks (Spain), who infomed me that he was the exclusive agent for Europe of Butterfly Kayaks. He tells me that he is importing two models from Butterfly, the 415 and 460, which are respectively 415icm in length and 68cm wide, and 460cm in length and 62cm wide.
One of our members reports in the Forum that:
The whole thing packs into the cockpit, which is a separate sub-assembly. The frame is then assembled around the cockpit, which is then inserted through the rear deck opening into the skin. The tensioning device is a winch, and the frame is secured to the skin by five web straps under the rear deck. There is a unique hatch on the port side of the foredeck for gear access. It is a slit-style with what looks like a drybag type closure and has three straps to secure it. The cockpit/seasock looks like it has plenty of room. The frame is composite FRP pipe, and the skin is urethane, probably something like Feathercraft uses. Wheels can be attached to the cockpit sub-assembly for portability. Prices are about $2400 for the Crusoe 415, and $2700 for the Crusoe 460 model. Not bad. They come in red, turqoise, blue, yellow, and black.
If one of our European readers gets a chance to paddle a Butterfly, I’d appreciate a review we can post here.
Foldlite Boats marketed a boat very different from any other folder on the market. Rather than the typical skin-on-frame design, it made of a sections of die-cut, folded, corrugated polyethyne sheet (Coroplast) held together by a thin skin. The skin was made of silicone coated 300 denier polyester, rather than the heavy 1100-1600 denier PVC/Hypalon laminate typical of most folding boats. The idea seemed to be to use innovative techniques to produce a high performance boat at low cost, but what they ended up with was an expensive toy with no directional stability, structural integrity or secondary flotation. They seem to be gone from the market now, but I still see units on eBay now and again for around $250. For that price you’d be far better off with an inexpensive inflatable.
Kayak Labs is now out of the business of making kayaks. Their boats were similar to Russian boats in the design of the frame, but had novel polyurethane hulls that used zippered sponsons to allow for variable beam. I have yet to see one but you may come across a used one.
Neris Neris is a Ukranian maker of some sophisticated looking folders. I haven’t seen one in the flesh (so to speak) but they look well designed, with both wood and aluminum frame member options and a PVC hull.
Neris got their start making replacement hulls for Russian boats (see the Russian Boats section), but have obviously moved far beyond that. Hopefully one of our correspondants will get a chance to review one some day.
Payanca. Here’s a Japanese boat that, until recently, I was only familiar with in the pages of some Japanese kayak magazines that Tsunami Chuck was kind enough to send me. But peripatetic correspondent Eric Kunze found a web page belonging to Tim (firstname.lastname@example.org), a kayaker who found his Payanca used at a swap in Vancouver. Here’s Tim’s report on the boat:
I bought this kayak 2 years ago, and I was puzzled as to the name myself. I’ve tried searching the web to find any info regarding this particular brand, and all I’ve come across is a couple of Japanese sites on this kayak. …. The workmanship on the kayak appears quite professional ex the stitching and the frame.This particular kayak has good initial and secondary stability and is quite easy to maneuver; partially because of its shorter length too. My 8 and 12 year old boys can handle it ok, and we’ve never had a problem as far as accidentally tipping over in rough water…the inflatable sponsons really help with that. The beam width is 26″, and I’ve found a 240 cm paddle to work well with this kayak, although my kids use a 224 cm and that works well too. The frame is basically assembled into 2 sections, put into the kayak, and then the hinged pieces are put together.
The Japanese site that I’m forwarding to you is actually a site that shows how to assemble this kayak...lots of pictures, which is good, because I can’t read a word of the Japanese text. There were a couple other sites that I found that had pictures of people on outings with a payanca. Again, it’s all in Japanese, so it’s a bit difficult to figure out the nature of the sites. However, since the site that I’m sending you appears to be a site from the maker of the payanca, I would make a safe bet that this kayak was made in Japan.
The hull is finally assembled using Velcro and heavy duty zippers behind and alongside the cockpit. There are also a few straps with buckles for fastening gear down as well. The hull material is a double layer of what appears to be cordura nylon coated with a rubberized compound like hypalon. The hull is actually navy blue. Hopefully this information helps you out.
“I like paddling and own a fiberglass ww kayak and I’m planning to get an Innova Safari inflatable. Let me tell you about my other boat, it’s a foldable made in Poland (which I got when I studied there in 1986-87), a double Predom Neptun. I think it could be compared to the double Pouch, although I have seen that one only in Ralph Diaz’ book. I have used it in lakes and rivers, although it’s the only foldable I have ever used so I cannot make a comparison with others, the boat is a strong and rugged one, it tracks very well, it’s very stable, roomy and can be easily assembled in less than 15 minutes. The hull is gray hypalon and the deck blue cotton. It has a sail rig with something like 30% less sail surface than the Klepper S-4 rig. I like this boat and it cost me 400 USD, including the shipping from Poland to Mexico.
“I don’t know if the factory still exists or if they are still making kayaks. I have not used it in the sea for two reasons : 1) The instructions booklet says it’s to be used only in fresh water, I think that only the metal parts (quite few of them) are in risk here but a friend of mine there used a single of the same brand in the Spitbergens without any trouble. 2) It’s somehow messy for one person to take it on a plane ( it weights around 25-30 kilos in two bags, the original bags were a disgrace I have two made on design) if you have still to carry your luggage but I portaged it with a friend for some miles easily. A note on the price of foldables, I’m a fishery researcher with an average salary for Mexico; a Klepper Quattro would cost me six months of my salary.
Here’s an English language web site with pictures of Predoms touring in Poland.
Igor Sokolik reports that he is importing new Triton Russian kayaks; see the dealer’s page.
http://www.real-thrill.com/Folding_Kayaks.htm A Swedish dealer of Russian-made Triton folding kayaks. The page is in English but states they don’t ship outside the Scandanavian countries. Even stranger, the backpackability of these boats is illustrated with a picturetaken from the Klepper web site, showing a couple carrying Aerius 2000s in backpacks! Prices range from 13,000 Kr to 16,000 Kr, or roughly $1600 to $1800 US.
Damir reports that the boats sell for between $250 and $400 US in Russia, so many people wonder why there’s so much markup in imported boats. It’s not all profit. There’s transportation costs, duties, warehousing, insurance, warranty service, quality control (a lot of imported merchandise arrives damaged), costs of credit and so forth. That $400 boat can cost the importer well over $1000 by the time it’s ready for sale.
Seavivor. The Seavivor boats appear to be structurally similar to the Kleppers; they certainly are premium priced, at $3,200 for the single and $3,850 for the basic double. They have two boats at present. One is a 17 foot double very much in the mold of a Klepper Aerius II, with a wide 36″ beam. The other is a high-performance single, a 17’10” boat with a 24″ beam and no sponsons.
I have received e-mail from one person who bought a Seavivor used, and had some problems with construction and workmanship. He reports that the owner was very cooperative in trying to solve his problems, but overall he was not happy with the boat. Tom Hall, on the other hand, wrote to say that while he didn’t own a Seavivor, he has paddled and raced them and thinks the Seavivor is “the best of all folding kayaks.” Tom wrote an article on Seavivors for the Atlantic Coastal Kayaker that can be found, along with reviews by Sea Kayaker and Paddler magazines (the latter by Hall as well), on Seavivor’s web site at http://www.seavivor.com/review2.html.