There are a lot of dealers who will sell you a folding kayak, but not all are really well informed about folders. Many are mainly dealers in rigid boats who are not experienced with folders, and still think of them strictly as something you buy as a compromise to save space. They may have a boat in inventory, but don’t stock spares or do repair. All the dealers here specialize in folders, or do a lot of business in folders. Most are dealers whom I have had personal experience with, or who have been recommended to me. A few are new dealers whom I’m looking for feedback on. I should note that I have received no remuneration or consideration of any sort from any of these dealers. If you have a dealer you’d like to recommend, e-mail me and I’ll include them in the following section.
It’s generally preferable to find a local dealer and try out a boat in person- If that dealer really understands folding boats and can support them after the sale. I wouldn’t buy from someone who just happens to stock one folder so they can claim to be a dealer. The dealers listed here can be relied on to help you find a good boat. Note that while Folbot boats are principally sold direct and made to order, there are a few stocking Folbot dealers.
Carl’s Paddlin. Recommended as a Klepper dealer by a correspondant who signs himself “Hilltool”. They have a number of new and used folders.
Folding Boat Center. A co-venture between Ralph Hoehn, of Pouchboats, and Alv Elvestad of Pakboats. They sell Pakboats, of course, as well as a variety of other boats.
Folding Kayak Adventures. They ‘ve discontinued their rental business but still sell sell Feathercraft kayaks. Highly recommended by a number of readers. They also have a free classified ads section for used Feathercraft boats, and a new trip planning primer for kayak travellers.
Fujita North America (Formerly FoldingCraft). Sells Ally canoes and kayaks, and imports Fujita folding kayaks from Japan. No customer reports yet, but Mike Palmer of tells me they’re the largest Ally dealer in North America. The web page is now complete and functional, and has a good deal of useful information on Fujita kayaks.
Folding-Canoe.com is a one-man operation selling Triton Russian-made folding canoes. These are similar to the Triton kayaks and appear to share the same frame. Michael Fischer, the owner of Folding-Canoes.com is an enthusiastic proponant of these boats for paddling and rowing. He uses his personal boat as a tender for his live-aboard sailboat.
www.Folding-Kayaks.com is a company in Germany selling a very wide range of folding boats, including Folbot, Pakboats, Klepper, Pouch, Triton, FLK, Wayland, Ally, and Fujita, according to a note from that company’s Steffen Sator. I’d appreciate feedback from anyone having experience with them.
Innova Inflatable Store Innova not only makes inflatable kayaks- they sell them directly, too, along with accessories. Follow the link for more information.
KERO Lev Ronin of KERO wrote some times ago to let me know that his Richmond Hill, Ontario company is now importing TAIMEN folding kayaks into Canada. Now I see he’s importing and stocking Folbot and Pakboats as well. No reports yet from buyers, but if you’re in Canada and interested in Russian boats you may want to investigate them.
Lev also wrote to say: “We created a new 2005 design of PVC skins for TAIMEN based on requests from our customers. It includes hull reinforcement with additional protective strips, add. handles on bow and stern, steel caps for a rudder, deck bungee, deck lines secured on d-rings. The new PVC skin has great look and high quality.”
Canada Portable Kayaks, Inc. sells Pakboats, Aire and Innova inflatable kayaks, Montague folding bicycles, Burkey trailers and other adventure oriented gear. Company president Paul Gorodko tells me that his company is actively involved in promoting folding and inflatable kayaks and improving their visibility in the oudoor market.:wq They are located on the South Shore of Montreal, and are associated with Kayak Etcetera, a storefront in Chambly, Québec, who do on-water demonstrations right next to their store.
Kirton Kayaks. Luke Curran writes to say “You mention that you are interested in hearing about good service from agents and I would appreciate it if you could mention Kirton Kayaks in England who were very helpful to a complete novice, and went to some trouble to make sure that I wasn’t hit by money changing charges when paying Irish punts to an English firm for a German boat.”
Klepper West/Western Folding Kayak Center. Peter Schwierzke sells Klepper, Nautiraid, Feathercraft, Folbot, Pakboats and Pouch, and spends much of his time away from the shop demonstrating boats to prospective owners. He will take the time to make sure you select the right boat for you. I purchased a Klepper Aerius I from Peter along with a set of Long Haul bags after much discussion. Peter is also sells more Kleppers than any other dealer in the US; the last time I spoke with him, he had 14 assembled boats on display! He’s also the only US dealer who imports his Kleppers direct from the factory.
Like a lot of people in the folding boat industry, Peter has an enthusiasm for folding boats that goes beyond merely selling them. A while ago he arranged for the reprinting of Dr. Hannes Lindemann’s classic adventure story, Alone at Sea (see book section). Peter’s web is pretty simple, but has all the information you need on how to contact him and the boats he carries, as well as a section on Alone at Sea, with some wonderful pictures. Phone him at (530) 626-8647.
Klepper Canada Klepper’s Canadian distributor. Information on Klepper dealers in Canada, and Klepper kayaks in general.
Knoydart Kayaking Systems. A UK dealer that carries boats from Feathercraft, Firstlight, Longhaul, Pouch and Pakboat, as well as other hardshell boats and various accessories. I’ve got a copy of their catalog and they are definitely a shop paddlers in GB should check out as they have a very complete range of boats and accessories. Kyodart is recommended by Rich Bestie, and by Nick Reiter, who writes:
I bought my Feathercraft K-1 from Dave Felton at Knoydart, and found him immensely helpful and knowledgeable. He arranges demonstration weekends where potential customers go out for a whole weekend, on proper long paddles, to try out one or more kayak and other equipment: no charge, no pressure, no obligation. I tried out a Kahuna and a K1 and ordered the latter (and a Nimbus paddle). The order came through from Canada very quickly. Since then I have gone back to Dave on a couple of occasions for advice and he has always been most helpful. He does sometimes sell ex-demo boats at the end of the year. In brief, I would highly recommend anyone seriously interested in buying a folding boat in UK to contact Knoydart. I have just received their 2003 catalogue and they are carrying a broader range of folding boats than ever. The K1 is the best thing I ever purchased: I have had some wonderful times in it, and continue to do so; and Knoydart's whole attitude to their customers is part of that overall pleasure.
Long Haul Folding Kayaks (formerly Klepper North American Service Center). Mark Eckhart has for years been selling, modifying and repairing Klepper kayaks. It was the quality of his repair and restoration work that led Ralph Diaz to recommend him to Klepper, and thus to his becoming the Klepper North American service center and a dealer for new boats as well. In 2002 Mark revamped his business, and is now selling boats of his own manufacture. For details on these boats, see the Long Haul section on the Kayak Makers page.
In addition to his work with kayaks, Mark has worked with other folding boats, making replacement parts and hulls as needed. Recently he restored a fleet of Klepper Master and Tradewinds folding sailboats from the 1970s, making complete new Hypalon hulls for them from Klepper material. I had one of the first replacement hulls Mark made, and it was absolutely first rate- better than the original.
One of Mark’s most well-known products is the line of custom boat bags he makes. The bags are of very high quality- just about indestructible, and roomy enough to carry a boat and enough extra gear for an extended trip. With built in carrying harnesses to distribute the load, they make carrying a large boat like the Aerius II much easier. I have had as many as ten different Long Haul bags, including stock models and a few custom ones. I even carry my Folbot Aleut in a pair of custom made Long Haul bags. My Aerius II has some modifications done by Mark as well, and they’re indistinguishable from factory features. I also have two of his new “Comfort Seats”, and his solo expedition spraydeck , an improved version of the Klepper spraydeck. Compared to my old Klepper double expedition deck, Mark’s has better materials and construction details. Back in 2000 I sent an original Klepper Aerius II spray deck to him for repair and reinforcement that made it more like his custom decks.
Mark also sells deck bags, internal storage bags, add-on sponsons for just about any folding kayak, sails, camping accessories… and if no one else sells it, he can probably make it. Whatever boat you may buy, check out Mark’s bags and other accessories. His web site is in the miuddle of a redesign, but will eventually have his complete illustrated catalog of boats and accessories. Right now there’s a bulletin board for advertising used boats. Mark occasionally advertises prototype gear there at discount prices, too; I have my Folbot Aleut packed in one of his prototype bags.
Late summer 2000 I purchased a new velcro “tuckunder” spraydeck for my Aerius I that is one of the most finely crafted things I’ve yet seen from Mark’s shop. It has the secure attachment system of the old Klepper tuckunder spray decks while allowing easy entry and exit and access to gear stored in the boat. His latest addition is custom made replacement hulls for Kleppers. If you have an old boat with a decaying rubber hull, Mark can supply modern hypalon-hulled replacement that’s better than new- at an attractive price. (In case you’re wondering, I paid full retail price for everything I bought from Mark, which should tell you how much I believe in his gear.) Phone Long Haul at (970) 856 3662 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mariner Kayaks in Seattle, WA closed shop soon after many years as one of the premier kayak dealers in the country. Matt and Cam Broze may have retired, but they intend to keep their web page (which has loads of information on kayaks and kayaking) going as long as possible. While Mariner sold various folding boats, they’re best known for their own line of fiberglass boats they designed and for their invention of the paddle float, and the self rescue techniques using it.
New York Kayak Company. Randy Henriksen sells Feathercraft folding kayaks and a number of high-quality rigid kayaks from his showroom in NYC “overlooking lower Manhattan, the Hudson, New York harbor and the Statue of Liberty” and demos boats on the Hudson at the Down Town Boathouse. He offers instruction, too, and recently added to his staff Len Hartley, one of only 14 Level 5 instructors certified by the British Canoe Association. Len has a degree in Education, and a number of his students say he’s the best teacher they’ve ever had in any field.
Randy is also an exceptionally honest and helpful person who will make sure he finds you the right boat. In 2000, he pointed me towards a used Feathercraft K1, a boat I hadn’t considered- but that turned out to be a very good choice for me, as I was looking to expand my kayak skills. If you’re near New York City, this is the place to go to learn about folding boats. Of course, Randy will also ship boats anywhere. His web site has a lot of useful information, so drop by and take a look if you haven’t visited it lately. His new catalog is very complete (and attractive) and lists a good many products not mentioned in his web site, including Grabner and Innova inflatables and some hardshell boats.
Randy’s new web site is a lot more functional and has added things like on-line ordering, as well as a complete catalog of all the boats and accessories he sells. Check it out at http://www.nykayak.com or phone him at 1-800-KAYAK99
PouchBoats. A relatively new (2000) business importing, distributing and retailing Pouch kayaks. Right now owner Ralph Hoehn has the new Pouch E68 single, the traditional R75 double, and plans to bring in more models. He recently published a review of the new E68. See his web site for details of the boats, a user forum, a new section on home made folders, a mailing list for folder fans and a lot of interesting information and photographs. Ralph is the exclusive US agent for Pouch, and tells me they offer a number of special services, like repair and new custom skins for just about any boat. Ralph doesn’t just sell boats; like all the better dealers, he’s a real folding kayak fan who’s been paddling for decades. He’s also someone I’d recommend as a totally honest and straightforward businessman. (I actually sold him a boat.;-) Ralph is joining forces with Alv at Pakboats anbd opening a new retail kayaking business. Watch this space for news.
The Small Boat Shop. They were clearing out some of their older stock of folders during fall of 2002, but they’re still selling Klepper, Feathercrafts and now Long Haul kayaks. They’re a good place to see these boats.
South Wind Kayaks. A dealer and outfitter recommended by Mel Lammers. They carry Feathercraft and Klepper as well as various rigid kayaks. Joanne from South Wind wrote to tell me she got her first Feathercraft K-1 in 1985 and immediately took it to the South China coast for an inaugural trip. There’s a real folding kayaker for you.
Kayaker.com.au, Owned and operated since August, 2001 by Peter Cohen. They carry Nautiraid, Feathercraft, Firstlight, Atlatl and AIRE boats as well as a wide variety of kayaking accessories.
[Kayaker.com.au grew out of Asia Pacific Kayaks, which was started by Lloyd Manning, who was previously a founder of Q Craft. Q Craft was originally recommended by Danni Baker, who was sponsored by Lloyd in the Spring 2000 Murray Marathon, where she came in second in the woman’s division in a Feathercraft Khatsalano, beating many hardshell boats. This is getting to be a long story…]
Igor Sokolik was importing the Russian made “Svir” double and “Lagoda” single model Triton kayaks, but his web site is dead; I don’t know if he’s still in business. When he started, Igor assured me he has a good supply of replacement and repair parts, and he offered a full one-year warranty on boats. I don’t know whether anyone is servicing these boats in the US now. I’ve paddled the Svir a few times and put some of my impressions on the Reviews pages.
Wilderness House on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts. Recommended by Steve LaBran, who says he has been “pleased at the amount of help they have been with my research” and adds that “they are not prejudiced against folding boats”.
Wasp Kayaks is the Spanish-based European distributor for the Japanese-made Butterfly Kayaks. They’re also on Facebook as WASPKAYAKS.
Wayland Kayaks is a Polish maker and retailer of folding kayaks, and of replacement skins for kayaks from other makers. There’s a more detailed writeup on Wayland in the Kayak Makers page.