Fujita / Foldingcraft Owners.

Fujitas, Chinesemade boats, etc.

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Fujita / Foldingcraft Owners.

Post by larrybluhm »

I've had a 480 for about 2 1/2 years now. Love the boat and I've made some mods to it. Any other owners out there?


Post by Alm »

Larry, could you compare Fujita 480 to Feathercraft K1, if you had a chance to have a good look at it ?
I suspect that Fujita's frame is more flexible due to fiberglass rods. They refer to some "unique tensioning mechanism", - I wonder what it is.
Ultimately should be less strong in plywood ribs and bow/stern pieces (ribs are being broken more often than long frame members); though fiberglass rods are more difficult to break than aluminum rods in FC. It takes a lot to break a plywood rib anyway.
Standard foot pump sounds like a good idea - if it works.
Keel protection strip is also a nice touch - glueing PVC is tricky; not clear if it has same strips along lower stringers.
I've noticed that they even offered an optional seasock (and rudder is optional too). They also offer optional neoprene hatch covers - well, when hatches have drybag-style closures like on Feathercraft or Longhaul - there is no need in any neopren covers ...
Bow metal fittings look not too solid on the photo http://www.folding-kayaks.com/index.htm (american dealer's website doesn't work). But then it is much lighter than K1 (17 kg = 38 lbs - must be without a seat or with a seat only, and K1 is 51 lbs with a seat only). Could be cheaper and lighter alternative to K1 even with a rudder and seasock (and easier to assemble; very few boats are more difficult to assemble than K1 :-).

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Post by Paul »

It would also be interesting to hear your comments on the size of the cockpit--at 14" wide (500 model)--it seems NARROW. They are probably using the same cockpit for both the Japanese and North American market, wheras the NA mkt could stand to have a bit larger/wider one.


RE: Alex

Post by larrybluhm »

Hi Alex. I've seen two K1's but have never had the opportunity to paddle one or see it being assembled. One guy let me pick his lightly loaded boat up and it was significantly heavier than mine and less lively feeling, as in flexibility. The Fujita is very flexible - you can feel the waves as they pass under you - which gives you every bit of the seaworthiness of a skin on frame boat. The tensioning system is very simple and quite effective, requiring very little force. The cockpit ends of the keel and gunwale bars are hinged on each frame half with rather rugged fittings. They are joined with similarly hinged bars which then form three shallow, inward pointing V's. You simply push the V's out straight and swivel the cockpit rib, which is attached to the keel joiner bar, into place. The rib locks all three bars and a floorboard further locks the keel bar. All that's left is to add a sliding joiner to the chine bars and install a pair of cockpit bars which are spot on in position for a comfortable knee lock in the cockpit. I believe that these are an extra with FeatherCraft. With the Fujita you get floorboards and a padded footrest as well as the warmth of wood and fiberglass as opposed to aluminum. The quality of the woodwork is first rate. Metal fittings are entirely adequate and easily field repairable. Besides the keel, strips are installed where the edges or the floorboards meet the hull and the chine bars nestle cleverly against the inner liners for the sponson chambers adding an extra layer there. I didn't get the sea sock (prefer to be able to get at things in the boat) or the rudder - the boat really doesn't need one, though the FeatherCraft skeg can be useful in big following wind.

On the flip side, the K1 hull material is superior and all seams are welded. On the Fujitas, and a lot of other folders, the hull / deck seam is sewn as well as around the coaming and hatch covers and they all seep. Quite a bit actually in big water and noticeably from paddle drip. The material in the hatch covers, which don't close like a dry bag, and the stock spray skirt is not heavily coated and also seep. Get the neo hatch cover liners and an aftermarket spray skirt. The NRS Monterey Kilt fits very well. Also get the bilge pump option which is a second foot pump plus plumbing, a bracket and a through-hull grommet which has to be ordered with a new boat. It mounts behind the seat and when you rest you rock and the seepage becomes a moot point. Boat assembly time: 15 - 20 minutes, unrushed and easy.

It looks like FoldingCraft is going through some changes, their website now redirects to fujitana.com. When I bought my boat they were a division of Cascade Crags, an outdoor shop with a climbing gym in Everett, WA. The new site indicates that they are still in Everett, so I guess that its the same folks, who were always friendly and helpful. Thanks for the URL on the Euro site, I hadn't discovered that one.


Re: Paul

Post by larrybluhm »

Hi Paul. Yes indeed the cockpit width on my 480 is 14 inches. I'm not a particularly large humanoid (5'7"/145) and it has never been a problem. It is long enough to get in butt first, then legs - useful when launching into chop. I usually get in bicycle style, grab the forward edge of the coaming, put one foot on the floorboard, shove off and ease into the cockpit on my arms. It freaks out the hardshellers most every time...


Post by Alm »

Thanks; looks like it needs some good silicone water repellent. I've found a review by Ralph Diaz on the Fujita Japanese website, and he also mentioned those seams: http://www.fujitacanoe.com/en/kiji2.htm

I've checked hatch/deck seams on Feathercraft and Longhaul (actually, very few folding kayaks have hatches). Both have drybag-style closures, and both have hatch sleeve sewn to the deck.

On FC there is a light strip, glued over the seam (under the deck). Doesn't look like welded (unlke hull-deck seam). Probably this can be done on Fujita as well.

On Longhaul it is more complicated. The lower end of the hatch sleeve [ is folded around the xxx edge of the deck fabric opening:
[ xxxxx,
then another [ of stiffer material is folded around the first fold. Similar to seams of a gym bag - folded and covered with another strip. Then all these layers are sewn through, and there is some glue in these layers - I can see glue residue.


Post by ztkavc »

Larry, your post/review is exactly what I was looking for. Fujita seems to be very nice boat and represents boat that I am looking for.
My only concern is boats stiffness and robustness.
You said that it is less stiff than K1. What about to other kayaks with wooden frame(Klepper, Pouch)?
Does boats flex allow you to carry it loaded with gear or you have to load it on water (like Folbot Cooper)?
Lively feeling - Does it feels like inflatable?
Do you have kevlar reinforced hull and what is the boats weight (empty and travelling - boat+skirt+seat+bag)?
Is payload (145Kg/320lbs) for PE-1 480 real?

German dealer is selling Fujitas with welded seams only (that's what they said :-)

Thanks, Zoran


Post by larrybluhm »

Hi Zoran! One indeed gets robustness AND flexibility with the Fujita. To my taste at least, the amount of wiggle seems just right. There is a photo on the Japanese site of someone standing on the mid point of one of the fiberglass frame tubes which was supported on blocks at each end. I would guess that the amount of flexibility would be roughly equal to Klepper and Pouch, though I don't have much first hand experience with either.

I've had roughly 225 lbs. of me plus camping gear in the boat and the freeboard was only a bit less than a day trip load. At cruising speed, the extra drag seems to be nicely offset by the increased inertia of the load - as in it glides and handles well as a beast of burden. The 320 lb. figure is probably real.

I typically load the boat at my vehicle and use a FeatherCraft butterfly cart to transport it, rolling it right into the water if possible. There is some flex and sag at the ends with a full load, but nothing to be alarmed about.

It doesn't feel at all like an inflatable, at least not like my Airframe, which is rather a slug... I got the kevlar expedition hull. While I haven't critically weighed the boat, I would guess that the manufacturers figures are pretty accurate.

I would guess that something was lost in translation from the German - SOME of the seams are welded but not all. If it IS true, I'll be looking at the exchange rate...

Happy Paddling!


Post by Alm »

>Does boats flex allow you to carry it loaded with gear or you have to load it on water (like Folbot Cooper)?

I doubt that you'll be able to carry any boat loaded with a gear; this task usually needs 2 people or a kayak cart. With some lightweight 20 kg (44 lbs) boat, plus rudder, plus seat, plus floatation bags or some other semi-permament = 25 kg (55 lbs). Gear and food for a short 2-day trip may weight another 15-20 kg (33-44 lbs). I wouldn't try carrying 40 kg weight (88 lbs) on my shoulder, and most likely wouldn't be even able to lift it up to the shoulder. With long hull it is difficult to keep balance, not to mention any wind or rugged shore terrain.

Most people load their boats on water or near water, - sometimes using a cart if tide recedes while the boat is loaded.


Post by ztkavc »

Larry, thanks for your quick reply.
Fujita is pretty stiff then if you can transport it loaded with cart into the water.
I was afraid that it is like Folbot Cooper (some say it is flexy like a banana).
What about boats performance? I am interested in speed and efficiency compared to hardshells and to other folders.
I was surprised when I found info that shorter Feathercraft Kahuna outperforms longer PE-1 500EX.
500EX has really nice review at seakayaker and they don't like foldables very much.
So I really doubt that, but stiffer boats are more efficient.

Fujitas are very appealing to me with its classy wooden/fiberglass hybrid frame, quick/easy assembly
and they weight less than comparable folders.

When I was asking for information's on Fujita PE-1 500EX German importers wrote to me that they sell Fujitas only with welded seams.
You can check this here: http://www.out-trade.de/de/index.php?ca ... ct=A000147
So it must be true.

Alex you are right. I don't know paddler who carries alone loaded boat to the water.
When I transport my loaded Klepper AEII on kayak cart there is very little sag at both ends and it is quite long and heavy boat.
I wouldn't carry empty AEII on my shoulders ;-)



Post by Alm »

On a cart, all folding boats (except for, may be, Packboats that have less frame members than other models), - are sturdy enough to be transported with some or all the cargo inside. Just make sure that the cart is under the rib or at another reliable part of the frame. I usually take water bags and some other heavy items out of the boat before rolling it on the cart. Frame may or may not sustain this stress with a lot of cargo, you never know, - so why take any chances?... Also, why try breaking records, pushing a fully loaded boat on the cart across rugged terrain or soft sand, when I can push it partly unloaded?...

As to the performance of Kahuna VS Fujita VS hardshells - I think, nobody can tell this for sure.
Kahuna is easy to paddle on cruising speeds for many hours - it is stiff and has short waterline, and is easy to accelerate, but it can't be accelerated to very high speeds - due to short hull relatively to beam width.
Longer and/or narrower boat like Fujita 480 or Cooper or L1 or K1 might have higher top speed, which doesn't always make it easier to paddle on long distances and/or at high speeds, even if it is stiff enough.
Hardshell (speaking of simplified picture - forward strokes on flat water) will always be more effective per each stroke or per each calory spend, than a folder of the same size - due to stiffer and more smooth hull, but this difference is negligible with some very stiff frame like in Feathercraft or L1 - VS hardshell of the same width and length, though I can't recall any single-seater hardhsell 25.5" wide (65 cm) and 15 or 16 ft long (450-480 cm), so this is rather academic talk. There are probably very few hardshells of that dimensions - short and wide.


Post by ztkavc »

Alex, it all depends on the amount of luggage, terrain...
But one could get decent info on boats stiffness (look above for FB Cooper).

On boats speed and efficiency you are right in general. There are no folding kayak that could compete with good hardshell performer especially in calm sea.
But there are occasions that you paddle in company with other paddlers and it is not nice to hold them down in your "foldable canu". Of course that top hull speed and cruising speed are not the same thing and that you could paddle along longer boats in shorter/wider foldable just fine BUT how easy that would be depends mainly on your "health" and on boats design (Folboat Kodiak vs FC Whisper).

We don't have very often big waves with high winds here.
There are quite few sea kayaks here that are under or just at 5m (16,4) length. To name some: Touryak (4.7m, 63cm), Seayak (4.9m, 58cm) nad noarower Yukon E (5.05m, 55cm). They are all from German firm Prijon and are popular especially at rentals.

I know that info on boats speed, efficiency and many other parameters are very subjective and depends on _many_ factors (seekayaker do have more scientific approach). I am far from nearest Folding Boat centre/shops to test all boats that I'm interested in but I may visit one in fall. Foldables are real rarity here.
So any info on boats characteristics is good and it helps to create picture on that boat.
Besides, Fj 500EX is lightest 5m touring foldable and it is very tempting :-)



Post by Alm »

Yes, Zoran, in calm waters you don't need 27" wide and slow boat like Klepper or Kodiak (slow, compared to kayaks with beam width 25.5" (65 cm) or less. 25.5" (65 cm) or even 24.5" (62 cm) foldable kayak is much more stable than 24.5" hardshell - due to sponsons (they create a lot of buoyancy when you lean the boat).

Precise comparison in speed (of folder VS hardshell) is more difficult, because there are no 65 cm wide hardshells (singles), except for some very short and very slow recreational kayaks, usually cheap, heavy and made of polyethilene (not fiberglass). From what I know, people in K1, Kahuna, Cooper, Fujita have no problems keeping up with paddlers in 58-62 hardshells on flat water or in medium winds for many hours. Perhaps, they have to paddle a little bit harder than those in hardshells of similar size, but not much harder.

Within this "folding" group, - I don't have any official data, but most likely that Fujita 500 and Cooper would go faster than K1 or Kahuna (or will need less efforts to paddle); this difference will be much less than the difference between Klepper and K1.

With short (and narrow) boats like Kahuna or Fujita 480 it is an interesting situation, speaking of speed. Due to their short waterline length, they are easier to paddle at cruising speed than a hardshell of same width but with longher hull (say, 24.5" wide and 17 ft long). So, eventually, these short folders can beat longer hardshells of the same width on long distances at cruising speeds - but not on sprint races, of course.

In a Klepper or Kodiak you will have to paddle notably harder to keep up with an average hardshell paddler at average cruising speed, and won't be able to to do this for more than, say, 2-3 hours; but this is very subjective - some people have tons of energy (or paddle with a slow group, where everybody keeps very low cruising speed).

I'm rather skeptical about declared weights. Usually total packed weight (with rudder, seat, skirt, seasock, backpack etc) is 5-8 kg more than the weight of "stripped" boat quoted on manufacturer's website. Fujita 500 weighs 6 kg less than K1, and it also has 1" (2.5 cm) less in beam, and trust me, 1" in beam makes a lot of difference in boat stability, payload and ease of loading-unloading gear and food in the boat. This 1" will also make a difference in speed on flat water - but this is more complicated and less obvious, not only due to flex, but also due to the bow shape and how good is the contact of the body with the boat (this includes design of footrest or rudder pedals, quality of seat and backrest, etc).

Miracles don't happen - 18 kg Fujita has less payload than 24 kg K1 (and more payload than shorter 16 kg Kahuna) and more flex in the frame, than K1 or Kahuna. This is the price that you pay for saving these 6 kg (compared to K1).


Fujita welded seams

Post by Anne »

The German Out Trade website that Zoran mentioned says that welded seams cost an extra EUR 49. But perhaps they stock only Fujitas with welded seams since this is what they told Zoran. I don't think anybody would want to buy a kayak with leaky seams if a welded version is available.

Zoran, if you read German here is a review of the Fujita 500:
http://www.faltboot.de/forum/read.php?1 ... #msg-62682

Pictures of a new Fujita 500 in Switzerland:

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