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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 3:24 am 
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Hi fellow paddlers!

I have been reading the various kayak reviews all over the web, and of course all those available from this forum as well. I noticed that many owners tend to rate their kayaks highly, even though they might have little kayaking experience or that it might be the very first kayak they own. Sea Kayaker Magazine reviews seem to be more trustworthy, but even then, the reviews are usually carried out in isolation and I can't seem to find any resources which features a comparison between various folding kayaks.

There is of course a very old comparison between a Folbot Cooper and a Feathercraft Kahuna, but I am not sure if that is representative of the current state of affairs.

Thus, I have spent the past year planning for an update to the resources available, both to introduce kayakers to folding kayaks as well as serve as a guide for potential buyers of folding kayaks. This task was inspired by certain topics in Head-Fi (forum for earphones and other audio stuff) which featured comparison of over 200 sets of earphones. I found those threads very insightful and more meaningful because the performance of the earphones can be compared more coherently since it was reviewed by the same person. There were also additional notes from people who had access to different earphones and those feedback were also documented. This motivated me to hopefully start a similar thread for folding kayaks, which will be very useful since not all of us will get to try out every brand of folding kayak before we settle on one.

To make this possible, I would like to hear from the more experienced folding kayakers over here at the forums. It would be great if you can share your experiences with the different folding kayaks that you have tried or owned.

As for myself, I am still trying to get my hands on different folding kayaks. It is not easy since I am obviously not going to spend all the money and buy all the kayaks in the world just so for the sake of knowledge..... but I have managed to get some things started. I will kick off the thread with a comparison between the Feathercraft Wisper, the Nautiraid Narak and the TRAK Seeker. The Feathercraft Khatsalano, Folbot Cooper and Nautiraid Greenlander were initially in the plan as well, but due to certain constraints, I was not able to get my hands on the Khats and the Cooper for review. These will be added into the list subsequently once I can convince the owners to lend me their kayaks for review :lol:

Phase 1 Folding Kayaks - featuring Feathercraft Khatsalano S, Folbot Cooper & TRAK Seeker / T1600:
Image

So yup, that's about all for now. If you do share your experience, I would love to get some background on your paddling experience as well. This template is just a guide for you to follow, so feel free to add in other information which you think is relevant to make the comparison more meaningful. Also feel free to draw comparisons with other types of kayaks. For example, you can compare the paddling experience to plastic kayaks that you have tried so that people who have tried those kayaks before can get a sense of what you are describing.

Check the second post for the links to the individual reviews!


Last edited by Tak on Fri Jan 10, 2014 3:07 am, edited 16 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 3:31 am 
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List of Folding Kayak reviews by kayaktak:
Feathercraft Khatsalano S (Review in progress)
Feathercraft Wisper (QUEUE #4 - December 2014)

Folbot Cooper (3-5 days Expedition pending, QUEUE #2 - April/May 2014)

Nautiraid Narak (More water time needed, QUEUE #5 - KIV)
Nautiraid Greenlander I 500 (Hull shrank, waiting for solution, QUEUE #6 - KIV)

TRAK Seeker ST16 / TRAK T1600 (Write up pending, QUEUE #3 - August/September 2014)


Phase 3:
****** ******

************ ******* 2.0

******** ******** 480
******** ******* 415

********* ***** 460 (hopefully :mrgreen: )
********* **** * 416

**** *****************

******* ******* * ***


Links to Folding Kayak reviews by other users
Nautiraid Narak - by siravingmon

Image
The initial 3 Kayaks. The review order has now been changed to the following:
1. Feathercraft Khatsalano (TBC)
2. Folbot Cooper (2013)
3. TRAK Seeker / T1600 (2012)
4. Feathercraft Wisper (TBC)
5. Nautiraid Narak (2013)
6. Nautiraid Greenlander I 500 (2011)

TEMPLATE FOR REVIEW (evolution in progress)
So here goes, the template....

Age: age group is ok if you don't want to share your exact age :D
Height: in cm
Weight: in kg
Years actively kayaking:
Average water time / distance paddled per year:
Kayaking background & Experience: E.g. Slalom / Competitive Polo / Recreational Flatwater / Extreme Whitewater / Multiweek touring

Bonus details on another study that I am doing...
Preferred Feathering: LH / RH xx degrees
Preferred Paddle Length:
Preferred Paddle Design: Straight/crank shaft, wing/greenland/euro/asymetrical / two piece..
Preferred Paddle Material: Aluminium shaft with fibreglass blade / full carbon
Example of preferred paddle: e.g. Galasport Brute, Werner Player, Gearlab Oyashio

Comments on Kayaks you have paddled:
The material for the hull of this kayak is softer than that kayak, but is more durable. I have tried slicing it with a sharp rock........

NOTE: I understand that more information does not necessarily mean better. In fact, it might make things even more cluttered and confusing. The template you see above is by no means the final template or is it the best template available. The options are simply there to allow us to sieve out what is finally needed to put up a good report.


Last edited by Tak on Sun Jan 12, 2014 6:30 am, edited 9 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 2:58 pm 
lord high faltbotmeister

Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:51 pm
Posts: 602
Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sounds like fun, but I think for this to be useful as a comparison you should add more structure to the kayak review part with each category having a grade of say 1 to 5 or "don't know” plus comments. IMHO this makes it easier for the reviewer to comment, too
Suggested categories (I'm sure I've missed some). Now edited with a couple of extra lines after my Narak long term review and with Tak's paddler profile added

Rating 1 to 5, with 5 best plus comments (compared with other folding kayaks, not hard shells)

Performance:
Max sprint speed
Ease of paddling at cruising speed
Glide
Ease of turning with sweep strokes
Ease of edging for turning
Primary stability
Secondary stability
How easily it catches waves
Paddling into the wind and waves
Can it surf diagonally?
Will it plane on a wave?
How easily does it broach in following seas or surf?
Does it nose dive easily?
Tracking
Does it weathercock?
Seat comfort
Footrest rigidity (type)
Footrest comfort
Thigh/knee braces (how effective)
Effectiveness of hip pads
Effectiveness of back band/back rest
Ease of rolling
Ease of paddle float reentry
Can you do a cowboy reentry?
Ease of lying back on the rear deck
Narrowness/lowness of the catch for paddling
How much does it flex in the water
Suitibility for sailing

Design/features:
Aseembly method
How quick/easy to assemble /disassemble (mins)/tips?
How easy to clean?
How quick to dry?
How durable is the frame?
How durable is the hull (material)?
How taut is the skin on the frame?
Is the frame easy to repair?
Is the hull easy to repair?
How waterproof is it?
Does the coaming hold a sprayskirt well (and a sea sock)?
Can you sit on the back of the coaming?
How big a person can it carry?
Can you sleep in it?
How much baggage can it take?
How easy is it to load bags?
Does it have carry handles?
Does it have deck lines?
Does it have deck rigging for gear?
How much buoyancy does it have (air bags/tubes)?
How easy is it to pack?.
How bulky/comfortable is it to carry?
How heavy is it to carry?

Owned since..
Other/subjective (comments)....

Personal details (from Tak with 'Other kayaks paddled' added)
Age: age group is ok if you don't want to share your exact age
Height: in cm
Weight: in kg
Years actively kayaking/year started paddling:
Average water time / distance paddled per year:
Kayaking background & Experience: E.g. Slalom / Competitive Polo / Recreational Flatwater / Extreme Whitewater / Multiweek touring
Other kayaks paddled

Bonus details
Preferred Feathering: LH / RH xx degrees
Preferred Paddle Length:
Preferred Paddle Design: Straight/crank shaft, wing/greenland/euro/asymetrical / two piece..
Preferred Paddle Material: Aluminium shaft with fibreglass blade / full carbon
Example of preferred paddle: e.g. Galasport Brute, Werner Player, Gearlab Oyashio

_________________
Simon

Pakboats Quest 135, Nautiraid Narak 460, 416 & K1 (sold my 550), First light 420, Feathercraft Wisper, Fujita Alpina AL-1 400, Incept k40 (for sale)
Non-folders: Cape Falcon F1. Beth sailing canoe, 2014 Hobie Adventure Island


Last edited by siravingmon on Fri Nov 29, 2013 12:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 3:49 pm 
lord high faltbotmeister

Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:51 pm
Posts: 602
Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka
There's also the matter of how you will collate and present this information. Did you have anything specific in mind? I think to be readily accessible for comparisons it would ideally be presented in tabular form on a web page with different paddlers' reviews of any one kayak alongside each other.

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Simon

Pakboats Quest 135, Nautiraid Narak 460, 416 & K1 (sold my 550), First light 420, Feathercraft Wisper, Fujita Alpina AL-1 400, Incept k40 (for sale)
Non-folders: Cape Falcon F1. Beth sailing canoe, 2014 Hobie Adventure Island


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 2:21 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 12:34 pm
Posts: 1694
Location: Southeast Michigan
Did you read the reviews on the main web page?

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FoldingKayaks.org Webmaster


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 8:24 am 
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Hey Simon!

Thanks for your inputs! That is a very comprehensive list of qualities we can look at! I didn't want to reveal what my rating criteria are until I have completed the first part of the article, but since you asked, I will share with you some of the considerations I have when coming up with the list.

The ratings (in my opinion), can only be relevant when it is rated by a person or a group of individuals who can agree on a common yardstick of measurement. Just take a look at the reviews at http://www.paddling.net/Reviews/showRev ... ?prod=3064 oru kayak and you'll see what I mean. A 10/10 is meaningless without understanding the context the rating was made in.

Furthermore, some ratings will be presented in as objective a manner as possible. This is very similar to earphones actually. Different people might review and rate a pair of earphones differently, though the earphones itself did not change. Different people have different expectations, and different preferences. Some might be a basshead, some prefer audio clarity as compared to a warm and engaging presentation. Some like a wide soundstage, some prefer a more intimate feel. Some like extended highs, while others will find the same sound fatiguing.

Similarly for this table to be useful, I will "sort" certain kayaks by their paddling signature (similar to music signature). Kayaks will generally be categorised as stable/boring, lively/edgy.. (tbc gtg, can't save as draft...)

Hi Michael,

Yes I have read the reviews on the main page. I enjoyed those reviews and found them informative in general. However, it doesn't help that the reviews are by different people from different background. Most people also do not clearly mention their expectations of what a "good" kayak is. Thus I am pushing for a more standardised platform to compare the characteristics of kayaks. This is not a quest to identify the best kayak, but rather a desire to come up with some sort of database. Perhaps a continuation of Ralph Diaz's good work for the complete folding kayaker. I believe the best kayak is one that fits the kayaker. It's like a pair of shoes, different shoes for different needs for different running style. Same for kayaks.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 1:32 pm 
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And of course, I'm sure everyone loves to see photos of the kayaks (=

So here's one of the Narak in action, with some pretty decent edging to try to carve a sharper turn. Not very easy holding the Narak on edge as the TRAK, but noticeably easier than the Wisper. Still, can't manage a turn as sharp as the Wisper even with an aggressive edge on the Narak.

Not very sure why I can't embed the image even though it is 640x480... so here's the link.:
http://kayaktak.files.wordpress.com/201 ... itrail.jpg


You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 1:44 pm 
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The chart will be heavily influenced by the layout shown in the headfi custom IEM thread and universal IEM thread.

There will be a summary section that describes the characteristic of each kayak, followed by an individual profile of each kayak with specifications, followed by the scoring table of certain aspects which I find more relevant.

As Simon has pointed out, there are lots of possible qualities that a kayaker will look out for, and I think these qualities will differ among individuals. Thus, some scores can be viewed as a neutral scale, while others factors such as weight will be scored based on lighter = better in most cases.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 4:07 pm 
lord high faltbotmeister

Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:51 pm
Posts: 602
Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Hi Tak,
I think standardised reviews need a wide variety of very well defined parameters, hence those I posted. "Stable" is too all enveloping a term to be useful, for example. Do you mean initial stability, secondary stability, stability when side surfing, resistance to broacing etc. Similarly, "boring" is too subjective. It could mean slow, stable, unaffected by side winds or waves, poor surfing ability etc. Only by having discrete attributes that are as descriptive as possible do you have a chance of a complete review for comparitive purposes, in my opinion, and even then I'd want to see reviews of specific characteristics of different boats by the same reviewer to get an idea of how critical they are in general, as well as having reviews of the same characteristics of the same boat by different reviewers.

I also think that the scores need to be accompanied by comments/explanations for clarity. I've just posted my 'long term review' of my Narak with my ratings and comments in the Nautiraid section to give you an idea of what I mean.

PS I added a few more criteria, such as glide, sailing ability, and ease of assembly, as well as adding other kayaks paddled to your criteria - see my edited post above for the revised list plus your paddler criteria.

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Simon

Pakboats Quest 135, Nautiraid Narak 460, 416 & K1 (sold my 550), First light 420, Feathercraft Wisper, Fujita Alpina AL-1 400, Incept k40 (for sale)
Non-folders: Cape Falcon F1. Beth sailing canoe, 2014 Hobie Adventure Island


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 4:44 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 22, 2006 3:00 pm
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I think the ratings on paddling.net indicate whether the kayak met the expectations of the owner. If it did then the rating is usually a 9 or 10. The ratings can't be used to compare kayaks.

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Folbot Cooper, Pakboat Sport, Innova Sunny, Epic GPX, Oru Kayak, Wike Bicycle Trailer


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 4:54 pm 
lord high faltbotmeister

Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:51 pm
Posts: 602
Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Hi Bernie,
While Paddling.net reviews give overall ratings, many specialist mags do rate individual features of cars etc as part of comparisons between different brands, so in theory at least, i don't see why it can't be done....

“Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow”

― T.S. Eliot

:-)

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Simon

Pakboats Quest 135, Nautiraid Narak 460, 416 & K1 (sold my 550), First light 420, Feathercraft Wisper, Fujita Alpina AL-1 400, Incept k40 (for sale)
Non-folders: Cape Falcon F1. Beth sailing canoe, 2014 Hobie Adventure Island


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 29, 2013 8:40 pm 
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Hi Bernie,

Thanks for sharing your opinion on the rating system. I understand that many users seem to rate their kayaks on paddling.net based on how much they like their kayak, or perhaps like you said, how much it meets their expectations.

However, even if this is the case, I think it's intuitive for people to look at the overall comments and make some form of comparison. Let's look at other resources to see rating systems being used as a form of benchmarking tool. For example, agoda has many hotels ranging from one to five stars, and people give their experience rating on a 10 point scale. A 3 star hotel can score a 8/10 for overall experience, while maybe another 4 star hotel scores a 7.8/10. People (well, at least people I know) look at these feedback ratings, and then the price, location and some other factors into consideration to then make a booking.

Even Amazon's simple 5stars raring system is usually used as a comparison tool between products. Of course, we can't just look at the numbers as the main comparison tool because products can belong to different product class. This is where some arbitrary form of categorisation might be necessary to help people find which kayak suit their needs.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:32 pm 
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The writing of the Feathercraft Khatsalano S review has been started! Check out the progress on http://foldingkayaks.org/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=5489!

I remember leaving a few buffer posts for subsequent addition of content pages and tables near the top of the thread. Or maybe I remembered wrongly. Anyway, I'll figure a way to manage the comparison section once the first 3 reviews are done up to standard, so we can focus on the individual kayak reviews for now and worry about the comparison parts later (:


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 2:20 pm 
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Also, is anyone able to get the photos to show up on the main page kayak reviews? None of the images show up, be it those hosted on the local server or on an external server. The photos would serve as very good reference for people to get a better understanding of what the writers are saying!


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:41 pm 
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I am planning to visit 17 & 18 May, 2014 in Ulm Germany, where there will about 40 different foldable kayaks will be tested. this can be an opportunity to bring some photos. Can you add a post with examples of photos that are preferable for the comparison report?
Personally I am interested in tandem foldable kayaks combining moderate difficulty recreational activities and sea kayaking and will focus on this these topics.

I can add my penny to your project. As a retired scientist a tried many times to prepare comparisons between different chemical products of significantly lower complexity. my conclusion was always that is more practical to split the comparisons into smaller topics and compare only relevant criteria to that specific topic. the larger (usually huge) tables can serve as reference but they do not add to clarity.

possible hypothetical examples for topics (activities-functions)
1. fishing (from kayaks, canoes)
2. easy recreational activities (solo, tandem)
3. rivers (subdivided according to difficulty)
4. paddling along shores
5. long distance crossing
etc.. I hope it make some sence, from somebody having no experience at all in foldables and very little in kayaking


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