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PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2017 9:28 am 
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Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
I posted this first on the thread about Feathercraft closing. The big question for everyone in the outdoor business is how, in this age of electronic sadness and madness, to get young(er) people out of their heads and into the outdoors. On the FC thread, Alv of Pakboats asked a similar question.

Alv, build a wi-fi enabled folder, with many apps. And make sure it has GoPro mounts and smartphone cradles (and can be paddled, one-handed, by people who are always looking down (maybe with an app called Paddle) :lol: :roll: :twisted:

Silly jokes aside, I work for a newspaper and the things that are troubling your business are the same things that our troubling ours. Of all the things we've learned (maybe too late), two things stand out: 1) kids want to "connect" in what they believe is a genuine way and 2) they want to create and be seen to be creating, hence the rise of a "selfie generation" whose antics grow more extreme by the day.

There is a huge opportunity here for the outdoor industry: imagine you take that idea of "connecting" and apply it to kayaking or the wilderness or hiking or back-country camping. We, who've been there, know that the outdoors offers the best connection you could ever dream of.

Stir a bit of "we want to create" into the pot and you have something ... profound.

I read this week a long story of an Instagram couple who live in a van. They have hundreds of thousands of followers. They are sponsored with gear and paid by outdoor companies to be "influencers". Sure, their hits apparently spike every time they post a pic of the woman doing yoga in her bikini, but still ... They are living a life that is immediately attractive: free, on the road, seeing beautiful things. It's that dream that's earned them a vast number of followers. (And sure, their "dream" is little tougher now that they have to create content, every day)

The folding kayak business needs some influencers. It needs a young couple, touring the world's waterways with their folding boat, and a tent and their dog (travelling dogs are always a hit!) Instagramming and Facebooking that dream to all their followers. (Heck, I'd do it but at 50, I'm not sure how many followers I'd get :twisted: :lol:)

Maybe there's something in this: the outdoors is cool. Kayaks are cool. Adventure is cool. The folding kayak is so niche, so completely left-field, hipster even, that it's like a seam of gold waiting to be stumbled upon.

PS. Young people are hungry for authentic experiences. What could be more authentic than a folding kayak, moving through the water like an otter, on a trip, a voyage of self-discovery, into an unpeopled wilderness? Nothing, that's what. :D

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Feathercraft Airline Java
Nortik Trekraft, awaiting the river's embrace
1960s Klepper Aerius II, now gone be the star in a Special Forces movie
Folbot Greenland II, now at a new home on the Southern Cape coast


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PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 6:04 pm 
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle
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Good post-- thanks for starting a discussion that needs to take place.

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~'91 Klepper A2 w/ BSD schooner rig.
'64 Klepper Passat/Tradewind and T12 restoration projects.
Non-folding: '84 Hobie 16; early '90s Old Town Canoe.
Previously owned '04 Pakboat Puffin II and '05 Swift.


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PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 11:04 am 
faltbootemeister

Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2016 4:17 pm
Posts: 121
Location: Chicago
I wonder why folders--both kayaks and canoes--aren't more popular among young urbanites. They seem the perfect boats for outdoorsy people who live in apartments and have no place to keep a rigid boat. Maybe their time is yet to come.


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PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 5:05 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 02, 2017 1:54 pm
Posts: 5
Location: Oakland County, MI
The auto industry has been chasing the myth that young people aren't interested in cars: "Cars don't fit the millennial lifestyle". "Social media and fancy tech are the secret to selling cars to young people".

Young people don't buy new cars because most of them can't afford them. Folding Kayak are a niche luxury item, for many of my peers (I'm unfortunately just young enough to get lumped in with millennials) a $300 plastic kayak is a big investment.

Folding kayaks won't hold up to to the use and abuse young people will put them through. A plastic kayak can paddled down a sand dune, dragged behind a car, thrown of the roof of a frat house and still float.

Setup time is also an issue, young people are impatient.

If you want young people do buy folders it needs to be indestructible, fast to set up, and be priced closed to $300. If you could do that you would be back here complaining of all the young people clogging your favorite paddles spots.

As for the couple living in the van: Every generation has it's own version of the hippie and every generation fails to see itself in the next incarnation.

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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2017 2:16 am 
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Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
merone wrote:
If you want young people do buy folders it needs to be indestructible, fast to set up, and be priced closed to $300. If you could do that you would be back here complaining of all the young people clogging your favorite paddles spots.


Howzit Mike,

Reading my post again, I realise it comes across as quite patronizing which, obviously, was not my intention.

And, yes, you're right about the cost of these boats - that's a passion killer for sure. I'd debate the issue of abuse, though: my Klepper and Folbot were plenty tough. I even shot a weir in the Folbot once and while that was not in the manual and I broke some longerons and tore a hole in the hull, my field repair took me home. A patch and and $20 in bits and pieces from the local hardware fixed the rest. Make a hole in a plastic boat and that's your kayak trashed for good.

merone wrote:
Setup time is also an issue, young people are impatient.


Ja, this is why my girl - same age as me - got frustrated with kayaking, especially the looky-loos constantly standing around and asking questions as we assembled the Klepper. Me, I used to have a pilot's license and I *liked* the slow set-up - it was like doing a pre-flight, a kind of meditation, before launching. I love that about folding boats, that pause between getting to the lakeshore and pushing off into the blue, but, ja, that's probably just me.

merone wrote:
If you want young people do buy folders it needs to be indestructible, fast to set up, and be priced closed to $300. If you could do that you would be back here complaining of all the young people clogging your favorite paddles spots.


What we don't see here in sunny South Africa -- with its 300-plus days a year of fine weather -- are any young people getting into kayaking or rafting, even though there are plenty of cheap boats around.

Yes, in a country where unemployment is around 30%, most people are concerned with survival, not recreation. Still, among the (many) Millennials who can afford smartphones and have cars and who travel widely, outdoor adventure, not just kayaking, is not even a blip on the radar. And with our vast tracts of accessible wilderness, game parks, mountain trails and forest-lined estuaries, that's just depressing.
I wish there were young people clogging my favourite paddling spots.

merone wrote:
As for the couple living in the van: Every generation has it's own version of the hippie and every generation fails to see itself in the next incarnation.


Not quite sure what you mean here. My point was the van couple are influencers, and the kayak industry could use some of those.

Cheers, Mike, and happy paddling.

PS How do you like the Oru? That's an interesting boat; they keep offering me one at a discount but our currency sucks ...

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Feathercraft Airline Java
Nortik Trekraft, awaiting the river's embrace
1960s Klepper Aerius II, now gone be the star in a Special Forces movie
Folbot Greenland II, now at a new home on the Southern Cape coast


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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2017 9:11 pm 
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle
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Location: Anchorage Alaska
We are doomed. Oru kayaks are prizes on Lets Make A deal and The Price Is Right

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Feathercraft Kahuna ( Angela )
Mariner Express ( Miruku Maru ) ( In Storage)
Innova Helios 380
Northwest Sportee (SuperBoat)
Innova Safari
Mariner I
Feathercraft Java
Nautiraid 14
Innova Sunny
Feathercraft K-Light


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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 1:36 pm 
faltbootemeister
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Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2011 11:41 am
Posts: 222
As much it makes me/us sad, perhaps there is no future for folding kayaks. I agree that assembling it before launching is a dear ritual that helps detaching the mind from the urban life and stress, but everybody, young and old alike, seem to ask that same silly question: "How long does it take to assemble?", neglecting that even assembling it is an enjoyable process... :)

And as far as destinations go, take our majestic Everglades. How many younger people does one encounter paddling in the Everglades? As far as I can tell most young paddlers feel attracted to noisy and sexy whitewater rapids... :) That's where the GoPro, drones and social media posts shine.

The folders are quietly floating into the present from a different time. They are heavy, expensive, slightly more difficult to maintain, they need love and attention... :) all in short supply for the faster times we live in.

I am very sad to admit that this is the third summer since I did not put the U-Boat together for a trip. I haven't opened the case I keep it in and I didn't touch it in three years. And, most likely, I won't open the case in 2017, either... :(

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Seasick & Grumpy enjoying a Long Haul Mark II Commando with BSD 36' HP Sport sail

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Last edited by DoiNomazi on Fri May 12, 2017 9:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 9:10 pm 
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I was exploring these thoughts and reflecting on my own impending sense of obsolescence a few months back under the "Coffeehouse" rubric with the ponderous, and frankly, quite ridiculous, title, "Saving Folding Kayaks for Generations to Come". The thread was meant to be a call to arms for the defense of the beleaguered Realm of Folders. Instead, it reads more like a a wake for the defunct folding kayak. Sadly, hardly anyone even bothered to attend. There were no pints quaffed amidst laughter and tears. Oh well. Stiff upper lip, what! After all, all we are is dust in the wind, etc. I'm going off now to check in at my second favourite forum, the cutting edge "Flat-Earth Society's Planetary Exploration Project". I'd put in the link here but my IT facilitator is up on our very prickly thatched roof doing sums on his abacus and flatly refuses to come and show me yet again how to do a "cut and paste". But on a more serious note: DoiNomazi, I always enjoyed your trip reports and have missed them of late. What has kept the two of you adventurers away from the water for so long?


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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 9:17 pm 
faltbootemeister
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Hi Martin,

We kept getting wet, but in hard-shell rentals.

"Melting Whispers - 2015" in Alaska and "Qivittoq - 2016" back in Greenland.

Even the "Doi Nomazi (Two Nomads) is fading away, gradually replaced by the more silly "Seasick & Grumpy"... :)

Thank you for the kind words.

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http://vimeo.com/channels/travelotherapy


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PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 1:46 pm 
knight of the folding kayak realm

Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:22 am
Posts: 392
Location: Coastal New Jersey
Folding kayaks have always occupied a small niche in the universe of paddlecraft and now that niche has become even smaller. Oru seems to be an exception, at least for the time being. I get their email newsletter which they send out on an almost weekly schedule and, if one can believe their hype, they're selling a lot of boats and new models are in the works. There's something about the esthetics of a kayak made of chloroplast that turns me away but I can't deny that these boats are quick to set up, requiring even less time than an inflatable. I watched a paddler unfolding his Oru Bay on a Florida beach this past winter and he did it in under ten minutes while carrying on a conversation. And he apologized for his "slowness" saying that he had just recently bought the Oru and had assembled it just three times. Said he was looking for a six minute set up and thought that was reasonable. The weight of the Oru Bay at just 26 pounds is another plus.

A durable, performance oriented inflatable along the lines of the late Feathercraft Aironaut that could be paddled with or without a deck like the Gumotex Seawave might expand the niche a bit especially if it could be made even more light weight than the Oru and, once deflated, rolled into a more easily stowed and carried package unlike the Oru which folds down into something that, to my eye, resembles a very large pizza box.


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PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 2:03 pm 
faltbootemeister
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I respect all options, but I can't ever replace a Long Haul, or a Feathercraft, or Klepper, Nautiraid, with an Oru... Yes, technically it folds, but...

Anyway, perhaps the survival of the joyful paddling of a folder is more important than the type, model, or manufacturer.

Unfortunately, I am still afraid that folders will not come back among the younger generation(s)

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http://vimeo.com/channels/travelotherapy


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PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 6:14 pm 
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle
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Location: Anchorage Alaska
DoiNomazi wrote:
I respect all options, but I can't ever replace a Long Haul, or a Feathercraft, or Klepper, Nautiraid, with an Oru... Yes, technically it folds, but...

Anyway, perhaps the survival of the joyful paddling of a folder is more important than the type, model, or manufacturer.

Unfortunately, I am still afraid that folders will not come back among the younger generation(s)


Packrafting is becoming immensely popular up here ( Alaska) That may be the future.

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Feathercraft Kahuna ( Angela )
Mariner Express ( Miruku Maru ) ( In Storage)
Innova Helios 380
Northwest Sportee (SuperBoat)
Innova Safari
Mariner I
Feathercraft Java
Nautiraid 14
Innova Sunny
Feathercraft K-Light


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PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 7:12 pm 
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle

Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2005 3:40 pm
Posts: 1077
Location: isles of scilly UK
I don,t think the folding kayak will die. The makers have to make them and other things in order to survive. Any foldind kayak dealers who only sell folders will find it hard to keep going, if selling kayaks they have to sell hard shells with one or two folders on display equipped with sails in order to stand out. There will always be older people who would like one if they can afford it. The difficulty is finding new buyers, We who are enthusiastic finish up with a few boats, i have three folders and two hard shells. It,s possible that people will make skin on frame boats at home, similar to a klepper that don,t fold. It would be nice if someone could make a set of parts and provide them with skin material and hardware needed, the purchaser providing the long wood. It would not be a big market but a side line. Other "hobbies" are also in trouble with only older people interested, the young not so much as mostly they spend their time looking at screens and having very little activity.I am hoping this year to start sailing my kleppers around the isles of Scilly, since we arrived here over two years ago i have been unable to leave my wife for more than an hour or two but now thing are looking better. Any owners of folders in the UK should consider coming on holiday to the "Scillies", email me and i will help.


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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 3:01 am 
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tsunamichuck wrote:
Packrafting is becoming immensely popular up here ( Alaska) That may be the future.


Guilty, your honour (raises hand).

Not that I've paddled mine yet, but I bought a packraft so that I could combine some river tripping and lakeside camping with biking (both foot powered and motorised.)

Even at just 15kg, it's almost impossible to get the Java strapped to my longtail cargo bike in any truly usable way ... May have to work on that because the Java is a much more useful boat.

But, yes, packrafting seems to be the flavour of the month in a lot of places. Packrafting adventures make good social media too.

cheers,

Paul

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Feathercraft Airline Java
Nortik Trekraft, awaiting the river's embrace
1960s Klepper Aerius II, now gone be the star in a Special Forces movie
Folbot Greenland II, now at a new home on the Southern Cape coast


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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 3:16 am 
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john allsop wrote:
I am hoping this year to start sailing my kleppers around the isles of Scilly, since we arrived here over two years ago i have been unable to leave my wife for more than an hour or two but now thing are looking better. Any owners of folders in the UK should consider coming on holiday to the "Scillies", email me and i will help.


Oh, wow, for yonks I have wanted to paddle a folder in the Scillies - my aunt used to live there. I'll take you up on that offer, John, maybe even this summer. Have a trip to UK on the cards ...

I know baggage is limited on the chopper, but what's it like on the ferry? (And sorry for, all, hijacking the thread I started :twisted: )

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Feathercraft Airline Java
Nortik Trekraft, awaiting the river's embrace
1960s Klepper Aerius II, now gone be the star in a Special Forces movie
Folbot Greenland II, now at a new home on the Southern Cape coast


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