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 Post subject: Re: Posting a review
PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:00 am 
Thanks for the link Alex. I'm a newbie and I find it virtually impossible to go through all previous discussions.
I can see your point now, although I still prefer a reliable boat which requires more assembly time to the one that can be set up in 10 minutes, but is more flimsy (I'm not saying that the TRAK is!) and can fail in the least appropriate moment.
Regarding lifting - not a problem to lift a boat, but it can be very tedious and unbelievably tiring when you go through locks and you are not allowed or simply you can't use them and have to carry the kayak + the load all around. I don't have much gear when I paddle on the Thames, but I've paddled through the whole Caledonian Canal and I do know what I'm saying.
Anyway, I am definitely waiting for Keith's review!


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 Post subject: Re: Posting a review
PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:49 pm 
Quote:
Regarding lifting - not a problem to lift a boat, but it can be very tedious and unbelievably tiring when you go through locks and you are not allowed or simply you can't use them and have to carry the kayak + the load all around.

There is Mary in Oxford with Wisper, perhaps she can tell more. There are no locks here (no navigable rivers), but I can tell that Kahuna is maximum what an average coach-potato can carry without much suffering over, say, 100 meters of variable terrain. Officially Kahuna weighs 36 lbs, with rudder and seasock it's 44 lbs (20 kg), with backpack 50 lbs (23 kg). When used without a car, backpack is usually tucked deep inside, not quite easy to remove, and then it is 23 kg. This might not sound much for a backpacker, but 15ft long boat is a VERY cumbersome piece and feels like twice heavier, even in calm weather.

I would not recommend carrying boats that weigh more than 50 lbs for more than 15-20 meters, unless you're very well fit (happens sometimes), and absolutely sure that will never get abdominal or inguinal hernia (something that can neither be guaranteed in males of any level of fitness, nor repaired reliably).


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 Post subject: Re: Posting a review
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:03 am 
lord high faltbotmeister
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Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2005 4:55 am
Posts: 575
Location: Dumfries, SW Scotland
I can shoulder my Wisper for a few yards:
Image
That day at the beach, the boat was packed with its carry bag and wheels, my shore shoes and jacket etc, because I'd gone there by train, and had no place to leave stuff - everything came with me. So it probably totalled a bit over 20 kg. I did a careful knees-bent, back-straight lift to get the boat up, then had a bystander hand me my paddle.

For local paddling, I would have less in the boat, giving maybe an 18 kg lift. Many of the Thames locks around my way involve a flight of steps if you're portaging, so a cart would be of limited use. In any case, you at least need to be able to hoist the boat out of the water. It's just one of the drawbacks of paddling alone - you have to physically be able to manage your boat. I wouldn't take on anything any heavier than the (lightweight-version) Wisper.

Mary

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Not in Oxford any more...


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 Post subject: Re: Posting a review
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 8:17 am 
I used to carry my kayak a few times around locks on the Thames, no problem whatsoever, 12.5kg + paddles. However, another 10kgs of the Trak don't sound tempting, but fortunately in 9/10 cases lock keepers are available and do their job very well and paddlers are allowed to use the facilities.
In Scotland though I had to carry the boat + approximately 20-25kg of a tent, sleeping bag, clothes, food and water supplies in a backpack style drybag around the Neptune Staircase. 1.5 miles. I reached my limit there, I would probably die and go straight to heaven if I had to carry any heavier boat. Next time I will have a small butterfly cart for sure.
Traks have become much cheaper recently. I wonder why. I hope they didn't move their production lines to China... They started with $5400 and now the boats cost $3400 (£2500 in the UK). Some dealers also offer 10% discounts for BCU (British Canoe Union) members too. I am going to find out if Brookbank Canoes (the UK dealer) does. With additional £250 in plus I will abandon the Wisper which I desire so badly and get one of these, I think. For this price they seem to be unbeatable in terms of seaworthiness and quality, from what I've read on the internet. My only concern are the pistons. Everything tells me that this will be the first thing which will brake down (especially in the sea water). Fortunately, the 50cm tubes with the pistons come separately, so presumably can be replaced, if necessary.


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 Post subject: Re: Posting a review
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 10:14 am 
Site Admin
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Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 9:02 pm
Posts: 1035
Location: Astoria, OR
adi,

Unanswered is the issue of whether Trak is still in business in a functional way. If not, I'd advise to stay away, because there would be no warranty service or guarantee.

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Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
--
Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.


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 Post subject: Re: Posting a review
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:20 pm 
Quote:
9/10 cases lock keepers are available and do their job very well and paddlers are allowed to use the facilities.
In Scotland though I had to carry the boat + approximately 20-25kg of a tent, sleeping bag, clothes, food and water supplies in a backpack style drybag around the Neptune Staircase. 1.5 miles. I reached my limit there, I would probably die and go straight to heaven if I had to carry any heavier boat. Next time I will have a small butterfly cart for sure.

Like Dave said, - it is not clear whether Trak is still a viable business. (I would add that have never seen any owner reviews in 4 years - only talk or impressions after short-term use).

Back to carrying.
1) You don't suffer when you're dead. There is thing more unpleasant than death - hernia, and it is not fun neither with or without the operation.
2) Butterfly cart made by FC is not a good choice - there are better carts.
3) Like Mary said, when paddling alone in the area with locks, stairs or other guaranteed obstacles you should be able to lift your boat and carry it at least a few yards. Because when that unlucky 1 out of 10 times will come, you will regret that don't have a lighter boat. But, eventually, this is your decision.


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 Post subject: Re: Posting a review
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:53 pm 
faltbootemeister

Joined: Sat Apr 22, 2006 3:00 pm
Posts: 139
TRAK owneer review:
http://sailtotrail.com/trak-kayaks-t160 ... pressions/

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


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 Post subject: Re: Posting a review
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 4:01 pm 
Thanks, Bernie.
Looks like this is his first folder.

I'm still having difficulties "placing" this kayak. I mean - preferred use.

Relatively short assembling time, let's assume 15 minutes ("more than 10 minutes" he says the first time, and no further references) - implies daytrip use.
OTH, 53lbs/24 kg sans mega golf bag (63 lbs/28 kg with the bag) is a lot for a daytrip boat. My FC K1 weighs less, for God's sake, and K1 is a multiday expedition boat.

Another detail is that he is using a car and doesn't carry the golf bag in the boat (and still it's a problem to tow the bag over sand or large pebbles, due to tiny wheels). He was considering adding shoulder straps to the bag for places where wheels won't work - at 63 lbs I would try and avoid carrying such a backpack at any cost, no kidding.

And, if not for daytrip use - sorry, guys, but there are better expedition boats out there, with rudder, deck rigging and hatches (some of them are lighter as well).

So, what we're left with - adjustable rocker? May be this is fun for those who enjoy the subtleties of different paddling techniques in different conditions. May be I'm lazy, but I find it easier to use a rudder when needed.

I hope it will survive as a business and its strong sides will become more apparent - so far I'm seriously having problems identifying them.


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 Post subject: Re: Posting a review
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:23 pm 
Part 2 of that review...
http://sailtotrail.com/trak-t-1600-kayak-review-part-ii-lake


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 Post subject: Re: Posting a review
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:23 am 
Yep, 2 parts. Both - daytrips. It was in the comments after the 2nd part that he wrote about small wheels and possible addition of straps. Deck rigging - sorry, my bad, it does have bungees on one of the photos.


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 Post subject: Re: Posting a review
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:32 am 
Quote:
Like Dave said, - it is not clear whether Trak is still a viable business. (I would add that have never seen any owner reviews in 4 years - only talk or impressions after short-term use).


I wrote the reviews at sailtotrail.com that have been referenced. I got my TRAK T-1600 last summer and have been thrilled with the product, service, and warranty support. I managed to break one of the frame bolts (I went paddling with only about 1/4 of the bolt's threads actually screwed into the frame... didn't break while paddling... user error playing around with it in my studio) and they shipped me a replacement promptly.

Granted, everything I say is now biased because I've recently become an agent authorized to sell TRAK product. A shiny new demo boat showed up at my door last week in service of that. I'm still working on the sales page (http://sailtotrail.com/trak-kayaks-t-1600-free-shipping-sale/), but I had to reply immediately when I saw this thread.

It may also be noted that Amazon.com recently started stocking the T-1600 as well. Getting Amazon to actually buy and stock inventory of such a high ticket item is not the easiest thing for a non-viable company to do. That said, if you are interested in purchasing one, I'd appreciate if you help a fellow paddler out and purchase it through my site.

Feel free to contact me with further questions.

P.S. I just got sent the new version sea sock and spray skirt that Chillcheater makes custom for TRAK (spray skirt has a pocket that allows you to reach in and adjust the jacks without opening the skirt. Loving it compared to the older neoprene style.

Cheers,
Andrew


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 Post subject: Re: Posting a review
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:27 am 
Personally, I don't like the bag that comes with the TRAK... It's too much like luggage. Fine if you live in a condo and pack the boat around in your car, but... I live on a sailboat and luggage is prohibited on board... "house" rules.

Anyway, here's an idea that someone else posted on the TRAK facebook fan page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/TRAK-Kayaks/9813107092). This is what I've been imagining in my mind since Day 1, but I wasn't aware of a bag that would do the job. I gotta find out which bag this is.

Image Image

Image Image


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 Post subject: Re: Posting a review
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:32 am 
idc wrote:
Do you find you use the adjustable rocker and lateral curvature hydraulics, or is that just marketing finding an extra use for something that tensions the skin? How well does it work? I'm very curious.

Alm wrote:
So, what we're left with - adjustable rocker? May be this is fun for those who enjoy the subtleties of different paddling techniques in different conditions. May be I'm lazy, but I find it easier to use a rudder when needed.

The adjustable rocker is awesome. If you paddle in anything other than flat water, there will be plenty of days you'll use this. With full rocker, maneuverability is such that it's possible to literally spin the boat around its axis. Try that in any other sea kayak. Also... great for surf zones and rock gardening. There's nothing subtle about the handling difference between flat and full-on banana-rific (I have a green one, so banana doesn't work so well).

A side benefit of the adjustable rocker is that adding curve makes it easier to handle in even flat conditions... Great for beginners.

As far as the lateral adjustment, it makes a huge difference in offsetting wind induced weathercocking. The best use I've found for this is extended crossings during which a somewhat consistent course is desired. It's not something you'd use to make turns or quick/frequent adjustments.

I didn't play with these adjustments much initially because it was necessary to open the spray skirt to make adjustments. The new Chillcheater spray skirt has a pocket (more like a super long sleeve or glove) that allows you to reach in and make adjustments without popping the skirt. Huge upgrade.

idc wrote:
How do they live up to their 'ten minute setup' claim? It takes me a good 20 to 30 minutes to set up my Klepper and get out on the water...

Alm wrote:
Relatively short assembling time, let's assume 15 minutes ("more than 10 minutes" he says the first time, and no further references) - implies daytrip use.

Once you have the routine down (took me about 3 times before I hit 10 minutes), the boat goes together pretty quickly. I could probably get it down to 7 or 8 if I was racing somebody. To be fair, it probably takes me 12 minutes most of the time... I require frequent coffee breaks.

I'm not sure how boat setup time implies trip length. Packing for expeditions is another story, but that's a different conversation.

adi2410355 wrote:
(apart from the hydraulics I am quite anxious about the rear zipper)

The rear zipper isn't a zipper per se. I'm not sure how to explain it, but I can snap some pictures later. The skin has a tubular piece "welded" into the skin on each side of the opening. The part that slides has two internal round channels that slide over the round bulge welded into the skin. It all seems pretty bomb-proof, but it takes some effort to slide it back and forth.

Alm wrote:
The comment on difficult loading of gear is valid too. No hatches (though there is a rear zipper) - in a long and narrow kayak this makes loading difficult. Considering pains of loading boats with hatches like FC Kahuna or Wisper in 7-8 day trip, - Trak doesn't seem to have an edge as a multiday boat.

This is definitely something to consider. The "zipper" is centered over the top-center frame tube so it cuts the opening in half. It's not really an option to pull bulky gear in and out through the opening. It's possible to open the zipper and reach inside the bags however.[/quote]

To get gear out, it's easiest just to flop the seat back forward and pull things out. Unless you're after gear in the bow of course. One tip George Gronseth bestowed upon me while I was at the Kayak Academy is to tie a piece of string to whatever you're stuffing farthest fore and aft. All you have to do is run the line to the cockpit and your life will henceforth be much easier. He has a TRAK, but also uses this trick when packing the remote depths of his hardshells.

Alm wrote:
I'm still having difficulties "placing" this kayak. I mean - preferred use.

Assuming we're staying in the folding category... This boat will eat up a wider range of conditions than any other boat. It's also easier to roll than most.

Alm wrote:
...24 kg sans mega golf bag (63 lbs/28 kg with the bag) is a lot for a daytrip boat. My FC K1 weighs less, for God's sake, and K1 is a multiday expedition boat.

The TRAK is 48 lbs / 21.77 kg sans bag... FC K1 is 23.25 kg.

The first of those two reviews was done either the day or the day after I got the boat. I live on my sailboat and the ocean was nasty that day so I took it up the river because I had to get it wet. The second review was shortly thereafter (couple weeks?). Since then, I have had it on multi-day adventures. I have no problem packing enough gear for 2-3 day trips. I could probably fit a week's worth of gear in there if I got crafty. I'll try to max it out. Note: I typically paddle solo, so there's no shareable gear I can distribute to others in a group.


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 Post subject: Re: Posting a review
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:47 am 
Alm wrote:

I'm still having difficulties "placing" this kayak. I mean - preferred use.

I hope it will survive as a business and its strong sides will become more apparent - so far I'm seriously having problems identifying them.


Perhaps I can help too.
I am right about to buy a folder and I've done a lot of research. Not the cheapest thing to buy, so I want to make sure I spend money well.

It sounds like a perfect boat for somebody like me who does more than 3 day trips twice a year. Monday to Friday I tend to paddle after work sometimes, just 2-3 hours to stay fit, relax, feel better. I go on full day or full weekend trips from time to time and drive/fly to more remote locations during holiday and I’m assuming this is what the majority of mortals do. Considering this and after second thoughts on your opinion I agree - the assembly time is very important and if it's tedious and takes too much time it makes you feel you just can't be bothered to go. But to be honest with the numbers now. Of course it requires a lot of practice to assembly the boat in the same time as the manufacturers do, so let's say our clumsiness makes additional 50% of their time, shall we? We end up with 7+3.5 minutes with Traks and 20+10 with Kahunas (25+ 12.5 with Wispers). After a year you'll probably end up with 8 minutes comparing to 20+ (and probably 30+ in case of K1).
Yes, K1 sounds like a brilliant expedition boat. Most of all it has a front hatch, it's stable and sturdy. But because I paddle multi day trips (usually 5 up to 10 days) twice a year, I would probably live without the hatches reasonably well and wouldn’t mind putting some extra effort to slide the drybags towards the bow. I'm also assuming that using a rudder is easier than tinkering with the levers (so far I've paddled two inflatables and a hard shell P&H Capella, sometimes in strong wind, chops and surfing, but used a skeg in all cases and have been always perfectly fine with that), but the reviewers say that bending the boat does the job very well in cross winds, so I'm quite happy to try that, why not? I like the idea of the rocker adjustment. Additional agility is helpful in surfing and crucial in WW conditions. Am I thinking right that this is the only folder which can take rapids?
There were very good kayakers (Ed Gillette and Ken Whiting) who helped with the design and construction. This leaves me pretty confident because they probably know everything about paddling and kayaks and their contribution is very significant (the latter also tested the boat in grade 5 rapids and after watching his film I'm sure he tortured the boat 3 times as much as I would ever - he admitted that he managed to damage the construction only when he reached the top stupidity point - at high speed he paddled straight onto a rock, but he admits that every other boat would crack after this). This makes me quite confident in terms of durability. In fact, the construction seems the same as in Feathercrafts. Probably the same aluminium in the frame and polyurethane on the hull. Perhaps this is where the difference in weight comes from (comparing to the Wisper). FC uses a nylon with multiple layers of PU (less in Wisper light, more in the normal one, I presume). Trak is made of pure PU, also on the deck, whereas, according to the descriptions, FCs’s decks are made of less durable, but lighter fabric. Trak weights 5kgs more than the Wisper (and 1.5kg less than K1), but if that means durability, I don't mind too much. It seems that in terms of rigidity and being abrasion and puncture resistant it is not any inferior to Feathercraft boats. Welded polyurethane is probably the best material available fabric for folding kayaks. Doug Simpson and his team know what they're doing. Apparently so does Trak.
The golf bag seems to be pointless and unnecessary heavy (although I drive to various locations on the river and on the coast, so I often would be all right with that, usually I also come back this way, just ask my dad or girlfriend to pick me up 20 miles further downstream, simple :) ), but there are lightweight and cheap long backpack-style drybags, so that can be sorted easily. Comparing to the Wispers Traks are heavier, but Mary in Oxford carries her boat on a wheeled cart, so you can do the same thing (packed in the above duffel bag or anything really). Easy.
All paddle reviews (including the SeaKayaker and Canoe Kayak ones) are very positive. The boat is described as very fast and agile, seaworthy, but also extremely versatile. I like the idea. The beam is narrower (2cms comparing to the Wisper), the waterline is longer (even with the rocker half-raised). Secondary stability is excellent. Primary could be better, but I don't mind too much if this means easy leaning, more speed and responsiveness.

Every boat has it's pros and cons, but this one seems to do 90% of tasks above average. It paddles great - is fast, tracks well, it's seaworthy, can do rapids, is very durable and is the easiest and fastest boat available to assembly. Not the best kayak to paddle around Iceland, CA to Mexico or to take it to Greenland for 3 weeks, but unless I am missing something, this is the only niche where K1 would be more suitable. It is so specialised. Personally I am much more concerned about keeping the boat in a flat and assembling it 3-4 times a week, to be honest and going into the wilderness for a week is doable in every boat really (if only it’s realiable!).


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 Post subject: Re: Posting a review
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:48 am 
The last point - price. $5800 for K1, $3800 for Wisper and $3400 for Trak. The difference becomes much bigger where I live. I have spoken to a dealer and can have the Trak for less than £2200 whereas the new Wisper costs perverse £3160 (which immediately makes one to take a cheap weekend flight to New York in order to bring the kayak in a luggage as a "used one" to avoid paying VAT, custom, duty, import tax, dealer's commission etc etc etc., I also thought of asking my American friends who study here to courier the boat as their "personal belongings" (again to avoid the tax robbery), but even DHLing costs at least £500-600 more than purchasing the Trak here. Not to mention the hassle.
I think that with such balance I would be happy to live without the front hatch and with additional 5kgs (especially that this weight seem to have the result in durability) and I'll invest another £20 in a normal, lightweight backpack (23kgs on the back is very fine for me, however, little carts are available everywhere too. +£15).
The company seems to be doing OK. They're very responsive and helpful and the boats are being sold around the world (not a problem to get them in the UK for sure). First Light is doing fine and is still alive and I have an impression that they are even more rare, so why Trak would die? Their marketing campaign is loud (and I don't like noise), but I think they're doing a good job if they want to be noticed. Also their pricing has become much more reasonable, which combined with positive opinions and keeping good quality is the key to boost the sales. Well manufactured from fine materials, versatile and durable boat which paddles great for a good price. All the best. I do hope the company will be here in 10 years to provide the service/spare parts, if necessary.

I am going to test paddle one on Saturday. I hope to see Mary in Oxford too. She promised me to allow paddling her Wisper too :) I will post my impressions.

For now I am very open minded and unbiased. Nothing indicates that something is seriously wrong with Traks, in fact quite contrary, so why not welcome a new player on the field?


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