The folding kayak was invented in 1907 by Johann Klepper, a tailor in Germany, and Klepper kayaks remain a premier brand over 100 years later. As Paddling.net explains, the small folding boats became a sensation in Europe. You could easily take them on the train, the primary mode of transportation in the early 20th century. Folding boats also have played a prominent role in expeditions and military operations. The best folding kayak for you depends on a number of factors, including size, construction and price.
The Right Design
In almost all respects, choosing the best folding kayak is similar to choosing the best non-folding hardshell kayak. As REI notes, if you are a relatively large person, check the depth of the seating area to make sure you have ample legroom. Materials for folding and hardshell kayaks run the gamut. If you are looking for a lightweight and durable folding kayak, composite materials such as carbon blends are the best, albeit the most expensive. The most popular kayak material, polyethylene, also known as PE, is inexpensive and abrasion-resistant. However, it won’t last as long as the pricier composite models.
Size It Up
The best folding kayak for you depends on your intended use. A short or mini kayak is ideal for a person who wants the most portable kayak for long distance treks into remote locations. REI explains that short kayaks also turn and maneuver the best, which is important if you are navigating rough water. Longer kayaks are easier to paddle over longer distances, and if you intend to paddle with a friend, a double kayak fits the bill. If you want speed and maneuverability, a narrow boat is best, although folding kayaks, in general, don’t give you as much speed as non-folding hardshells. A wider folding boat is the best choice if you fish or sail.
Paddling.net: In the Bag? Folding Kayaks and Canoes?
REI: Kayaks: How to Choose?