Submitted: 08-29-2006 by Anthony Molet
I have recently purchased the Puffin Swift and am generally please with my purchase. The best thing about this boat is definitely its portability. I live in an apartment in the Washington DC area and having a 16ft kayak was completely out of the question. The Swift packs up into a moderately sized duffle bag that will fit in any closet or the trunk of any car. However, despite its compact size when disassembled, hiking with the duffle bag for more than a few yards really isn’t practicable. For extended portage I’d recommend either using some sort of trolley or repacking the Swift in a backpack.
Another positive aspect of the boat is its performance. While it may not be the fastest kayak out there, it performs very well. It is easy to turn and can go fairly fast. Most importantly, it doesn’t require you to expend a lot of energy to get the Swift to go fast. The Swift is fairly stable and can handle moderate swells without much of a problem. It is also very dry, the only water I have gotten in hull so far has been from my feet when I first enter the kayak. Further, the Swift is very stable. I have caught the wake of passing ski boats directly on the side and never tipped over. One interesting note, when going over a wave, the Swift acts more like an inflatable raft than a hard shelled kayak, it won’t slice through the wave but ride over it. Lastly, it handles well in windy conditions.
I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the Swift when I first saw it in person. It was much sturdier than I imagine from seeing photos and videos on-line. That being said, It is a recreational kayak and I wouldn’t take it on serious expeditions or heavy seas. As an example, I’d certainly take it to kayak in a protected bay or coast line. Lakes and moderate rivers wouldn’t a problem. The kayak dealer who sold me the Swift is actually taking one to use on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.
The largest single issue I have with the Swift, and this really applies to all folding kayaks, is the amount of time and effort it takes to assemble and disassemble. It takes me 30 minutes to put it together and then another 10 – 15 to take it apart. Let me just say that when it is 90 degrees outside and you are soaked in sweet putting the thing together, you really wish that you had bought a normal kayak instead. This feeling goes away once you get the boat in the water, but promptly comes back when you are taking it apart.
Overall, I am very happy with my purchase and wouldn’t do things different if I had the chance. For anyone who either doesn’t have the space for a traditional kayak or plans on traveling with their boat, the Swift is a great choice, especially if your intended use is more on the recreational side. If you plan on going on some serious, rugged expeditions then you should consider getting one of the more strongly built folding kayaks from Feathercraft (though be prepared to pay a lot more).