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Submitted: 12-17-2011 by Bill_Stevenson
I recently (2011) replaced my Klepper Aerius 1 with a Long Haul Mark 1. Although these two boats are similar, the LH is 9" longer and uses the extra length to provide more leg room. This minor change makes a huge increase in comfort for me, 6' tall and 210 pounds. The LH also has noticeably greater initial stability in light to no load use. The LH improves on the already stellar AE1 in other ways too. The hardware that fastens the frame pieces together is a tongue-in-slot design made secure with a snap-ring all this hardware is stainless steel. This simpler design eliminates the stamped aluminum, hinged-spring clips on the Klepper which were prone to trouble as they aged. The LH Comfort seat is much better, uses Thermarest cushions for bottom and lumber support, and is easily removable for use as a camp chair, nice.
I ordered my boat with Sunbrella (LH calls it Sea Mark) fabric for the decks, which is a no cost option over the traditional heavy cotton. This synthetic material dries faster, and is fade and mildew resistant. This fabric does not absorb moisture either so the boat does not pick up weight from getting wet. It dries faster. I mean really right now fast. No longer is it necessary to let the skin dry out for two or three days before it can be folded up for storage. This dry faster characteristic of the new deck fabric is a BIG DEAL, which is why I keep repeating myself.
The LH rudder is far more effective on the water, but all is not perfect here because the peddle assembly has to be located and fastened to the keel before the front frame half is inserted into the skin during assembly. The corollary to that little nuisance is that if you need to change the peddle position, the front frame half has to come out of the boat to do it. This problem resolves itself once the owner figures out the best position for his pedals, but it remains a potential issue if the boat must be adjusted for use by someone else.
The frame has a beautiful finish and appearance. All wood is dipped first in primer and then with 3 separate coats of high gloss marine varnish. The Klepper looks kind of utilitarian and industrial, whereas the LH is truly a work of functional art. The LH skin fits the boat perfectly too. The Klepper has always represented the pinnacle for folding kayaks for me. The Long Haul is even nicer and is truly the Rolls Royce of kayaks. If you are as large or larger than me, the LH is the way to go. If you are say less than 5'10", then either boat would suit, but the LH is easily the nicer of the two.
Hand made in Colorado by a group of artisans led by owner Mark Eckhart, this boat just screams quality. Next to it, a Klepper looks like what it is: a nice enough boat assembled from parts mostly supplied from outside vendors. All hail the new king!
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