Submitted: 12-27-2005 by CaptainKlepper
Update on earlier review: '65 Klepper AE II. When I made my prior review, I wasn't as connected to the folding community as I now am. Much of the following is based on personal experience, biographies, and paraphrase of Ralph Diaz' "Complete Folding Kayaker".(ISBN 0-07-140809-6)
Do folding boats lack the performance & efficiency of rigid kayaks?
In a nut shell, no. These observations are made by persons wishing to use defensive paddle strokes. Folding kayaks are so stable that normal defensive strokes are not needed. Several individuals have weathered hurricanes in Kleppers. Folders actually perform better than hardshells in saucy weather. Folders are generally only 2' wider at the water line than rigids, so in "glass" conditions these kayaks may be toward the back of a pack, but in real life, the rougher the weather, the further in front they are. I regularly "solo" my AE II ahead of hardshells, -even double. In open class races, folders are faster than 80% of hardshells.
Are foldables really sea kayaks?
It is probable that more long open sea expeditions have been completed in Kleppers than all other manufactured kayaks/canoes combined.
Do they accidentally fold up on the water?
This one is my favourite! No! There is so much redundancy in fasteners and design, that it's impossible to accidentally fold a folder in anything but conditions that would "fold" most other kayaks. The upside is that folders "unfold" and hardshells don't. Folders are 10 x easier to repair than rigids by my experience.
Do folders require lots of maintenance?
A folder that isn't maintained may only last 40 years instead of 80. My kayak is 40 years old now and if I continue to care for it in the minimal standard I do, I expect some distant descendent 200 years from now to still be able to use it! Replacing a broken or worn part doesn't take time, you just assemble the boat when you plan to use it, w/ the new part.
Are they pricey to purchase?
Folders are more expensive than plastics, but the prices are more on an even keel when comparing top-end kayaks. Also, foldables generally don't depreciate as fast due to life expectancy. In 5 years, a foldable may only depreciate 10 to 15% where as rigids generally depreciate 50%. I've seen 30 year old Kleppers in top condition regularly fetch 3 to 4 x their original purchase price. I have yet to see a Klepper 20+ years old in any condition go for less than its original purchase price on an informed open market.
Are foldables heavier than hardshells?
In general, when weighed by the foot, a single or double foldable weighs the same as a rigid, -plastic or fiberglass. Some foldables even weigh less. I have personally experienced plastic kayaks being heavier than my Klepper.
Do folding kayaks take long to assemble?
No. It typically takes me 15 minutes to assemble my Klepper, not including rigging the rudder which typically takes me another 5 min. It takes practice to get proficient, but I don't consider my assembly time a significant deterrent.