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  various folders
  Posted by: willowleaf on Jun-19-13 10:15 AM (EST)

I have no experience with Long Haul but have heard they are well made boats. I've used a tandem Klepper with a friend who has used it for over 25 years and can testify to their durability, but I found the boat slow even compared to other tandems. My main experience has been Feathercraft (I have owned 3 of them, Kahuna, K-1 Expedition and currently, a Wisper) and Pakboat (have an XT-15 and an older 12' Puffin). I would disagree with the previous comment about assembly time -- I can set up a Kahuna or Wisper in 30 minutes or less from bag to water. The K-1 takes longer (and hour the first few times, and down to 45 or 50 minutes with practice). Feathercraft really is the Mercedes of folders -- you pay dearly for them because they are a small, craftsman-like "boutique" business with their entire design, manufacturing and servicing done from a compact warehouse/office on Granville Island (actually a peninsula) on the edge of Vancouver, right beside the water. I have visited them when on trips out there -- they gave me a tour of the whole place and even loaned me a Wisper and paddle for a morning to test paddle on my own. Their customer service is outstanding.

I've owned more than a dozen kayaks, folders and hardshells, and I have to say if I had to limit myself to one boat alone it would be the Wisper, which I have used along both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, on Lake George on a windy day, the Great Lakes and countless rivers in the Northeast. It paddles as fast and nimbly as any of my hardshells have yet is nearly half their weight. It's a boat for small to medium paddlers though my 5' 9" 190 lb boyfriend also fits it nicely. For a larger guy or someone who wanted a true touring boat with plenty of capacity and that you could take on any waters, the K-1 is an incredible kayak. I sold the one I had because it was a little more boat than I needed and I was lusting after the Wisper. FC have excellent resale value, by the way. In fact the guy who bought my K-1 sold it 6 months later for $600 more than I sold it to him! (he and his wife were buying a tandem folder.)

Pakboats (another folder brand) offer great bang for the buck, being less than half the cost of equivalent FC or LH boats. Their home base is Enfield, NH, which might be a day trip drive from you if you wanted to see their models. They have a new style, the Quest 155, which has similar dimensions to some of the FC's. Assembly is a bit easier for the PB's but the quality of the materials and construction is not as high as the FC's. They are also great boats to paddle and due to being cheaper (made in China) I am less concerned about taking them in shallow rocky streams or other locations where they would get scuffed and banged up. Feathercrafts are very durable, but it's just human nature to cringe less about beating up a $1500 boat versus a $4500 boat.

You'll find a lot of excellent information about ALL the available models and brands of folder at the folding kayaks forum at:

 Great Products from the Buyers' Guide:

Touring Kayak Paddles

YakCatcher Rod Holder

Paddle Floats

Sport Cases (Electronics)

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