Author Topic: Exploring on the Water  (Read 2473 times)

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Offline NaturalPath

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Exploring on the Water
« on: February 09, 2014, 01:26:55 PM »
For the last couple of years, I've been using an inflatable kayak to explore wilderness lakes in my area.  I did a ton of research, as I usually do, before I decided on which inflatable I would use.  There are a ton of inflatable kayaks available on the market but, buyer beware, many of them are no more than pool toys, that won't take the punishment of hard use...

I've seen inflatable kayaks for less than a hundred bucks, and I've seen them for over five grand, so there's a pretty wide range of inflatables out there.  I was definitely not looking in the five grand category, but I did want something that would take the punishment that I was going to throw at it.  Previously, I had designed and built two cedar strip canoes, for tripping.  In other words, they had to carry a lot of weight, and be able to withstand the rigors of tough portages, and rugged shorelines. 

I wasn't one to worry too much about keeping those canoes looking like fine pieces of furniture, as I've seen many other people do.  Getting out of the canoe in two feet of water, just so that it wouldn't run up on the shore, was not in my play book.  So, I built my canoes to withstand heavy use, and they definitely showed it, but they took everything I threw at them and more. 

I remember one time in early spring, many years ago, me and my brother went on a canoeing trip in Algonquin Park.  There was still chunks of ice around the lakes at that time.  We put in on a river that was running high and fast, and just a ways down that river there was a big rock sticking up, right in the middle.  Due to the fast flow, we got sideways, and hit that rock right at the middle point of a fully loaded canoe.  Even I was totally amazed that the canoe just bounced off that rock and continued on.

Those canoes were tough, and so I wanted any inflatable kayak I was going to be tripping in to be just as tough.  I'll admit, I wasn't all that sure that I could find what I was looking for.  I didn't know all that much about inflatable kayaks.

Anyway, after all my research, I narrowed it down to two possibilities, Sea Eagle Explorer, or Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame.  The latter won out, mostly because it had a more kayak-like shape than any of the Sea Eagle models.  Also, the prices of the Advanced Elements kayaks were a bit lower for the kind of kayak I was looking for.

Now that I've had two seasons in this kayak, I can say, without a doubt, that this kayak can take all the punishment that I can hand out.  I've put it through hell and back, and it never let me down.  The only one thing that I might say about the model that I purchased, which was the AdvanceFrame single, is that there is not enough storage space for longer trips.  The AdvancedFrame Expedition might have been a better choice for tripping, but I also want the lightest kayak possible, so I went with the AdvancedFrame single.  You can see it here;

http://www.advancedelements.com/advancedframe.html

I can't tell you how many times I've dragged this kayak through the worst imaginable portages, and how many times I've run this thing up on the most rugged shorelines, where even getting out was a nightmare.  Still, to this day, I have no serious damage to the outer hull.

It paddles very nicely for an inflatable kayak, since it does have a very kayak-like profile and it also has a tracking fin under the hull.  My last kayak was a 17 foot Necky Looksha IV, and it was fast, so I was expecting this inflatable to paddle like a bath tub, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Of course, it wasn't as fast as the 17 footer, but it did quite well for what it was.

Another big plus of this Advanced Elements kayak is it's stability.  I had it in two foot waves coming across Dunlop Lake in very stormy conditions, and it was solid as a rock.  I never once felt unsteady in it.  And, as it is an inflatable, it's very comfortable to sit in.  I've done a straight eight hours in the saddle and still felt comfortable sitting in it. 

Of course, the big bonus of an inflatable is that it can be taken down to a very small size when deflated.   Also, it only weighs 36lbs so it's not difficult to handle.  Since I live in an apartment, this was one of the reasons I wanted an inflatable, for easy storage and transport.

You can see my kayak in action on my blog, the link is in the signature area of my posts.  This spring I will be purchasing their newest model called the Packlite.  It will allow me to get into some of the more remote lakes, that I can't drive to.  It only weighs 4 pounds, so I will be able to carry it easily in my back pack.  This small kayak does not have the tough outer hull of the larger one, so I imagine that I will have to go a little easier on it.  However, I have a feeling that going easy on it might slip my mind a few times, so lets see how this one holds out. ;)

Offline wild_E

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Re: Exploring on the Water
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2014, 06:11:32 PM »
Excellent post and thank you.
+ 1 karma

Offline zeker

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Re: Exploring on the Water
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2014, 05:06:03 PM »
hoping for a canoe this yr. tried the kayak last yr and  IT AINT FOR FAT GUYS..lol
of all the things I,ve lost.. I miss my mind, the most

Offline NaturalPath

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Re: Exploring on the Water
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2014, 05:29:43 PM »
This is probably true in the case of hardshell kayaks zeker, but these inflatables are much more forgiving, for those who are not slim enough to slide into the narrow openings of many hardshells.  However, my brother, who also has some weight on him, is not the least bit interested in kayaks, he bought two cedar/canvas canoes last year and loves them.  I was, very much, a canoe enthusiast for most of my life.  The thing that change my mind was the wind.  Paddling a canoe solo in the wind is a lesson in persistence.  It just took too much out of the fun, so I switched to kayaks and I'm glad I did.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2014, 05:31:01 PM by NaturalPath »

Offline Mountainman

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Re: Exploring on the Water
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2014, 11:01:56 PM »
NP,

I, too, enjoy my kayak over a canoe. I have an older Folbot 2 man folding kayak. We recently did a two day river trip. Here is a link to my blog write-up of our trip and some pics of my vessel.

http://mtnmanblog.blogspot.ca/2014/08/folbot-north-thompson-river.html

Cheers,

MM.

PS - I will return in the near future to explain more about folding kayaks.

« Last Edit: September 09, 2014, 11:03:11 PM by Mountainman »

Offline Zed

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Re: Exploring on the Water
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2014, 01:12:22 PM »
Mountainman, I've been interested in the abundance of folding (or "ninja") kayaks that are starting to trickle into the market.
I wouldn't trade my existing sit-in and roll kayak for anything less then an equally performing/durable vessle, even if it was more portable.
My current kayak likes to kiss the Canadian Shield as often as possible and I put on crazy miles when I drop it into the water.
I'd love to see more on them, from someone that actually uses them!
“The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he is on.”
― Joseph Heller

Offline Mountainman

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Re: Exploring on the Water
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2014, 10:54:12 PM »
Zed,

I am not an expert, but I have had my vessel for a few years now.

Here is some of what I have learned.....

When paddling a ridgid kayak on choppy water, the hull seems to get pushed by the waves, forcing the craft offcourse. Now, a skin on frame boat, will bend and flex with the waves and sort of corkscrew's through the waves; thus staying on course better.

As you may notice, my Folbot is a bit (just a wee bit) taller than your typical hardshell kayak. This height would probably make it extremely hard to roll. I have never tried. But the primary and secondary stability of my Folbot are excellent...IMHO. We just did a river trip this Summer and were in class 2+ rapids, with a loaded vessel, with no issues. Boat handled well.

I do not have a rudder, and yet, the vessel tracks well. It is sensitive to the lean of the paddlers. Thus, it did take a couple reminders to my son to sit up straight or to lean right instead of left, to keep us on course.

For camping/tripping the Folbot has a very good carrying capacity - both weight and volume. With practice a lot of gear can be packed under the decks fore & aft, and there is a bit of room beside/around each paddler.

Not as easy to load/pack as a canoe, but easier than a hardshell kayak. That said, the lower centre of gravity and fairly wide beam, my Folbot is much more stable than a canoe. And with double bladed paddles, performance in the wind is much better in a Folbot than a canoe.

My Folbot was built in the late '60's. So, I am working with forty year old technology. And it still works. Is it perfect, no. But, it gets us places we like to go.

One book that shares the exploits of all the different folding kayaks is:

Complete Folding Kayaker by Ralph Diaz (ISBN 0-07-016734-6)

Folbot and Feathercraft both make vessels that are fast on the water and can be taken-down and packed into their packs/duffle-bags for storage or transport to remote locations.

The Folbot Cooper: http://www.folbot.com/cooper/

The Feathercraft Khatsalano: http://feathercraft.com/kayaks/khatsalano/

I look forward to sharing more about this.

Cheers,

MM.

Offline wild_E

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Re: Exploring on the Water
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2014, 11:47:05 PM »
MntMan
+1 karma for awesome answer thank you!

Offline Zed

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Re: Exploring on the Water
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2014, 11:50:08 AM »
Fantastic, thank you!
“The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he is on.”
― Joseph Heller