Any opinions on Folbot?^

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smitty
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Any opinions on Folbot?^

Post by smitty » Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:23 am

Having been searching for a decent affordable folding kayak for some time, I'm fast coming to the conclusion that I simply can't afford the luxury of a Feathercraft. The Folbot's are onbviously much much cheaper but I have never seen one in the flesh and am therefore keen for others guidance/opinions.

Thanks
Andi

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maryinoxford
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Re: Any opinions on Folbot?

Post by maryinoxford » Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:12 am

You'll get a lot of information on these forums:
http://foldingkayaks.org/phpBB/
http://www.folbotforum.com/

I test-paddled a Cooper once, on flat water. It's the closest Folbot do to a traditional sea kayak. Nice boat, but I didn't buy it because it was rather heavy for me to manage single-handed (no car, lots of carrying) and it's more boat than I need. It has a zippered back deck, which is one reason that it's easier to assemble than a Feathercraft, but not quite so watertight. If you dip the stern under, say launching down a high bank, it will let some water through. Easy to paddle, it has the length to track and glide well. I would say the structure is less robust than Feathercraft, and you do get warned not to expose it to dumping surf (dangerous, really, for any folder). I would expect it to be seaworthy in any moderate conditions, but you'd do better to read accounts from people who've actually paddled it on the sea.

A lot of the Folbot fleet are open-cockpit boats. The Cooper (and its newer little sister, the Kiawah) have cockpits that are "closed", but large. From the seat, I couldn't really reach the front deck, so a deck bag would have been no use to me. On the other hand, it makes entry/ exit easier for long-legged people. If the Kiawah had been available at the time I looked at the Cooper, I might well have bought one. But I wanted something lighter than the Cooper, so in the end I went for a Pakboats Puffin Swift. (Then later, when I had some windfall cash, upgraded to the lightweight Feathercraft.)

The early-model Coopers had some issues, such as the uncomfortable seat, which I believe have now been addressed. The Folbot Forum can fill you in on all the updates. The Folding Kayaks forum is probably a better place for getting comparisons with other makes. Depending on the kind of paddling you want to do, you might find something to suit in the Pakboat range - http://www.pakboats.com/
And while I was shopping around for lower-priced folders, I was also quite attracted by some of the Japanese Fujita models: http://www.fujitacanoe.com/en/top.htm . However, I've never actually seen any of them, and the nearest dealer that I know of is in Germany.

Good luck in your search,

Mary
Not in Oxford any more...

andreadawn
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Re: Any opinions on Folbot?

Post by andreadawn » Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:51 pm

Knoydart in Penrith usually have one or two Folbot models in their showroom. They also stock some of the interesting looking Nautiraid boats. You might want to ring them first though to see what they've got in if you are thinking about making a trip across the Pennines for a look.

Andrea

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Sgian Dubh
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Re: Any opinions on Folbot?

Post by Sgian Dubh » Wed Jan 14, 2009 12:13 pm

Still got my battered old Klepper Aerius which is more a -mule of the sea- rather than a ballet dancer. They are like English skiers. Good at going from A to B in a straight line & through walls if necessary. The Folbot are similar in a lot of respects & I concur with Mary's words. By comparison I would say hang on for a Feathercraft Khatsalano & the added expense if you can. The wait will pay dividends. I did manage to make a hybrid framed spraydeck for the Aerius using some Easton 7075-T9 aluminium alloy & ballistic nylon. Testing it under load rolling & in attacking heavy surf it worked very well & I imagine the same would be possible for the Folbot with some ingenuity. Without one you may find yourself paddling a full bathtub. :o) You may also find yourself swiftly re-engineering the seating arrangement in the Folbot as well as it's horrible.

Folders carry a lot of stability into the sea, but generally under-perform when up against composites or G-style skin-on-frames & there may come a day when you are looking for extra excitement, speed & manoeuvrability. If a folder is your only kayak you may feel thwarted, should that day arrive. The Nautiraid are rollable/manoeuvrable, even the double. Feathercraft are less prone to the said folder limitations & the creaking & bending in big swell keeps you grinning broadly.

There is another company making folders that I can't think of at the moment...Swedish I think...I'll try & find them for you.
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maryinoxford
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Re: Any opinions on Folbot?

Post by maryinoxford » Wed Jan 14, 2009 1:38 pm

Sgian Dubh wrote:There is another company making folders that I can't think of at the moment...Swedish I think...I'll try & find them for you.
Ally, made by Bergans of Norway, used to have a folding sea kayak in their line-up, but their website is only showing folding canoes at the moment. I did read a favourable write-up of the kayak once, although it was said to be hard to assemble.

Wayland in Poland - I think they also make the Triton / Ladoga kayaks - sometimes sold new through Ebay.

There are some Russian folders, sometimes reported to be poorly finished and hard to assemble.

The first link I posted above, foldingkayaks.org, has a forum, but also a main site that lists many manufacturers. However, if you stick to the better known ones, it's easier to get user opinions. Dealer support is also something to think about if shopping from exotic locations.

Sgian, I wouldn't say the Khatsalano is ideal for everyone. Light paddlers using it unloaded have had weathercocking problems. I believe it paddles better if well loaded. I wouldn't necessarily recommend a Feathercraft to anyone who has to assemble / dismantle the boat for every use. I mostly keep mine assembled in a boathouse, but I like the flexibility of being able to pack it up for travel if required. There's an unfortunate trade-off that the folders that make the best kayaks tend to be those that take longest to assemble. (Meaning no disrespect to your Klepper, as far as I know the only make of folder that has done a solo Atlantic crossing.)

Mary
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capsized8
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Re: Any opinions on Folbot?

Post by capsized8 » Wed Jan 14, 2009 1:53 pm

Sgian Dubh wrote: They are like English skiers. Good at going from A to B in a straight line & through walls if necessary.
I object -- I have never encountered a wall yet, hedges and groups of people, maybe!
peace and good padlin.

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Re: Any opinions on Folbot?

Post by Skua » Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:14 am

I acted as a safety boat to a pair who paddled Folboats to Scilly in the summer - I did a story on the trip in CKUK, it went over 5 pages. They had some big swells, but no real white tops other than a few around the Longships. They took on some water on the way across and just stopped to pump out twice I think they needed to make life more comfortable down below. It is the velcro and zip deck jpint that lets the water in.

They were quite stiff after the paddle across, but they made it. The trip took about 8 hours, which was an average of about 3.4 knots. These guys were only occassional paddlers too. They trained for this, but only paddling a couple of times a month on the Solent. I didn't paddle them, just took pictures from the boat. Sorry, they are not on this computer, so can't post any.

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PeterG
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Re: Any opinions on Folbot?

Post by PeterG » Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:33 pm

We had a double, the type with a single rather open cockpit, great for trips with the kids as the two toddlers could sit between us and play about. Reasonably fast due to the long waterline. In choppy weather it was surprisingly dry but the whole thing flexed alarmingly, you could see waves coming towards you by watching the bottom of the boat! However, nothing broke. It had had a hard life descending rivers in Madagascar which was why we bought a folding boat in the first place. We gave it up once back in UK because it was harder to transport, folded inside the car than a plastic boat (kiwi II) on the roof which doubled as a roof box for overladen family camping trips.

Tourer
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Re: Any opinions on Folbot?

Post by Tourer » Sun Feb 01, 2009 1:07 am

There are reasons for different prices for Klepper/Nautiraid/Feathercraft being quite pricy and Folbot a lot cheaper.

Wether the steep price for a Feathercraft is justified is what I doubt - I'd certainly abstain from any aluminium frame boat for use in heavy seas. >6 ft tall I don't fit into a Khatsalano.

However if you look around in Europe rather than the UK where folders are considered as "fragile/unreliable" except with her majesty's Special Boat Service you'll find plenty of folders in the second hand market, about 50% of the new price for a VGC.

http://cgi.ebay.de/FALTBOOT-EINER-E-65- ... 240%3A1318

For example this one, mint condition but no repair needed, ready to go < 800 €

Aluminium tends to get stress fractures after some time, whereas this is to my knowledge not known with classic wooden frames. If broken wooden components can be repaired with some resin and sinew while aluminium has to be discarded.

Some key structural components are made of laminated straight grain Ash.

If you have the time and the space for DIY look at http://www.yostwerks.com

I'd rather go for a second hand Klepper, Nautiraid or Pouch boat with wood frame, or one of their clones such as Longhaul

http://www.longhaulfoldingkayaks.com/ (though I think vastly overdesigned and heavy)

http://www.pouchboats.com/background.html

No synthetic fabric is resistant to UV, so for heavy duty or expedition use canvas ist still the better choice, is easier and more reliably to repair in the wild as well, though for day trips canvas is a bit of a nightmare since it has to be carefully dried out or you'll end up with rot.

If weight is a key issue then why not look at modern alternatives like

http://www.firstlightkayaks.com/

Certainly the ticket if you can afford the time off in order to make the most of cheap flights to Malaga or elsewhere with sun but not for expeditioning and load carrying.

Russian, Polish and other makes I'd think twice about that, not least because Pouch, Nautiraid and Klepper made thousands of boats and have a reputation, so plenty of spares around for decades to come.

Regards

Rainer

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TechnoEngineer
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Re: Any opinions on Folbot?

Post by TechnoEngineer » Tue Mar 17, 2009 3:59 am

I've had a look at the options provided by Knoydart, it appears the Kleppers can carry over 300kg but the others only 130kg. I'm quite bemused by the disparity, although it is wider (71cm as opposed to around 60cm).

I also note the length/width ratio of the Klepper Aerius Exp 1 SL490 is 72/490 = 0.146, indicating a possibly slow boat (sprint speed of 5 knots - the others indicate sprint speed of about 6 knots).
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maryinoxford
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Re: Any opinions on Folbot?

Post by maryinoxford » Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:30 am

Payload is difficult to define in hard numbers. Beamier boats = more displacement = more load capacity. Folbot are famous for under-estimating their payloads, playing it safe. Folbot users tell tales of carrying much heavier loads than the nominal limit, with no problems.

It's unlikely that anyone will load a kayak to sinking point. (Anyone got a link to that famous picture of Jim with his slightly-overloaded sea boat?) So as you add more cargo, the boat will ride lower. But how low is "overloaded" will surely depend on what water you're paddling.

I've never paddled a Klepper, but they are not generally regarded as fast boats. Stability, capacity and high quality are their assets.

A Shire horse and a racehorse are each good at their own job, less good at each other's. The trick is to decide what the job really is, before deciding which to get.

Mary
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TechnoEngineer
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Re: Any opinions on Folbot?^

Post by TechnoEngineer » Tue Mar 17, 2009 12:18 pm

Aye. Pity there isn't a "middle of the road" (160kg) option. Or maybe I need to go on a diet ;)
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maryinoxford
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Re: Any opinions on Folbot?^

Post by maryinoxford » Tue Mar 17, 2009 1:11 pm

TechnoEngineer wrote:Aye. Pity there isn't a "middle of the road" (160kg) option.
Feathercraft K1, 175 kg. Check Andreadawn's posts for the kind of places it can take you.
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TechnoEngineer
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Re: Any opinions on Folbot?^

Post by TechnoEngineer » Tue Mar 17, 2009 1:29 pm

oooo, I *had* seen that, along with the Khatsalano - I had rejected them on price. Time to look at 2nd hand offerings methinks.....
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maryinoxford
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Re: Any opinions on Folbot?^

Post by maryinoxford » Tue Mar 17, 2009 1:44 pm

I've just remembered another (slightly cheaper) possibility, Japanese-made. I haven't seen one in the flesh (or in the skin..)
Interesting construction - the longerons are fibreglass, the cross-frames wood.

Fujita PE 1 500 Expedition, payload 160kg.
Image
Maker's site
German dealers (2940 euros)

If looking for a used Feathercraft K1, beware of one that has cropped up a number of times on Ebay. Photo in a cluttered garage, boat with red deck with stencilled "artwork". I've seen it claimed to be in London, Spain and California. There must have been a real kayak once, but now it's just an Ebay "ghost."
Not in Oxford any more...

billmattos
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Re: Any opinions on Folbot?^

Post by billmattos » Tue Jun 03, 2014 11:23 am

Super old thread, but if anyone is interested I am now brand ambassador for Folbot in the UK and you can view the range at folbot.co.uk - I will be pleased to answer anyone's questions directly :)

Bill

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