Kayaks - Inflatable, Rigid, Folding. . . whaddya have and how do ya like it?

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Road

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Hey guys, I have used two Perception Carolina kayaks for about 15 years now. One is a 14.5ft composite hull and the other is a 13.5ft rotomolded plastic type hull. Both were used on rivers and big lake water. I primarily used them for long multiday river trips where all my gear is with me so bulk hatches and rigging were very important to me. Both boats have been great for my uses as I've tried inflatable ones in the past and have had bad days on rocks. Inflatables typically don't track straight worth crap so use them on small water or fast rivers like whitewater. If you're just tooling around in a rocky area like fast rivers and need fast turning, go for a cheap rotomolded or inflatable. If you need something that tracks well/straight in bigger water and/or need a multiday excursion gear hauler, go with a larger composite type boat.

Plus and minus thoughts here:

Composites:
Plus:
- strong
- lightweight
- easy to maneuver due to rigidity​
Cons:
- expensive
- dont take impacts well from rocks, tend to split rather then bounce off​

Rotomolded:
Plus:
- practically indestructible, aka bouncy resistance. good for big rocks!
- inexpensive​
Cons:
- can tend to "melt" or deform in really hot conditions when strapped down to rigs/mounts
- heavy in larger/longer boats
View attachment 55261
Great info, @freedomomelet, very much appreciated! Some good, important points there to consider.
 

smritte

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Loads of good info so far. I don't know which way I want to go. I have been "looking" for two years. I want the stability of a hard side but the inflatables are easier to deal with. I don't have the room for another trailer.
I hate having to make choices like this.

Scott
 
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Funmobile

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I have a Pamlico 135 (Wilderness Systems, from REI) that I really like. Two person with great seats and the second seat is removable for more cargo or my dog. A little bit of work to load on the roof if the jeep, but I am able to do it solo. All in all, I couldn't be happier with it.
 
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Funmobile

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I would also take a look at the Alpacka Raft. A co-worker is looking at getting one and I might follow suit, once I see it in person.
 
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Road

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Thanks for the input, everybody! What a huge amount of great solid info and points to consider.

After a ton of head-spinning research, listening to opinions, and looking at scads of options for both hardshell and inflatables, I've decided to buy an airplane.

No, no, much less expensive: I've decided to get a lightweight matrix (kevlar/carbon fiber) hybrid canoe instead of a kayak. On a great end-user tip from @Rocksylvania in the Wisdom From the River thread started by @Plisken, I found out about the lightweight hardshell canoes from Hornbeck Boats in the Adirondacks. By the way, experienced water folk, go check out the Wisdom From the River thread and add some gear tips!

My experience with canoes being mostly decades ago, not that extensive, and mostly with borrowed or rented canoes, I had no idea such a super lightweight but strong and versatile canoe like this was being made. I found a beauty, though, in the Hornbeck Nomad 14' Solo/Tandem. This is the one I'm leaning towards at present. Only 28lbs, 14' long, with a 30.25" beam and easily convertible from solo to tandem.

Just makes more sense, as with most of my larger gear, to have something more multi-purpose that I can use for transport, fishing, overnights, having a dog, friend or fam come along, and for just general pleasure outings by myself when back country or around local ponds/lakes. This isn't the kind of canoe you just run up onto rocky shores like the heavy aluminum canoes, though is plenty rugged in its own right. I am, sometimes, famously fussy about my gear and though I use it hard, I try to use it wisely.

It is also going to be more obvious and more of a target than having a folding or inflatable I can stow away, but I'm betting I use it so much more, too. I was already regretting the loss of interior storage space in my van or trailer that would occur with an inflatable or folding kayak. If it turns out this canoe is too cumbersome to have up top or in between rack and trailer all the time, or to use in any way, these boats are famous for holding their value. That I can deliver it anywhere in US or Canada, too, makes it even more possible should I ever feel the need to move to another type of craft.

I'm driving down for an appt tomorrow, in which I'll check out other options before final decision and for the fitting to ensure the canoe profile and foot support placement fit my general physique and transport needs.

I just can't get over the fact that this is only 28lbs, which means I'm going to be able to pack it back into places I would never consider taking a heavier craft. I've portaged canoes from lake to lake before up in Algonquin PP in Ontario and other places, but I'm old and feeble and not quite all there anymore :tonguewink:, so am making it easy on myself. They make a really cool backpack support system for hands free portage, too, I may get.

Images from Hornbeck Boats:
hornbeck-nomad14solo-tandem.png
Nomad Solo/Tandem Fourteen

Hornbeck-backpack.png
Hornbeck Backpack Mount

Hornbeck-canoepack.png
Hornbeck Backpack Mount - rear support

hornbeck-lightestboats.png
"The Lightest Boats In the Woods"

Anyone else out there have personal experience with Hornbeck Boats?


Road

.
 
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kappels

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We have two sit-in 8 foot Pelican kayaks. They’re great for what we use them for, and the sit-in ability allows me to store water, dry box, and camera by my feet without having to strap in anything on the back.

I can see the pros and cons to A) longer yaks such as 8ft and also B) inflatable. We have two dogs, so an inflatable would probably be out of the question if we want to bring the pups along (puppy nails may puncture). But, for storage, inflatable would be great!


Sent from my iPhone using OB Talk
 
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Rocksylvania

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Thanks for the input, everybody! What a huge amount of great solid info and points to consider.

After a ton of head-spinning research, listening to opinions, and looking at scads of options for both hardshell and inflatables, I've decided to buy an airplane.

No, no, much less expensive: I've decided to get a lightweight matrix (kevlar/carbon fiber) hybrid canoe instead of a kayak. On a great end-user tip from @Rocksylvania in the Wisdom From the River thread started by @Plisken, I found out about the lightweight hardshell canoes from Hornbeck Boats in the Adirondacks. By the way, experienced water folk, go check out the Wisdom From the River thread and add some gear tips!

My experience with canoes being mostly decades ago, not that extensive, and mostly with borrowed or rented canoes, I had no idea such a super lightweight but strong and versatile canoe like this was being made. I found a beauty, though, in the Hornbeck Nomad 14' Solo/Tandem. This is the one I'm leaning towards at present. Only 28lbs, 14' long, with a 30.25" beam and easily convertible from solo to tandem.

Just makes more sense, as with most of my larger gear, to have something more multi-purpose that I can use for transport, fishing, overnights, having a dog, friend or fam come along, and for just general pleasure outings by myself when back country or around local ponds/lakes. Potentially more fragile and have to be more mindful in usage? Yes. I've carefully considered that in my decision. I am, sometimes, famously fussy about my gear and though I use it hard, I try to use it wisely.

It is also going to be a lot more obvious and more of a target than having a folding or inflatable I can stow away, but I'm betting I use it so much more, too. If it turns out it is too cumbersome to have up top all the time, or to use in any way, these boats are famous for holding a very high resale value. That I can deliver it anywhere in US or Canada, too, makes it even more possible should I ever feel the need to move to another type of craft.

I'm driving down for an appt tomorrow, in which I'll check out other options before final decision and for the fitting to ensure the canoe profile and foot support placement fit my general physique and transport needs.

I just can't get over the fact that this is only 28lbs, which means I'm going to be able to pack it back into places I would never consider taking a heavier craft. I've portaged canoes from lake to lake before up in Algonquin PP in Ontario and other places, but I'm old and feeble and not quite all there anymore :tonguewink:, so am making it easy on myself. They make a really cool backpack support system for hands free portage, too, I may get.

Images from Hornbeck Boats:
View attachment 56562
Nomad Solo/Tandem Fourteen

View attachment 56619
Hornbeck Backpack Mount

View attachment 56620
Hornbeck Backpack Mount - rear support

View attachment 56621
"The Lightest Boats In the Woods"

Anyone else out there have personal experience with Hornbeck Boats?


Road

.
That looks like a great canoe! The wait will be worth it. It looks like the Hornbeck guys had some great ideas for that model and are continuing to evolve. It's been a few years since I checked out their site, they didn't make that hands free option then. What they made at the time was a removable yoke (screws and wingnuts through the gunnels) with two shoulder supports. But you always need one hand to maintain balance. And it has to be removed before resuming paddling.
 
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Fish_into_gear

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@Road .. Throwing my recommendation into the ring a little late here but I am a huge fan of the NRS Pike model. Best money I've ever spent; stable (you can stand to cast or paddle), comfortable seat, rigid floor, super durable (I have had no fear fishing around oyster beds for redfish... NRS makes absurdly durable and guaranteed fabrics) and most importantly if rolls up into a bag with backpack straps. I keep mine ready to go in my Tacoma's bed. 10 mins to inflate with a hand pump, and half that to roll back up into its carry bag. Also comes with two fins for better tracking.
 
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Road

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Awesome, @Fish_into_gear - that looks every bit as rugged, durable, and stable as you say.

I like the ease of use aspect, backpack-ability and that it has two fins for tracking. The way it packs too, is really appealing. 46lbs, it says. I'm definitely bookmarking that one for future potential. Would be perfect having a couple of those for workshop participants, too, when I set up basecamp style classes near lake or stream.

Here's the link, for others interested: NRS Pike Fishing Inflatable Kayak, currently $995 from NRS.

I bit the bullet and went and picked up the 14' Hornbeck Nomad Solo/tandem yesterday, and am super-impressed with design, build, and quality. Cool boat building shop in the Adirondacks, with a pond up back for trying different styles. Met Peter Hornbeck, too, who designed and starting building these gorgeous rugged canoes 40 yrs ago. He was intrigued by my trailer and camping setup so we swapped stories for a bit. He's finally taking a break from running things, and is getting back to "running the ridges around here again!"

@Rocksylvania - can't thank you enough for the suggesting Hornbeck Boats. That certainly tipped my decision. A fireside dinner and beer on me next time I'm down Hatfield PA way. I have another OLB friend down around Harrisburg. Perhaps we can all meet up somewhere for a night or two near the water.

@freedomomelet - your good post with detailed pros and cons on both composite and rotomolded and multi-day excursion gear hauling also helped tip my decision towards a Hornbeck. Same offer, fireside dinner and beer on me. What's Chalco Hills Rec Area like?

Pic of transporting it back. I'm thinking about making a suspended crossbar arrangement that hangs under my Rhino Rack (that the hardshell tent and awning are mounted to) so it raises and lowers with the rack and will be up out of the way a bit when camping and when I need greater access to the cargo area or nose box of the trailer.
hornbeck-onXV2_6751.jpeg

This canoe, at only 28lbs, is going to allow me to get back in there further to distant ponds and streams, and to pack more gear in for camping and bushcraft than I would if the canoe were heavier. It really is amazingly light.

Here's a pic of it balancing easy and naturally on my shoulders with the removable yoke, which has two padded shoulder supports. Mike at Hornbeck says what he does when portaging is tie a light line to the bow and stern, one going to each hand when down at your side. Easy then to correct the tip one way or the other as you walk.
hornbeck-portageyokebalance_6768.jpeg

I splurged and got the oars and oarlocks package, as well as two double-ended kayak paddles. Beautiful and finely crafted handmade oars by John Homer, who also works at Hornbeck. Rowing is something I've always enjoyed, and with this canoe I should be able to row forward or back. Should be easier for fishing, too. This canoe is easily changed over from solo seating to tandem, either facing each other or both facing forward. Dry rowing:
hornbeck-drycanoe_6766 copy.jpeg
 
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Fish_into_gear

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@Road rock on nice canoe! That looks like it should be super fun, I've looked at those myself for my eventual boundary waters trip. Hope to see photos of chunky smallmouth bass alongside it :sunglasses:
 
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Neal A. Tew

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I recently ordered a cheap beginner canoe from walmart.com so that I could take my wife and two dogs out.

I haven't paddled in decades and my wife isn't a strong swimmer. I got a 13' plastic canoe for us. It is wide and stable, but nearly a hundred pounds. I've found that is much heavier now that we're in our fifties than I expected it to be. I rigged up a cheap strap winch on my truck that I can use manually or powered by a small cordless drill.

We've only been out twice so far and the last time was a first for the dogs. That was a bit of an adventure.

We won't win any races, but it's a cheap stable platform for dogs and fishing.
Screenshot_20180521-210851.jpg20180521_111916.jpg

Sent from my Moto G (4) using OB Talk mobile app
 
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freedomomelet

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Awesome, @Fish_into_gear - that looks every bit as rugged, durable, and stable as you say.

I like the ease of use aspect, backpack-ability and that it has two fins for tracking. The way it packs too, is really appealing. 46lbs, it says. I'm definitely bookmarking that one for future potential. Would be perfect having a couple of those for workshop participants, too, when I set up basecamp style classes near lake or stream.

Here's the link, for others interested: NRS Pike Fishing Inflatable Kayak, currently $995 from NRS.

I bit the bullet and went and picked up the 14' Hornbeck Nomad Solo/tandem yesterday, and am super-impressed with design, build, and quality. Cool boat building shop in the Adirondacks, with a pond up back for trying different styles. Met Peter Hornbeck, too, who designed and starting building these gorgeous rugged canoes 40 yrs ago. He was intrigued by my trailer and camping setup so we swapped stories for a bit. He's finally taking a break from running things, and is getting back to "running the ridges around here again!"

@Rocksylvania - can't thank you enough for the suggesting Hornbeck Boats. That certainly tipped my decision. A fireside dinner and beer on me next time I'm down Hatfield PA way. I have another OLB friend down around Harrisburg. Perhaps we can all meet up somewhere for a night or two near the water.

@freedomomelet - your good post with detailed pros and cons on both composite and rotomolded and multi-day excursion gear hauling also helped tip my decision towards a Hornbeck. Same offer, fireside dinner and beer on me. What's Chalco Hills Rec Area like?

Pic of transporting it back. I'm thinking about making a suspended crossbar arrangement that hangs under my Rhino Rack (that the hardshell tent and awning are mounted to) so it raises and lowers with the rack and will be up out of the way a bit when camping and when I need greater access to the cargo area or nose box of the trailer.
View attachment 56762

This canoe, at only 28lbs, is going to allow me to get back in there further to distant ponds and streams, and to pack more gear in for camping and bushcraft than I would if the canoe were heavier. It really is amazingly light.

Here's a pic of it balancing easy and naturally on my shoulders with the removable yoke, which has two padded shoulder supports. Mike at Hornbeck says what he does when portaging is tie a light line to the bow and stern, one going to each hand when down at your side. Easy then to correct the tip one way or the other as you walk.
View attachment 56761

I splurged and got the oars and oarlocks package, as well as two double-ended kayak paddles. Beautiful and finely crafted handmade oars by John Homer, who also works at Hornbeck. Rowing is something I've always enjoyed, and with this canoe I should be able to row forward or back. Should be easier for fishing, too. This canoe is easily changed over from solo seating to tandem, either facing each other or both facing forward. Dry rowing:
View attachment 56763

@Road no problem, you are very welcome! Always happy to help a fellow boater and I'm glad you found a great boat to suit your needs. Chalco Hills Rec Area is nice if you like city runoff water! Haha, kidding but it serves its purpose well. I've found that I can get away on the quick weekend for a few hours and go float or fish. It has a nice walking trail and dog park as well.
 
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Flipper

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A665B136-80D9-41A0-96D7-C72E93681C5F.jpeg We travel in a customized van so hard kayaks were out of the question . After tons of research and reading reviews we went with the Advanced Elements Advanced Frame DS-XL Series. We purchased them from AirKayak out of Ca. on the net. with free shipping.They were not cheap @$649 ea. They included the high pressure drop stitch floor, pump with pressure gauge, paddle, high back lumbar seat and carrying bag. They are fantastic! Exceeded all expectations.
 
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denw

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I've been kayaking/fishing for close to 15 years and my favorite so far has been the Wilderness systems ride 135. Although it's long and a bit heavy it's a great platform you can stand in it as well.20180705_092124.jpg20180718_104153_resized.jpg
 

JimInBC

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Awesome, @Fish_into_gear - that looks every bit as rugged, durable, and stable as you say.

I like the ease of use aspect, backpack-ability and that it has two fins for tracking. The way it packs too, is really appealing. 46lbs, it says. I'm definitely bookmarking that one for future potential. Would be perfect having a couple of those for workshop participants, too, when I set up basecamp style classes near lake or stream.

Here's the link, for others interested: NRS Pike Fishing Inflatable Kayak, currently $995 from NRS.

I bit the bullet and went and picked up the 14' Hornbeck Nomad Solo/tandem yesterday, and am super-impressed with design, build, and quality. Cool boat building shop in the Adirondacks, with a pond up back for trying different styles. Met Peter Hornbeck, too, who designed and starting building these gorgeous rugged canoes 40 yrs ago. He was intrigued by my trailer and camping setup so we swapped stories for a bit. He's finally taking a break from running things, and is getting back to "running the ridges around here again!"

@Rocksylvania - can't thank you enough for the suggesting Hornbeck Boats. That certainly tipped my decision. A fireside dinner and beer on me next time I'm down Hatfield PA way. I have another OLB friend down around Harrisburg. Perhaps we can all meet up somewhere for a night or two near the water.

@freedomomelet - your good post with detailed pros and cons on both composite and rotomolded and multi-day excursion gear hauling also helped tip my decision towards a Hornbeck. Same offer, fireside dinner and beer on me. What's Chalco Hills Rec Area like?

Pic of transporting it back. I'm thinking about making a suspended crossbar arrangement that hangs under my Rhino Rack (that the hardshell tent and awning are mounted to) so it raises and lowers with the rack and will be up out of the way a bit when camping and when I need greater access to the cargo area or nose box of the trailer.
View attachment 56762

This canoe, at only 28lbs, is going to allow me to get back in there further to distant ponds and streams, and to pack more gear in for camping and bushcraft than I would if the canoe were heavier. It really is amazingly light.

Here's a pic of it balancing easy and naturally on my shoulders with the removable yoke, which has two padded shoulder supports. Mike at Hornbeck says what he does when portaging is tie a light line to the bow and stern, one going to each hand when down at your side. Easy then to correct the tip one way or the other as you walk.
View attachment 56761

I splurged and got the oars and oarlocks package, as well as two double-ended kayak paddles. Beautiful and finely crafted handmade oars by John Homer, who also works at Hornbeck. Rowing is something I've always enjoyed, and with this canoe I should be able to row forward or back. Should be easier for fishing, too. This canoe is easily changed over from solo seating to tandem, either facing each other or both facing forward. Dry rowing:
View attachment 56763
What a beautiful boat.
 
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Road

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Just checking back in on the thread I started last winter and to post some images of my Hornbeck 14' Nomad.

When they say #lightestboatsinthewoods they aren't kidding. One of the things I hear most often when out camping and folks come by to check out my setup is "Wow! This is lighter than my kayak!"

Man, I'm telling you, I've spent more time on the water since May than I have in all of the last twenty years. I've slipped up on wildlife like you wouldn't believe, and had more fun--and success--fishing than I've had in years. This boat is just a dream to paddle and slips over water like raindrops on a waxed hood.

roaddude_hornbeck-900-9077.jpg

roaddude_hornbeck-800-9075.jpg

roaddude_hornbeck-islandcamp-900-0788.jpg
 

Stickbow

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I'm kind of a kayak nut....well, I am a nut. We have a bunch of kayaks - for a bunch of reasons. and one canoe right now. All the kayaks are rotomolded, and probably will be for the foreseeable future. The canoe is a really old fiberglass one.

Using 'hard' kayaks is why I don't pack stuff on my roof - and one reason I don't want an RTT. For any really long trip I take, it's usually going to include at least my kayak, if not both my boat and my wife's Perception (if she's going) on the roof. When my sons (and now daughter in law) go with us, I have a trailer for the kayaks, but that's not an 'overlanding' trip - usually to a rental house (or our beach house now).

My favorite traveling/sightseeing kayak is a 14.5' inuit style long pointy boat that came from either a French or French Canadian company. I got it second or maybe fifth hand and have used it for 15 years now, but nobody can figure out who made it - the only remaining sticker says "ARTIC" (sic). I use a back band vs. the plastic seat that came in it, and in all but the warmest weather/shallow water use a spray skirt. It's fast, light, and maneuverable for a long(er) skinny boat

My favorite fishing kayak is my old beat up 17' WS Tarpon SOT. It's not a boat you stand up in, but you can go miles in it in a day and be comfortable going well out beyond the breakers without being afraid of some chop. It also has tons of storage.

I see the reasons people want inflatables, but the three or four I've paddled didn't handle very well and I was dubious they'd survive the oyster bars at the coast and the pointy sticks in our blackwater rivers.
 
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