How good, maneuverable, and sturdy are folding kayaks? Are they only made for the lakes and sea? Would you recommend any specific model and producer? Bolek Hilton, Ontario
Before purchasing, you'll need to think about your own needs and the type of boating you want to do. One very popular boat, for instance, is the Folbot Aleut ($1,480; www.folbot.com), a compact little 12-footer with some forgiving habits. Although a little pokey, it's a very beamy boat, so you can easily pack gear for trips up to a week long. That beaminess also makes the Aleut very stable.
Then there's the Klepper Aerius ($2,458, including shipping; www.klepper.com), perhaps the classic folding kayak. It's a big boat that can handle loads of gear for long trips (payload, in fact, is a whopping 570 pounds!). And, it can easily handle rough, open water. Faster than the Aleut, but still compact enoughat 60 pounds packed weightto make a good travel-along boat.
Or there's the Feathercraft Wisper ($2,812; www.feathercraft.com), which is similar in length yet narrower than the Aerius. Its materials (aluminum frame, lightweight skin) cut the weight to under 40 poundsnot bad for a big boat! It'll hold a paddler and gear for long weekends or more, so while not cheap, it's an excellent investment if you plan to be spending a lot of time traveling and paddling with one of these craft.
If you can, always try to test out a kayak before buying. Remember, you don't climb into a kayakyou more or less put it on. So fit is important.
For more expert reviews of kayaks, check out Outside Online's all-new Kayak Buying Guide.