shopping for a folding kayak?

Folding Kayaks – Outdoor Gear Advice | Outside Online

Folding kayaks can go in just about any water you can find…. Like all kayaks they come in many shapes and sizes, with many of them absolutely as seaworthy (some argue more so) than their rigid-hull counterparts. Many people love their folding boats because they can go literally anywhere. Take one to Europe to explore canals, for instance, or to the South Seas and paddle from island to island. Many travelers can easily handle a backpack and a folding kayak on their trip—that’s only two pieces of luggage, you lazy, ounce-counting slackers!

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; http://www.folbot.com), a compact little 12-footer with some forgiving habits.

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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; http://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 enough—at 60 pounds packed weight—to make a good travel-along boat.

Or there’s the Feathercraft Wisper ($2,812; http://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 pounds—not 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 kayak—you more or less put it on. So fit is important.

Any other recommendations? Inflatable kayaks, for example?

North Coast Trail, Canada

For years we have been waiting for the opening of the North Coast Trail on Vancouver Island, an extension to the existing Cape Scott Trail. It seems we cannot book in for summer 2006, however.

May 11 2006

Cape_Scott_Trail--w_Dutchman-5_small.JPGThe province should ante up for the North Coast Trail. A real, long-term sustainable project, the North Coast Trail is a safe bet that has the potential to be the turn card for tourism on the North Island.

With nearly $1 million already invested by the federal government, the call is to the provincial government to make a moderate contribution of $250,000 to the pot.
And timing is everything. With usage limitations on the West Coast Trail and limited access to Nootka Island, the North Coast Trail could be the next backcountry conquest for many serious backpackers, who are ready for a new adventure on Vancouver Island.

While the province plays it close to the (treasure) chest, other North Island tourism prospects are dimming with the reality of a reduced ferry service that makes large tourism operators nervous. With summer nearly upon us, it is imperative to get the trail completed before more backcountry hikers and others are turned away.

And it’s not just the tourists and hikers leaving the trail table. What about the backpackers’ hostel in Port Hardy, built to accommodate the anticipated increase in hikers? How long can such businesses last unless Cape Scott and the new trail are ready for summer?

The North Coast Trail Society is to be commended for courageously working on the project for many years.

They have dealt well, the federal government has played well and now it is time for the provincial government to sweeten the pot of the project before it is forced to fold for the summer.

BCNG Portals Page

If you have up-to-date information on an opening date, leave a comment below.

Queen Charlotte Track, New Zealand

In a brilliant marketing strategy, New Zealand promotes 10 Great Walks.

It’s a bit of a laugh for Kiwis, actually. For one thing, one of the Great Walks is a river paddle.

Many Kiwis avoid the Great Walks because they are crowded with foreigners. They know other hikes that are just as good — but not on the list.

The most unique of the other hikes is the Queen Charlotte Track.

It’s a gorgeous ridge walk. Some viewpoints look down on waterways on both sides!

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71km (44mi), 4-days, 3-nights, ideal for all levels of experience and fitness. You can even have a water taxi shuttle your pack from lodge to lodge.

More details on besthike.com Queen Charlotte Track

Abel Tasman Coast Track, New Zealand

I am a big fan of coastal hikes. In fact, I rank the best hike in the World the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island, in Canada.

To me coastal hiking is like mountain hiking, with the added treat of the ocean! Since I grew up 12hrs drive from the sea, perhaps it is still a novelty.

Whie sand beaches, aquamarine lagoons, picture perfect bays! One Israeli referred to Abel Tasman as hiking Gilligan’s Island.

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51km (32.6mi), 5-days, 4-nights, this is the most popular multi-day hike in New Zealand. It’s ideal for all levels of experience and fitness.

More details on besthike.com Abel Tasman Coast Track

The Great South Coast Walk, Australia

You may have heard of this adventure. It’s a long walk down the beautiful coast of New South Wales. A thru-hike for normal people.

David and Pennie Briese dreamed it. And then achieved it. Congratulations!

… time to walk, time to reflect and time to rejuvenate.

… splendid isolated beaches, around magnificent rock platforms, over windswept cliffs and headlands, though superb untouched forest, and past wetlands and lakes filled with birds.

Sounds lovely. But New South Wales is quite developed. They enjoyed a cold beer at the end of most stages!

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Travelogue and photos.