What Is a Collapsible Kayak?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 June 2019
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A collapsible kayak is a type of boat that is designed to break down into separate parts for easy transportation and storage. It is a relative of other types of kayaks, which are long, narrow boats meant for transport of one or two people, depending on the design. The collapsible kayak features a frame made of wood, metal, plastic, or other synthetic materials; this frame is then slipped inside a fabric sheath that is waterproof enough to act as the skin of the kayak. Assembling and disassembling the kayak usually does not take a long time, and it can be done by one or two people.

Assembly time for the collapsible kayak will vary according to the complexity of the vessel's design. Some designs only take about ten minutes to assemble, while others can take up to 45 minutes to build completely. The collapsible frame will feature several parts that will need to be put together correctly, and some parts are foldable or hinged, so they will have to be secured properly. The skin of the vessel will then need to be stretched over the frame properly to avoid tears and to make the vessel seaworthy.


The skin of the collapsible kayak can be made from a variety of materials, and sometimes the deck material is different from the hull material. Waterproofing is vital, so the hull is usually made from some sort of waterproof synthetic such as polyurethane or PVC. Sometimes the hull is made from a coated canvas that is also waterproof. The deck may be made from the same materials, though in some cases it is made from thick canvas instead. More modern models are likely to use synthetic fibers for the waterproof abilities, light weight, and durability.

The history of the collapsible kayak can be traced back to the early 20th century. Early models featured wood frames, while modern ones tend toward lightweight metals or even carbon fiber. These boats have been used for various purposes that have demonstrated seaworthiness; the collapsible kayak is durable, functional, and usually very long lasting. They tend to be exceptionally maneuverable, and before the advent of whitewater kayaks, collapsible kayak models were used on rivers to take advantage of this maneuverability. A few modern models are adjustable to accommodate different water conditions, and just about all models feature sponsons inside the structure to help keep the craft buoyant and structurally strong.


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