Folding kayaks have been gaining popularity in recent years because of their portability and ability to be stored in smaller apartments or garages. One thing that holds many people up, however, is whether the best folding kayaks perform comparably to the best traditional kayaks.
If you search Amazon, you will find several folding kayak brands claiming that there is hardly any difference between a folding kayak and a regular kayak once you get on the water. Unfortunately, not all folding kayaks can compare to regular kayak models.
Oru Kayak is one of the most recognizable folding kayak brands out there these days. In part, that is because they seem to have a very healthy presence on Instagram and other major social media platforms.
Tucktec folding kayaks, however, is another folding kayak brand that is currently competing with Oru and others. In today’s guide, we are going to review the Tucktec folding kayaks and see whether they are worth buying.
Let’s get to it!
Photo by Andrew Penney Photography via Flickr
Table of Contents
- 1 What Are Tucktec Folding Kayaks?
- 2 Benefits of a Folding Kayak
- 3 Folding Kayak Buying Guide
- 4 Tucktec Folding Kayaks Review
- 5 Are Tucktec Folding Kayaks Worth It?
- 6 Enjoyed Tucktec Folding Kayaks Reviews? Share it with your friends so they too can follow the Kayakhelp journey.
Photo by Phil Venditti via Flickr
Well, yes, Tucktec is among the best kayak brands when it comes to making folding kayaks. Their models are some of the lightest around and, most importantly, they take the least amount of time to set up when preparing to paddle and break down when packing up to head home.
They also pride themselves on the durability of their folding kayaks. All folding kayaks are only rated for a certain number of folds (usually in the thousands) in their lifetimes, and Tucktec produces a kayak that consistently ranks as one of the longest-lasting models in this space.
Certain types of kayaks are always going to be better for some paddlers than others. That is one of the main reasons why there are so many different specialized kayak models on the market these days.
If you aren’t sure whether or not a folding kayak would be right for you, check out some of the benefits of a folding kayak.
Most of these folding kayaks weigh less than 50 pounds and some are much lighter than that. If you want to paddle on less accessible waterways or places that require quite the carry from the parking lot down to the water’s edge, folding kayaks are much better than having a regular, rotomolded kayak.
Of course, you can always build your own kayak cart to make transporting a rigid kayak easier, but even the best kayak carts for rough terrain won’t be able to handle a long-distance hike into a remote alpine lake.
Some folding kayaks pack up into backpack-style storage bags that allow you to carry them more easily into remote locations. Because they pack up so small, they are also the best option for international travelers that want to stash their kayak under a plane on their far-flung adventures.
In addition to being easy to carry, folding kayaks also eliminate the need for a kayak roof rack on top of your vehicle. They also pack down small enough to fit in the trunk of most sedans and SUVs.
This makes folding kayaks more accessible for folks with smaller vehicles. They also reduce your overall expenditures when you are first getting into kayaking because you will not be forced to invest in all of the other kayaking accessories that are a must with rigid kayaks.
Another factor that can be tough for some people that are interested in getting into kayaking is where to store your kayak when you are not using it. If you live in a larger home with plenty of property, you will probably have no trouble storing a rigid kayak in your garage, under your deck, or in an outdoor storage shed.
For apartment dwellers and those living in smaller homes, you might not have the kind of space needed to store a 12-foot kayak, not to mention a kayak paddle and all of the other gear that goes along with it.
This is where folding kayaks come in and provide an accessible option for people that do not have enough space to store a regular kayak at home. Many of these folding kayaks pack down to a relatively compact size that isn’t much bigger than a large suitcase.
The best inflatable kayaks have come a long way since some of the earliest models were introduced. That being said, some of the cheaper inflatables are more likely to tear or puncture if you accidentally hit a sharp rock or tree branch.
Folding kayaks can typically handle a little more in the ways of scrapes and impacts than the less-durable inflatable kayaks out there. That allows them to handle shallower waterways and eliminates the concern over your dog’s nails popping your kayak halfway through your paddle.
Even expensive folding kayaks rarely cost more than a rigid kayak that is designed to perform in a similar fashion. This can make folding models more accessible for beginners that want to explore kayaking without investing thousands of dollars into gear.
For those of you that have spent years renting kayaks every time you want to hit the water, a folding kayak can also help you save money in the long term. Plus, you will be able to go whenever and wherever you want without being limited to rental locations and kayak availability.
For those of you comparing different folding kayak models, it is important to use a system to evaluate them critically. So let us briefly address some of the most important features and specifications to think about when you are looking into buying a folding kayak.
The size of a folding kayak will impact its speed, stability, and maneuverability, just like it would with a regular kayak. Shorter and wider kayaks tend to be more stable and easily maneuverable while longer and skinnier kayaks are faster and track straighter.
If you are a beginner, a shorter and wider kayak is usually going to serve you better as you practice all of your kayaking skills and techniques. Shorter and wider kayaks also tend to be better for kayak fishing and navigating smaller creeks and streams.
Many experienced kayakers naturally begin to gravitate towards longer and skinnier models because they are more efficient over long distances. This makes it possible to challenge yourself with multi-day kayak camping expeditions or simply get a better workout when you head out onto the water for just a few hours.
Tucktec offers shorter and wider kayaks that are quite versatile. That being said, they are really best suited to beginners and those prioritizing stability and maneuverability over speed and tracking ability.
Many of the cheaper folding kayaks are really designed for casual paddling and they do not offer the kind of comfort features that you would need for longer excursions. These features include things like adjustable seats, lumbar support, footrests, and padded thigh braces.
All of these things might seem like minutia, but they play a large role in your ability to stay comfortable in the cockpit of your kayak when you are paddling for multiple hours at a time.
The best folding kayak cockpits include all of these features and provide some level of adjustability to accommodate different body types. The more adjustable a kayak’s cockpit is, the easier it will be for you to get comfortable and then make micro-adjustments throughout your paddle.
In addition to the features inside the cockpit, you should also consider the size and design of the cockpit as a whole. A larger cockpit opening will be easier for bigger paddlers and also make it easier for everyone to climb in and out of the kayak.
A larger cockpit opening will also allow your kayak to accommodate a paddler and a human or canine passenger. This is one of the main reasons why Tucktec has designed their kayaks with a more open cockpit.
That being said, there are downsides to having a kayak with a more open cockpit design as well. They will take on more water quickly if you accidentally capsize and generally will not accept one of the best kayak spray skirts.
This makes them less suitable for cold weather paddling or for locations where rain is frequent regardless of the air temperature. For these kinds of environments, you will want a folding kayak with a closed deck and a small cockpit opening that can accept some type of kayak spray skirt.
It is also useful to compare the folded sizes of various folding kayak models when you are searching through different models. This will dictate how much space you will need in the trunk of your vehicle to transport the kayak between uses.
It will also play a role in how much space you need to carve out in your closet or storage area at home. Make sure to also compare the kayak’s folded size to your favorite airline’s luggage dimension restrictions if you are planning to take your folding kayak along on your next long-distance trip.
Last, but certainly not least, you should also pay attention to the number of times a folding kayak is rated to be folded and, subsequently, unfolded. In many ways, this will tell you a lot about the durability and expected longevity of the kayak.
Most of the best folding kayaks are rated for thousands of folds. Even if you kayaked every day, that would translate to 3-5 years of use at an absolute minimum.
More importantly than the differentiation between 5,000 and 10,000 folds, however, is whether or not the brand mentions the fold rating for its kayaks at all. If they fail to do so, this is a good reason to shy away from their folding kayak models.
Now it is finally time for our review of Tucktec folding kayaks! We will begin with the basic specifications before highlighting Tucktec’s features and evaluating performance, durability, portability, and other key factors.
Let us just begin with the basic breakdown of the specifications for all Tucktec folding kayaks.
- Length: 9’8”
- Beam: 31 inches
- Weight: 28 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
- Packed Dimensions: 48” x 15”
- Assembly Time: Two Minutes
- Pack Up Time: One Minute
Now let’s talk about the features that make Tucktec folding kayaks unique. For starters, the wide design features a flat hull that provides great stability for beginners and also for those interested in kayak fishing.
At the stern, you will be able to take advantage of a retractable tracking fin to help you navigate high winds and stronger ocean currents. On top of the deck, you will find bow and stern handles that make it easier to carry your Tucktec with a partner or gently drag it across a sandy beach by yourself.
Inside the cockpit, the adjustable seat includes a high back that provides extra lumbar support for longer paddles. An adjustable footrest also allows Tucktec folding kayaks to accommodate paddlers of varying heights and helps you maintain a more upright and engaged paddling position.
Along the edges of the cockpit, marine-grade foam sponsons provide a cushion for your knees and thighs while you are paddling. They also prevent scrapes or uncomfortable contact with the kayak itself when entering and exiting the cockpit.
The cockpit itself is quite roomy and provides ample legroom for larger paddlers. The seat itself can also slide more towards the bow or back closer to the stern depending on the height of the paddler using the Tucktec folding kayak.
First and foremost, it should be noted that the advertised setup and breakdown times for Tucktec folding kayaks are what can be achieved once you have some experience with how they work.
On your first try, it may take you up to 15 minutes to figure out how to set your Tucktec kayak up correctly. Once you get the hang of it, however, the plastic sheet simply unrolls and there are only six clamps to secure to complete the assembly.
Thankfully, they include opening and assembly instructions with each kayak they ship out to new buyers. Their website has a quick video of a new owner assembling her Tucktec kayak in just 90 seconds after practicing only three times.
Additionally, their website is a great resource if you are struggling with their written instructions. Check out the video below for a quick tutorial on how to assemble your Tucktec folding kayak!
Tucktec kayaks are made with a solid sheet of high-density polyethylene plastic that is one-eighth of an inch thick. This solid sheet is rated for thousands of folds and it is reinforced with carbon fiber straps at the stress folds.
There aren’t any open seams or seals in the sheet of plastic that can become problem areas for leaks to manifest in the future. Plus, the folds go up and over each other in what they describe as a “Z pattern” when you pack the kayak up.
This essentially creates a roll of the plastic sheeting that minimizes stress on the entire sheet when the kayak is being stored. With other folding kayaks, they fold flat and that can place unwanted strain on the folds when it is in storage.
Overall, Tucktec folding kayaks are designed to be just as durable as a rigid, rotomolded kayak when they are on the water. This means being essentially puncture-proof while handling bumps against rocks and trees, as well as the abrasive nature of being pulled up onto a sandy beach or rocky shoreline.
As you can see, Tucktec folding kayaks pack down small enough to be strapped onto the back of a bicycle and pedaled over to your nearest kayak launching location. They also come with a shoulder strap that makes carrying them over short distances much easier.
Now, that portability is solid and actually compares very similarly to how other folding kayaks pack up. If you compare them to some inflatable kayaks, however, the inflatables have certain advantages.
One downside of the Tucktec kayak is that it doesn’t pack into any sort of carrying bag or backpack-style carrying case. That makes it harder to transport them over long distances even though they weigh considerably less than many inflatable kayaks.
In addition, you will have to purchase some other sort of storage bag or get creative if you want to transport your Tucktec kayak in the cargo area of an airplane. While they pack down small enough to fit under the plane, you will need some sort of additional bag to protect them from damage if you want to fly with your Tucktec.
As you will notice if you search through the gallery of customer-submitted photos on Tucktec’s website, their kayaks have been used in a wide variety of environments and for different types of kayaking.
This includes rivers, lakes, streams, creeks, open ocean, coastal bays, and even semi-frozen waterways around the globe. There is almost no scenario that Tucktec folding kayaks can’t handle if you, as the paddler, are also adequately prepared.
In terms of safety, all of their kayaks are also built to exceed the United States Coast Guard safety and manufacturing requirements.
While this doesn’t mean you don’t have to wear one of the best kayak life vests when paddling one, it should give you some peace of mind that your Tucktec can handle challenging conditions.
This is one of Tucktec’s biggest advantages because many of its competitors offer folding kayaks with four-digit price tags. Thankfully for beginners and those of you looking for a budget-friendly folding kayak, Tucktec kayaks are priced well below $500.
They also occasionally run volume sales in which they will offer multiple kayaks for an overall discount. If you can hit their website at the right time, you may be able to grab two Tucktec kayaks for much less than a single kayak from some of the more expensive folding kayak brands.
It should also be noted that Tucktec offers a 90-day satisfaction guarantee. Because they know that you may not be able to adequately test your new Tucktec kayak immediately, they essentially give you three months to return it for a full refund if you do not feel satisfied with the assembly process or how it performs on the water.
In addition to their satisfaction guarantee, Tucktec also offers a three-year warranty on their folding kayaks. You will most likely need to register the hull identification number (HIN) of your unique kayak on their website in order to apply the warranty on the hull sheet and hardware.
Once you register your kayak, you should receive an email that confirms registration. You will need to keep that email saved somewhere that you can easily access it down the line should anything malfunction with your Tucktec folding kayak.
If you are looking for your first folding kayak simply because you want to explore whether or not you will like paddling one, a Tucktec folding kayak is definitely a great place to start. Their kayaks are much more affordable than some of the other brands out there right now.
In addition, a Tucktec folding kayak will be more versatile than many of the other models you will find. Your Tucktec will be able to handle calm lakes, slow-moving rivers, coastal bays, and even mild whitewater paddling.
While we wouldn’t quite recommend a Tucktec for long-distance sea kayaking expeditions (certain Oru Kayak models or folding canoes might be better suited to that), they are great for almost all other types of kayaking.
Furthermore, the Tucktec beats almost every other folding kayak brand out there when it comes to setup and breakdown time. That makes it worth it simply for the fact that you will be able to spend less time preparing and cleaning up and, as a result, more time actually paddling on your favorite waterway!