The Sevylor K5 Quikpak caught our eye with a unique combination of traits and a relatively low price for the performance and snagged our Best Buy Award. We love that this backpack yak comes with everything you need to paddle, is reasonably durable, and can take on the waves with its high-riding position and included "spray skirt." Efficiency takes a new meaning with the Sevylor as well, as the entire backpack becomes parts of the kayak, leaving only the pump to carry with on your nautical adventure. As much as we appreciate that they're included, we aren't big fans of the paddle or pump but recognize that they can be easily replaced with specimens more to the paddler's liking without making much of a difference to the overall package. And for all that you get, you can walk away without paying nearly as much as some of the competition!
Sevylor Quikpak K5 Review
Cons: Poor paddle, rides high, blunt bow, fabric retains water, difficult to drain
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Though the Sevylor isn't a champion of any single category, it reigns supreme as a great combination of performance and price.
For a clunky-looking kayak, we found that the Sevylor actually performs decently well on the water. At just 10ft long, the Quikpak has a couple of skegs on the bottom to aid in tracking so you're not swinging back and forth with every stroke like in the Advanced Elements PackLite. The Quikpak is relatively stable, as a pretty thick boat that rides relatively high out of the water. A piece of the backpack zips in over the paddler's legs (Sevylor refers to it as a "spray skirt") to help keep out water - whether from paddling or even from minor waves! This ups the versatility of this little craft a bit, and we feel confident in it handling minor rivers with relative ease, being both maneuverable and a bit more protected from taking on water. The bottom section of the fabric exterior layer is also reinforced to help protect the underside of the hull from being punctured while you're out playing in the shallows.
However, the upper portion of that same external fabric layer isn't waterproof, unlike the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame, which takes on water, increasing the overall weight of the craft as you paddle, and makes putting this boat away more of a hassle. Also, if you decide not to use the zip-in "spray skirt" to tan your legs and you do take on some water, there's no scupper hole to drain that water, so you'll continue paddling around an ever-filling bathtub! And though the height of this boat helps it feel a bit more stable, particularly for novice kayakers, it also works against you if you're paddling in any wind. And finally, the bow is fairly blunt, unlike some of the kayaks that handled better such as the Oru Beach LT, Aquaglide Columbia XP Tandem XL or AdvancedFrame, which will never allow quite the speed or tracking ability as a pointed bow does. For what it is though, the Sevylor is pretty decent to paddle and we enjoy its surprising versatility to take on different types and speeds of water that many of the other kayaks in this review don't have.
Perhaps not our first choice for an intensely long paddle, the Sevylor is decently comfortable for spending a solid day out enjoying the peacefulness of a quiet lake. It has a fully adjustable seat that's not inflatable (though it is a clever folding of the backpack portion of the carry bag) and gives plenty of space to stretch your legs out for a tan or wedge your knees into the sides for more intense paddling. This position is aided by the zip in "spray skirt," though we must say that it's so much easier to get in and out of the boat with said skirt zipped open. Otherwise, that opening is incredibly narrow! We appreciate that narrow entry once we are in the boat, as it helps keep water from pooling as easily and provides a convenient platform for a nautical dog to join us on our adventures.
What we appreciate about the design of the backpack-turned-seat loses its charm after paddling for too long, as you can start to feel the buckles and straps under your bum. And while we enjoy riding high out of the water, which helps novice kayakers feel more comfortable in a solo boat, it sometimes feels actually more tippy - particularly if that nautical dog we mentioned gets up to pace around. It also adds a bit to the struggle of getting in and out of the boat, especially getting back in from the middle of the lake after taking a refreshing dip, but overall once you were in the boat, we felt like it was pretty solid and stable.
Keep in mind, if you've loaded your 250lb capacity boat down with a ton of gear, you'll likely find you're sitting lower in the water and will need extra oomph for paddling. Probably the worst part about paddling the Quikpak is the paddle that comes with it. It divides into three pieces and the way in which it goes together is not particularly secure. We found many times that we had to stop and loosen the paddle pieces (hard to do with wet hands!) and realign them as the blades had become tilted at different angles, or even the shaft of the paddle itself would get misaligned to the point of looking like a giant smile rather than straight as a paddle should be. But as we mentioned previously, if you decide the paddle isn't right for you, it's not too difficult to replace it with a better specimen and enjoy paddling this reasonably comfortable solo kayak around again.
Ease of Set Up
With the included dual action pump (pumps air on both the upstroke and the downstroke), filling up the three chambers of the Quikpak doesn't take long at all. The included directions are straightforward and easy to understand, and also include descriptions of how to take the outer fabric off the inflated inner frame for cleaning or repairs. Every piece of this backpack kayak becomes part of the boat, so the only part you're left with when you're all set up is the pump itself, which can easily be strapped to the bungees across the "spray skirt" if you don't want to leave it on the beach. Simply pulling the valves out allows for quick break down of this kayak, and it's not hard at all to fit it back into its backpack set up and head out.
The Sevylor is another one of those inflatable kayaks that requests you to fill it to a specific pressure but includes no gauge to measure it. This can lead to drag from underinflation or damage from overinflation. And though we appreciate the speed of the dual action pump included with the Quikpak, its hose kinks easily and pops out of the valve occasionally during inflation which lets all the air escape, undoing your hard work. There's no scupper hole in the bottom of the Sevylor K5, so it collects water that is difficult to drain. The fabric outer hull also isn't waterproof and retains water for long after we were finished paddling, making it heavier and potentially smelly if not given time to dry out completely.
We also found that the fabric outside could come misaligned with the inflatable interior rather easily, making the whole thing a bit asymmetrical. This was easy to fix when the kayak was deflated, but much harder when it was full of air. Overall, the Sevylor isn't too bad to set up and take down once we got the hang of some of its quirks.
Aside from the teensy Advanced Elements PackLite, the Sevylor K5 Quikpak was the easiest kayak to carry around, due mostly to its backpack design and modest weight of 23 lbs 7 oz. And even with the pump and paddle - both of which attach to the backpack, leaving your hands free - it weighs under 30 lbs. While this would feel much heavier in a duffle, the convenient backpack construction makes it a breeze to carry. Have we mentioned how much we like that it's a backpack yak? The boat also has convenient carry handles at the bow and stern if you'd like to pump up at your car and transport the inflated kayak to the water. Helpfully, the Sevylor also has a cooler-esque storage area in the stern that can be accessed through a zipper in the fabric. Though it's not waterproof, it can be used to store various items you may want to bring with on your journey.
Our biggest gripe about carrying the Quikpak around is how much extra weight there is when the fabric is wet, and how awkward the paddle sticks out the top of the bag even when it's broken down. Honestly though, for its weight, the Sevylor isn't bad to carry even longer distances from your vehicle because of that convenient backpack design.
Constructed of heavy duty polyester with a reinforced 24 gauge laminate PVC bottom, the Quikpak is a decently durable-feeling boat. It comes with a repair kit (albeit a small, non-impressive one) and directions on how to patch it. The fabric isn't waterproof, but the laminate bottom gives confidence on rocky landings and scraping over submerged sticks and logs. Though it doesn't have the same feel as some of the higher-end kayaks like the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame, the Sevylor K5 holds its own against the competition. We had no durability issues during our intensive testing over an entire paddle season, and it gave us no reason to doubt its integrity.
We did find it strange that the length of the zippers to attach the "spray skirt" into the fully-inflated kayak didn't match up - the skirt has a longer zipper than the kayak! It didn't seem to detract from the usefulness of the "spray skirt," but we found it noteworthy. Our only major concern about the durability of the Quikpak was actually with the fabric itself. As it's not waterproof, we weren't always able to get the boat completely dry before putting it away, which resulted in a funky smell after several months of use. But if a funky smell is the worst of it, that's not so bad.
The K5 Quikpak is a great little boat with impressive versatility. The "spray skirt" increases the number of splashes this boat can handle and we felt pretty confident taking it down calm rivers. Though it's not our first choice for long expeditions, we like its usefulness and how it handles for shorter excursions. As a decent scorer across the board, we think it's a pretty solid all-around solo kayak. And because it includes everything you need to go from the store to the water all in a convenient backpack, we think you'll be more likely to enjoy taking it to a wide variety of different paddling locations.
This is truly where the Sevylor K5 shines brightly. For less than $300, you can have absolutely everything you need to get out on the water in a decent boat. Sure, it may not be the best at any one thing, but it's also not the worst by far. A sound little boat that's easy to take down to the beach after work or carry across the campground to the river, and all without costing nearly as much as many of the other boats in this review. If you're looking for a higher performing boat, the AdvancedFrame or Oru, our Editors' Choice winners, are excellent options, but neither come with all the pieces required to get paddling. Awarding the Sevylor our Best Buy choice was a no-brainer, for the excellent combination of performance and price it brings to the table.
We are solidly impressed with this backpack yak from Sevylor. Though it didn't blow us out of the water in any category, it's a reliable, decent kayak for the average consumer. And without blowing your whole stack of cash too! We found that this kayak performs well in a wide variety of situations, handles pretty well, and is fairly easy to use. While not up to pro-kayaker standards, the Quikpack is a great all-around boat for just getting out there and enjoying the solitude, freedom, and enjoyment that kayaking can bring you.
— Maggie Brandenburg