Tucktec Foldable Kayak Review
Cons: Difficult to fold when cold, very low probability of re-entering from the water, carry strap is rough, calm water only
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Tucktec is a single person folding kayak with a 350 lb capacity. It's made of high-density polyethylene thermoplastic with side rails of marine-grade, high-density closed-cell foam. It features a tracking fin that can be raised out of the water that it folds into itself for storage.
One of just a few kayaks we tested with a tracking fin, the Tucktec's fin is impressively long, can be raised out of the water from your seat, and does a good job keeping you moving in the right direction. The hard exterior of this craft also helps it to glide through the water with minimal drag, though the gaping slot on the front of the bow is less elegant. As a fairly wide kayak for its length, the Tucktec provides decent balance, with a thick seat that gives you a higher vantage point than an average kayak. Though there's no hole to drain water, it's easy to dump excess H2O from the cockpit - when you're standing on land.
The low sides aren't ideal for anything more than calm waters, as large waves easily make their way over the side and into your boat. Though the Tucktec has decent balance with a single paddler, these low sides made us second guess having a dog on board. Our main tester didn't feel confident enough to risk bringing her 82 lb dog, though a smaller dog who's happy to stay calmly in the middle might be fine. It's not the right boat for choppy seas or even moderate waves, but if you keep this thing on calm waters, it handles surprisingly well!
The thick foam seat pad helps keep your bum comfy and happy while you paddle, though the lack of anything to rest your feet or brace your knees on can be a bit annoying over time. Its width and very open cockpit make it fairly easy to get in from the shore or a dock. However, if you fall out in the middle of the lake, you can pretty much forget about getting back in without going back to shore or having help. The sides of the boat are low, making it take on water very easily when you try to haul yourself out. We tried this repeatedly, even in only waist-deep waters, and every time the boat filled with water. Several times, once it was waterlogged, the bow or stern came unclipped, leading to a whole new set of issues, having to reassemble the craft while out on the lake!
The manufacturer claims a weight capacity of 350 lb and up to two people, but we're not confident this would really work. The cockpit is open but not large enough for two adults - maybe an adult and a child, but legroom is limited to having one person sit between another's legs. Also, there's only one seat, and its placement is not really adjustable. The strap holding the back of the seat allows for one placement only and no adjusting, though you can set the bottom of the seat wherever you want on the floor pad. This really only adjusts the angle of your seat so much and makes a minimal difference to the amount of legroom.
East of Set Up
Tucktec has very helpfully put together a great instructional video on how to assemble your kayak. Through several months of trial and error on our own model, we found this process to be much more challenging than it appeared, particularly getting the lever locks that fold up the sides into place. After letting our craft sit in the warm sun and heat up a bit, we were more easily able to fold it into place, but "easily" is very relative. The side creases are very small and challenging to fold tight enough - we often noticed the end of the bow or stern opening wide while we struggled with the lever locks on the sides, despite them being clamped closed. There's nothing that wraps around the end to keep them in place and so as soon as we started fussing with pushing on the sides of the kayak, the ends bowed outward to compensate, making it even more difficult to get it assembled.
Additionally, there are metal rivets in the plastic just a couple of inches from the clips for the lever locks that we found to be frequently in the way of sliding that clear plastic arm into the metal clip. The more we used this boat, the deeper that metal clip made grooves into the plastic lever, making it even more challenging to get it to slide easily into place. The cotter pins that come with this craft are also a bit too small and too flimsy to do much good, as the bow and stern clamps can unbuckle despite the clips being in place. A few times the buckle was even still buckled closed and the bow simply squeezed smaller than the location of the clip, letting the whole end fall open. We found ourselves frequently cursing to get this boat assembled. Once, we cut ourselves on the vessel's sharp plastic edges when the metal clip finally jumped into place.
Taking it apart proved to be much easier and we love that absolutely every piece of this package becomes the kayak, leaving no stray parts or carrying case behind on the beach. Some practice definitely helped us get better at the assembly of the Tucktec, but we would never call it "easy."
Tipping the scales at just 25 lb, the Tucktec is a lightweight boat for this type of kayak. An advertised capacity of 350 lbs and a completely open cockpit suggests loading it with gear and taking an epic journey in it, but our reservations about this craft's ability to handle choppy waters make us think it's better as a single person, casual kayak best kept closer to shore. A convenient shoulder carrying strap and the lack of needing a pump to inflate this boat helps it be quite manageable for one person to carry from the car to the beach. Yet we found the pad on the shoulder strap (made of the same thick foam as the side panels) to be too uncomfortable and scratchy on bare skin - a three-minute walk from the car actually rubbed one tester enough to leave a thin scab that lasted several weeks!
Constructed of high-density polyethylene thermoplastic, Tucktec claims their craft can "bend and fold over thousands of cycles without failure." While we didn't get a chance to use it thousands of times, our several months of testing gives us good faith that the plastic hull is up to the task of being folded and refolded repeatedly. We do have some concerns though with the attachment points for those clear lever lock arms. Because of the pressure required to bend the kayak and fold these arms into place during assembly, we noticed that around the levers' attachment points, several light-colored stress marks appeared. None of the four rivets tore or broke during our testing, but these areas continued to get lighter over time, leaving us with concerns that they wouldn't last as long as the rest of the folding hull.
Additionally, around the tenth time we packed this boat up, the velcro holding strap that clamps it all together broke. The plastic buckle, that's forced to take the pull of this plastic craft that badly wants to unroll, snapped in half. We were still able to use the velcro portion to hold it closed while Tucktec did the right thing and sent us a replacement strap. Due to the amount of stress put on this thin piece of plastic, we don't expect the replacement to last very long, either.
For just a fraction of the price of other folding kayaks, we were really stoked to try out the Tucktec. After spending some time playing with it, we think it performs about at its price level. You can save literally hundreds of dollars off by choosing this one over other foldable models. However, you're also giving up the diversity of waters your boat can handle, the ease of assembly, and durability. If you're after a compact boat to take short distances on calm waters, the Tucktec may be right for you, and you'll save some serious dough. But to be able to handle waves and chop - and not have your boat come apart at inopportune times - we think there are better options.
The Tucktec Foldable Kayak is an interesting model that's less expensive than other folding models and handles very well on calm waters. Though we think it's far from the easiest to assemble and don't recommend it for any long journeys or choppy water, it's a decently portable option for the casual paddle in serene waters.
— Maggie Brandenburg