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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Tucktec Foldable Kayak
|Price||$350 List||$540 List|
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|$314.99 at Amazon||Check Price at REI|
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|$216.98 at Amazon|
|Pros||Lightweight, tracks and handles well, every piece becomes the boat, easy take down, liftable tracking fin||Handles well, high durability, fast, stable, fabric is water resistant||Complete package, doesn't soak up water, spacious, can paddle solo also||Extremely portable, maneuverable, stable, easy set up||Very inexpensive, everything included, low and stable|
|Cons||Difficult to fold when cold, very low probability of re-entering from the water, carry strap is rough, calm water only||Heavy, floor difficult to inflate, hard to drain||Small paddle blades, unimpressive attachments, materials less durable||Low durability, poor tracking, weight doesn’t include pump or paddle||Not durable, pump is inefficient, average portability|
|Bottom Line||A folding, portable option that's not the easiest to set up and doesn't handle rough waters gracefully||With excellent handling, a long lifespan, and great comfort, this kayak will go the distance||Everything you need to get out on the water with a friend or by yourself for a great price||Getting on the water miles from any roads has never been easier than with this extremely portable kayak||What it lacks in finesse and durability it makes up for with a shockingly low price tag and decent handling|
|Rating Categories||Tucktec Foldable Kayak||AdvancedFrame||Intex Excursion Pro K2||Advanced Elements P...||Intex Challenger K2|
|Ease Of Set Up (20%)|
|Specs||Tucktec Foldable Kayak||AdvancedFrame||Intex Excursion Pro K2||Advanced Elements P...||Intex Challenger K2|
|Measured Weight (boat and storage bag only)||25.0 lb||33.25 lb||34.6 lb||5.25 lb||27.5 lb|
|Capacity||Single; 350 lbs||Single; 300 lbs||Tandem; 400 lbs||Single; 250 lbs||Tandem; 400 lbs|
|Kayak Size (length x width)||9' 6" x 2' 7"||10' 3" x 2' 9"||12' 6" x 2' 8"||7' 6" x 2' 11"||11' 5" x 2' 11"|
|Packed Size (length x width x height)||48" x 15" x 6"||33" x 16" x 15"||26" x 19" x 19"||14" x 12" x 7"||28" x 18" x 12"|
|Included Accessories||Folding seat, foam rails with handles, tracking fin, shoulder strap||Repair kit||Paddles, pump, repair kit, GoPro/phone mount, fishing rod holders, and pressure gauge||Repair kit||Repair patches, pump and paddles|
|Material/Construction||1/8" high-density polyethylene thermoplastic||Aluminum ribs in bow & stern, PVC-coated polyester||3-ply PVC vinyl laminate with polyester core||Polyurethane-coated ripstop polyester||30-gauge PVC vinyl, I-beam floor|
|Features||Foam rails, seat, foldable design, moveable tracking fin||Adjustable backrest, bungees, pressure relief valve in floor, skeg||Adjustable backrest, drainage hole, foot braces, carry handles, fishing rod holders, phone/GoPro mount, skeg, tracking fin, converts to solo boat||Rubber-molded handle, mesh carry bag doubles as onboard storage, accessory D-rings||Bow & stern grablines, cargo net, skeg|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Tucktec is a single-person folding kayak with a 350-pound 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 and it folds into itself for storage.
One of just a few kayaks we tested with a tracking fin, the fin on the Tucktec 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 the 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 of the Tucktec aren't ideal for anything rowdier than calm waters, as large waves easily make their way over the sides and into the 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 80-pound dog, though a smaller dog who's happy to stay calmly in the middle might be fine. Bottom line: 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 will help 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. The wide and very open cockpit makes 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 back in. We tried this repeatedly, even in only waist-deep waters, and every time the boat filled with water. Once it was waterlogged, the bow or stern came unclipped several times, leading to a whole new set of issues, having to reassemble the craft while floating in the lake.
The manufacturer claims a weight capacity of 350 pounds 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 small 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 adjustable. The strap holding the back of the seat allows for one location only with no adjusting, though you can set the bottom of the seat wherever you want on the floor pad. However, 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 could more easily fold things 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 frequently be 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 still engaged, 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 this boat 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 pounds, the Tucktec is a lightweight boat for this type of kayak. An advertised capacity of 350 pounds and a completely open cockpit suggest 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 kept closer to shore. A convenient shoulder carrying strap and the lack of needing a pump to inflate this boat help 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 uncomfortable and scratchy on bare skin — a three-minute walk from the car 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 give 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 several light-colored stress marks appear around the levers' attachment points. 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 everything together broke. The plastic buckle that keeps everything from unrolling snapped in half. We could still use the velcro portion to hold it closed while Tucktec customer service 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. However, you're also giving up the diversity of waters your boat can handle, 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 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