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PaddleWise Discussion on Feathercraft K-1

The following discussion occurred on the PaddleWise mailing list. All original comments are presented in their entirety. Some quoting of previous posts copied into subsequent replies are excluded from those replies to improve readability and reduce redundancy. Full archives may be retrieved by PaddleWise members from the PaddleWise digest by sending a message to with the word "index" included in the body of the message. These posts may not be reproduced or redistributed without the author's permission.

A big thanks to Reinhold Weber for organizing this PaddleWise Discussion on the K-1 for its inclusion on this web page.

Date: Sun, 07 Nov 1999 12:22:30 -0800
From: rdiaz
Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Feathercraft K 1

Hans Brandl wrote:
> I  recently purchased  one and I'd like to hear from owners as to their
> experiences, i.e. ease or suggestions of assembly, rolling  and paddling
> characteristics, behavior in quartering and following seas, etc.
> hb.

I am not an owner of a K-1 but I did review it within the last year or
so.  If you want a copy of the review email directly and I will send it
to you.  However, here are some nutshell answers to your questions:

1. Ease of assembly.  The new K-1 is infinitely easier to assemble than
the pre-1998 version.  A number of changes account for this:

a) the chine and gunwale stringers are pre-connected to the bow and
stern pieces.  The method used before (a pin going through holes in
these various long pieces) was tricky and could take a few minutes
especially if your hands are cold.

b) the new K-1 does away with the welded rib cage in the cockpit area. 
This was an extremely strong part of the boat, but you had to line up 4
bars at the same time with their mating points in the rib cage.  It was
easy to wedge one in a bit further than another and that would slow you
down in assembly.

c) the new deck material.  Polytech replaced cordura in 1998.  It is a
stable material, meaning it stays true in size through various
temperature and moisture ranges.  The cordura, for example, would shrink
in the heat of an apartment closet and be a devil to deal with in the
first assembly in springtime because of this (you had to wet the deck to
get the cordura stretchy again).

d) several other things too which I can't remember now.

2.  I don't roll but from what I have seen, the K-1 rolls easily.  If
anything the newer version should be a bit easier as it has an upswept
bow and makes the boat want to come back up again some.  However, I
think it is worthwhile pointing out that the K-1's stability is such
that it can weather lots of wakes and beam waves without tipping or
requiring much of a brace.  Anything can tip over, but the K-1 is more
stable than its cousin, the Khatsalano.  

3.Paddling characteristics.  The K-1 has always been a good tracking
boat.  I remember my first experience with one about 8 years ago.  It
tracked so much better than a number of hardshells that were around me
on various trips.  The new version of the K-1 seems to have kept that
tracking ability, perhaps a smidgen less so.  What is nice about the
newer version is that it can be put on its side a bit easier than the
older version...mind you I am talking about small degrees of difference
that I felt in the seat of my might have a different feeling
than I and much is subjective.  Quartering winds and seas. 
It is okay and I mean by that that it is no worse behaved than other
leading hardshell and folding kayaks.  A lot depends on your body
weight, paddling stroke, body english etc. ... some people are better at
keeping a boat going straight without a rudder than other paddlers.  It
depends on what you learned on... I learned on the Klepper Aerius I
which is poor in tracking and gets sucked into every kind of wind
direction.  So, I developed the non-conscious body english for that.  If
you want a good tracking comparable folding kayak that is almost
impervious to such quartering wind forces try the Nautiraid
Greenlander.  It is about the same dimensions as the K-1 (albeit a bit
wider by 2 or 3 inches).

Again, if you want to get an email version of the review email me
backchannel.  And, as always, I send it to you no strings attached.

ralph diaz

Date: Fri, 26 May 2000 08:20:32 -0400 (EDT) From: Mel Lammers Subject: [Paddlewise] Feathercraft K-1 Short note: 1. K-1 arrived in near perfect shape. Minor fabrication problem with the coaming in that the grove seemed to be a little large on the left side, allowing the rubber gasket piece to come out easily. I asked Feathercraft for advice on keeping it in place and they said "no problem, we are shipping you a new coaming which should arrive in a couple of weeks" (some paraphrasing here). It did and fits perfectly. They didn't even want the old one back. I am keeping it for a spare in case of accident in lugging the K-1 around the country in airplanes. 2. I have now assembled K-1 and compared it with assembly time for my K-Light (Hypalon version) and I really think I can beat my K-Light time. The new Seal Skin hull and deck are VERY good and the fit is just perfect. 3. I have paddled the K-1 4 times at 3-4 hrs each time in no wind, light wind with gusts, and one memorable 20-25 knot (first time out) blow on a small lake which whipped up some formidable waves. Each time was a joy. The K-1 tracks well without the rudder and (anti-rudder fanatics can stop reading here) in that stiff wind and when paddling a very twisting lake extension (read: river) going very slowlly, with rudder it is highly controllable. The rudder is easy to deploy or not from the cockpit and I think I will be a "mixed" rudder/ no-rudder user. With rudder, it turns in about the same way as K-Light but easier on the paddler. In high wind, the controllability was markedly increased. I will have to remember to keep the cables and assembly well Boeshield coated. 4. Since I am 6' 3" and around 200 lbs, the K-1 rides better and the new seat with inflatable lumbar section and form fitting seat section is very comfortable and customizable (on the fly, or Paddle). 5. The boat is very fast with little paddling effort. One friend here in the D/FW area who has a hardshell, was pretty tired after our 4 hr session and I was still fresh. (maybe the thrill of a new boat though) I went from "I can keep up, to having to worry if others could keep up with me." That is a new sensation. 6. If you are looking for a 16' 6" kayak which can be paddled anywhere, is easy to get there (even a high mountain lake if you can back pack 51 lbs), will be very dry (the new welded urethane covered nylon hull and deck is a superb piece of technology), be comfortable, not require learning how to roll to stay alive, and be the envy of all your kayaking friends , then you should try a Feathercraft K-1. I don't work for Feathercraft or sell kayaks but maybe I should <2nd grin> 7. The end since I am planning to write a full review after a couple of more months experience. =^..^= --Mel-- Mel Lammers Homepage:
Date: Fri, 26 May 2000 09:20:23 -0700 From: ralph diaz Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Feathercraft K-1 Congratulations on an insightful initial report. A few comments. Mel Lammers wrote: > 1. K-1 arrived in near perfect shape. Minor fabrication problem with the > coaming in that the grove seemed to be a little large on the left side, > allowing the rubber gasket piece to come out easily. The coamings that the company introduced around 1997 or 1998 are much stronger than the earlier ones and have not reported any breakage in air travel as far as I know. In any case, you can insure against any possibility by using pipe insulation (the kind sold in 6 ft sections at hardware stores that comes in tubes with a longitudinal slit meant to easy placement on a pipe but works equally well for the coaming). > 2. I have now assembled K-1 and compared it with assembly time for my > K-Light (Hypalon version) and I really think I can beat my K-Light > time. The new Seal Skin hull and deck are VERY good and the fit is > just perfect. You are reporting what I am beginning to hear from people, i.e. the new skin arrangement is easing assembly. The boat is so easy to keep on track and to lean turn that it is worth really working on getting the sit-of-pants feel and body english to avoid rudder usage. The boat doesn't need it. Don't forget that the seat is provided with side straps that make it a great substitute for a Crazy Creek chair while on land. At your weight, you were at the margin of use of the K-Light. It is better for a person under 180 or 190 although people of weight over that do quite well with the K-Light. The bigger sister to the K-1, the Khatsalano, is only about 4 or 5 percent faster top speed than than the K-1 and is considered one of the top half dozen production seakayaks (rigid or folding). So the K-1 is a speedy enough boat. I often argue with people that they would be better off with the K-1 than the Khats...but they don't listen :-) There is a folding 2 pound cart that is meant to fit on the kayak bag and works well for hauling the bagged boat on solid surfaces; and it also can be used to pull the assembled boat. I don't work for them either but having visited the factory, knowing some of the staff well, and seen the lifestyle up in the Northwest, I am often tempted to go knock on their door one day. ralph diaz --
From: "Jim Bielecki" Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Feathercraft K-1 - Assembly Times Date: Sun, 28 May 2000 13:49:10 -0400 > Thanks for the description of the K-1. I'm very interested in assembly > times. Any chance of providing a breakdown of how long it takes to unpack, > assemble with accessories, disassemble, pack away and clean? I find the > Klepper Aerius 1 takes about 20 minutes to unpack and assemble (including > floation bags), another 5 minutes to fit out with a pump, another 5 to fit > a rudder if conditions justify a rudder (which is seldom), and about 30 > minutes to dissassemble, dry the wood frame and pack away, with another 40 > minutes (spread over several days) for cleaning, drying and packing away > the skin on returning home. I've always found it pointless to try cleaning > the skin at the take out. > All the best, PeterO This surprises me. It takes me 20 minutes to assemble my Aerius II and a bit less than 15 minutes to disassemble, dry (wood) and stick back in my vehicle. I'll lay the hull out for 30 minutes or so when I get home which may not be for a day following my paddle. I've followed this procedure since 1990, when I purchased my boat new, and my hardshell buddies are always amazed on how the boat never seems to age. Outside of a couple of waxings during the summer, maintenance is minimal. The boat sees moderate-to-heavy use in the Great Lakes and the wood, fittings, etc. still look good. While not to disparage regular cleanings and maintenance, I've come to the conclusion that these things are darn near bulletproof and can get by with just a decent amount of upkeep. I also bought a used Aerius 2000 last year which requires about half the assembly/disassembly time than the A-II. Definitely the ticket if you want to get in and out of the water quick. Jim Bielecki
Date: Mon, 7 Aug 2000 19:46:42 -0500 From: "Mel Lammers" Subject: [Paddlewise] K-1 Nature1. Forgot the address. Tried both. 2. Follow-up on Feathercraft K-1 in Seal Skin (newest model) I have been paddling my K-1 since April. All that Feathercraft promises on their web site is true and more. My most startling discovery is the speed and ease of handling. I am 62 and have been kayaking for 18 months. I paddled canoes earlier in my life. I therefore had experience on the water by myself. I even have a K-light from Feathercraft which is a delightful craft but a tad small for a 6'3" 200lb paddler. Pretty much reached the maximum of performance with the K-light. (Ralph looks much more compact and trimmer than I and fits the K-light better I suspect). Anyhow, I have been paddling with other kayakers who have hardshells and we have occasionally become in inadvertant competition. No announcements, just hard paddling. I am the oldest by about 10 years min. and in one case 32 years. I not only keep up, I have been pushing them. Also, Ralph has consistently stated that in rough water the foldable has an advantage and boy is he right. We have several times paddled into 20 mph winds with complementary waves and I generally pull away. Both of my North Texas paddling companions have stated their amazment at the speed of the K-1. I am having the time of my life. Bottom line: If you enjoy paddling in smooth or rough water (not talking bad storms here) the K-1 will suit you well if you are from medium to large size. Even smaller persons fit and though a 51 lb boat might be a bit on the large size to carry around, it fits well into the range of most other kayaks. One caution, be prepared to pull away from your paddling companions. You will have to moderate your paddling to allow them to stay with you.:-) - --Mel-- =^..^=
Date: Mon, 7 Aug 2000 21:49:04 -0400 From: "David W. Quist" Subject: [Paddlewise] K-1 I too got a K-1 recently as a replacement for my old beloved hardshell which suffered an untimely demise while in storage. The maiden voyage was two weekends ago, on a lake in conditions ranging from glass to about 2 foot waves into a rain-driven headwind. The boat was a pleasure - moved well - easily as fast as my old hardshell, based on the continued good match of paddling pace with my hardshell-paddling buddy. I was also very pleasantly surprised with the extra "water sense" in the waves - a bit of a flex which would have a person panicking in a hardshell, but reassuringly absorbs a lot of energy and minimizes the "buck" a hardshell gives going into the waves. The one surprise, even in comparison to my demo, was how responsive the boat was on turns - without a rudder through a winding creek/wetland was a lot of fun - the boat tracked well but turned wonderfully, too. Having briefly paddled a K-light - well, I liked and was very impressed with that boat, but am really happy I ended up with the K-1. I'd also considered a Khats-S, but wasn't sure I was willing to live with the lower capacity (I could camp with it, but the K-1's a lot easier to do so - esp. to pack given the frame) and somewhat extra skittishness. No doubt I'd have grown into it, but I think I'll feel a lot easier when it comes time to debut the boat in NY harbor. Maybe I'll be ready for swim escort duty by then, Ralph! I won't deny having a good case of sticker shock when it came time to seriously consider the foldable, but the combination of storage options (I'm another apartment person), impressive, elegant, engineering, the company's reputation for service, and the general quality and performance of the boat all made that a lot easier to live with. Besides, it's a long term investment and it leaves open travel/paddling options I would never have otherwise.
Date: Tue, 08 Aug 2000 00:35:52 -0700 From: ralph diaz Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] K-1 What Mel Lammers and David Quist say about the K-1 is echoed by other people I have seen with the boat especially heftier paddlers. The K-1 has always been a pretty good boat but in 1998 Feathercraft vastly improved it by marrying it to portions of the Khats design. The boat was lengthened by half a foot, the cockpit was made smaller and the bow was given a shape resembling the Khats. If I take a side glance at one of them I often mistake it for the Khats until I check off some of the telltales in my head that I know are different. Assembly was also greatly eased in 1998. I know some paddlers of the older model feel that its welded center ribcage was stronger and better but it did complicate assembly as did operations you had to do at the bow and stern. I know paddlers who get wet dreams thinking of the Khats but I think many of them would be better off thinking in terms of the K-1 if the Feathercraft is what they want. Again, the very positive experiences that Mel and David have with the K-1 comes as no surprise. It is a lot of money. But if you compare it to a very top of the line hardshell, which is the fair comparison, the differential in price is in the $1,200 range. What you get is a top performance boat you can take any where with you that represents zero sacrifice on the water when you get there. Skins are likely good for 25 years and frames should last longer than that. Pro-rate the hefty $4k over even 20 years and it ain't so much of a bite. And you can always sell it and get top-dollar on the re-sale. Let's see. Mel and David, do I have your current addresses to send a payola check to? :-) ralph diaz ---
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