Camper Quest Part 4: Hello, TRAK Kayaks

I’m doing it. I’m joining one of the world’s oldest professions. No, not THAT one. The profession I’m talking about is called piloting. I’m pleased to announce I have been selected as a Pilot for TRAK Kayaks. “Pilot” is the moniker given to TRAK’s hand-picked product ambassadors.

TRAK describes the TRAK Pilot program like this:

Pilots are Adventurers first – a TRAK Pilot embodies the spirit of TRAK owners, who explore life not for the destination but for the experience of the journey itself.

 

Pilots are Paddlers – paddling the waterways of the world, whether exotic destinations or their own backyard, at home on the water and part of a growing global community of mobile paddling enthusiasts. We have TRAK Pilots that are beginner to intermediate paddlers, through to kayak guides and professional instructors.

 

Pilots are Free Agents – free of walls and ceilings, the way you feel on the water in a TRAK, free to flow – anytime, anywhere, anywater. Freedom is the foundation of the TRAK Pilot program, allowing the TRAK Pilot to bring their best to the program, and having it work well within their life.

For those not familiar with TRAK, it’s an 11-year-old Canadian company. They make and market a “folding” sea kayak that can be disassembled and packed into a suitcase. Here’s a link to TRAK’s history of their product.

This inflatable kayak is only $64.99 at KMart, if that’s what floats your boat.

TRAK is not alone in the folding and inflatable kayak marketplace. While other products may be fine for some paddlers, I’m not going to paddle some cheap pool toy. That’s why I chose TRAK. It’s an honest-to-god, high-performance, sea-worthy sea kayak.

Why I Want a Folding Kayak

If you’ve been following along here, you know my search for a portable kayak stems from our “camper quest” – the term I’ve given to finding the best RV that can transport our kayaks to new places. In my opinion, there’s no better way to fully experience a place than from the seat of a kayak. Kayakers know what I’m talking about. Mary and I want to explore the USA and Canada by land and water, so we need a good system for hauling kayaks on upcoming multiday and multiweek trips in an RV that we hope to purchase within the next year or so.

I began Camper Quest by concentrating on ways to carry traditional rigid sea kayaks. I discovered that manufacturers and do-it-yourselfers have developed some pretty ingenious solutions for carrying short kayaks (whitewater and recreational) on an RV. Here are a just a few:

Each of these systems has advantages and drawbacks. For us, the problem — or maybe I should say the “challenge” — is that these solutions aren’t designed for the type of open water kayaking we do, which requires longer sea kayaks (aka touring kayaks). You can’t stack 17-foot sea kayaks vertically at the end of an RV and expect kayaks and the RV to both remain intact in a strong wind or under a low underpass.

A vertical kayak rack puts a lot of stress on an RV hitch that may not be designed to handle it. Not a practical solution for long sea kayaks.

Some people strap sea kayaks horizontally on their RVs but that presents a different set of challenges. Most RV roofs are high. We’re talking nine feet, 11 feet, even higher.  If you do devise a way to hoist them up there, the roof itself may not be designed to carry the combined weight of two kayaks plus the rack. And even if you find the rare RV that can accommodate a kayak rack, and you find a way to get them on and off, installation may require drilling holes in the roof, which invites leaks and diminishes the RV’s resale value.

Pulling a kayak trailer behind a motorhome is certainly a viable option for some. But one of our objectives is to maximize maneuverability. I don’t like the idea of towing a kayak trailer because of potential dirt and damage to the kayaks. There’s also my concern that a kayak trailer is an additional mechanical device that could decide to self-destruct at the worst possible moment.

And by the way, I thought about buying a camper trailer and a pickup truck or SUV to pull it. The problem with that is that our garage is not big enough for a heavy-duty SUV or pickup, plus I would lose the everyday convenience of easily loading kayaks on top of my low-profile car for local day trips.

As we continued to check out different RV options – from camper trailers to motorhomes – I started thinking about the kayaks themselves. Instead of strapping them on top, what if there was a way to transport sea kayaks inside an RV?

Materials, workmanship, convenience and performance of TRAK Kayaks sets them apart.

And that’s what led me to TRAK, the kayak that best meets our performance + portability requirements. Since buying a TRAK in March, I’ve been testing, customizing the fit, getting used to how it handles, and practicing assembly and disassembly. In the video below I demonstrate assembling my TRAK kayak in just 39 seconds. But seriously, with practice, assembling a TRAK kayak can be done in as little as 10 minutes.

I’ll review more about TRAK and my learning curve in upcoming blog posts. I’ll also share big news from TRAK about a new version. The 2.0 will be lighter and pack even smaller than today’s kayak.

If you have questions or want to see and test paddle a TRAK Kayak for yourself, let me know. I’ll hook you up!

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