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Image By: MiguelVieira

Chuck Corwin, a retired engineer from Idaho, spent ten years creating the world’s most portable kayak.

Corwin created a 12-foot, foldable kayak light enough to be packed into a backpack with room to spare for paddles, accesories, and lunch.

Weighing in at only 10 pounds, the Alice Boat assembles in less than 30 minutes for boating in any flat-water lake. For 100 dollars, Corwin will supply the design specifications; it takes nearly 300 hours and around $850 of materials to build the boat.

A traditional kayak. Image By: MiikaS

In Duckworks magazine, Corwin says that creating a truly lightweight boat requires some expensive but rigid building materials. With other commercially available foldable kayaks weighing in at around 17 to 23 pounds and costing an average of $650, building an Alice boat might be more expensive but is more portable as well. If a kayak is taking up too much space, the Tri-yak folds up into three pieces.

For the last 100 years, folding kayaks evolved from the patented Delphin, a bamboo framed boat with a sailcloth hull that weighed a cumbersome 30 pounds, to super-light carbon fiber frames with Hypalon coated fabrics. Skin boats in general have been around since the prehistoric ages, and were originally made with animal skins stretched over a wooden hull.

Although several DIY designs exist, many free and publicly-available, Corwin’s Alice boat is one of the few suitable for alpine touring. If I were more mechanically inclined, I’d gladly spend the 300 hours this winter to have a new boat to try out come spring. It would all be worth it to be able to yell “Go Go Gadget Kayak” while pulling this lightweight boat out of my backpack after a seven-mile hike.

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About The Author

Lindi Horton

Hailing from Austin, Lindi Horton is an intern at Matador Sports. Check out more of her writing on her website.

  • Jeff Bartlett

    Ummm, I love the idea, but I can’t see this being very popular.

    Alpacka rafts are much lighter (as little as 2kg) and can handle flat or white water. Granted, it might be a bit slower on a multi-day flat water paddles, but it fills the niche of portable boat at a similar price, without the labor and without the weight.

    check them out:

    On another note, I never seem to appreciate the Matador Sports articles compared to the other blogs :-P

    • Adam Roy

      I’ve seen the Alpacka rafts (I was actually looking at one last night) and I feel the same way. I guess a foldable kayak could theoretically run creeks that would be hard to descend by raft, but they’d have to get a lot more durable first.

      Sorry to hear you don’t appreciate Matador Sports, Jeff. Stick around, I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll like eventually.

  • Jeff Bartlett

    Hey Adam – its not that I don’t like the site. I just tend to find a few things that resonate the wrong way.

    This article is a great example. If this was a review it would be great, but its clear the writer hasn’t paddled it. If it was compared to other products, it would show reader’s their options for a portable boat. I just can’t help but think that this was written for little more reason than to promote the product cause its missing the key points that would make the article stronger.

    • Lindi

      Heya Jeff,
      I’m sorry you don’t like the piece. It was written as I thought it would be an interesting way for someone interested in a portable way to kayak after a long hike. I also admired the engineers passion and dedication to finding a solution for his unique experiences.

      Thanks for the feedback. I’ll sure consider it for the future.

  • Jeff Bartlett

    Hey Lindi. Don’t mind my comments. The article is interesting, but i was hoping for something different. By no means is that a judgment on Matador Sports or you as a writer.

    I wish the photo was one of the Alice boats so I could have a visual.

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