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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 Skin boats in general have been around since the prehistoric ages, and were originally made with animal skins stretched over a wooden hull.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.
Learn how to roll a kayak from David Miller, Matador’s senior editor.