Outdoors

Sub-six-pound kayak brings Tinkertoys to mind

Sub-six-pound kayak brings Tin...
The Justin Case kayak, ready to hit the water
The Justin Case kayak, ready to hit the water
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The Justin Case kayak's frame is made of a collection of carbon fiber poles, the ends of which the user inserts into a series of 3D-printed connectors
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The Justin Case kayak's frame is made of a collection of carbon fiber poles, the ends of which the user inserts into a series of 3D-printed connectors
The Justin Case kayak can reportedly be assembled in about 10 minutes
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The Justin Case kayak can reportedly be assembled in about 10 minutes
Te Justin Case kayak can carry over 250 lb (113 kg)
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Te Justin Case kayak can carry over 250 lb (113 kg)
When disassembled and stuffed in its pack, the Justin Case kayak measures no more than 40 inches long by 6 inches wide (102 x 15 cm)
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When disassembled and stuffed in its pack, the Justin Case kayak measures no more than 40 inches long by 6 inches wide (102 x 15 cm)
The Justin Case kayak, ready to hit the water
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The Justin Case kayak, ready to hit the water

Touring kayaks may offer a fantastic means of exploring your local waterways, although owners generally require things like a roof rack on their car, a large storage area, and a willingness to lug the boat around when on land – the things also aren't cheap. That's why Canadian outdoors enthusiast Inna Morgan invented the Justin Case kayak. It weighs only 5.7 lb (2.6 kg), and packs down into a shoulder bag when not in use.

"I love being outdoors but kayaking has always seemed off-limits – I didn't have the money or the transportation equipment to own one," Morgan tells us. "I wanted something that was more aligned with the millennial lifestyle – something portable, greener, smaller, more accessible. The initial frustration eventually evolved into a kayak I could throw in the back seat and bring with me on longer hikes."

The kayak's frame is made of a collection of carbon fiber poles, the ends of which the user inserts into a series of 3D-printed connectors. It's not unlike a giant version of Tinkertoys, really.

The Justin Case kayak's frame is made of a collection of carbon fiber poles, the ends of which the user inserts into a series of 3D-printed connectors
The Justin Case kayak's frame is made of a collection of carbon fiber poles, the ends of which the user inserts into a series of 3D-printed connectors

Once the frame is put together, a ripstop nylon skin is then pulled over it and secured with built-in closures. The whole assembly process is claimed to take about 10 minutes, with the boat being able to carry over 250 lb (113 kg).

When disassembled and stuffed in its pack, the kayak measures no more than 40 inches long by 6 inches wide (102 x 15 cm). This means that it can be stored in a closet, transported on a plane, or – as in Inna's case – thrown on a back seat and taken on a hike.

When disassembled and stuffed in its pack, the Justin Case kayak measures no more than 40 inches long by 6 inches wide (102 x 15 cm)
When disassembled and stuffed in its pack, the Justin Case kayak measures no more than 40 inches long by 6 inches wide (102 x 15 cm)

The Justin Case is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, where a pledge of CAD$690 (about US$530) will get you one, assuming it reaches production. The planned retail price is CAD$850 ($653). It can be seen in use, in the video below.

And no, it's not the only stow-and-go kayak out there. We've also recently seen models that partially inflate, fold like origami, and nest like a Russian doll.

Sources: Justin Case Kayak, Kickstarter

8 comments
sk8dad
This is a death trap. Unlike land-based sports, mediocre equipment on water present a much more immediate potential for death. The kite-like framing for this design essentially removes any possibility of self rescue and greatly increases the potential for entrapment. I estimate the boat to be on the order of 100 gallons. That mean the paddler would be dealing with a 835 lbs worth of floppy kayak should a capsize occur. The flat deck will not shed water thereby increasing the likelihood of swamping. At $530, it is nowhere considered cheap, and we haven't mentioned safety equipment. To think that the unwieldy nature of boat transportation and storage represents all that prevent entry to the sport of kayaking is simplistic and naive. Those contribute to only a small portion of the high barrier to entry for kayaking. Proper PFD, to keep you afloat long enough for a self rescue or to be rescued, proper clothing to keep you from hypothermia should you be in the cold water (as portrayed by the video) for more than a minute or two, and proper training to know not only how to control the vessel but to respond to emergencies and changes in environment are all factors that do not cross most non-paddlers' minds. Does the average backpacker know how to get back into a boat that is full of water quickly before his/her muscles seize up due to cold water shock? What about entrapment when a broken frame causes the boat to fold around you like a wet tangled coffin? Well, the saving grace is that the bright rip-stop nylon would certainly make recovery of the body easier. But seriously, I find it so typical of so many kickstarter campaigns that this developer wanted to make something that fit the "millennial lifestyle" implying that the thought to combine backpacking and paddling never occurred to anyone from any previous generation. Try taking a packrafting trip first. With each such poorly conceived invention (weird hanging or prone bikes for example) the notion that "being millennial" is simply code for lazy research by constantly reinventing the wheel without first acknowledging existing technologies or understanding their established usage models continues to solidify. A little more research beyond the first 10 hits off Google would certainly help. Maybe actually take some paddling lessons first? BTW, around twice a season, I find myself involved in some kind of rescue of unwary first time paddlers in inferior equipment who, even after being rescued, have no idea just how close they came to putting themselves or their loved ones on the fatality list.
Milton
very cool.
Bob
I have to agree with sk8dad, this thing will be a death trap to any inexperienced kayaker. To kayak alone, far from shore, and in cold water would be a tragedy waiting to happen. Self rescue is difficult enough with good equipment. At the very least this kayak should be equipped with flotation bags even near shore and in warm waters. An inflatable raft with the proper safety equipment would be a much better choice.
Brian M
Wow sk8dad is certainly right - An accident waiting to happen. Perhaps it might find a military use where a level of risk is acceptable, but for anyone else its just too dangerous. Having said that - could see using it for short hops across water, perhaps adding a light inflatable layer might improve its rigidity, but not for a beginner though! But a proper kayak is always the best option, for safety, ease of driving through the water etc.
liui
I have owned many inflatable kayaks. The thing I like about it is some are like a trimaran (flotation in the center and two tubes along the side) in terms of stability, but the biggest disadvantage would be air resistance. I have traveled recently with one to Los Cabos, but it was about the size of a suitcase. Next time for portability I will consider more of a paddle-board design with outriggers.
GeneMoore
so is that like sitting in the water on a sheet of nylon?? cold bum??
Nik
Nice idea, but needs more development. A frame that just folds, rather than separate pieces to identify and locate, would be a start. However, an inflatable version is infinitely simpler to 'assemble' and cheaper to manufacture, less likely to break, and likely to be superior in performance. It can also have sealed compartments that would ensure that the craft floats even when swamped. The inflated structure also provides a level of insulation from near freezing cold water.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
This design really needs composite tubing connectors. Also graphene from the other article.