Marine

Modular Backyak is a sled, kayak, sailboat and backpack in one

Modular Backyak is a sled, kay...
The Klepper Backyak is a portable, modular watercraft
The Klepper Backyak is a portable, modular watercraft
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The full-size kayak has two adult seats and a hatch for a child (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The full-size kayak has two adult seats and a hatch for a child (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Backyak at the 2015 Boot Düsseldorf show (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The Backyak at the 2015 Boot Düsseldorf show (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Backyak packed up and ready to trek (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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The Backyak packed up and ready to trek (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
Mount the harness and the Backyak is a large backpack (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
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Mount the harness and the Backyak is a large backpack (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)
The Backyak offers a total of five water and snow configurations
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The Backyak offers a total of five water and snow configurations
The Backyak gets some water time
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The Backyak gets some water time
The Backyak gets some water time
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The Backyak gets some water time
The "Fun" package creates two small kayaks in place of a larger single one
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The "Fun" package creates two small kayaks in place of a larger single one
On the water in the Backyak
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On the water in the Backyak
Paddling the "Relax" catamaran/swimming platform
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Paddling the "Relax" catamaran/swimming platform
All packed up and ready to hike
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All packed up and ready to hike
The standard two-person kayak also includes a hatch for one child
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The standard two-person kayak also includes a hatch for one child
The Backyak, an easier way to get to the water
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The Backyak, an easier way to get to the water
Paddling the Backyak
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Paddling the Backyak
The Sail package gives you a dual-hulled sailboat
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The Sail package gives you a dual-hulled sailboat
The Snow package turns the Backyak into a fully functional sled that can hike up the mountain on your back
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The Snow package turns the Backyak into a fully functional sled that can hike up the mountain on your back
After hiking to water's edge, the packs assemble into a kayak ... or two
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After hiking to water's edge, the packs assemble into a kayak ... or two
The Relax package is a lazy catamaran
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The Relax package is a lazy catamaran
The Klepper Backyak is a portable, modular watercraft
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The Klepper Backyak is a portable, modular watercraft
Sailing the open waters
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Sailing the open waters

Tucked away in one of the most distant corners of last week's Boot Düsseldorf show was one of the show's most interesting products: the ultra-versatile Klepper Backyak. As its name suggests, it's a kayak that can hike to water's edge on your back. But it's also a sailboat, a snow sled and a floating sun deck.

The carbon-constructed Backyak follows Klepper's century-old history of building folding kayaks for easy transport and storage. Only the Backyak doesn't fold; the six-piece vessel breaks down into two separate 22-lb (10-kg), drum-shaped backpacks that strap to the shoulders of two paddlers by way of the attachable harnesses. In this way, two paddlers can get the kayak to the water, no matter whether they're traveling by subcompact car, foot, bicycle or public transportation.

Not only is the Backyak far easier to transport than a standard single-piece kayak, it looks even easier than other modular designs like the Point 65 Tequila, thanks to the fact that it works as its own backpack.

All packed up and ready to hike
All packed up and ready to hike

The backpacks don't exactly look compact or nimble enough for long backpacking treks or bushwhacking to first-ever river runs, but they're certainly more convenient than a one-piece kayak for hiking to the water. The design could be useful for hiking to pristine water bodies that can only be reached by foot, creating multi-activity hiking/kayak trips, and plenty of other trips that would be uncomfortable or impossible with a full-size kayak.

The Backyak is not quite as light or agile as a packraft or Trekkayak, but it seems to strike a nice balance of familiar kayak structure and superior portability. Klepper says that the design offers enough stability for rivers, lakes and oceans, though it does recommend using air sponsons in rougher waters.

At the water, the Backyakers pull the two packs off and construct the 17.7-ft (5.4-m) kayak, which is sized for two adults and one child. With the addition of the end caps offered in Klepper's "Fun" package, the tandem kayak can be broken down into two 8.8-ft (2.7-m) single-adult kayaks.

The "Fun" package creates two small kayaks in place of a larger single one
The "Fun" package creates two small kayaks in place of a larger single one

The concept of a kayak-backpack hybrid is already a versatile one, but Klepper doesn't stop there. In addition to the single- and dual-kayak modes, Klepper offers the "Relax" configuration that transforms the two kayaks into hulls strapped together by a bathing platform. This design lets you paddle, float and sunbathe on calm water. Add the available sail, which constructs in about 15 minutes, and the Relax turns into the "Sail" catamaran sailboat.

With all the aforementioned add-ons, the Backyak has warm-weather water sports covered. If you want to give it life in the winter, you can make it an all-season vessel with the "Snow" package. This package turns the Backyak into a sled-for-two with a set of steerable front rails and a sharp sled nose.

The Snow package turns the Backyak into a fully functional sled that can hike up the mountain on your back
The Snow package turns the Backyak into a fully functional sled that can hike up the mountain on your back

Adding the extra equipment will increase the weight on your back, but all the components are designed to fit neatly inside the drum packs. The sail package is the heaviest, with each pack weighing 31 lb (14 kg).

The Backyak isn't a brand-new launch and has been around for about three years. Prices range from €5,000 ($5,650) for the basic single two-person kayak kit to €11,000 for the full five-configuration set-up. Klepper also offers other accessories like inflatable side sponsons, an electric motor and a rudder. The company told us that it is not shipping the Backyak at the moment due to manufacturing issues but plans to have shipping back up around April.

Source: Klepper

2 comments
Stan Sieler
Hmm...not one clear photo of it being worn as a backpack. The closest is the guy standing with it (perhaps) standing on the ground just behind him ... but that photo is hard to correlate with the one where he's opening the two cylinders. Call me suspicious ... but with 20 photos, couldn't they have had even one clearly showing it being worn on the back?
Tom Lee Mullins
It does not seem very compact. It looks awkward when on someones back. I can see it being transportable, but not in small car. Perhaps it can carried or transported in a small trailer? Even small cars can tow a small trailer. The price does not seem to small either. I do like the versatility of the design. It is not just a kayak but also a sled and floating sun platform.