08-01-2007Submitted by: redfeather1
Reviews for Kahuna Kayak by Feathercraft
Based On: 21 Reviews
- Rating: 10 of 10 I have an early Kahuna - bought in 2000 when they were first introduced. I paddle in demanding, cold water conditions in Alaska and have found my Kahuna to always be up the task, and a joy to paddle.
I have the full set-up - both fore and aft hatches and the FC rudder. The rudder provides an extra measure of stability and control in challenging conditions, but most of the time I paddle with it flipped up onto the deck. The boat has been very durable and shows little wear despite how much use it has gotten, mostly in salt water, being dragged on sharp rocky beaches. I couldn't say the same for either my previous two boats - one fiberglass and one rotomolded.
For smaller paddlers (I am 5'6" 150 lb woman) it is easy to cartop, and a dream fit. The sea sock takes a little getting used to, but I find that I really like it. Best of all... I can take it with me on an airplane - both scheduled airline and bush plane and get to amazing destinations. Having my own boat and not having to deal with a rental is worth every penny I paid for the Kahuna.
If you are looking to buy a used Kahuna, you should.
02-13-2007Submitted by: WHP
- Rating: 10 of 10 Just to add to previous reviews...the Kahuna is a wonderful and versatile boat. When empty it surfs very well and turns on a wave face better than most sea kayaks, except possibly, a Mariner Coaster. As mentioned below, it makes a good play boat!
Weather cocking can be minimized by placing more weight in the stern so consider this when packing. I spent two weeks paddling the Quintana Roo coast in steady 20+ knot crosswinds and, once I properly arranged my gear, I had little issue with weathercocking. (Remember that moving a seat fore or aft can have a major influence on tracking/turning/weathercocking as you pack.)
I have had some difficulty getting the keel line of the skin to line up with the keel of the frame (on three different boats). It requires a bit of wrestling before final tensioning of the keel bar and inflation of the sponsons.
Also, the old style, one piece glass coaming can be challenging but inserting the front and back before the sides seems to work the best from my experience.
The boat is quite comfortable with the inflatable "expedition seat" and holds a surprising amount of gear. I have packed it with gear for trips along the Mexican/Carribean coast, the Maine Island Trail, Florida Keys, many Florida rivers and once I got my system down I found I would have extra space available.
I have also spent some time in high winds and surf. Skin-on-frame has a totally different feel than glass. I usually paddle my Coaster in storm conditions and surf but occasionally use the Kahuna and it handles rough conditions well without the slapping and pounding. The hull flexes and absorbs much of the impact, dampening the power of the sea. It is a beautiful, poetic feeling and easy to get used to.
I also use it to fly fish...sit on the deck behind the cockpit (on a cushion or PFD), dangle legs over the side for boat control and cast into mangroves for snapper and snook, or shuffle across flats for reds. Too much fun!
They are great for the apartment dweller with little space for a hardshell boat and it is wonderful to drive down the interstate with your boat INSIDE your car!
01-12-2006Submitted by: kchan
- Rating: 10 of 10 When I first bought my Kahuna, I want to get folding kayak that I can paddle with a local paddle group. I bought my Kahuna October 2004 used. I paddle about 4-5 times last year but this year, I paddle about twice per week since April. Kahuna is a great general purpose folding kayak.
It takes me about 20-25 minutes to put my Kahuna together but I spent easily 40+ minutes in the beginning. It takes some practice and efforts. I learn that I can sit in the cockpit and push the bow and stern part of the frame to the position using my foot. I found the stern crossrib to be difficult because the skin is very tight and it is hard to snap into position. It took me few months just to get familiar with this process and be able to install it correctly every time. You need to follow exactly what the instruction say. Also, extending keel, chine and gunwale bars needs practice. You need to make sure two black blocks line up nicely so that you will be able to extend the bars the first time. You can also stand in between the cockpit, turn the kayak side with the bow in front of you when extending the gunwale bars. You may purchase a kneel pad or foam pad to protect your kneel. To disassemble the stern crossrib, I learn that putting my foot behind the stern crossrib, then pull up the cross rib. The rest are pretty easy.
Kahuna is fast and you can keep up with 16-17 feet sea kayak in most of the conditions (except top speed). It is also a very stable kayak and it is not easy to capsize. The only situation that a Kahuna perform less is surfing or paddling against 15+ mph against head wind. Under these situations, you really cannot keep up with 17 ft kayaks. Kahuna does fine with cross wind with a skeg. If someone paddles in mostly calm, even in 10-15 miles wind with some white caps, in other words, 98% of paddling, Kahuna can keep up with most sea kayaks. From my experience, I paddle on average 4-4.5mph (GPS verified) and top speed is never beyond 6mph (more like 5.6mph). I paddle very comfortable at 3.5-4.0mph.
I try to roll my Kahuna and it is not an easy boat to roll. You need to get the rolling rib and the bracing bars from Feathercraft. Without the bracing bar, I come out from my kayak several times once I capsize. One of my good friends rolls my Kahuna at our local pool session. He was able to roll it 6-7 times. It was quite a show. I also heard that someone name Dubside roll with his modified Kahuna and won a competition in Greenland. So it is possible to roll a Kahuna, and it is possible to roll extremely well on it but it is not for everyone.
The rolling stern rib is lower than the regular one by 1-2 inches. It does make your stern deck skin less tight. The Kahuna looks quite different when rolling rib is used. In fact, it is almost a different kayak. It does look like those Greenland Skin on Frame kayaks. You can also use the rolling rib on a windy day, so it has less wind effect on the kayak.
I would not consider myself as a careful paddler. I drag the boat on sand beaches and hit some rocks while paddling. It is true there are some marks on the skin but that’s about it. I think the skin will last very long. If you have any questions, you can either contact Feathercraft directly and you can also contact Folding Kayak Adventure (a Feathercraft dealer in US). They are all very knowledgeable and helpful.
07-27-2005Submitted by: Ceric
- Rating: 9 of 10 My Kahuna is a 2003 model with 2 hatches, rudder and one piece coaming. I am about 5’10” 150 lbs. I rate myself as an intermediate paddler. My paddling haunts are mainly in Wisconsin lakes and the Green Bay/Lake Michigan area. I have categorized my review based on several criteria below:
This is a nice performing boat for a 14' 9" boat with a 25” beam. I find the skin to be both tight-fitting and watertight. The boat moves through the water very well and is easy to paddle at a decent pace. I find my top (short burst) speed to be 4.5 mph, with a relaxed cruising speed of 2.5 - 3.0 mph. I have yet to paddle with hardshells, so I can’t make a comparison of performance between the Kahuna and hardshells yet.
The Kahuna performs well in chop, but it is a wet ride- The front hatch in particular deflects spray straight into my face when heading directly into the wind in rough conditions. However, I can stay upright with hip action in 3-4 ft. chop by concentrating on balance, and I rarely have a need for bracing.
The boat doesn’t surf especially well and has a tendency to broach on a wave, but most sea kayaks do this, so this boat is not unusual in this regard. I plan to buy the strap-on skeg and see if that helps. In calm water the boat tracks very well, without the need for a rudder. In windy conditions the boat does weathercock quite a bit when it’s unloaded. The rudder minimizes this problem nicely. Again, we’ll see if the skeg fixes this problem also.
I don’t prefer the rudder because it is difficult to operate through the sea sock, which I always use for safety. The boat turns easily with a few sweep strokes. The cockpit is narrow enough to make it familiar to any hardshell owner, but spacious enough that you can move around in it a bit. The sponsons make deep sculling a chore, at best. There is a point of no return when you put the boat on its side, so a good slap brace is a more appropriate tool to have in your quiver than a sculling. However, in most conditions it won’t be necessary to use deep sculling, again because of the sponsons! Other paddle strokes are no problem.
I am able to get back into this boat fairly easily under average conditions. I just do a cowboy re-entry. I haven’t tried to roll it, but I imagine the sponsons would make it challenging to do well if the boat is unloaded, which is how I paddle the boat most of the time.
This is a high quality boat. It looks, and is, very cool. The seams are watertight and the workmanship is excellent (these are hand-made boats). The boat is able to take a lot of abuse both on the water and on the beach. The hatches help with assembly and are well designed. As kayaks go, this is a very comfortable boat. The inflatable, adjustable seat combined with the soft skin is fantastic, making the boat much, much more comfortable than a hardshell during a long paddle. The cockpit coaming is a one piece fiberglass unit and works very well- I have not had the skin pop out during any kind of paddling.
My one gripe is the foot pegs. They tend to rotate down toward the center of the boat and I have to lift them up with my feet every so often, which is annoying, especially through the sea sock. Ralph Diaz has a couple of solutions for it in his book “Complete Folding Kayaker”, but I haven’t tried them yet. The footpegs are, however, very solid otherwise when screwed down tightly, and provide a good brace for your feet (when rotated back up).
Feathercraft is very good with customer support and looks like it will be around for a long time. It appears to be a quality company overall.
The boat packs down into a very large suitcase-sized bag. It has backpack straps, but I cannot walk much farther than a couple hundred feet with it on my back, as it is an awkward carry. I think this boat is fine for car/bus/air travel, but I wouldn’t want to bike with it on my back! However, it fits easily into my closet with lots of room to spare, and I love that I can carry it safely inside my car and never have to put it on the roof. I can carry this boat in ANY car without a problem, which greatly enhances my ability to take it anywhere I want. In the winter, it stays safe inside.
This depends. If I do everything right and don’t forget a step, I can assemble it in as fast as 30 minutes (without the rudder installation) at normal speed. I suppose one could speed-assemble it in 20-25 minutes. Typically though, it takes me about 40 minutes because I am careful to assemble it properly. My first assembly took almost two hours! However, when you get used to the assembly steps, everything gets easier, even the two center crossribs.
06-09-2005Submitted by: DK
This is a quality boat that does what it was designed for very well: taking day trips and weekend trips with fold-ability thrown in for greater versatility. The shorter length is great for small bodies of water but still long enough for coastal paddling or island hopping. It is an all-around boat for many different conditions, which is why I bought it. I have not been disappointed at all with my purchase, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to paddle protected coastlines or other smaller bodies of water.
- Rating: 9 of 10 I read the other reviews and just had a couple of comments to add. I have found that I use the rudder almost all the time to minimize the weather cocking which I find to be quite a problem. This may be because I generally paddle in wind and swell. Also, I usually have the boat relatively empty and am fairly light (125).
I find the boat does not edge as well as a hard-shell but makes up for it by being quite easy to maneuver with paddle strokes.
It is a very comfortable boat if you are tall. A great camping boat as there is lots of room for gear. Set-up seemed like a snap to me but then again, I used to own a folboat. :-)
10-14-2004Submitted by: JGS
- Rating: 10 of 10 I rate this boat as a 10 for the total ownership experience. First, the ordering process; I did everything with FC through the Internet using emails. I must have exchanged 10 emails asking several questions. At the end, I called them for credit card info. Second, the waiting; I asked them to guarantee a delivery date 'cause I was going on vacation. The boat arrived 2 days before the promised date. Third, the assembly; Assembled the boat the same night I got it. It took a while but got it right. All parts fit nicely together. No misfit or misalignment, just an amazing piece of engineering. Fourth, the maiden voyage; When on Lake Ontario, the next night, it was a fabulous ride and fun. I car top the boat, no problem. Fifth, the long term enjoyment; I've paddled the boat close to twenty times in 6-7 weeks, logged close to 60 hours. The boat handles well, very stable. I find I can train safely with it even in 4-5 feet waves and 25+ kt winds. Sixth, the conclusion; You can't go wrong. As Ralph Diaz mentions in is book, this boat could be the best all-around folding boat due to its size, ease of use, stability, etc. It is fast enough.
10-03-2004Submitted by: janodes
- Rating: 10 of 10 I purchased my Big Kahuna three years ago July and have flown with it to Baja 3 times, Lake Powell, Caya Costa Fla., the Exumas, and just got back from a Gulf Islands BC trip. The reason I am writing this review, aside from agreeing with everyone else on what a great boat this is, is to bring attention to the change in airline weight/size regulations. On my return flight from Florida the airline check in person informed me my bags were overweight saying 50lbs per bag was max on domestic flights but because I had purchased my ticket before this had gone into effect she wouldn't charge me the $100 fee. Ok, so I'll only fly out of the US from now on I said. I went to Baja and the Bahamas earlier this year with 2-70lb bags without problem. [bag one is all boat, PFD, 2 paddles, pump, sail, etc, bag two is camping gear, shorty wetsuit, fins and snorkel, etc]
I called Frontier about ten days before flying to Vancouver Island to make sure I'd still make weight restrictions on a flight leaving the US. Maybe Canada doesn't count as outside the US but max weight was 2-50lb bags with an overall dimension of 63". That left me scrambling to light my gear by 40lbs!
One of the reasons I like kayak camping is that I didn't have to be as weight consious as backpacking, that is til now. Which brings me to why I'm heaping more praise on the Big Kahuna.
I left the PFD in [to pad the rudder] took out all other non Feathercraft parts and the footpegs and made the 50lb limit. Last year I was lusting for a K1 in the bigger must be better mode, I have forgotten about that thanks to the airlines! But am very grateful for my Kahuna [Fiona] and all the beautiful places she has carried me. If you'll excuse me I need to go drill some holes in my toothbrush!
09-02-2004Submitted by: capsized_Thomas
- Rating: 8 of 10 I have owned my FC big Kahuna for over a year now. I paddle 2-3 times a week in SF bay and the coast along nor cal. I am 6'3" 175# paddler, have been paddling for 10 years or so. I am not nice to this boat. I pack it wet (all the time), I drag it loaded along beaches, I take it in rock gardens and have slammed it into the side of a large barnacle encrusted rock while riding a wave broached. I paddle in tide rips, osean sweel as well as flat water, in winds to 25 knots. The boat has handled all my abuse, and seems no worse for the wear (with the exception of a long scrape on the deck of the boat, results of an X rescue when I paddled without a seasock, and the coaming came loose [I made an error building the boat])
I really like my boat. Once I was able to get my roll reliable in it (which was a function of simple slowing down my sweep roll), deep sculling and high braces were not difficult. It weathercocks somewhat (as all good boats should) but a bit of edging/leaning I find my self rarley using the rudder. I am usually in the front of the pack when paddling with hardshells and find it very fast in following seas.
What I don't like: when using the rudder, there is no mechanism to keep the peddles forward - I have to make sure my feet find them when reentering after a wet exit. The loose fit makes a roll and re-enter extremely difficult (but a cowboy scramble is easy...). The sponsons need to be topped up after 15 minutes or so of paddling on the cold water (same with other folders I have used). I find the seasock (all sea socks) a bit uncomfortable.
Should you decide to get this boat, I would strongly suggest getting the hipfit kit to help with boat contact. The upgraded seasock if you plan to roll (less water in the boat), and the hatches if you plan to do any camping out of it. Also plan on having groups of people watching you assemble the boat, asking inane questions ;)
06-09-2004Submitted by: Jim
- Rating: 10 of 10 Just another note about the feathercraft backpack for the kahuna. I purchased a Jansport Klamath 78 internal frame backpack and it works perfectly! Perhaps Feathercraft should see about using Jansport packs; since they are relatively inexpensive and extremely well-fitted. It will only improve upon their well known superiority in the folding kayak market.
06-01-2004Submitted by: ---
- Rating: 10 of 10 I have a 2003 Feathercraft Kahuna with the expedition package.
MATERIALS: The deck is made of polytech and the hull is duratek. The deck is welded to the hull in a 100% waterproof fashion. Absolutely no water leaks into the kayak (through the deck or hull) when paddling. The deck and hull material is dimensionally stable; meaning it will not shrink or stretch. This make assembly alot easier than with kayaks who have skins that stretch or shrink. It is amazing how strong the deck and hull material is.
PADDLING: Paddling this kayak brings more confidence to me than when I paddled a hardshell. The kayak isn't beat by waves, rather it flows with them. Very nice is rougher conditions. The inflatable sponsons on the insides of the kayak also add to it's stability as well as tightening the skin over the frame. I have yet to need the rudder; as it tracks very straight.
ASSEMBLY: Assembly is rather straight forward; expect about 1 1/2 hours + the FIRST time you do it. Afterward, expect about 40 minutes thereafter. I take longer because I am very exacting and take my time during assembly. It also takes longer because I have the expedition package with 2 hatches, and a rudder. The only part that seems to be a pain is the large stern crossrib; you have to work at getting it in place without being too forceful. I don't like to force anything too much. To me, the cockpit coaming is very easy to put together. I find that you can put the frame into the skin and it not be perfectly aligned. I suggest that you insert the bow frame assembly into the skin, then sit in the cockpit and use your feet to push the frame snugly into the bow while eyeballing it for exact alignment. I also make sure the clips on the deck bungee cords face away from the beautiful deck; as the clips may scratch the deck. If you get the expedition package, use the bow hatch to access your rudder controls to adjust them; its alot easier than reaching through the cockpit. I would like to find a way to place a plastic/rubber tube over the exposed rudder cable - a rubber tube only partially covers this cable's length in the cockpit. I'd hate to see the cable saw into a crossrib or frame piece over the years. I apply Boshield T-9 to the joints of the frame; it protects from water and salt-water very well.
HATCHES: The hatches each have a coaming similar to the cockpit. I use spring-loaded gripping jaws (find them anywhere) to hold the skin on one edge of the coaming while I stretch the rest of the skin over the other parts of the coaming. Its like having an extra pair of hands and makes assembly much easier.
OTHER: I highly recommend purchasing the inflatable Hip braces - makes rolling alot easier. The kayak comes with a bow and stern inflatable float bags - very nice; I always use them. I also recommend using your sea sock at all times. Keeps your kayak from completely flooding, keeps splash out of the kayak, and (what I like) is that it keeps sand and dirt from accumulating inside.
BACKPACK: The backpack is huge; however the shoulder harness assembly is rather poor. It always slips, which throws the weight off of your center of gravity. It has gotten to the point to where I am searching for a Jansport backpack that all of this could fit into. The backpack is just so huge and unweildy; it is not kept at your center of gravity - it has the feel of a poorly designed military pack with too much stuff in it. If you want to cart it around on wheels, then its a good pack. When packing, I keep the frame separated from the skin by placing them into the sea sock.
CONCLUSION: Practice will make assembly alot easier. It assembles rather straight forward, but he instructions can be too brief at times - too abbreviated. The assembly video fixes this shortcoming. The materials are the best of any folding kayak - totally water proof and dimensionally stable. UV/fade resistant too! Paddling this kayak is a dream, though inflatable hip braces helps with rolling. Backpack suspension system needs to be redesigned. I highly recommned this kayak!
02-02-2004Submitted by: F Davis
- Rating: 9 of 10 I have paddled this boat for 3 years. Assembly is reasonably easy (be sure to watch the video and study the manual the first time). I appreciate the extras that Feathercraft provides, such as Sea Sock, spray skirt, backpack, and repair kit. The assembled boat is an easy carry to the water. Once under way, I find it glides along ok up to about 4 mph. Not a good choice for speed sprints, etc. Initial stability is fine, for example my wife likes paddling the boat too, and she is a pure beginner to kayaks. Secondary stability is ok, but with the fairly wide beam (relative to my other sea kayaks), once you pass the critical point, things happen quickly. I have been able to roll it a few times, but it would need some sort of thigh or knee brace arrangement for me to be consistent.
Quality of construction is great, showing only moderate wear so far. Again, pay close attention to how to assemble it to avoid unneccessary wear on the parts.
Orginally I typed in an "7" for the paddling experience itself in this boat, but when I thought about the quality of materials and construction, and the extras that Feathercraft provides, I bumped it up to "9".
And not to knock another manufacturer, but the Kahuna gets used a LOT more than my Klepper Aerius.
05-22-2003Submitted by: ---
- Rating: 10 of 10 This is my 3rd year with the "Big" Kahuna and I am always impressed by its stability and quality. Everyone's review statements match my own feelings and I too see the only real improvement that could be made is a permanent means of attaching the coaming. I have strapped a "Scotty" Pontoon Boat fishing rod holder to the boat and find it working well, although I do not know how the kahuna will react being hauled around from below. I also have not tried camping yet, but want to and also purchased all options except the rudder. Weathercocking is something I believe all kayaks do and paddling skills are what is required to keep pointed in the right direction. I also keep the kayak assembled and transport it on a regular Yakima Roof Rack. I guess I love the boat and it is hanging from the ceiling of my kitchen by togles and web straps. It's sort of neat to have a kayak in your kitchen. Go buy one. The company is great and so are thier products.
05-19-2003Submitted by: paul harvey
- Rating: 10 of 10 My partner and I purchased a pair of kahunas last september, we took them straight to the west Scottish coast, after spending an interesting night of trial assembly in the stirling travel lodge. First crack took about 2 hours, but then we hadnt been able to watch the assembly video, so we were only guessingat what went where. Next day we headed out along the "Road to the Isles", we found a camp site right on the beach at Arisaig got the boats out and assembled in about 30 minutes, once you what goes where they are a piece of piss to assemble. Then we were off, straight out into the Atlantic, happily paddling out to sea. This is probably the best, and worst point, about the kahuna they are so well made,and so stable,that the imediate sensation of paddling one,is to be overwhelmed by a feeling of absolute security. I am not a great paddler you can even call me a novice and I would`nt disagree with you. I have paddled rivers up to grade three, but then only by luck not skill did I make it through, but put me in my kahuna, tell we're going and i will confidently paddle out into whatever sea state is running,knowing that the kahuna is more than a match for the sea the weak point being my own skill.
The kahuna does weather cock,but not a lot.and how many 14 1/2" kayaks don't? You can correct just by altering your seating position,and or decentering your paddle grip,keep low,keep the paddle low,avoid the wind,dont stack the deck with to much kit, I promise you will manage the weather cocking.
About the coaming,as I said before we bought two kahunas, and on one we found that the coaming was a v tight fit.I had trouble fitting the rubber even with rock climbers thumbs, so i emailed feather craft, who asked me to tell them how many identification marks (bumps) were inside the front section of the coaming channel they said okay and sent me a replacement direct to me in london,at there own expense no quibbling,or whinning,they just wanted the boats, and our enjoyment of them to unquestionable. These people truely believe in their products and are willing to stand by them. For them to have been any friendlier we would have had too have been been related. The new coaming made all the difference. The Kahuna really is the the perfect combination of quality,ingenius design,and ascetic design,matched with total reliability,and bombproof construction.
Why cant everthing be so well made and well considered? suffice to say we had a totally enthralling 2 weeks paddling the north west scottish coastline in perfect weather and calm seas and also in foul weather and rougher seas than i ever thought i would paddle in the only thing that scared me was my own lack of ability. The kahuna holds no terrors for any one who paddles one. Buy one today.If I could take on the franchise to sell Feathercraft kayaks in the south of England I would give up my job and do it tommorow.
thanks for reading my thoughts if i could fault the kahuna i would i cant. get the deck hatches get the flotation bags get a quality paddle from lendal or werner get a throw line and get a pdf get out on the water and be prepared to have more fun than its decent for one person to have whilst paddling themselves.
Paul "still grinning like a 12 year old at his fisrt school disco" Harvey
03-10-2003Submitted by: ---
- Rating: 9 of 10 I've had a "Big" Kahuna for almost a year and have used it about 30-times under a variety of conditions. My only previous boat was a K-Light Plus, so I'm not qualified to comment on the folding vs. hard-shell issues. That said, I'm extremely satisfied with this boat. I find it completely stable and comfortable in ocean swells, wake waves and wind-chop. I have had no problem keeping up with the hard-shells I've paddles with. I purchased the boat without hatches or rudder. The Kahuna definitely weathercocks, but it is easily controlled through edging and rudder-strokes.
The assembly is frustrating at first, but with practice I have found that it can be consistently accomplished in 30 minutes or less. The key is to concentrate so as not to skip a step. The more the boat is used the easier it becomes to assemble. I have found service and support from Feathercraft to be outstanding. I cracked the cockpit combing and bent the pin on one of the deck bars while levering the keel. In both cases Feathercraft replaced the parts promptly with no questions asked. (And they were friendly!!!)
The one criticism I have of the design is the lack of fasteners to secure the skin to the cockpit combing. (Hence the "9" rating.) I have found that the skin often pops out of the cockpit combing during paddling no matter how tightly it is secured during assembly. I hope Feathercraft comes up with a fix or retrofit to this problem.
I have purchased and would strongly recommend the upgraded sea-sock and spray skirt as well as the touring seat. Recently I have also added the hip-fit kit as well and have found it to be of great help in providing more contact and leverage for hip-snapping, edging and leaning.
Although the assembly is a bit of a pain, the flexibility more than compensates. I store this boat in a small NYC apartment and have the possibility of using public transportation. If one considers the time spent driving to a storage location, mounting and dis-mounting a hard-shell, the added assembly-time of the Kahuna becomes less of an issue. Not having to return to the original put-in also opens up new paddling possibilities. I have flown with the boat as checked-baggage twice without damage or additional charges.
All things considered, I am a very happy customer and would not hesitate to recommend this boat.
01-09-2003Submitted by: Jim
- Rating: 10 of 10 I tried out many brands of folding kayaks, and chose the Feathercraft kahuna (with the regular size cockpit). I purchased the optional bow and stern hatches and rudder. The color is teal. I'll first talk about the deck's construction. Unlike cordura or other materials that are most often used by other manufacturers (and was previously used by Feathercraft), the deck is now made of Polytech which is 100% waterproof. A fabric texture is embossed into the Polytech deck, which gives the finish a fabric material look and feel. It fooled me! I had no idea that the fabric-look was embossed, but I'm not complaining! What I like about Polytech is that it does NOT stretch or shrink according to how wet or dry it is; unlike other material types. This means that putting the kayak together is no longer a hassle due to its frame having to fit into a too loose or too tight skin. As Feathercraft put it, "The fabric is completely waterproof and dimensionally stable." Unlike other materials, the inside of the kayak's skin stays dry; moisture does not weep through. Another thing, since the deck is made of Polytech, it dries amazingly fast. So you no longer have to wait forever for the kayak to dry before storing it folded. Unlike the other cordura kayaks, I have yet to experience the foul/moldy smell indicative of a kayak that needs a serious bath! All the seams are welded; there is no sewing or stitches to worry about (except at cockpit coaming). So the seams are also 100% waterproof. The deck is welded to the hull in a bomb-proof fashion, and these seams are also 100% waterproof. The hull is extremely durable and abrasion resistant. Just in case, the hull has extra rub strips installed over the keel and chine bars; which is standard. The Kahuna looks like a hardbody kayak, it is very sharp looking. There is no sagging of the deck or hull. I have no fear of the deck or hull getting torn or punctured with normal use. I do avoid mussel beds like the plague though; I even did when I owned a hardbodied kayak. I like the hatches, they help me assemble the kayak, since I have extra places to reach into for assembly. The first time I assembled my Kahuna it took me about an hour and 15 minutes. Now it takes me about 30 minutes. I could do it in about 25 minutes but I lubricate all joints with Bio-Shield T-9 and am very detailed oriented. After you assemble the Kahuna about 5-6 times, you can do it in your sleep. Unlike the K1 Expedition, the cross ribs of the Kahuna are made of injection-molded polycarbonate (K1's are made of High Density Polyethylene), and are very strong. I'm not sure of the advantages or disadvantages of either. The frame's tubing are shock corded, much like tent poles, and this makes assembly even quicker. It also helps with storage since you will know which tube mates with what. I like the adjustable foot braces, my feet (size 9) do not rub against the hull or press against the deck. More on the hatches: I store all of my gear in waterproof Sealine see-through bags. This adds addition flotation to my kayak and keeps my stuff dry when I choose to roll or if I get flipped over when hitting the surf. However, I have never felt threatened by surf, since the Kahuna is so predictable and easy to brace due to its intial and secondary stability. The hatches make it easy to get to the gear that I want without having to dig through the cockpit. It also helps to have a load plan, that way you know exactly where everything is. Not only are the hatches efficiently functional, but they also give the Kahuna a pleasant escape-into-the-wild allure. The Kahuna comes with starboard and port internal air-spoonsons located at the gunwales. This is to tighten the skin over the frame and adds extra stability and some flotation. I went to a boating supply store and purchased some extra shock-cord and clips and made extra deck rigging; two parallel lines for the "X-type" stern deck lines, and two "X-type" cross-over lines for the bow's parallel deck lines. This resulted in the bow and stern shock cords having a box with an "X" inside appearance [X]. I just found that it is better to hold my maps and handpumps that way. Due to weather-cocking potential, I never put anything more than my Sealine deck bag, deck compass (straps on deck bag), map, and handpump on the deck. The kayak will weather-cock in a moderate wind but the rudder will relieve this. When paddling, the Kahuna is very fast! Suprisingly so. I do not need or even use the rudder (except for weather-cocking). If you need to turn sharply, just put a little lean into it. Paddling against a river current is no problem. The seat is interesting. The seat actually sits on a sling, however the seat is one of the most comfortable non-aftermarket seats that I have tried. I do plan on getting a gel-seat (Kahuna comes with a foam seat) just because I'm spoiled. My only complaint is the installation of the cockpit single-piece figerglass coaming. A rubber skin is "sewn" onto the deck, and you must place the coaming over the cockpit opening, then the rubber skin is brought through the cockpit and is then tucked into a tight groove on the cockpit coaming piece. First you tuck in the bow, then the stern, then the rest. It is advisable to have the bow cross-ribs in place before trying this, since it is very difficult to do without them in place. I purchased a rubber-like spatula from a store and trimmed it so that the gentle pushing of the rubber skin into it's groove would be quicker and safer (don't want to rip the rubber skin!). What can I put into the Kahuna for my get-aways? Well, I have enough stuff to last comfortably about 21/2 weeks. However, I have been a expediton freak for a long time and have become rather good at being very comfortable (and clean) with minimal equipment. So here is what I can get into the Kahuna: Food (to include military issue unpacked MREs), water filter/purifier (Katadyn Water Filer is great), 5 gallons of water, 2 repair kits, a shower system, foldable toilet, gas lantern, flashlights and batteries, flare kit, clothing, single burner cooking stove, kettle (for hot chocolate!!) fuel, 2 person tent, sleeping bag, first aid kit, dry suit (if the temp drops), camp pillow, navigation stuff (GPS, maps, hand compass, binoculars, waterproof camera, film, chart protectors, charts), and an emergency locator beacon- expensive but recommended!!; which fit into my Sealine dry bags and some smaller things fit into my deck bag. Its a good idea to keep the emergency beacon on your body, such as a jacket/PFD pocket. Its true, the kayak, when packed into its awesome backpack, can make it through airport size restrictions. It is easy to pack and carry. Overall, I believe that the Kahuna is a big-time winner, considering it is a direct descendant of the K-Light which is a legend. The new upward swept bow makes surf entry fun, and helps the kayak slip through the water; rather than plow through it. The new deck material is stronger, does not shrink or stretch, and is 100% waterproof. The colors are beautiful, and the kayak looks like a hardbodied one. The Kahuna is a excellent kayak, I would not hesitate using it for expeditions of up to 14 days duration. The Kahuna's capacity is 300 pounds, and I weigh 160 pounds. All of my gear weighs 85 pounds. With all of this in the Kahuna, the boat is still stiff and the frame is unstressed. What I still can't believe, and I find myself pinching myself often because of it, is that the Kahuna only weighs 35 pounds! If you wash, clean, lubricate, and properly store your Kahuna, it should last decades.
07-18-2002Submitted by: manitu
- Rating: 9 of 10 I also replaced my Kodiak with the Kahuna, with few regrets. The Kahuna performs beautifully in most conditions, although I noticed some degree of weathercocking in stronger beam and quartering winds. It is unbelievably comfortable to sit in for many hours, even when fully loaded for camping (I am 6'1"), but the cockpit takes a bit of tweaking to arrange everything just right. The only rub with this kayak is its assembly. For the most part, it's intuitive, but there are a few steps that can drive even the most patient a bit nuts - namely the two center crossribs. They take a bit of a knack and some wrestling to get in right. Once you get the hang of the assembly, everything else is just buttah! Packs down beautifully and all the main kayak gear will fit nicely into the backpack. Great setup, beautiful craft!
06-21-2002Submitted by: samelnyk
- Rating: 9 of 10 I bought a Big Kahuna to replace a Folbot Kodiak. First of all, this is a much superior boat. It is my fifth boat (one folder and four rigid kayaks). I finally had a chance to take it out this week and I have been out in it for a total of five hours. It is a very pleasure surprise. It looks like a rigid; it is stable; yet, it responds to leaned turns; it is surprisingly fast. I have enjoyed my time in it and would strongly recommend it. I especially like the ability to pack it up. My major problem with it involves the assembly. The instructions that came with it hinted that I should set aside 90 minutes for the first time. The instructions were close to the mark. My problem with the assembly involves the installation of the fibreglass coaming. It is a bear. My first time out, I was so frustrated that I left it off. Aside from that, the craft is well worth the money. If you want a great value for the money folding kayak, then seriously consider this boat. You will not be disappointed with it.
04-16-2002Submitted by: Allan
- Rating: 10 of 10 I bought my Big Kahuna about 8 months ago and have been very satisfied. I leave it assembled rather than taking it apart each time, so it's been simpler to deal with. It's easy to carry on your shoulder. In the water it feels very stable and comfortable. Part of that comfort results from the gel seat I use instead of the foam pad the boat comes with. It makes a lot of difference. I paddle along the S. California coast and find the rudder very handy. Overall, I like this boat very much. You do have to be very careful around rocks because of the skin construction. I got surprised by a big wave and got smashed into some rocks, tearing a large hole in the skin and breaking the frame. I had to send it back to Feathercraft and they did a great job of getting it back to me.
10-16-2001Submitted by: Richard
- Rating: 10 of 10 I have owned a (regular) Kahuna for about 4 months now and I'm delighted with this amazing kayak. Mine has the deck hatch option (very useful) and the rudder (which I doubt I'll ever need or use). True it weathercocks a bit, but except in the severest conditions I doubt this would be a problem. I suspect the rudder would just compensate for my lack of ability rather than any deficiencies in the kayak. The Kahuna is very portable, quite easy to assemble, beautifully built, stable and sea-worthy. It's a pleasure to own.
07-26-2001Submitted by: ---
- Rating: 9 of 10 I have owned my Kahuna for almost six months now and find it to be a great kayak. I put in regularly off the southern california coast through waves and it tracks very well and is fast. Some days on the Marina in a sheltered lee I find it very fast and easy to paddle.It does weathercock pretty severely and takes a lot of effort to push home sometimes when the wind is against me. I guess a rudder would help but I prefer to stay with my paddle. Putting the boat together is fairly easy after a half a dozen tries and after wrestling with the dumb mistakes often made at the start to the point of frustration. However now I am familiar and at ease, it is a very clever and elegant design and its parts go together sweetly and with little effort. I'd give it a 10 but for the weathercocking and that might be the function of a rudder.
My Kahuna (the larger cockpit) also sports an upgrade seasock which is very comfortable and solid. I also bought a Snapdragon heavy duty deck which is good in colder waters. Overall Feathercraft has designed a classic.It is stable in rough waters and flows delightfully with true responsiveness and a dynamic entry. It also packs and travels just as advertised, the deck material is tough and with its sponsons inflated, tight as a seal's butt.Asthey say here in Topanga:"I'm stoked."
06-19-2001Submitted by: ---
- Rating: 10 of 10 The Kahuna is a great travel boat. Minnesota has lots of frozen water in the winter so I like to travel to warmer places when I can. The Kahuna takes around 45 minutes to assemble (the ads say about 20 minutes), but I don't find this to be a problem. The boat is seaworthy and everything fits in the accompaning backpack that I check on the plane. The bag, with all of my accessories (including pump, paddle, flaotation bags, life jacket, etc.) weighs about 58 lbs (the boat itself is 35 lb). There is no added checkin fee. I got a Big Kahuna with a rudder (unecessary most of the time and the cable runs get in the way during assembly) and two hatches. The hatches, on the other hand, aid in assembly (I can reach into the front or rear of the boat to adjust the frame) and are great for camping. Overall, the boat works great. I like not having to rely on rental equipment when I travel --- it is often of poor quality, and I don't like to be captive to the schedules of the rental dealers. During my last trip, someone dropped me off several miles from my hotel and I paddled to its location on the Gulf of Mexico where I surfed into the Beach, packed up the boat, and returned it to my room.
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