One element you should consider if you buy ANY folding kayak is the wash/drying time. It is the biggest problem I have with the boat. I use mine in salt water so it is washed out each time I use it. Even in direct Fl sun it might take up to 3 days to dry to a point I feel comfortable folding it up for storage. I lost one skin to mold rot. If you are on a tight schedule or do not have the facility for washing and storing the boat till it dries you will have to use some serious engineering. Like I said I love the boat but I still have not figured out the washing drying thing. Maybe a carpet dryer would work.
Be sure you have your PR hat on while you assemble the boat if you are using a public launch. Very few people will not comment on your boat. You will meet lots of new people. I have even considered placing brochures on my motorcycle (did I mention that I get to the launch site on a Cycle) so people can get the idea and I can be waving goodbye from the horizon. If you find one and can afford it buy it. You will be thrilled to own such a beautiful boat. DO NOT USE THE KLEEPER PADDLES. I went with an adjustable (length) from Bending Branches and doubled my distance and halved my discomfort.
The boat needs a few strokes to get up to speed and suffers somewhat from beamwinds and winds form behind. It tries to turn into the wind. The rudder would be a big help. Have to try that later... Just bought a new backrest, since the wooden one is a bit too basic for my taste. Al in all a nice boat and the quality stands out from the others. A new seat will be added later on. It is great way to discover nature. I'm very please with my boat, a wish of mine for about 25 years... Happy paddling!'Hans.
Anyway, I bought my A-I and have paddled it for about 2-3 months now. The boat is easy to assemble with a little practice. I can put mine together in about 20-25 minutes without rushing. Packing it up takes longer if you allow time for it to dry completely. Since it is humid in Florida, I usually either leave the boat assembled and take it home or fold it up wet and then unfold it to dry at home. It is important to get it dry before storing it.
The boat is initially tippy. I am 210 lbs. and if the boat is lightly loaded otherwise, it is tippy. Loaded the boat stiffens up considerably, but also goes slower. The Aerius I turns quickly, but does not track well. I have found the rudder very helpful in this regard and the pedals also offer a comfortable place to put my feet. Without the rudder the boat is just a big handful in the wind, a way of life most of the time here in Florida on any open water. When I go on the canals and rivers, though, the rudder is not so useful, but I still like the pedals for my feet.
In terms of paddling ease, the boat is no match for my fiberglass kayak, but it is no slouch either. I can paddle it for hours at 3-3.5 knots on average. It starts to gurgle like I am pushing it beyond hull speed at about 4 plus knots.
The Klepper is just plain beautiful to look at. The varnished wood, the deep blue decking, the back Hypalon hull all enhance the natural elegance of the lines of the Aerius 1. Even a rigid boat friend agrees that the A-I is a thing of beauty to look at.
It is a nice recreational boat for just messing around. It is good for birding and fishing. It is also a boat that can be sailed, and of course it is wonderful in rough water. I have been out in 5 to 7 foot swells, and another time in a heavy chop, with 20+ knot winds on the intercoastal. The boat is simply not fazed by these conditions. It inspires confidence in rough water as it just seems to float over everthing thrown at it. By contrast, in much less difficult conditions I am doing a lot of bracing in my fiberglass boat and cannot relax. In rough water, I am sure that the Klepper would cover more water faster and with less fatigue.
Lastly let me make a few additional comments concerning accessories. The boat really needs a 240cm paddle. I bought an expensive bent shaft Werner in 235 as a compromise that would work with both the Klepper and my Millenium. I should have bought two paddles, one 240-cm for the Klepper, and one 230-cm for the Millenium. If you buy an Aerius I, get flotation bags. You will be amazed at how secure they make you feel when it gets rough. They add dramatically to my ability to relax and just paddle the boat.
In summary, this is a tough, versatile, fun boat that is easy to assemble and is beautiful to look at. It is an old design, and it is still around because it works so well in a wide variety of situations. It is not as fast as the newer narrower boats, but it is not a dog by any means. It inspires confidence in rough water and it is relaxing to use. A true classic. The fact that it can be packed as luggage on a trip is just incidental to the true measures of it's greatness.