The first TRAK was made in 2006. Since then it has gained a rapid base of loyal fans. These fans are real kayakers, like you. The kind who want to take a boat anywhere, and paddle it anywhere. They want it to be fast, they need it to be durable. They know the difference between a toy and a well-crafted sea vessel. Fits in tight spaces. Like between two rocks or between two pairs of jeans in your closet. Also, goes on an airplane, bus, taxi or train. And it works on the water - any kind of water. TRAK now drop ships to anywhere in the world, within a week, yup #trakeverywhere.
Read and submit reviews for the Seeker ST 16.
My Kayak and I have returned from our trip to the ocean...here are some "first impressions" if you are interested:
All was in order. High quality bag. Nothing broken or missing. I wish I could pack it as well as you guys do (its a bit challenging to fit everything back in the bag and closing the zipper, but it does work).
Worked very well. Bought two golf clubs and put them in main bag (this is recommended on the videos by the manufacturer to technically qualify the bag as a "golf bag" which don't incur additional travel fees so long as they are under 50#). Used duffel bag for kayak skin and hydraulics. Kept both bags easily under the 50# limit and they accepted the main bag as a golf bag with no extra charge on both American and Jet Blue.
Excellent instructions, relatively simple. Definitely not a 10 minute job (about 20 minutes), but I'm getting faster. The ribs separated from the longeron to which they were tied on both the front and rear assembly. I tied them back on (twice) but I'm guessing this will keep happening so I painted marks on them indicating which are rear and front and also which direction they face. The only real difficulty was getting the rear zipper device (I think you call it a kedder or something) to fully close. It is quite a challenge to pull the sides together and keep the plastic from jumping over the welt. I've assembled a few times now and I think I've got a better handle on it, but you basically need to pull really hard on the material to get it to line up well enough. Once it's assembled and you advance the hydraulic rams, it is sprung tight and can easily be lifted by one person along with all your gear to hike to a put-in (which I did several times).
Used it on an inland estuary and up to a mile off shore in some calm and up to 20kt winds over 5 days of paddling at least 2 hours each day with the longest trip at 6 hours. Very stable, surprisingly fast. Skirt leaks a bit when hit from the side by large waves or when "sinking" during surfing conditions when the wave catches up and tries to swamp you from behind. Confused seas with ocean swells getting through holes in the reef running at a 45 degree angle to the steep wind chop made for some interesting paddling on a couple days. Tweaking side rams to twist boat works great in a quartering winds to maintain track/course (that's how this boat manages long crossings with side wind loads in the absence of a rudder). Quite stable. After several days waiting to get tossed, it never happened so I intentionally flipped over. I had no chance of getting back up because the skirt pulled loose immediately and I'm not good at the Eskimo roll anyway. Wet exit and cowboy re-entry was pretty easy even in deep water with waves. I would have been much faster back in the boat with a bilge pump which I have not yet acquired. Even with the rocker set up pretty high, it doesn't maneuver well in close quarters compared to a sea kayak with a rudder, but that's not a big deal and it would just add more complexity and holes through the hull. I don't intend to use it on river white water.
This was the only real weakness in the product that I could complain about. None of the failed elements were critical, but some things failed early that were a bit surprising. The bow cargo line elastic delaminated from it's central core at the attachment plastic after only 3 hours of use at sea. It continued to hold on by a thread, but I cut off the strand and re-glued it when I got home, lost the plastic collar, but I think it will still work. The bow grab handle fell apart after third assembly. No effect on the trip that day, and I was able to snap it back together at home...I can't see any broken plastic, so maybe it just wasn't fully connected to begin with? The screw-down valve for one of the storage/floatation bags fell off the plastic hose. Made that bag unusable until I crimped the hose under the frame of the kayak while at sea. I glued it when back at home...I think it will be fine.
In summary, this is a very portable, highly efficient, fast sea kayak that really does travel in a golf bag! My next mission is to try to fit it in the cargo hold of my bush plane and see if I can fly to some remote beaches and go exploring with the kayak. Should be fun.
Packing and Transportation
Packed in it's wheeled golf-like travel-bag, the Seeker is reasonably portable on paved surfaces and over short distances. There's also a fair amount of room for accessories (PFD, 4-piece paddle, water shoes, etc.). Since it's bulky and heavy, moving the kayak over longer distances can be cumbersome. The bag has a shoulder-strap, but since the packed weight (bag, kayak, and gear) is about 70+ pds, carrying it on stairs and mixed terrain is difficult, and also presents problems when using public/mass-transit.
The bag is also so bulky that it's difficult to store in or on the kayak after assembly. To do so it's necessary to remove the bag-frame, roll up the bag, then you can attach the bag to the deck rigging and store the frame inside (thus limiting space for other gear). All these potential issues aren't necessarily a deal-breaker, but something to consider.
Most paddlers interested in the Seeker are probably at least somewhat familiar with it. The most notable feature is the 3 hydraulic jacks that not only tension the skin and enable shape malleability, but also help simplify assembly. My attitude towards the jacks was initially somewhat tepid since I prefer to keep things as simple and smart as possible, but after doing some research and asking some questions I'm more comfortable with them. While there were some jack failures with the earlier models, Trak made improvements and I've heard of no recent issues. Regular cleaning and lubrication is recommended for optimal operation.
The aluminum tubing is strong, and the skin is highly tear and puncture resistant as purported. The dimensions are 16' long, 22.5 inch beam, 48 pds, making it suitable for slightly smaller, average, and somewhat larger than average paddlers. While not light, it's not unduly heavy either, and the weight seems fairly reasonable considering the durability.
Trak advertises an assembly time of about 10 minutes. The first few times took me about 25-30 minutes, but with more experience it now takes me about 15 minutes at a casual pace, and I can probably do it in about 10-12 if necessary. Dissassembly and packing requires about the same barring cleaning and drying.
The Seeker is a medium volume kayak. While the stated overall storage capacity is 120 liters, the practical capacity is probably somewhat less. Like most folding kayaks, the Seeker has cross-rubs (4) that somewhat break up inside space. Fortunately Trak provides two gear-storage/flotation bags specifically designed for the Seeker. While the tapered shape can make packing larger gear (tent, sleeping bag) a little tricky, they generally work pretty well. While storage capacity isn't huge, there's enough space for at least a few days of supplies, and maybe up to a week for those of us who pack like backpackers.
For the most part the Seeker performs as well as advertised. It's reasonably fast and efficient for a variety of conditions and water. Primary stability is moderate and secondary stability is very good. The skin is almost entirely watertight. Even with a spray-skirt a little water seems to enter around the cockpit combing, but the amount is minimal.
As previously mentioned, the 3 hydraulic jacks make the frame rigid and the skin tight, making it perform comparably to a hard shell. The adjustable rocker is highly useful: minimal rocker enables straighter tracking in calm conditions and extended open water crossings, while more rocker enables more maneuverability and better stability. I don't adjust the two side jacks (lateral adjustment) because they're somewhat difficult to reach while paddling, and adding pressure to one jack makes the kayak asymmetrical, thus causing it to trak significantly to one side or the other. It's somewhat difficult to reestablish lateral symmetry while paddling, so I prefer to compensate for water and weather conditions more traditionally – using corrective strokes.
Like most kayaks, the seat is hard and not especially comfortable, but adequate. It locks securely into the frame and I've never had any issues with it coming lose. There are adjustable thigh braces and foot-pegs to enable better control for bracing and rolling. I don't like to roll, but have experimented with it a few times, and the Seeker does fine.
The Seeker is excellent overall. Assembly is easy, and performance and durability is comparable to a high-quality hard shell. It's not inexpensive, but the price seems fair relative to other high-quality folding kayaks. The only reason I'm rating it a 9 is for the potential with public/mass-transit. Those who want something lighter, more compact and ultra-portable should also consider kayaks by other makers like Pakboats and Feathercraft.
From an aesthetic point of view she is really beautiful. Unlike many other folding kayaks, the TRAK can do without inflatable sponsons that disfigure the hull. For that reason, it is impossible to tell the TRAK from a hard-shell kayak. Sitting inside one does fell more connected to the wave, though, than in hard-shell boats but not as much as in other folding boats as the TRAK doesn't wiggle with every wave - only the big ones.
The TRAK is very rigid and robust. The skin is very durable and the aluminum frame is very solid and seems to be thicker in diameter than, for example, the Feathercraft Kahuna - a boat a have owned before.
Assembling the TRAK is a lot of fun. There are only eight parts. The frame is shock-corded and connects very easily. After inserting the bow and the stern sections into the skin, the grand finale approaches when the hydraulic jacks play their part. With the first jacks the bow and stern section are effortlessly pushed apart tightening the skin and making room for the two gunwale jacks.
Apart from their usefulness in changing rocker and adapt to weathercocking they make assembling the boat a lot fun. Even if you are not fascinated by hydraulic power as I have been from boyhood on, the ease with which the jacks create a very robust structure is amazing. From what I learned from the net and from TRAK, the jacks want to be serviced regularly to be functioning properly on the long run. So people who rather change cars than oil might have to change habits with this boat.
The hard-shell and nicely patted seats is also very easy to install and prevents bum-numbness very nicely. The more slender one might want to add hip-pads for better contact with the boat.
I couldn't test paddle the boat before but was relieved that it accommodated my XL-body quite nicely. I guess, if you are taller than 6'4" or so and have long legs, testing the boat beforehand would be a good idea.
On the water it is really fast and accelerates effortlessly. I haven't taken it to the sea yet, but it performed very well on big lakes as well as small rivers.
As the boat doesn't have sponsons it is advisable to use the flotation bags that are included and that also be used as dry bags. They are custom made and use the space in the kayak fairly well. As there are no hatches in the front (which kind of destroy the aesthetic appeal), the flotation/dry-bag provide a convenient way of sliding the gear upfront.
The back opens like a banana and makes storing gear very easy. The flotation bag here as well is advisable to have enough buoyancy for a cowboy rescue. It is also advisable to buy the sea sock for the same reason.
The golf bag might be a nice idea but it is hard to fit it into the kayak. When going on multi-day trips the bag would take to much space inside and on top of the boat (wind!), so I mostly leave it at home and carry the kayak on a foldable boats wagon (Eckla Beach Rolly).
The TRAK is heavier than other boats but at 16'/4,90m it is also quite long. The coaming, the skin, the seat, and the jacks aren't probable the lightest of all possible choices but they are very robust and simply feel great. That's why I don't mind carrying the plus 5 kg compared to other boats.
So, all in all the boat is very nicely constructed with a keen eye for little details - like "breaking the nose" to get the bow and stern out of the skin. I am happy to have made this choice and look forward to many more fun days in the water with it.
Of all the kayaks I have paddled and owned, portable or not, the TRAK kayak stands out in ways that put it way ahead of the curve. The fact that it changes it's shape puts it in a unique category. No other kayak can make that claim so in my review, I compare it not just against folders, but also hard shell kayaks.
First of all the kayak is incredibly tough. I dragged mine loaded up on river banks, have surfed it into beaches with shells, have bounced it off rocks in rivers and oceans and have certainly had my share of underwater stumps and logs I have either run into or had to extricate myself from. No composite hard shell boat would have come out of it unscathed like my TRAK did. I saw on the TRAK website that they took it down the Grand Canyon and I am not surprised. I think Paddler magazine or somebody did a story of the kayak being run over by a truck too.
The frames come together in minutes since they are all shock corded and the ribs snap into the frame with ball studs pushed through a rubber seal firmly locking them into place. The tubes themselves have this neat ribbed end to them that doesn’t allow the tubes to fuse together if you leave it with salt or sand. I know three friends who have fused kayaks that would require a hacksaw and a costly replacement.
There are 10 pieces: a cockpit coaming, a seat, 2 gear flotation bags, 2 frames, a skin and three jacks. The bow frame has Yakima foot braces already built in and a resin "pillar" which supports the cockpit coaming on the sides while the ribs support it fore and aft. These pillars have a slot for the seat to slide into as well as a post which fit into the chine frames. (hard to describe) All tubes are shock corded. This is very similar to a tent scenario where you pick up the frame and shake it into shape with the tubes slotting in. The three jacks form the connection for the gunwales and the keel and these three are the real heart of the kayak.
These three jacks can supply pressure independently to either raise and lower the bow and stern or twist the bow and stern laterally to adjust for wind or current. I can remember paddling with some buddies in the mangroves in Florida and them muttering that I cheated because I could increase the rocker and twist and turn through the tunnels with ease. Then when we made a crossing in the sound with a crosswind, they were amazed when I "bent" the boat like a banana on its side and immediately corrected for the crosswind without needing a skeg or a rudder. True story.
And here is where all other kayaks pretty much come to a halt. With what I described above you would need three boats. One highly rockered, one with a long waterline, and a third that was portable. And these would be fixed shapes. With the TRAK you can adjust to a little rocker or a lot. With the other boats you would have to make compromises. Hard shell boats are made in a mold and have specific hull shapes that determine performance and rocker. Other folding kayak design their boats so that they will accommodate the majority of the paddlers out there and when assembled do not change shape. Except for the TRAK.
This kayak is by far the easiest and quickest to assemble and disassemble. I can do it comfortably in 11 minutes and if I rush in under 10. there is another that takes about 15 minutes but it is not very rigid. The other ones are minimum 40 minutes. Look, I know someone that can put a TRAK together in 6 minutes and a Feathercraft in 30 but I am talking real world here.
The other thing is that everything you touch is hard. The seat is hard. The coaming is hard, the footpegs are solid. Every contact point you have with this kayak is hard allowing you to precisely control it. No other folding kayak I have been in has this feature. Not one.
This review actually spans a few years now. I never miss an opportunity to try out another folding kayak and am continually surprised at how well the TRAK does against others in just about every category.
I own 7 TRAK kayaks now and I use them almost daily as my personal kayak and for the tours I do down the Amazon and in the south of Brazil. I hold a level three coastal kayaking instructors certification with endorsements in traditional skills and rolling from the ACA. My hardshell fleet has been up to 20 kayaks. My experience with folding kayaks include a homemade folder, TRAK kayaks, Feathercraft, Nortik, Folbot, Oru and many others from around the world. I have also built 7 skin on frame traditional kayaks as well as two strip built kayaks. As I travel so much, I had been looking for the perfect folder for a long time. TRAK in my opinion is the best one out there.
BAG: As you can see on their website, it comes in a big golf bag and weights about 50lbs. By putting the coaming, seat, and hydraulic jacks in another suitcase, the bag fits the 40 lbs limit and I had no problem taking it on Air Canada and Cathay Pacific.
ASSEMBLY: As they say, it's fast and simple. They say 10 minutes, but I typically take 20 as I'm enjoying the process and often explaining to others who are watching me.
SITTING IN: Compared to the club's plastic monsters, the feeling of being in a skin-on-frame kayak is very different. When you put it on the water it floats like a paper boat until you sit it. Once inside there's good contact with footrests, hip pads, and the seat back is adjustable. With some foam hip pads I've made, the kayak just feels like extra bones and skin added around my body. At rest, it felt a bit tippy the first time, but adding some rocker by pumping the center jack a few times adds stability. As I got used to it, I now find it quite stable even without when putting in little or no rocker.
PADDLING: The impressive thing for me is how well this boat tracks. It just feels like it's on rails, especially on calm water. With a bit of rocker, the boat turns really well by leaning it. It doesn't seem to need a skeg/rudder although I haven't taken it in strong winds yet. Hitting waves feels different as you can feel vibration in the skin and the boat flexes a bit when encountering bigger waves. Paddling in a group, I had no problem keeping up with the singles and doubles as it's surprisingly fast. The paddling position is excellent and, on a calm ocean, it allows me to concentrate on perfecting my paddling stroke and torso rotation, getting good speed with little effort, dry hands and not a splash of water as the boat seems to slice through water.
The only time I felt at a disadvantage was in severely 'confused' waters caused by swells + high speed ferry wakes + waves reflected off the cliffs, where I was bobbed around more than the heavier boats.
ROLLING: I haven't tried rolling it yet as the water is still too cold, but one guy in our club tried it and seemed to have no problem.
PACKING: After a nice day of paddling, packing the boat when you're tired is not as much fun. Emptying the kayak and getting the sand out is a bit tricky. Then you gotta fit everything in the bag before it gets dark. Although they recommend cleaning and drying it, I sometimes skip the rinsing and just sponge the skin dry as I pack it. I've had no corrosion or smell issues with it so far, but I always take the hydraulic jacks out to clean and lubricate them and that's very important. I once had a center jack losing pressure, which made the boat a bit unstable but still usable. After I started taking better care of them, the issue hasn't reappeared.
Durability: One time I was very careless and got pushed on rocks covered in razor-sharp barnacles. That caused some deep cuts in the skin down to the fabric mesh, but amazingly, it didn't cut through. Other than that, the skin is surprisingly resistant to dragging on sand, rocks, or cement. There's a nice keel strip built in.
Overall, I give it a 9 as the pleasure and performance it provides on the water is absolutely outstanding given that it fits vertically on the back seat of a taxi. It's my first experience paddling a skin-on-frame kayak and it's a true pleasure, enjoyable in a low angle style with my Werner Kalliste or in the authentic Greenland style with my Gearlab shoulder-less paddle. I have a feeling that I'll still enjoy paddling it even after my composite kayaks arrive. It would be ideal to take on holidays to Thailand or the Philippines if I had a friend who had one too.