WISPER

Length x BeamPayloadKayak WeightCockpit Size
15' 7" X 23.5"300 lb37.5 lb27.5" X 16"

 

The Wisper (nicknamed the Red Rhino) is the Badger's folding boat, and he loves it.  It looks and handles like a hardshell and is incredibly comfortable.  Feathercraft makes a great product and the quality is amazing.  The skin is highly durable and completely waterproof;  I know this firsthand from doing landings on rocky beaches and mistakenly taking the boat over barnacle-encrusted rocks.  The Wisper is stable, with a cockpit that feels nice and snug; you definitely wear this boat and if you're a larger paddler, you're going to feel very confined.  There is no rudder available with the boat, so a strap-on skeg is provided.  It works well and I tend to leave at least one end clipped in so that the Rhino can clip it in if I need it.  If you don't center the skin on the frame the boat can pull to one side.  After some frustrations with this, I cemented guides along the keel strip on the inside of the skin so that it was always centered on the frame.  The seasock that's included is durable and keeps the inside of the boat dry and free of debris.  We've packed up the Wisper with enough supplies for 2 weeks if we can make our own water, and at least a week if we have to carry alot of water.  The backpack that comes with the boat is great and can fit the boat comfortably along with a large amount of equipment while still feeling great.  You pay a premium for all that quality, but I think it's worth it.  Feathercraft is coming out with a Wisper XP, an "expedition" version that can mount a rudder and has 6 vice 3 ribs for greater stiffness and strength. 

 

Feathercraft Wisper reviews:

2008 Sea Kayaker Magazine

2006 Adventure Kayak Magazine

 

COOPER

 

Length x BeamPayloadKayak WeightCockpit Size
16' 6" X 24"275 lb39 lb34" X 16"

 

The Cooper (nicknamed the Teal Tigress) was the Rhino's folding boat.  This is a good boat for the money and it has an ingenious design that makes it go together very easily for a folder, but it also has a lot of flaws.  In fact, modifying the Cooper is a hobby among owners.  We've also heavily modified the boat to overcome some its' drawbacks.  The delivered boat has a tremendous amount of flex in the frame, a notoriously uncomfortable seat, a lack of deck bungees and a perimeter deck line, a hanky coaming, it leaks through the velcro/zipper closures in the skin, and a couple of other issues.  For the price, the Cooper is a good boat and can handle some pretty rough conditions, but don't expect perfection out of the bag and don't expect a Feathercraft.  This isn't an "expedition" kayak that you want to trust your life to.  The delivered spray skirt will need to be replaced, and you'll need a sea sock (see the sea sock section).  The delivered backpack is also very poor and getting a good one made (see the miscellaneous gear section) will make life much easier.  To see a summary of our modifications to the Cooper check out the post on the Folbot Forum.  We solid this boat because it just wasn't getting used much.  If you want a folder that functions like a hard shell get a Feathercraft.  They're expensive, but worth it.  We actually sold our Cooper because it just wasn't worth the effort.

Folbot Cooper review:

2008 Sea Kayaker Magazine

 

Tempest 170

 

Length x BeamPayloadKayak WeightCockpit Size
17' X 22"325 lb56 lb34" X 18"
This is a great boat for multi-day camping trips on the ocean or on lakes and the Rhino took this boat on her 1,200 mile solo expedition from New York to New Brunswick. It doesn't get more comfortable or all-around great than the Tempest 170.  It can carry a large amount of gear, although the skeg box in the rear compartment takes away some space. The Rhino put about 250 pound of equipment in the boat and it handled it very well.  The 170 is pretty much bomb-proof.  The 170 handles the open ocean well and can take some pretty rough weather. At 17' it's reasonably fast and doesn't weathercock, although in with a stiff breeze you'll need to use the skeg to varying degrees. It's very stable for a boat with its' beam and you'll find you can lean it way over before it starts to tip, although once it does, it's fairly easy to roll. The hatches are a tad leaky, and it helps to put some elastic shock cord around the groove in the hatches (why Wilderness doesn't provide these, I can't figure out). Once you do that, the boat stays very dry. Overall, this is a great kayak for a paddler that wants a boat that he/she won't outgrow and can handle more challenges as confidence and skill grow.  It's super comfortable and the cockpit is almost endlessly adjustable.  I think that the cockpit is by far the most comfortable out there;  some people joke that Wilderness Systems started with the cockpit and then built the boat around it.  This is our guest boat and works really well as an icebreaker for the folding boats when the Potomac starts freezing over. 
The Tempest 170 was the 2008 Sea Kayaker Magazine Reader's Poll Best Weekend/Day Touring Kayak.

Wilderness Systems Tempest 170 review: Paddling.net Reviews

explorer

 

Length x BeamPayloadKayak WeightCockpit Size
17'8" X 21.5"350 lb60 lb
34" X 20"

We bought this boat used (these days I don't think that we'd buy a new boat given the quality of the used boats out there) and it's a great addition to our kayaks.  It's well suited to long camping trips, although the rear compartment is a bit tight given the skeg box.  I found that the boat can carry alot more gear when you start working at it a bit.  The key to packing this kayak, like all kayaks, is using lots of small drybags.  There isn't much room behind the seat (just enough for a couple of WagBags), but the day hatch is huge and can fit a tremendous amount of gear.  The Explorer is plenty fast and it has a very solid feeling fiberglass layup;  this is very durable boat.  I had to constantly run it up on rocky shores at Lake Champlain, and it barely shows the impact of doing this multiple times a day for 5 days.  The cockpit is pretty uncomfortable for a higher-end kayak;  there isn't a stitch of padding anywhere, so I had to add a bunch of minicell foam to get it just right.  The seat is surprisingly comfortable once you put some foam on the rear lip so that you don't get pinched between the seat and the backband.  I use an inflatable thigh pad from SealLine, which is great.  All this can be remedied with some glue and foam, and the kayak is still great, even with these deficiencies.  Primary stability and secondary stability are very solid, and when the skeg is up the kayak carves great turns with a lean.  Our Explorer has a Kari-Tech skeg which extends about 6 inches into the water and can keep the boat straight even in very windy conditions.  I've read a lot about quality problems with these kayaks, but so far, so good, and the workmanship looks solid.  I've made a few modifications, including making the toggles retractable by putting bungees on them, Plasti-dipping the rear deck to prevent the spare paddle from scratching up the gelcoat, and internally tethering the hatches. Overall, it's a bomber expedition boat and a joy to paddle. The Explorer was the 2008 Sea Kayaker Magazine Reader's Poll Best Extended Touring Kayak.  Sea Kayaking UK Explorer reviews:
Paddling.net reviews

Wavelength Magazine Review

CYPRESS

Length x BeamPayloadKayak WeightCockpit Size
16'9" X 22"275 lb48 lb29" x 16"

The Cypress is lightweight, and despite what the Current Designs literature says, is NOT for larger paddlers and is best for those less than six feet in height and under 200 pounds.  This is not a beginner's kayak since it is relatively unstable, but quite fast and highly responsive.   It takes some getting used to the lack of primary stability, but once you understand the kayak, it is a pleasure to paddle.  The layup seems pretty lightweight, but has held up well to bangs and chips despite this. The Rhino was going to take this boat on her expedition to PEI (see above), but it just couldn't handle the overall weight of that much equipment. This kayak is equipped with a skeg and has generous deck bungees and an easy to use day hatch.  The overall volume for camping gear is fairly low and using tapered bags to take advantage of the narrow bow is a must for longer trips.  The bulkhead for the cockpit is also very far forward, so there isn't really much space behind the round front hatch.  The rear hatch is an oval and all the hatches are tethered.  We recently sold our Cypress to make room for the Rhino's new (used) P&H Cetus. 

CETUS

Length x BeamPayloadKayak WeightCockpit Size
17'10" X 22.5"350 lb55  lb
34" X 20"

Once we get a chance to paddle the Cetus more we'll post a review, but we got this 2009 Cetus in poppy and in perfect condition.  The Rhino has only paddled the boat twice so far, so it will take a little while to get enough information to post a good review.  Our initial observations after a few paddles are super positive.  This is a noticeably faster kayak than the other boats the Rhino has paddled.  The swede form, with the kayak substantially narrower up front definitely works to make for faster paddling.  The outfitting is great and the seat is as comfortable as the Tempest 170's.  The rear deck is incredibly wide (24+ inch beam) and there's a ton of real-estate back there, which makes this a very stable kayak.  There are two areas where the Cetus lacks a bit.  First is the rope skeg. It's difficult to operate and hard to make fine adjustments to.  The Rhino also finds that the Cetus isn't the best wave rider and tends to broach in a following sea.  More to come as we do more paddling.