Tag Archives: Cuben fibre

Tim Evans’ superlight cuben fibre folding kayaks

Tim-Evans-Cuben-Kayak02Tim Evans from Vancouver got in touch via the busy IK&P press office to tell us about his new 10lb (4.5kg) IK. Made from a super strong, light but expensive wonder fabric called Cuben Fibre which regularly features in discussions at Backpacking Light, the 14-foot IK was made to fill the gap between packrafts like his Yak and super light Supai, and a regular, faster IK.
Having worked on his own gear, Tim’s design is based on one of Tom Yost’s well-known MYO packboat templates which I’ve come across in my online travels. He writes:
Tim-Evans-Cuben-Kayak04Commercial inflatable kayaks are much faster [than packrafts], but are too heavy. I don’t want to carry more then 30lbs, which has to include the boat, paddling gear, camping gear and food. What I really wanted was a fast IK that weighed 10 pounds or less. It didn’t exist (as far as I could tell), so I made one. Here’s a video showing the boat.

Tim-Evans-Cuben-Kayak08It’s 14 feet long and weighs 10lbs. As you can see in the video, it’s a lot faster than a packraft. The key to the light weight was Tom Yost’s very simple design concept, modified a bit, and married with the lightest available materials. The hull skin material is very strong, but abrasion resistance is it’s weakness. This can be a problem with barnacle encrusted rocks (as I have found) when paddling in the ocean, but in the lakes I made the boat for, there should be few if any sources of abrasion. The skin of the boat weights about 1.6 lbs, interestingly about the same weight as the Supai.
homemade-pfdI made the kayak to redo a trip I did last summer in the Supai. I made an inflatable PFD for that trip (left), which I have tested in the water and it supports me quite well. Since I take several inflatable cushions with me anyway, the extra weight for the PFD is just 260 grams for the shell.

[Regarding the poor abrasion resistance] I think it comes down to calculated risk. I always have some kind of backup plan if the worst case happens. While the kayak skin is a bit delicate, I will take various repair tapes and Aquaseal with me. And since I made the boat myself, I should be able to repair it in the field if I have to.
Tim-Evans-Cuben-Kayak09As for stability, the boat is no worse than any other narrowish kayak. But I have one final ace up my sleeve. I will be taking my Supai as a back up boat (right)! At 1.5 lbs, why not. Since I have already done the trip in the Supai, in case the kayak became so damaged as to be unrepairable (which is quite unlikely), Tim-Evans-Supai01I just do the rest of the trip as I did last time. I will stay within a swim of the shoreline of the lakes and the water is not that cold, so a dunking should not be life-threatening. Sure, there are always unforeseeable hazards, but I think life is too short to play it too safe.

Tim’s summer 2014 pics with the kayak on the Powell Forest Canoe Trail
Tim’s 17-foot version built in 2015