Folding Boat History

Museum Higlights

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It is well worth the fun and all the experiences for all folding kayak lovers to visit the Deutsches Museum or Klepper Museum and trace the origins and past of these kayaks! You can find some highlights from the museums here...

Deutsches Museum

... to see the previous generations of folding kayakers

 

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The Inuit kayak and its descendants

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The Kayak is an example of Inuit technological ingenuity that made it possible to live in the harsh conditions of the Arctic. These light, single-passenger boats were used primarily for hunting rather than a means of transport.

The Inuit build these boats from the materials to hand. The frame is generally of wood, formerly driftwood and with Arctic Willow for the ribs. The frame parts are pegged and/or lashed together with sinew or sealskin cord, or nowadays with nylon line. The apparently flimsy components combine to form an extremely strong completed frame, which is then covered with a waterproof skin.

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Short History about Folding Boats

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On the cover of Life magazine in 1957 for his epic unassisted crossing of the Atlantic in a folding kayak in 1956, Dr. Hannes Lindemann drew worldwide attention to the modern-day rigid kayak's precursor, the folding kayak.

Folding boat history goes back to the mid 1800's, including use during the American Civil War in 1863-64.  The first workable folding kayak was built by Alfred Heurich in 1905, a German architectural student. Heurich paddled his creation on the Isar River near Munich and took out a patent on the design, called the Delphin (German: Dolphin), the following year. The Delphin had a bamboo frame with a sailcloth hull stretched over it. It could be folded up and carried in three bags, each weighing less than 4.5 kg (9.9 lb). Commercial production in Europe commenced in 1907, however, and is attributed to German tailor Johann Klepper who was approached by a Munich architect that had designed a folding kayak and needed someone to sew a skin to cover it. The original folding kayak design was based on the idea of a skin and frame Eskimo kayak for seaworthiness but with a larger body for roominess. The boat's shape was a cross between a kayak and canoe, folding by means of ingenious fastenings in several sections.

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