UMIAK Folding Canoes
Nautiraid’s award-winning “Umiak” folding canoes have aluminium longitudinal frames with reinforced plastic cross members, covered over by a tough PVC skin.
They are beautifully designed, and much more hydrodynamic than inflatable types. Nautiraid’s “Stabilair” low-pressure inflatable tubes down the sides give heeled stability and buoyancy (all models), but are non-structural (a puncture is unlikely. but won’t affect your ability to paddle).
They are also beautifully made, with Nautiraid’s usual excellent quality control. Almost everything is made in-house by their own team, at their factory near Le Mans.
NOTE FOR NAUTIRAID ENTHUSIASTS: the Umiak folding canoe range unites and replaces the previous Beach and Rando ranges, with same hull shapes, but slightly updated cosmetic styling.
- Capacity (kg)
- Capacity (lbs)
The popular Umiak 390 (approx. 13ft) open canoe, at £1400, has a maximum load capacity of 190kg. Once dismantled the folded canoe fits in a single bag measuring just 110x35x15cm – so you can carry it in the back of almost any car, or even as baggage on a plane! This model replaces the Beach 390 (very similar in most respects) of which we have one khaki model left in as-new condition at 20% off (see top of page).
For family days out, or touring expeditions in the wilderness – packing serious loads – there is the Umiak 475 at £2150, and the Umiak 520 (pictured here, in Norway) at £2250, with an enormous carrying capacity of up to 350kg.
The 475 has a little more rocker (fore and aft curve) for best manoeuvrability; the 520 is flatter, and faster in a straight line, with even more capacity – the whole family even, with additional seats (option) – but not quite as responsive.
The 390 is supplied with two inflatable seats that bring your centre of gravity low down (close to the floor), much like those supplied with inflatable kayaks etc. This is the best option for relatively small canoes. The larger 475 and 520 are supplied with sit-or-kneel bench style seats, placing you a little higher in the boat and adjustable to your paddling style.
Folding Canoe assembly time
People often ask “how long does a folding canoe take to assemble?” and the answer depends on how many times you’ve done it before!
For the largest fold-up canoe model, the Umiak 520, it’s possible to get from folded up in the car boot to assembled in the water, in 20 minutes – or possibly even a bit less (it might take you double that the first time though). The 475 is similar, having the same number of frames etc; the 390 has fewer frames so 15 minutes is realistic. There is nothing particularly difficult and much of it is akin to assembling a tent, only with much heavier duty poles and skin.
Getting a conventional “hardshell” canoe out of the water, onto a roof rack, and safely tied down, could take just as long and is not always practical if you’re alone, travelling long distances or towing a caravan
etc. Also we don’t think many airlines would accept an object 5.2m (over 17ft) long as baggage either… even the (largest in range) Nautiraid Umiak 520 can fit in a bag measuring just 110x60x25cm, and weighs less than 25kg. For efficiency in storage and portability these folding canoes are an excellent solution.
This video – Umiak 390 Assembly – shows assembly of the Umiak 390. It has French text but don’t worry if you can’t read French, it gives you a pretty good idea of what’s involved anyway!
Folding Canoe Colours
Nautiraid Umiak Canoes are generally (but not always) stocked by the factory in the cream/black colour scheme, with four other colours available to order: green, white, blue and red. Stock boats are generally available within two weeks, and boats built-to-order about six weeks, depending on how busy they are.