Folding boat

Folding boat

A Folding boat is usually a smaller boat, typically ranging between 6 to 12 feet. This style of boat must also allow for easy lifting which requires a light weight. Folding boats are made from light weight materials such as marine plywood, aluminium or more exotic man-made materials lighter and tougher than aluminium. Folding boats fill a need for people who do not have storage space for a full-size boat or cannot transport a full-size boat.

There are several folding boat makers and folding kayak makers in the world from the USA, England and Australia with several variations and models. Here are some folding dinghies and skiffs:

Making your own folding boat is not beyond the ability of a person who can use basic tools. A handyman can produce his or her own unit at home with plans or by designing their own version. Bill Weller, the designer of a folding dinghy / sailboat plan, calles his creation a Flapdoodle. The official website is here . The Barquito is a folding boat based on this plan. An extensive website of its construction is worth looking at Folding dinghies can also be built from kits and part built Seahopper dinghies for owner completion are available.

Simpler folding boats are called Origami boats. These often use a minimum of wood and rely of waterproof PVC or other fabric for the hull. The sites that follow are an example of this kind of folding boat Matt Layden's has designed a simple folding tender that can be stowed in small cruisers

Although there is much to be said of the advantages of a folding boat, they are not commonplace in boating. Aluminium and inflatable alternatives are far more prevalent despite some folding boats such as the Seahopper having been sold for several decades. Used Seahoppers often appear on ebay at prices varying from GBP 200-GBP 800, depending on the age and specification. Sailing versions are particularly popular.

Related types

Traditional boats in the same category of folding boats include inflatable dinghies and small aluminium boats (tinnies). Inflatable boats try to solve the portability problem with an inflatable keel and side pods. This allows better storage and weight advantages. The main problems of these craft are that they are still quite heavy, they can puncture while on the water and can be time consuming to inflate and deflate for usage. Folding boats require in the order of 10 to 15 minutes to set up and put away but are much tougher than an inflatable craft, and may ultimately be smaller in storage as an inflatable boat may have hard board components for the floor. Aluminium boats cannot be disassembled, and the folding boat of space-age material is stronger than aluminium, while the strength to weight of some wooden ply is actually stronger than aluminium. The lower stiffness and rigidity may add to potential safety of a folding boat by allowing it to flex over waves. This stops the boat from the rocking effect of an inflexible boat.


Some folding boats have a transom for attaching an electric or petrol engine outboard. These are usually in the order of 2 - 4HP but can be up to 10HP. As folding boats are light there is no need for lots of power and someone unfamiliar with HP output could easily make the mistake of using an engine too large and not suited to a folding boat. See the Origami Folding Dinghy on the plane at 15 knots! with a 3.3hp engine.


Prices of the best new folding boats today can range up to nearly AUD $4000. New Seahopper dinghies range in price from GBP 640 for a 2.03 metre rowing dinghy to GBP 1,710 for the 3.0 metre Kondor sailing dinghy.

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