The new generation of folding skin kayaks…


Since the modern-day folding kayak, the option for skin construction was limited by the fabrics available. Stitching and gluing were the only means for joining skin sections. Since Feathercraft’s inception, the idea of welding a skin has been a Feathercraft dream.
Working to Feathercraft’s specifications, our suppliers have come up with supple, robust urethane fabrics for our decks and hulls.

The technology for welding urethane has been in place for quite some time. But with the recent development of a supple, robust urethane fabric, we’ve just now been given the fabric option we’ve been waiting for. Our goal was to make a skin-on-frame kayak that is completely dry. This has now been realized.

RF Welding

Radio Frequency power is applied for a period of time to join polyurethane fabrics. The fabrics are held under pressure, coating to coating, with conductor dies.

Continuous Process Welding

Feathercraft worked with the equipment manufacturer and in our own shop to master this cutting edge technology. As heat is applied to two urethane fabric surfaces, they are pulled through rollers and bonded together. Temperature, speed and pressure are computer controlled.

Polytech Deck Fabric

Polytech was introduced on the Khatsalano in 1995. In 1998, we began using it on all our models. It begins with a 420 denier high tenacity nylon balanced weave fabric. A 4 1/2 oz per sq. yd. urethane coating on the outside is embossed (patterned) to give it the touch and appearance of fabric. The inside is coated with 2 oz per sq. yd. of urethane. These multiple applications of urethane create a total water-barrier. The fabric is completely waterproof and dimensionally stable. It can be welded, is abrasion resistant, and is fade-resistant. Wow!

Duratek Hull Fabric

Urethane, Urethane, and more Urethane. Exclusively formulated to our specifications, this is the toughest stuff around! We worked closely with the manufacturer on the design and testing of this state of the art urethane hull fabric. The process begins with a ballistic 840 denier high tenacity nylon balanced weave fabric. The fabric is first impregnated with a polyurethane solution coat. The material is finished to our weight specifications using multiple layers of polyurethane. The unique, lengthy process results in a supple fabric designed to be heat sealable, and highly abrasion resistant. Amazing!

Deck Construction

For skin kayak designers, the only options available to join deck sections were stitching or gluing. Whenever there is a stitch, there is a hole, and the possibility of water seepage. This has long been a frustration. With the development of our new, heavily coated urethane deck fabric, we can now weld deck sections. Some joins are RF (radio frequency) welded. Deck sections overlap, with smooth, almost invisible seam joins. Solid reinforcement strips on the deck are continuous process welded. Where hatches are attached to the deck, stitched seams are seam-taped to further waterproof this area. No Stitches. No Seepage. No Kidding.

Deck to Hull Join… The Dream Seam!

A solid strip of urethane runs from bow to stern. The strip is wider where loops and straps are attached. The urethane strip is first sewn to the deck. The deck is then sewn to the hull with a narrow seam allowance. In a multi-stage process, the deck is RF welded to the hull above the stitched seam allowance. The narrow urethane strip acts as a gasket ensuring a smooth seal and allows attachment points for the deck loops. The resulting welded seam is very strong and totally water-tight. (This is the “no-leak” zone.)

Hull Reinforcement Strips

We estimate that 80% of wear and abrasion occurs along the keel and chine areas of the hull. Reinforcement of these sections has always been a standard in our hull construction.
The abrasion resistance qualities of urethane was proven long ago, but it has been a difficult fabric to bond using conventional gluing techniques. Now, using urethane fabrics with our welding technology, we are able to weld continuous strips of solid urethane along the wear points of the hull. Incredibly tough stuff! Continuous welding of wide (almost two inch) strips has not been accomplished before in the outdoor industry. (Cool!)