Many years ago my good friend Robie and I scouted and found what looked like a good spot on a local lake to go duck hunting. We borrowed an old canoe and then “devised a system” for attaching it to the roof of Robie’s car so that it would likely arrive when we did with hopefully only minor scratches and dents to his vehicle.

You have to be pretty gung-ho to get into duck hunting. Getting up early means 3AM on a January morning while the temps are still fairly below freezing. So, we get the canoe on the car, our gear in the car, double check for hunting license and duck stamps, and we are on our way. Once parked we remove the canoe from the roof and pile all of our gear in the boat bottom to begin our 2 mile hike to what we hope will be a fruitful morning.

We stop many times along the way, to rest, change hands, and warm frozen fingers. The canoe is heavy! By the time we arrive we are both sweating pretty good which has a serious chilling affect once you stop moving. We are greeted by many white lights, a duck hunter’s way of telling you “I’ve already got this spot”. Perhaps we should have gotten up earlier? Eventually we paddle through the maze of fellow duck hunters, stumps, and half submerged logs in the dark to find our own spot to set up. We wait until exactly 30 minutes before sunrise to legitimately start shooting. By sunrise it is all over and we have a couple of ducks between the two of us.

The trip back to the car seemed to take even longer but it gave me time to think. Why couldn’t you use a boat that would be easier to transport? What if you had a folding boat that you carry on your back? Think of all the places you could get to where others couldn’t…

That was more than 15 years ago. After that I dabbled with sketches, made models, and would wake up in the middle of the night with an idea I’d need to jot down. There were many trips to the hardware store and asking favors of friends and family that knew how to sew or had special tools I needed to borrow.

Early Frame Ideas

Early Frame Ideas

Early Prototype

Early Prototype

Eventually I came up with a prototype and got my first patent. During that time I was also traveling to wilderness areas in Wyoming, Montana, and Alaska, further reinforcing my desire to find a way to get a boat into these pristine and hard to reach places.

Pete Paddling an Early K-PAK

Pete Paddling an Early K-PAK

More Early K-PAK Framing

My wife, Carol and I took a few prototypes to The Outdoor Retailers Show in Salt Lake with only three weeks to prepare for our exhibit.

K-PAKS at The  Outdoor Retailers Show

K-PAKS at The  Outdoor Retailers Show

The show was a big success and while there I met Alv Elvestad and Ralph Hoehn from Pakboats. We realized that our boats were different enough to the point where we were not competing with each other and became good friends. Despite lots of interest in the original boat I was not happy with it. It was still big, bulky, heavy, and pretty much only good for flat water. I wanted something more versatile.

After the show, I teamed up with Ralph to reinvent the K-Pak, which is exactly what we did. Ralph and I now share a patent on a boat that does everything we wanted it to do. Other boats are on the drawing board. Alv and I work together on production and we both share a strong desire to build our boats here in the USA someday…

Comment