More comments from RobG in 2007 on paddling.net: see Older Posts below for his previous insights.
The biggest issue with 3 piece kayaks is moving the bags. One has a sense of 19th century Victorian era expeditions with the camel trains and porters, merely by moving the bags from the car and through the doors to the ticket counter. Then there is the cost, variously interpreted by airlines. Once there, the vehicle proposed to move “the bags” to the water needs to accommodate them in addition to your gear. Once at the water the assembly with a 4 bolt design takes between 20 minutes to 35 minutes. The reach to the forward bulkhead is the issue. The Tide Race, Nigel Dennis and Rock Pool kayaks use buckles. I have no experience with those. They appear to be much easier to put together. I will say that the 4 bolt design is very stiff. Care must be taken to ensure a very tight fit or you will ship water into your bulkheads. That happened only once. I am assuming that the buckle design folks wanted to eliminate penetrations into the boat which is another reason to do that. Another issue to consider is the added 10-12 pounds to the kayak due to extra bulkheads and hardware. A wise paddler indeed one would be if they carried a pair of ratchets and extended heads in the day hatch.On the water it paddles like a single piece hardshell. There are no further issues. I’ve put the Nordkapp Jubilee HM through some snarky places, including large surf, tide races, high winds and rocky areas. That boat, now owned by Chuck Freedman, is a fantastic boat. It did everything I asked of it. There were no skegs, rudders or anything to deal with. It went where I pointed it. It was nimble enough (heeled over) for me to get my 3* in it and serve as my solitary all purpose boat.Where the 3 piece concept comes into play is the length of your trip. If it’s over 2 weeks on the water, then the misery of moving the bags from your door to the destination begins to fade. The hatches, the smooth interior for dragging dry bags in and out, your gear to use at sea in a day hatch all are fantastic on a “your boat wherever you want to paddle it” style trip. Folding kayaks can be a pain in the neck when it comes to surf imploded hatches on the roll top and clip hatches, sliding gear in and out along the frame members, no day hatch and the necessity of a sea sock. Plus they leak a lot.Most folders have no trouble with a Garcia bear resistant food canister. The Khatsalano, my folder, does. They are a very wise piece of equipment anywhere along the BC or Alaskan coasts. The Valley accepted one in the rear hatch. Most folders are very tough, at least the ones made by Feathercraft. I’ve put as much abuse on it as I have any hardshell and it is one tough cookie. It is a delight, an absolute jewel, to get from my door to the launch of my choice. Night and day different than the sectional concept. Plus, the Khats is fast to paddle, but slow to assemble.If I were space challenged as in a living environment, I would have the 3 piece as it gives me the option of removing only the rear section, propping up the cockpit and front section in a corner and very fast assembly. The more impediments to the paddle, the less paddling. Additionally, I have few restrictions getting it to some oddball place that looks great to paddle, other than my logistical skills and ability to recruit some folks to help out. My take anyway on the concept of 3 piece kayaks. It works, it shines in certain areas and is pure drudgery in other areas.Cheers,Rob G (2007)