By Paul Theroux

The basics of travel: Go alone, be self-sufficient, and if water figures in your travels bring a folding kayak.


The KLEPPER AERIUS SINGLE, the nearest craft there is to an Inuit kayak, is the best. You bring it in two bags (hull in one, wood frame parts in the other) as part of your gear; you assemble it when you arrive at the designated shore. You paddle away.


I have paddled the same Klepper since 1984. It is the simplest to assemble of any folding kayak, durable, stable, and seaworthy. I also sail it, using a drift-sail rig and rudder, and though I have tipped it (sailing too close to the wind, paddling in heavy surf), and made a wet exit, I’ve always safely climbed back in. I have worn out one hull and bought a new one, but the basic boat is the same. It’s about 16 feet long and weighs 50 pounds-easy enough for one person to heave onto a roof rack or to launch. I paid about $1,200 for it in 1984.


I’ve heard that one test in the British commando curriculum in SAS school is assembling a Klepper in the dark. These boats have been used in many invasions, the stealthy maneuvers we commandos call „covert insertions.“ I have taken this kayak down the Zambezi, through the lagoons of the Solomon Islands, up and down the Philippines, to Easter Island, and many other places. „What is it?“ the watching children say, as I lay out the parts on the beach. As it takes shape, they begin giggling in amazement, „Canoe, canoe!“

Now called the Aerius Basic I; $2,885;