If you live in an apartment, I highly doubt that a kayak or canoe is number one on your to-do list. The last thing you want is to clutter up space, especially when there is so little to begin with. Living in the city requires things like under-bed storage and pull-out furniture, not bulky and occasional recreational equipment that you can’t fit in a closet or under your desk.
But what if you could? Imagine if you could spend the evening exploring New York Harbor or Boston’s Charles River on something you could literally throw in your closet, among rain boots and jackets, when you were done. Because that’s exactly what you can do with the Lake Oru ($599), a folding kayak reminiscent of a piece of origami perfect for water-hungry city dwellers. At just 18 pounds, it’s the brand’s lightest and most portable product to date, designed to take you from the couch to the canal (or the creek or the lake) in just minutes.
If you are unfamiliar with oru, the brand is known for its folding kayaks inspired by the Japanese art of paper folding. Traditional wooden or fiberglass boats are heavy, bulky and rarely suitable for apartment living, while inflatable kayaks can often be just as bulky. Neither does Orus – its foldable kayaks are designed specifically for city dwellers who are short on space but are passionate about the outdoors. And the lake is the lightest and easiest to use yet.
Why we love Lake Oru
Its main feature is the fact that it fits in what is essentially a briefcase. I unboxed my Oru Lake to find a thinly folded plastic wrapper with handles that looked like something a 1950s cartoon businessman would take to work. With a few breaks and unbuckles, I quickly realized has been the real kayak. Other than a folding seat, there were no spare parts or miscellaneous tools to assemble it. All I had to do was pull out a few seams, buckle some more snaps, and lock the seat/floor combo—which took three minutes flat—and I paddled.
Considering how minimalistic this kayak was, I was skeptical that it would work well. In fact, I literally texted my friend that I was going for a kayak ride (with a flotation vest, of course) and joked that there was “a chance he flows”. Except no! The little lake was paddling like a breeze! Its lightweight frame is perfect for calm fresh water like the lake I had it in, gliding easily over the surface and without wobbling or rocking. Hit!
But the main dish is that folding feature that facilitates vantage to and from the marina. Folding it is as easy as unfolding it, as long as you do it when it’s completely dry. From there you can store it anywhere. I have a house with a spacious garage, but even an urban studio or loft is more than enough to keep Lake Oru. Put it in the trunk, coat closet, under your bed, next to your desk, on overhead storage – you don’t need a lot of space to store it, that’s what makes it makes it so awesome.
Getting in the water when you live in town is no small feat. Unless you want to pay for the rental gear and lug it around, or are lucky enough to have a boat anchored nearby, it’s not easy. That’s why we’re so impressed with this badass little boat. It’s the ideal kayak for beginners, light enough for you to pick it up and take it wherever you want and doesn’t take up space when not in use.
Now, it’s not perfect. I will say the seat is a bit uncomfortable. It’s just an unpadded piece of plastic, so if you’re looking to paddle for hours without pain or aches, invest in the Lake+ ($749), which includes a footstool and cushion-compatible seat. It is also definitely not suitable for water other than a glass calm lake. If you plan on paddling in salt water or anything with tide and wind, consider upgrading to the slightly tougher model. Hall ($899) or the sportiest ST Bay ($1499).
But if you’re a rookie adventurer who yearns to trade in the concrete jungle for some time on the water, the lake is an earthling’s dream. Get your sea legs here.
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