Why Lake Oru is the most accessible folding kayak yet


The Lake Oru kayak may look like a marvel of modern technology, but truth be told, there is nothing modern about it. Oru kayaks are about as simple and straightforward as they come, and their ingenious designs come straight from the 1,000-year-old Japanese tradition of origami (which was likely borrowed from the even older Chinese tradition of Zhezhi, dating about 1800 years ago). So yes, these boats may not be modern, but they are certainly a marvel.

Such a wonder, in fact, that when the folks at Oru were kind enough to send me a test sample, I couldn’t take it. everywhere without at least one person approaching and asking about it.

“Is this one of those collapsible boats?” they asked.

“Why, yes, yes that’s it”, I answered while I was literally unfolding the boat.

“How much does this thing weigh?” ” they asked.

“Not much,” I replied, picking it up effortlessly with one hand and tossing it into the water.

“I heard these things were expensive,” they said.

“Not this one,” I replied, tossing the boat into the river and starting to paddle.

Perhaps the most wonderful part of this whole experience was that the above exchange happened in about a minute. It’s how quickly the lake goes from “suitcase mode” to “ready to paddle mode” – and yes, anyone can do it that quickly. You probably have a few questions about Lake Oru, so let me tell you what I know after spending the last two months with one.

What is Lake Oru Kayaking?

The Lake Oru is a 9-foot recreational kayak made almost entirely of extruded, double-layered polypropylene. Like Oru’s other products, it converts from a full-size boat to a trunk-friendly suitcase with a few simple folds, but it’s the company’s most compact and user-friendly model to date.

It’s also their lightest model to date, and at just 18 pounds, it’s also the lightest rigid kayak on the market.. For anyone who’s ever had the pleasure of lugging around a rigid kayak solo, that’s about half the weight of a comparable kayak. rotomolded boats. The whole craft consists of only two parts – the boat itself and the flip-up clamshell seat, which also serves as a rigid plate supporting the flat-bottomed shape of the lake.

How it works?

Lake Oru Foldable Kayak

The secret sauce of Lake Oru is that double-layered polypropylene material we mentioned above, which is essentially a reinforced version (5mm thick) of the same indestructible material the United States Postal Service uses to transport your mail. Oru says this special plastic is tough enough to withstand the rigors of regular use – sliding over rocky river bottoms, for example – but flexible enough to be folded and unfolded tens of thousands of times without splitting.

When unfolded and locked in place using the tension straps attached to the lake, this material transforms a collapsible sheet of plastic into a rigid craft that is still buoyant enough to support up to 250 pounds of paddler and boat. gear (or in my case, paddler and pup). There’s still plenty of room inside for a dry bag or two, whether behind the seat or between your legs.

Paddling in a Lake Oru kayak with a dog

Lake Oru Standout Features

  • Impressively lightweight at just 18 pounds
  • Assembles in less than a minute
  • The most affordable boat in the Oru range
  • Stores in the trunk of your car
  • It looks really cool

What I love about Kayaking Lake Oru

This takes the hassle out of the occasional kayak: I love a day on the water as much as the next person, but I really hate carrying around the weight and bulk of a standard rotomolded kayak. It’s basically a hard-hulled kayak that you can easily throw in your trunk. I can throw two in the bed of my truck and still have plenty of room for a full weekend of camping gear, no roof rack required. Convenience alone is a strong argument for this boat.

It is a unique experience: Aside from the paddling itself, everything about using an Oru feels truly unique. The semi-transparent plastic allows light to filter through the body, so you get that cool experience of having sparkling water all around you as you paddle. You can also throw in a few lights inside the Oru for late night sessions, and you’ll feel like you’re floating inside a paper lantern.

It does not take up space in the house: If you live in an apartment or small house without a garage, storing a sturdy 9-foot craft is pretty much out of the question. Anyone can store two of these boats in a hallway closet. No giant boat stand required. No question of hanging them from the ceiling. No problem walking one through your front door.

Woman carrying Oru folding kayak with one hand

What I do not like

It is limited to occasional use: The lake is a great option for calm waters or slow-moving rivers, but it’s not meant to do much else. Limited weight capacity and storage means it’s not designed for overweight travel. It’s definitely not meant for tackling rapids, and you’d have to be creative enough to be able to take him fishing.

It’s still a little expensive: The Lake’s Kickstarter price was a bargain at $499, but if you missed that window, you missed that price. You can still pre-order at a discounted price of $550 (expected shipments in September of this year), but once the lake goes into production, the expected MSRP jumps to $700. It’s going to be a hard pill to swallow for casual users who really don’t need much more than just an inflatable kayak, although it’s true that the Oru is miles ahead of cheap inflatables. in terms of quality and design.

Loading an Oru Kayak into a Subaru

FAQ for Lake Oru

How sustainable is Lake Oru?

Oru says the lake’s dual-layer plastic body is designed to survive around 20,000 bends. By this logic, if you unfolded and folded the boat every day of the year, the lake would last over 27 years. Of course, these calculations assume daily use and proper care (like not dragging your boat across the parking lot), so it’s hard to say for sure. I’d wager the Lake’s lifespan depends more on the hardware – namely the straps and buckles – but it seems ready and willing to serve your average paddler for several years of regular use.

Are folding kayaks worth it?

The main selling point of any Oru kayak is its compact size, which makes it an attractive alternative to an inflatable kayak. I’ve used both and can enthusiastically recommend the Oru over any inflatable I’ve tried. It sets up and folds down much faster, handles about the same, and doesn’t give you that terrible “sitting in a rubber sock” feeling that inflatables do. Keep in mind that the size and shape of the lake – and the lack of a rudder – don’t make this the straightest boat in the world, but if you’re looking for a fun laid-back paddler, it’s worth a look. considered.

A foldable kayak at night with lights inside

Should You Buy a Lake Oru Kayak?

Ultimately, the decision to buy Lake Oru over something else comes down to three things: quality, portability, and design. If you can’t afford or want to store a full-size boat at home, the Lake is a particularly gentle alternative to an inflatable, and it’s much easier to transport and store than a typical rigid boat. Inflating and deflating a kayak is always a pain, while this portable one is ready to swim in less than a minute. Personally, I would choose the double-wall plastic of the lake over the more puncture-prone PVC walls of an inflatable any day if I had the funds. It also looks much cooler and runs much cooler on a hot summer day. If all of these benefits sound like selling points to you, the Lake will be a smart buy.

Editors’ Recommendations


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