Abby and I recently bought Oru Kayaks. We’ve both wanted kayaks for a ridiculously long time, but the combination of expense, storage and transportation was an issue. The Oru Kayak was the perfect answer.
We were finally pushed over the edge from wanting to fully being behind buying them after we spent an afternoon test paddling a variety of kayaks at a demo day. After that, we knew it was something we really should do and so we worked out a budget. Unfortunately, we still had a big problem… kayaks are huge, and we live in a one-bedroom apartment.
That Saturday we went from “let’s just have some fun and try these kayaks” to “yes, we totally should buy kayaks” to “where will we store them?” in a matter of hours. It was a rollercoaster of emotions to say the least. I posted about the problem on Facebook and then a friend reminded me of the Oru Kayak. I recalled seeing it as a Kickstarter a while back, but never followed up after it was funded, so I looked into it further.
It had just recently been on Shark Tank. One of the sharks jumped on board and they increased production capacity. I started looking at reviews and everyone seemed happy and most importantly, it seemed to solve the problems we had. We made the decision to buy a couple.
Fast forward about six weeks and our Oru Kayaks arrived (well, one did, then the second a week later). The 32 by 28 by 13 inch boxes fit easily in our cars as well as our apartment. When unfolded, they transform into a sturdy 12 foot kayak. It’s an amazing process to take the Oru from box to boat, and it only takes about five minutes (after the first couple times). The company claims you can fold them up to 20,000 times. I’m pretty sure that will take many years to hit that number, so that’s reassuring.
We’ve paddled our Oru Kayaks many times already. We’ve done a few lakes (both calm and active) and the Kalamazoo River. In all situations, the boat performs better than you’d expect for something that folds up. It keeps it’s rigid structure in the water and lets you easily paddle where you want.
The Oru weighs only 26 pounds, which is about half of what a regular kayak of the same length would weigh. This is great for transporting. The included shoulder strap makes small trips from apartment to car, and car to water pretty easy. It’s also great for paddling. Because it’s so light, I think it’s a little easier to maneuver the boat. The only downside I’ve found is it can be affected by a strong wind fairly easily. I’m not familiar enough with traditional kayaks to know if that’s just a kayak thing, or if it’s a result of the lighter Oru.
I wasn’t sure how comfortable the Oru might be, but it performs pretty well there too. It has a padded seat and adjustable back. There is an adjustable foot bar as well. Comparing this to the few times I’ve paddled other kayaks, it seems to provide just as much comfort. It’s not sitting on a couch, but it will let you enjoy a good amount of time on the water.
My biggest issue is entering and exiting the boat. To be fair, this isn’t just an Oru problem. Being six foot two and not the most flexible, it can be a struggle to cram my legs into the boat. The issue is getting the necessary clearance under the front deck. There’s a couple of inches of latches that are necessary for the Oru to stay closed together, but that’s space I wish my legs could use. I have some scraped up shins at the moment. I’m getting better at it, but it’s something I wanted to note.
The other downside to an Oru is the lack of storage bins. The water-tight containers built into traditional boats just aren’t feasible on a folding kayak. There are deck-straps so I’m planning on buying something to strap on instead. You can still stick stuff in the kayak with you, but it’s not water-tight or accessible while you’re paddling.
Overall, I couldn’t be much happier. The Oru Kayak solved the biggest problems preventing us from joining the paddling world sooner. They’re easy to store in our tiny apartment and easy to transport. They may seem expensive at first glance ($1,195), but I encourage you to compare that price to other 12 foot boats, not the cheap little things you can find at Dunham’s or Meijer. Adventure awaits, and Abby and I are ready to paddle our way towards it.