Outdoor activities, much like any sport, have varying degrees of aficionados. Some people are more casual, some are more “hardcore,” and others care more about appearing high-end than actually performing that way themselves. Kayaking is no different, as there are varying degrees of kayaks and owners who offer and want, respectively, different things. The Oru Beach kayak, which has hit stores just in time for summer kayaking, looks to attract people across that spectrum.
City-dwellers like me often run into storage issues with kayaks. My wife and I are lucky, in fact, to have a garage that can support storage for our Pamlico 135t tandem kayak and our Pungo 120. But there are plenty of people for whom storage is an issue. Oru kayaks was founded with that segment in mind, with an entire line of collapsible kayaks that fold up and out like origami boats.
The concept of a foldable kayak sounds weird, but I’ve seen plenty of people using them on Northwest lakes and rivers this spring, so they must actually work. I haven’t yet seen (or tested) an Oru Beach kayak, but the manufacturer said they’ve spent “years of sketching, folding, tweaking and testing” to get it to market, so it must build on its predecessors’ success.
I strolled into a local REI and had the chance to lift one, and the benefits for urban kayakers are obvious. For starters, a folded-up boat isn’t much larger than a big suitcase, making it easy to store in a closet. Its 26-pound weight is also a dream, at least compared to non-fiberglass models. Oru also claims it’s the “fastest and easiest boat to assemble in the world, taking just three minutes.” Even if that time is attainable only by seasons kayak-foldign pros, that’s still impressive.
Again, I haven’t taken the Oru Beach kayak out on the water, so I can’t vouch for how it handles. It is 28″ wide, which would seem to make it stable, and its 12-foot length would imply that it tracks relatively well. Oru’s longer Coast and Coast+ likely handle better, but they’re also four feet longer and five- to eight-pounds heavier, which could pose challenging to some folks (and storage closets).
I hope to get a chance to test the Oru Beach kayak at OR-Summer Market this August. Until then, if you’ve used one for yourself and have impressions to share, I’d love to hear them in the comments below. I’m especially curious about the seat, which doesn’t look as comfortable as the Phase 3 seat in the Wilderness Systems kayaks I usually take out.