“The Oru Kayak folds out of a compact box—easily, quickly, and almost magically.”
That was the promotional line that appeared on Kickstarter back in 2012. By lunch time on the first day of the campaign, backers had already pledged more than enough to meet the funding goal, and the company was launched.
Since then, Oru Kayak has become an international success, shipping folding kayaks worldwide. Oru Kayak produces the only origami kayaks on the market. They are designed and manufactured in the United States.
EVERY PIECE OF THE KAYAK IS CONTAINED WITHIN THE COMPACT, FOLDED BOX SHAPE, AND NO TOOLS ARE REQUIRED FOR ASSEMBLY.
Curious to see if this innovative watercraft would be suitable for use beyond casual paddling and the multiple roles required by preppers, American Survival Guide contacted Oru Kayak and arranged for a sample to be sent to my home. A few days later, a cardboard box arrived containing one of Oru Kayak’s Beach models.
The Oru Kayak Beach falls into the “recreational” category of kayak designs. Unlike whitewater-play boats or sea kayaks, this class of kayak is not specialized to perform a certain role, such as bouncing off of boulders or touring the coastline. Boats in this class are designed to do just about anything; and, while they won’t win any competitions, they are champions of versatility.
After removing the folded kayak from the shipping carton, my only thought was, No way this thing is a 12-foot kayak!
I still had my doubts as I unfolded the plastic hulk … until the kayak form started to take shape as I followed the assembly instructions. At the end of the transformation, a sturdy watercraft lay at my feet—the same size as my rigid molded kayak but half the weight.
Made from a single sheet of durable, corrugated polypropylene with intricate creases pressed in, the kayak hull and decks are held together with nylon straps fitted with buckles and industrial-strength snaps. Every piece of the kayak is contained within the compact, folded box shape, and no tools are required for assembly. The first time I assembled the Beach, it took about 20 minutes to complete, because I had to refer to the manual several times. But after getting the hang of it, the metamorphosis from box to kayak takes five minutes or less.
Oru Kayak included one of its optional paddles (which breaks down into four pieces and tucks away inside the folded kayak). The lightweight (2.55 pounds) paddle proved to be strong, easy to put together and is adjustable for length and blade offset. It was perfect for this kayak.
Floating the Boat
Stepping from the shore into the kayak, I expected to feel some flex in the hull. After all, this was a folding kayak. Instead, the bottom of the Beach felt firm as my weight transferred onto it. I eased into the seat and found it to be very comfortable. In addition, the padded seatback adjusted easily, as did the foot rest.
I TRIED TO MAKE THE BEACH ROLL TO THE POINT OF NO RETURN, EACH TIME LEANING OUT WELL BEYOND THE POINT I THOUGHT IT SHOULD FLIP, BUT IT JUST PUSHED BACK …. THE STABILITY OF THE ORU KAYAK BEACH PROVED TO BE OUTSTANDING.
On the water, the kayak performed very well. At low speed, it was very responsive to power strokes, accelerating forward, backward and turning as desired. Paddling at a sustainable pace, the kayak cruised along at 3 miles per hour (measured with my handheld GPS), and with a quick cadence, it sprinted along at about 5 miles per hour. Tracking was good, with minimal effort required to stay on course.
One area of concern for many people is stability: Kayaks have a reputation for being easy to tip over, and often, people will shy away from them for fear of falling out—or worse, being trapped upside down. While getting stuck in any capsized kayak is highly unlikely, with the size and openness of the cockpit in the Beach, it would be virtually impossible.
Still, I had to find the limit of how far I could lean the Oru Kayak before it sent me swimming. I tried to make the Beach roll to the point of no return, each time leaning out well beyond the point I thought it should flip, but it just pushed back. After several attempts, I leaned so far to the side that I “fell” out, for lack of a better word. The stability of the Oru Kayak Beach proved to be outstanding.
Carrying Cargo in the Beach Kayak
The next test focused on how the boat handled with additional weight in the hull. Loading gear inside the Beach was done by placing items inside the front and rear compartments during assembly. Traditionally, kayaks have one or more hatches on the decks to access the interior, and everything has to fit through the hatch. Nevertheless, with the folding hull of the Oru Kayak, items that would normally be too large to fit went in easily.
With three days’ worth of gear and supplies, including a loaded backpack and large sleeping bag inside the compartments, the Beach’s decks were snapped and cinched closed. Additional items—a small cooler, 20-liter dry bag with radio equipment, and fishing rods and a tackle box— were loaded around the seat and in front of the foot rest. The combined weight of the gear and paddler was about 250 pounds—well below the 300-pound maximum.
With all this room for storage, it would be relatively easy to overload the Beach, so keep that in mind. Also, the front and rear compartments are not waterproof; the bulkheads that form them are there for the structural integrity of the hull and decks. Anything that must be kept dry should be placed in a dry bag or trashcan liner.
COMPACT AND STORABLE ANYWHERE; TRANSPORTABLE BY ANY MEANS; SIMPLE, FIVE-MINUTE ASSEMBLY; STRONG AND DURABLE; AMPLE STORAGE SPACE FOR GEAR AND SUPPLIES; EASY TO PADDLE, WITH GREAT HANDLING CHARACTERISTICS AND EXCELLENT STABILITY, ORU KAYAK JUST MIGHT HAVE CREATED THE PERFECT EMERGENCY WATERCRAFT.
The lower center of gravity created by the added weight seemed to make the Beach handle even better than before. After paddling around the lake awhile, the boat was pulled ashore with the gear still inside, and again, no flex was detectable in the kayak.
THE ORU KAYAK BEACH IS AN ADMIRABLE AND VERSATILE WATERCRAFT; I CAN’T IMAGINE ANY TASK THIS KAYAK WOULDN’T BE CAPABLE OF.
The Oru Kayak Beach is an admirable and versatile watercraft. I can’t imagine any task this kayak wouldn’t be capable of. Keep in mind that the Beach is not intended for use in whitewater or rough surf, but it sure isn’t limited to serene summer days on the lake.
Compact and storable anywhere; transportable by any means; simple, five-minute assembly; strong and durable; ample storage space for gear and supplies; easy to paddle, with great handling characteristics and excellent stability, Oru Kayak just might have created the perfect emergency watercraft.
Oru Kayak Beach
Dimensions and Capacities
- Length: 12 feet
- Width: 28 inches at the widest point
- Weight: 26 pounds
- Capacity: 300 pounds
- Length: 33 inches
- Width: 12 inches
- Height: 30 inches
Specifications, Materials and Construction
- Double-walled, 5mm polypropylene hull and deck with UV inhibitors
- Double-walled, 10mm polypropylene seat and bulkheads (NOTE: bulkheads are for structural rigidity only and are not watertight)
- ABS structural components
- Polypropylene and EPDM rubber trim
- Anodized aluminum reinforcing rod
- Heavy-duty nylon and neoprene rubber fairings
- Nylon and stainless steel fasteners
- Refined folding design for ultra-fast assembly
- Extra-large cockpit for easy entry and exit and room for gear
- 28-inch width for increased stability
- Lightweight hull for easy paddling
- Foam seat and comfortable, fully adjustable backrest
- Easy-to-adjust footrest
- Two sets of carrying handles for effortless maneuvering on land
Oru Kayak Accessories
Oru Kayak carries a complete line of accessories that complement and add to the versatility of the company’s folding kayaks.
The Oru Kayak Fishing Kit includes everything needed to turn your kayak into a fish-catching machine, and the NRS (Northwest River Supplies) Safety Kit can be secured to the deck or inside the kayak to keep emergency items within reach. Complete packages include essential accessories to get your new kayak on the water quickly.
Always wear a USCG-approved personal flotation device (PFD) when you are on the water.
View the full selection of accessories at www.OruKayak.com
The Oru Kayak carbon-fiber paddle is extremely lightweight and exceptionally strong. Carbon-fiber paddles are great for long-distance paddling.
Inflatable flotation bags are made to fit in the front and rear compartments of the kayak to provide extra flotation if the boat is deployed in rough water.
The Oru Kayak Backpack allows the folded kayak to be carried comfortably in rough terrain.
The NRS Safety Kit includes items for dealing with emergencies on the water.
Oru Kayak has assembled packages that contain everything you need to get your new boat on the water.
The Oru Kayak Fishing Kit is available as an accessory.
Oru Kayak, Inc.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the April, 2018 print issue of American Survival Guide.