Thank you to Oru Kayak for loaning me a Lake kayak to try. As always, all content and opinions are my own.
As a freelance journalist who covers food and travel, I often receive press releases and offers to check out restaurants, sample products, or visit destinations. That's how I found out about the Oru Lake kayak: the company reached out to me, pitching me the foldable kayak as a perfect fit for Minneapolis residents who are short on storage space but live close to lakes (the city's nickname is "The City of Lakes" since there are 22 within the city limits).
I happen to live in the suburbs, but my townhouse has limited storage space and I'm within a 10 minute drive of several lakes and the Mississippi River. It seemed like a neat opportunity to try an interesting product, so I took Oru Kayak up on their offer and they loaned me a Lake kayak, paddle, and life jacket for a few weeks.
Here's my honest review of the Oru Lake kayak, with feedback from a total novice (me) and an experienced kayaker (my husband Mike). For reference, I'm 5'7" and Mike is 5'10".
Oru Lake Kayak details
List price: $699 (currently on sale for $599), plus $50 for standard shipping
Measurements: weight 17 pounds, length 9'0", width 32"
Capacity: maximum paddler height 6'4", maximum weight capacity 250 pounds
Material: 5mm double-layered, custom-extruded polypropylene with a 10-year UV treatment, which according to Oru is puncture and abrasion resistant and can be folded tens of thousands of times.
Where to buy: orukayak.com
Oru Lake Kayak pros and cons
- Easy to store and transport
- Relatively easy to assemble and disassemble
- Stable and beginner-friendly
- Open design means you may get more water in the kayak than with a traditional closed design
- Backrest isn't very sturdy, which made prolonged paddling more difficult
- Costs more than a traditional kayak
My review of the Oru Lake Kayak
The major selling point of Oru's collapsible kayaks is that the origami-style foldable design makes them easy to store and transport, and they absolutely deliver. As you can see in the photos above, it was easy to carry (and I have pathetically weak arm muscles) and it easily fit in the trunk of our car.
The material reminds me of the white corrugated plastic totes the U.S. Postal Service uses to transport mail. It's very thin and quite lightweight, but seems robust.
My contact emailed me this kayak assembly video, which was helpful—our test run assembly in our living room took a few tries, but we had it down when we got to the lake. It took about 5 minutes to assemble or disassemble the kayak, and it can easily be done solo. Basically you just unfold the kayak, clip a few straps together, and tighten them up. The seat and floorboard are stored in the kayak and also clip into place. To disassemble, you just reverse the process, unclipping the straps and and folding the kayak up.
Previous to my experience with the Oru Lake, I had kayaked exactly once, for about 45 minutes when I was 10 years old. I was concerned that I would end up in the water at some point, but the Oru Lake is very stable (even when you're getting in and out) and easy for a beginner to maneuver. I really enjoyed kayaking with the Oru Lake, and it helped me experience Minnesota's lakes in a new way.
Mike is an experienced kayaker, and he also found the Oru Lake stable and easy to handle. However, he wasn't a fan of the open design—when we were paddling, water splashed into the kayak and pooled at the bottom. Interestingly, when I mentioned this issue on social media, a follower who owns an Oru Lake messaged me and said she has never had this problem, so maybe this is specific to my and Mike's particular body dimensions or paddling style.
Mike's other issue was the backrest—it has significant give to it, which he felt made the kayak harder to paddle than a kayak with a fixed, rigid backrest. Oru does offer a Lake+ model with an upgraded, adjustable backrest that features thicker foam (the Lake+ list price is $799, and is currently on sale for $749).
The Oru Lake's unique origami design means that there aren't any comparable products, but it does cost more than a traditional kayak—for example, the beginner-friendly L.L. Bean Manatee is $429. However, the portability may make the additional cost worthwhile to you.
Who is the Oru Lake Kayak for?
The Oru Lake is ideal for beginning kayakers who want to get out on the water without too much hassle, especially if you have limited storage space and a smaller vehicle.
The $599 cost versus how much we would realistically use it puts the Oru Lake out of reach for us at the moment, but if we were able to get a refurbished model or had more leisure time we would definitely consider purchasing one in the future.
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