Testing Lake, Oru’s Lightest Foldable Kayak
Oru launched its first foldable kayak 10 years ago, drawing inspiration from origami and the tough corrugated polypropylene used in United States Post Office mail bins. Now, the brand’s announcing its newest innovation: Lake, which goes on presale today. It’s the lightest, fastest to set up, and least expensive kayak in its five-boat stable.
Lake debuts with a bargain price of $450, which will rise to $699 after the Kickstarter campaign runs its course.
Oru kept the origami origins, but pared down the Lake’s design. It has only two loose parts for assembly—the boat itself and a combination floorboard and seat. Lake weighs just 18 pounds for a 9-foot kayak, making it the lightest non-inflatable on the market. It takes only two minutes to unfold. That fast setup time is mostly due to the foldable floorboard element with an attached memory foam seat, which slips into the bottom of the boat, creating a more rigid structure that eliminates the need for bulkheads.
Founder and chief design officer Anton Willis is particularly proud of this new kayak.
“The defining principle of this boat is simplicity—both in terms of customer experience/accessibility and design ethos,” he says. “We make origami kayaks, and this boat is the essence of that—it’s the most purely ‘origami’ thing we’ve ever made. We’re taking away everything unnecessary so we can focus on those moments of wonder.”
Some other impressive stats: Lake’s packed down size is 42x10x18, so it’s small enough to slip three side by side in a typical sedan trunk (the collapsible paddle can also fit inside the folded up box). The light weight of the craft, 10 percent lighter than the next size up, The Inlet, results mostly from the elimination of bulkheads, footrests, trim, and individual seat components. The setup time of two minutes is also 33 percent quicker than it takes to unfurl and launch The Inlet. Another cool feature is the ability to add LED lights inside the hull, making the translucent polypropylene glow at night, which looks especially cool while cruising on the water.
Courtesy ImageFirst Impressions
There’s no doubt this newest Oru is light and easy to set up. Without consulting any guides, we were able to figure out how to get it fully ready to launch in a little over two minutes after a bit of fiddling. Most of that time was taken up by not having the floorboard in the bottom and unfolded before making all of the proper pushes on the four points that get the kayak into its rigid, ready-to-go state.
It definitely is a small craft, though, and with it comes the lower payload of 250 pounds. The lack of dedicated storage means this isn’t suitable for long journeys (and has a strict weight limit). But for day trips on the water and most average-size folks, it’s a great little craft that’s nimble and fun to paddle. Just note Lake doesn’t track very well given the flat bottom and no rudder or real skeg.