The Oru Kayak is one of the best gear purchases I’ve ever made.

High praise, I know. But since a lot of you readers and Instagram fam ask me about it, I’m going to give you a full review of why I’m so in love with it. And FYI, I’m not being paid to write this — I actually love this kayak THAT much.

“Is that a folding kayak?!”

Why yes it is! It folds up into the size of a big portfolio or suitcase, so it fits in the trunk of my subcompact car. And it’s only 25 lbs, which is super lightweight for a kayak. I can carry it by myself, which would be impossible with a conventional kayak. Thanks to that, I’ve been able to take it with me on my solo road trip!

Sunrise paddle at Lake James, NC. A stop on my road trip

I don’t recommend backcountry camping with it unless you buy or sew your own pack for it. It’s probably great for day hikes to lakes, but I haven’t gotten that far — yet.

“How long does it take to assemble?”

Like, five minutes. The first time took Remi and I about thirty minutes out of the box, which according to reviews, is a common experience. After the third assemble/disassemble, the folds loosened up and I could do it on my own in just a few minutes.

The corrugated plastic is rated for 20,000 folds. Remi did the math and that means I’d have to paddle every day until I am 50! In other words, it should last my entire life.

Floating down a canoe trail in Tallahassee, FL

“Is it stable?”

Yes! The Beach LT is the casual paddler’s model, so it’s designed for newbies like me. Steering is easy and I can get a decent speed going. While it’s not designed for hairpin turns, I find it handles quite well through the cypress maze of Florida canoe trails. Be mindful that it’s rated for flat waters, which is great for Florida’s wetlands but not rapid rivers. I’ve used it in mild lake waves without fear of tipping.

It’s open cockpit makes it relatively easy for me to stand up and it’s been faithfully steady every time. And for all the dog owners out there, I’ve seen many photos of people bringing their pups for a water adventure (but make sure they’re wearing a PFD).

“Is it fragile?”

Not in my use. I’ve scraped it on sand, submerged branches, and the occasional rock. Each time it’s held up beautifully. The straps and buckles that hold the kayak together have withstood hours in the sun. On that same thread, I don’t go out of my way to wreck it and try to be kind to it whenever possible.

Paddled into a shallow creek that fed into Lake James. Dodged a couple submerged branches and saw some turtles!

The kayak comes with a 1 year warranty, so when the rubber trim in the cockpit started to peel (nonessential to floating), Oru sent me a repair kit. The plastic hull itself is looking great — a hard rinse is enough to clean up discoloration.

“If you don’t mind me asking, how much is it?”

I always get shocked reactions when I answer this question. It’s $1,299 on the Oru Kayak site and REI. No, it’s not cheap. I saved gift cards, birthday money, and strategically used my REI member coupons for the purchase. If you’re looking just a regular kayak, perhaps it’s out of your range. But if you need something portable, the Oru Kayak is unrivaled.

In my opinion, it was 100% worth it because it’s opened up a whole new world of exploration — I spent nearly every day on the water in the first month of ownership. Unlike inflatable kayaks, I don’t have to bring an electric/hand pump or worry about popping in my Oru.

From when I first got my kayak – this was my fourth excursion in a week. I was still borrowing paddles!

“Cool.”

Right?? At 12 feet long, it’s larger than what I expected for a folding boat. It will easily hold all my gear when I take it on its first overnight trip down the Suwanee River.

If you put lights in the front and back cavities, the kayak illuminates to look extra cool on night paddles. I can’t wait to try this in the emerald waters of the Florida Keys!

Disclaimer: if you choose to purchase this kayak, you will automatically become cool and everyone will ask you about it. I had at least four different strangers say something to me while on an 1.5 hour float down the French Broad. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Floating down the French Broad River in Asheville, NC

Recommendations:

If you plan to be on the water for several hours, I recommend bringing an extra cushion for the seat. Like most kayaks, hours on the seat leave your rump a little sore. I brought a cushion for my last sunrise paddle, and four hours later my bum still felt great.

I bought the extra 3-year warranty on the Oru Kayak site because I plan to use this kayak a lot and am willing to pay for the peace of mind. You have 30 days after purchase to decide if you want the extra warranty.

Bonus: it’s recyclable! Remi finds that terrifying but I love that this boat can have a life after its kayak days.

Mary sitting in Oru Kayak with orange sun flare
Full day on the water at Lake Talquin, FL

I was really into origami as a kid — I would sit on the floor in the library, flipping through how-to books, using up all their computer paper to make origami horses, birds, and dinosaurs. The Oru Kayak is an ingenious product that satiates both my childlike fascination with paper folding and my desire for spontaneous adventure.

If you need something portable to discover life on the water, the Oru Kayak is the best. I have zero complaints with it and will use it for years to come. It’s taken my road trip to the next level by giving me access to the hidden corners of lakes and marshes. So if you’re willing to take the plunge and join the Oru family, you won’t regret it!

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