Oru Kayak Review: Foldable Kayak Review

Nancy Brown paddling Oru Kayak Lake

If you enjoy kayaking, but don’t own a truck, don’t have a car with a roof rack or don’t have a place to store a kayak, this Oru Kayak review is for you. I have kayaked before. My husband and I have rented kayaks for calm water paddles on the lake. I thought it would be fun to own a kayak. However, when I tried to lift a standard kayak myself, I changed my mind. The kayak was too heavy to carry. Last week, I reviewed the Lake Kayak from Oru Kayak. Read on for my Oru Kayak review of the Lake and Inlet models. These origami-styled foldable kayaks allow you to explore outside the box.

Why select a foldable Oru kayak?

Nancy Brown wears Oru Kayak pack
Carrying my foldable Kayak

Oru Kayak designs multiple models of high-performance folding kayaks. While the Emeryville, California-based company makes kayaks for the ocean and flat water, I tested two origami-style foldable kayaks designed to be used in calm water conditions. All Oru kayaks are made of polypropylene, a single sheet of corrugated, hard plastic. The Oru Kayak arrives in a single box, folded up and ready to assemble and use in minutes.

For those of us who are short on storage space, be that in our apartment, house or vehicle, Oru kayaks take up little space. The Inlet and Lake even have a pack that straps on your back, allowing for hike-in locations or take it with you on an airplane.

I want to point out that I am a beginner kayaker. However, these foldable kayaks can work for beginner and advanced paddlers.

I tested the Oru Lake kayak and Oru Inlet kayak on calm water while wearing a personal flotation device (pfd.) I tested the Lake model with the Oru carbon paddle. My husband used the regular Oru paddle and a pfd when he tested the Oru Beach LT and Inlet. While the carbon fiber paddle is more expensive than the standard Oru Kayak paddle, I preferred the lightweight carbon paddle.

Oru Lake review

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The Oru Lake kayak is the company’s simplest and lightest design. Weighing in at 18 pounds, it unfolds from box-to-boat in under two minutes. I wouldn’t describe this model as “kayaking for dummies” but I would say it is a kayak for the beginner paddler. As I have two hip replacements, I launched from the dock of the marina with my friend holding the boat steady.

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When it came time to exit the Oru Kayak, I paddled back to the dock and parked parallel to the dock. Placing my paddle on the dock, I twisted my upper body toward the dock and placed my elbows and forearms on the dock to work as an anchor to support my weight. As this was my first time paddling the Oru Lake Kayak, I had that same friend hold the boat steady during my exit.

The Lake performed well in calm water conditions. After testing the Oru Lake Kayak in calm waters in the Emeryville, California Marina, I took the Oru Kayak Inlet with me to test for several days in Monterey County, California. My husband took the Oru Kayak Beach LT for a test paddle in the Elkhorn Slough in Moss Landing, California.

Here are some information about the kayak dimensions:

  • Assembled dimensions: 9’ X 32”
  • Box dimensions: 42” X 10” X 18” (similar in size to Oru’s Inlet but collapsible paddle nests inside box)
  • Weight: 18 lbs (10% lighter than the Inlet and one of the lightest non-inflatable kayaks on the market)
  • Assembly time: under 2 minutes
  • Total amount of parts: x2 (50% less parts than all other Oru Kayaks)
  • Suggested retail price: $699 Launched on Kickstarter March 29, 2022 $499 presale price. Estimated delivery time August 2022.

The Oru inlet review

Cory Brown Oru Kayak review of the Inlet in Carmel, California
Cory Brown paddling Oru Kayak Inlet at Carmel River State Beach in California

The Oru Inlet kayak is the company’s second lightest model. Weighing 20 pounds and 10 feet long, the Inlet can support up to 300 pounds and handles well. I took the Inlet for test paddles at Shoreline Lake, as well as Elkhorn Slough in Monterey County, California. Both times on the water were early morning paddles with little to no wind.

With the launch into the Elkhorn Slough, both my husband and I waded into the water before entering our kayaks from the boat ramp. In comparing my dock entry into both the Oru Kayak Lake model and the Inlet model, I think I prefer the walk and wade kayak entry. I was successful in both dock and water launches, but I never tried the kayak launch from the dock without ground support from another person. Update: My husband and I recently purchased two Inlet models and will share more experiences with this Oru Kayak review later.

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What’s it like to paddle Elkhorn Slough in a foldable Oru Kayak

Cory Brown paddling Oru Kayak Beach LT for review in Elkhorn Slough, Moss Landing, California.
Cory Brown in Beach LT for Oru Kayak review in Elkhorn Slough, Moss Landing, California

I confess that I was nervous paddling from the Moss Landing Harbor Launch Ramp to the Elkhorn Slough, as small watercraft can launch there, as well. I would be paddling in deep water with minimal access to shore. Once I crossed under the bridge and was in the Elkhorn Slough, I was caught up in the excitement of paddling next to California sea otters. The Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Reserve is a part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This area has one of the highest concentrations of the California southern sea otter, a member of the threatened species. It was a privilege to paddle within a respectful distance of otter mothers with their pups.

Due to the success of this test paddle with Oru Kayaks, my husband and I decided to purchase two Oru Kayaks.

We selected the Oru Inlet for two reasons. I felt more confident paddling in deep water with the Inlet. Secondly, instant gratification is important to me. As the Oru Kayak Lake was launched on the Kickstarter campaign, the actual Lake kayak would not be ready for shipment until August or September. With my first-hand experience of supply chain issues with other travel gear reviews, I opted for in-stock kayaks.

I acknowledge that I spent more time in the boat testing the Oru Kayak Inlet than I did with the Oru Kayak Lake model. Your experiences may be different than our time on the water with this Oru Kayak review.

The Oru Beach LT kayak

My husband was testing the Oru Beach LT. While he liked the fact that the Beach LT was longer, he found this model more difficult to collapse than the Inlet. At 25 pounds and a little over 12 feet long, the Beach LT was still easy to carry and holds up to 300 pounds. It handled well, but my husband and I want to paddle together. While we will not be taking these Inlets on any sea kayaking adventures, two Oru Kayak Inlets pack better for our recreational paddling needs.

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Oru Kayak review summary

Left to right Oru Beach LT, Oru Lake and Oru Inlet origami-style foldable kayaks.
Oru Kayak review; Beach LT, Lake and Inlet origami-style foldable kayaks

In summary, I think the Oru Lake is great for the price point and recreational paddler wanting the experience of a foldable kayak in calm water. My personal preference is the Inlet kayak for its ease of set up and take down and performance in calm, flat water. At this time of writing, all Oru foldable kayaks are made in the USA and manufactured in California. The origami-style kayak comes with a standard one year warranty.

Use my Oru Kayak discount code on the Oru Kayak website for your kayak purchase. You’ll receive $50 off your order.

Disclaimer: Oru Kayak review, video and all photography by active adventure travel writer Nancy D. Brown. Oru Kayak supplied me with these foldable kayaks for test review purposes; however all opinions are my own.

4 thoughts on “Oru Kayak Review: Foldable Kayak Review”

  1. It appears that Oru eliminated the neoprene that surrounded the open cockpit, except the part on both sides where one sits. Oru also eliminated the folds that covered the stern and bow of the Inlet thereby making it easy to close. Also eliminated were the fairings which makes me wonder how those parts were sealed since the fairings held the bow and stern together. Without the neoprene and fairings, that leaves the open channels of the Oruplast. Are these channels sealed.

    So, I was wondering whether I could take out the parts on my Inlet that the Lake has eliminated?

  2. Hello Leon,
    All good questions. I’m afraid this is above my paygrade. You would need to ask these technical questions directly to Oru Kayak. Happy paddling.

  3. Hey Nancy, thank you for the review. You described your launching experience from the dock of the marina with the help of friend, but what was the “exit” experience like. In other words, was there any difficulty getting out of the kayak and back onto the dock?

  4. Hi Jim,
    Thank you for your comment. I’ll update the blog post and add in my exit experience, as well as my “wade in” technique for the Inlet test paddle.

Comments are closed.