Owen Burke/Business Insider
- This morning, Oru Kayak, the inventor of the Origami folding kayak, listed its smallest and most budget-friendly kayak to date, on Kickstarter.
- We took it for a spin on the Hudson (and checked it out at Outdoor Retailer this summer) and loved it.
- Right now you can get their Inlet Kayak package, which includes an Inlet, a paddle, and a backpack for the Inlet and the paddle through Kickstarter for $949 ($198 off retail).
I’ve been using Oru’s kayaks for a few years. A friend and I sailed with them around Fiji and down to New Zealand, and though most of my time was spent surfing and spearfishing, it was always easy to pull the yaks out for a quick sunset paddle, or when conditions weren’t ripe for surfing or fishing. I always thought that the boats we had, the Bay St and the Coast XT, were inconceivably easy to set up. Then the company’s founder, Anton Willis, had me meet him on the west side of Manhattan for a paddle around the USS Intrepid, and I was smitten beyond my wildest dreams. This boat opens up a world of possibilities.
On specs, design, and portability
First of all, the 10-foot-long, 30-inch-wide Inlet weighs only 20 pounds and folds down to 40 inches by 12 inches by 20 inches, which is plenty small for carrying it either through the subway or on a solid portage to your favorite secret fishing spot where you never thought you’d get to launch a boat. Here in New York City, I’ve got a few places in my back pocket for which, my apologies, dear reader, the angling mob would have my throat.
Next, it takes only about three to five minutes to unfold the thing and get paddling — I think I can probably get it down to two minutes with a bit of practice, though.
Made of 5-millimeter double-layered polypropylene, it kind of feels and looks like white cardboard coated in epoxy, but I can assure you, after having launched them time and again from a sailboat and hit more than a couple dried up reef beds, it’s far sturdier. (The manufacturer rates the material for 20,000 fold cycles — that’s a lot more kayak trips than I, or my future grandchildren, ever expect to be able to take.)
Notes from the field
At 10 feet long and 30 inches wide, this boat’s on the smaller side, and I wondered whether it would handle a little wake, because after all, the waters around New York City are heavily trafficked. I took a couple of sets of wake from everything from small fishing boats to commuter ferries which sent steep two-footers my way. Head on and abeam (sideways), I was pretty comfortable handling everything. (Author’s note: The U.S. Coast Guard recommends taking wake at a 45-degree angle, and so did my father when we were growing up, but I risked my life in that chilly late spring Hudson River water for you, dear reader.)
The bottom line
If you live in an apartment where space is precious, have a small sedan or some other vehicle (perhaps even of the two-wheeled variety), or you live in a van down by the river or sea, as it were (I can’t judge you), and you want a portable, relatively seaworthy watercraft (the brand recommends this for flat water, but it can handle a little chop and wake) that doesn’t take up much space, this is your boat, and for under $1,000, it’s nothing short of a miracle. Bravo, Oru!
Pros: Foldable to the size of a mid-sized suitcase, lightweight (20 pounds), easy to assemble, modestly priced
Cons: Doesn’t ship until May 2020, not quite as easy to outfit as a rigid kayak, taller people might be a bit cramped (as they would in any 10-foot, 30-inch hull), no skeg or rudder (though the brand has it in talks)
Preorder an Origami Inlet Kayak, an Oru paddle, and an Inlet Pack on Kickstarter for a pledge of $949
- This $85 camping cutlery set is the only one you’ll ever need — here’s what it comes with
- This $65 hammock weighs 7 ounces and folds down smaller than my palm — it’s great for backpacking and days at the park
- This $200 portable fire pit is fan-controlled, nearly smokeless, and my new favorite outdoor fireplace and grill