Oru Kayak, the California-based company pioneering foldable kayaks inspired by origami, knows that getting out on the water isn't always the easiest, especially when you live in a city apartment. Water sports like kayaking, rafting, or stand-up paddle boarding require logistical planning, expensive and large equipment, and, of course, a body of water nearby. But Oru's latest release, the Lake kayak, seeks to break down all those barriers. As the company's most affordable boat ($599), and now the lightest non-inflatable kayak on the market, the Lake is true a foray into making water sports more accessible.
The Lake is a stripped-down, nine-foot-long kayak that focuses on the essentials. It consists of only two parts: a single sheet of double-layered polypropylene that forms the hull and deck of the kayak, and a floorboard with a built-in 18-millimeter memory foam seat. Impressive, sure, but the real magic is that the whole thing folds up into a neat box shape, just like origami.
Transforming from boat to box is Oru's hallmark, but while other Oru models require users to install bulkheads for rigidity, the Lake achieves the same structural integrity by using the new folded floorboard, cutting down on both setup time—you can transform it in as little as 45 seconds—and weight. The lack of bulkheads contributes to another perk: because the polypropylene, a durable plastic, is translucent, kayakers can illuminate their kayak against the night sky and dark water. And the best part? The boat weighs just 18 pounds.
When the company first set out to make foldable kayaks in 2012, the Lake is what came to mind: a simple, affordable, portable kayak that could fit in the trunk of a sedan. It would be ready for spontaneous adventures and could be carried into the backcountry, up to alpine lakes and rivers that have yet to see a paddler.
With half the components of Oru's other kayaks, the Lake stays true to the company's original vision. "It’s the most purely ‘origami’ thing we’ve ever made,” explained founder and chief design officer Anton Willis. It just took a decade for Oru to nail the details such a simple design.
Unlike Oru's earlier kayaks, like the Bay ST and Coast XT, the Lake is designed for all-around water use at a beginner level, rather than specialized, more adventurous recreation. But beginners is what the company is catering toward—the goal is to produce a kayak that anyone can carry and use, regardless of age or physical ability.
The Lake was first launched on Kickstarter, where it earned a whopping $2.25 million from backers. Now it's available for immediate purchase at a discounted price of $599 via Oru's website, months ahead of schedule (it turns out a simpler boat means a simpler supply chain). If a fall paddling trip isn't already on your calendar, it might be time to start planning.