I’ve always been a big outdoorsy person. Whether it’s hiking, mountain biking, or kayaking…anything that can put me in nature, I’m all for it. Over the past year, I really got into kayaking. The ability to paddle yourself around an open body of water, exploring places where most boats can’t go, it’s a freedom that is just awesome. Every trip I took this past year, I tried to find a place to rent a kayak if possible. The problem was, most places didn’t have kayak rentals or wanted a pretty absurd amount of money to rent one for a small amount of time. More times than I can count, I wish I could have just brought my own kayak with me to some of the spots I visited. It was early this year that I was introduced to an awesome brand called Oru Kayak. I had seen some fellow Instagrammers using Oru Kayaks out and about, and at places where I had tried to get a kayak to. At first, I thought an Oru was just another kayak, but with a bit of research I discovered that it was everything I ever needed…it was compact, light, and travel friendly. I reached out to Oru and after a few back and forth messages, we teamed up.
So what exactly is an Oru Kayak? It’s a completely collapsible kayak in which you can pack with you and take anywhere in the world. It unfolds kind of like an accordion and with a few extra steps…boom, kayak. There are a few different versions out on the market. I currently use the Bay +. The first time I took mine for a spin, it took me about 15 minutes to put together. Now I’ve got it down to about a solid 6-7 minutes and I’m ready to hit the water. Packing it up is extremely simple as well. Disconnect a few straps, pull a few pieces, and fold it back up. You can then slide the kayak into a really nice backpack to carry it out with you. All together, it weighs around 30lbs packed up and is a 12’ kayak put together (there are also 16′ options). Below is a quick time lapse I shot while putting the kayak together two weeks ago in Big Bend.
Over the past two months, I’ve taken my Oru to Iceland, Arizona, and Santa Elena Canyon. It’s been put through the ringer. Heavy winds (even blowing away at one point before I could get into it. Oops), iceberg filled ocean waters, super narrow flooded slot canyons, and more. I know you guys are getting anxious and wanting to know if it really works, so…here’s my honest feedback. It’s awesome, and pretty damn close to being perfect. So let’s chat about a lot of pros and a few cons.
- Super durable. At first I was very hesitant that the polypropylene in which the kayak was made out of would break down quickly or even tear if I hit land. After a few sketchy paddles, I can attest that this material can handle the wear and tear that any normal kayak can.
- The Bay + all together weighs a mere 28lbs. It’s extremely easy to carry for long distances.
- Stable…super stable. This thing is a beast. For my first few paddles, I was on perfect glassy water and I had no question about the boats stability for those conditions. It was during an adventure on Lake Powell in Arizona where we hit 30mph winds and white capped waves that the kayak really showed its stability. Not once did I feel like I was going to tip over. It handled the gnarly water like a champ.
- Storage! Yes, it has storage. There is 90 liters of storage on the Bay +, which is enough to get your valuables away from the water. There are also bungees on the kayak that allow you to take dry bags and gear with you.
- Believe it or not, the plastic seat that comes with the kayak is quite comfy. No complaints there.
- FREEDOM! Of course, the biggest and best reason for an Oru is the fact that you can take it ANYWHERE. I have never had a problem checking it while flying. Once I’m at where I want to kayak, I just toss on the backpack and hike on down. Obviously an option you don’t have with a one-piece kayak.
Cons: (No it’s not perfect, but it’s close)
- Break in: I don’t know if I’d necessarily call this a con, but it does take some time for the folds of the kayak to break down, which allows for a much quicker set up and break down. Give it about 10-15 paddles and you’ll be there.
- Pieces: I have had a few plastic pieces that hold certain screws pop off at some point. They screw right back on, if you can find them. I’ve lost a few, but thankfully they aren’t on any important part of the kayak.
- Size: When all is said and done, the packed size of the kayak measures about 3” above what most airlines consider “oversized baggage.” So, when I check my Oru, some airlines have charged me for it, some haven’t. I’d love to see Oru create a way for the kayak to not be considered oversized.
- Rapids? I’ve had a few people ask me if the Oru would handle rapids. I haven’t had any experience with taking it through rapids, I’m not sure I’d want to. It’s sealed great, but I don’t think it’s sealed well enough for that kind of abuse. I may be wrong, but personally I have yet to test it.
All in all, what a beautiful concept and product. I cannot express how happy I’ve been with my Oru in the small time I’ve had it. I will be taking it to many other places over the summer and it’s definitely allowed me to get to places to photograph that I never could have otherwise.