Oru launches its lightest, sleekest folding kayak ever
Already the go-to for light, packable origami-inspired kayaks, Oru is now launching its lightest, most portable model to date. Sized down for the everyday commute, the new grab-and-go Inlet kayak rides to the water on your shoulder and sets up in under five minutes. It's the perfect watercraft for anyone who has limited space in a small apartment, tiny home or teardrop trailer but still wants to get out on the water regularly.
Portability and convenience were already strong selling points for Oru's other kayaks, but the company decided it could do even better. Founder Anton Willis started from scratch, developing the first new origami folding pattern Oru has released since its original kayak poked its head above water back in 2012. This allows the Inlet to quickly tuck and fold into a 42 x 19 x 10-in (107 x 48 x 25-cm) package that's a third slimmer than the latest iteration of the original Oru, the Bay ST. The Inlet weighs just 20 lb (9 kg), which is 6 lb (2.7 kg) lighter than Beach LT, the next lightest vessel in Oru's line.
The smaller size makes the Inlet easier to get to and from the water, whether driving in a small car, taking the train, hopping on an airplane or rolling the street on an e-scooter. It also makes it easier to store in cramped apartments or camper vans. The Inlet folds down to create a shoulder bag, and an available backpack custom-developed around its dimensions offers another convenient transport option, spreading the weight out between both shoulders and hips.
Beyond those obvious size and weight advantages, the new folding pattern makes the Inlet the easiest Oru kayak to set up. Oru says confidently that Inlet users can be on the water in less than three minutes after a few folds and snaps. Keys to the faster set-up are the fully integrated floor board and fewer loose components that need installing, both of which cut down on the number of steps between "shoulder bag" and "paddling away from shore."
Like Oru's other kayaks, the Inlet is made from a UV-treated corrugated polypropylene Oru playfully calls "OruPlast." It's a heavier, custom-made version of the rugged plastic from which US postal bins are made, a material definitely built to hold up to abuse. Oru rates its kayaks to 20,000 folds, which equates to a whole lot of paddling.
You might expect to pay a premium for all that redesigned convenience, but the Inlet prices in about US$400 cheaper than the Beach LT and is set to become the first Oru to break the $1,000 barrier with an estimated $899 retail price. Those willing to leap in early on Kickstarter will be able to reserve an Inlet for a $749 early bird pledge.
"I strongly feel that the Inlet is as close as we've ever come to building a product that breaks all the common barriers to boat ownership," Willis says.
Sounds like there's no reason to even consider a different Oru model ever again, but the Inlet does have some limitations. The 10-foot (3-m) kayak is unsurprisingly smaller than any of Oru's previous 12-foot+ (3.7-m+) boats. Oru positions it as a flat-water boat for all levels and ages, and it will lack some of the comfort and performance of more expensive models. It's rated to hold up to 275 lb (125 kg), the lowest of Oru's models.
That said, if you've been putting off buying a kayak because of lack of space to store it, lack of a proper rack or trailer to transport it, or lack of money to buy it, this one might be worth a close look. It definitely looks like a fun, convenient way of getting out on the water.
Oru launched its Kickstarter campaign this week, and it has already soared multiple times over its $70,000 goal. If things keep moving along as planned, the first Inlets will find their way to their new owners in April 2020.
The video below gives you a better feel for how the Inlet easily transports, paddles and stores.