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Oru Kayak Review: The Beach LT Folding Kayak

A full review of the Oru Kayak Beach LT, and why it’s ideal for solo paddlers with limited storage space

It’s 4.30 on a Tuesday afternoon and the sun is blinding me through my office window. I want out of here. I want to be in the sun and I want to be on the water. But my friends are still working and there’s no surf to be had. Plus, it’s far too windy at my local beach to fully enjoy the warmth of the afternoon rays. A solo water mission to the south coast is in order.

A simple set up

I throw the Oru Kayak into the boot of my tiny car, chuck in a paddle and buoyancy aid, and drive 30 minutes to the nearest sheltered bay. There’s no waterside parking available. But no matter, the Oru only weighs 26lbs (11.8kg). Plus, it’s folded up in such a neat little package that even my weeny arms can easily carry it to the beach and across the sand to the water’s edge, and that’s without a carry strap or backpack.

Woman walking on beach with bags

The conditions are perfect: calm water, a light breeze and warm sunshine. Too much chop or wind and the lightweight nature of the Beach Light is a little vulnerable in the water. But today, at this beach, this cool little origami boat will cruise.

I dump my stuff on the sand and in under 5 minutes I’m paddling off to explore deep into the estuary. Yep, after only two practise set ups at home, I can transform the Oru from a folded suitcase into a sleek and streamlined paddling machine in 4 minutes and 42 seconds.

A floating origami creation

There are people sitting on the beach watching me, or rather watching the box as it unfolds into a vessel that floats. An origami creation that effortlessly glides through the water. A kayak! As I zoom across the bay with only a few strokes, I’m as awe-struck by this thing as they are. But I get to sit in it and enjoy how smoothly it displaces the water. I get to feel as close to the sea as one possibly could without actually being in it. I get to paddle it, and it’s sheer joy!

Oru Kayak on water

Today my exploration takes me across the threshold from sea to river. It’s high tide so I manage to get much further upstream than the shallow trickle of the river would normally allow. Still, the water shallows and I can feel the river grasses brush the bottom of the boat. But the flat-bottomed design means that the boat only sits a couple of inches below the surface, so it’s only the need to submerge my paddle that stops me venturing further upstream.

An efficient and responsive cruiser

I turn the Oru around with the responsive efficiency that I’d expect from a sea kayak, and paddle with the slow current of the outgoing tide. I cruise for a little while, passing some paddle boarders who comment on how cool the Oru is. They’d seen me set it up on the beach earlier. I paddle on knowing how much they secretly wished they were sitting in the comfort of its simple seat with its supportive backrest. Smug? Me?!

As the estuary widens I start to notice myself working a little harder. The current has slowed, but the breeze has also picked up, and it’s a headwind. This is not what I had planned, having only paddled the Oru in very low wind. I quickly quell my negative thoughts on the situation, sit up straight, engage my core and dig my paddle deep into the water to move the boat steadily into the wind. As it happens, the Oru isn’t quite as affected by the wind as I’d first thought. Sure, it’s not blowing a gale or anything. But so long as I’m careful to keep the nose straight into the wind the boat stays on course and simply requires a little more paddle power to push it along, as any boat does. Even when the Oru is sideways onto the wind it holds its own rather better than I expected. And the chop that has been whipped up by the growing breeze is also not enough to hinder progress.

Paddling next to cliffs

Precious down-time

My afternoon paddle ends back where I started: on the soft sandy beach with the dipping sun lighting up the golden grains. I hop out and drag the Oru up the beach to pack it away. This part is even quicker than setup and takes me under 2 minutes (although I’ve not timed this yet as it doesn’t seem to matter quite so much!).

A rare moment of solitude and stillness overcomes me as I sit on the sand, post-paddle. I soak up the warmth of the sun as it dries me out where I’ve been dripped on by the upward sweep of each paddle stroke, and let the calm and quiet make space for my mind to drift. How wonderful to have this precious afternoon to myself out on the water. How fortunate are we who can use our bodies to explore unknown waters. And how grateful am I to have access to a boat that I can carry, transport, set up and paddle with no assistance from others? Eternally.

Kayaking on the sea

Child-like joy from a folding kayak!

Such simple, child-like joy comes from playing around on the water. And in the words of Kenneth Grahame’s Rat in The Wind in the Willows, there really is nothing better than messing about in a boat:

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing… about in boats — or with boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not.”


Oru Kayak

Oru Kayak Beach LT: The Stats

Who’s it for:Solo paddlers with small cars and limited storage
Best use:Day trips on flat water in low winds
Weight:26lbs / 11.8kg
Dimensions:12ft x 28in / 3.6 x 0.7m
Packed size:33 x 12 x 29in / 84 x 30 x 74cm
Weight capacity:300lbs / 136kg
Made of:5mm double-layered polypropylene

Features of the Oru Kayak Beach LT

Carry handles

Woman carrying origami kayakThere are four handles in total: two on the side and one at each end. The side handles are cut out of the main fabric of the boat and also double as carry handles when the kayak is folded up. The other front and back handles are made of fabric and are attached to the neoprene end tabs that keep the folds watertight.

Foot rest

Kayak foot restThe foot rest is easily adjustable using straps that are attached near the seat. This is an excellent feature that enables you to get in the best position for the type of paddling you are doing. The foot rest is also completely removable — ideal if you have extra cargo, a dog or a small child.

Seat

Kayak seatThe base of the seat is fairly basic — just a foam pad. But it is plenty comfortable enough. The back rest is adjustable in a similar to the foot rest (with straps attached to the sides of the boat).

Durability and fasteners

Oru strapsThe Beach LT is has a one year warranty, a 10-year UV treatment and can withstand 20,000 fold cycles, according to the manufacturer. It deals with being dragged over rough terrain, sand and rocks without any issues and is designed to take on underwater bumps.

The Oru is held together with straps and buckles that connect and disconnect very easily, and can also be tightened or loosened in a jiffy. They don’t loosen over time, which is reassuring! But stay securely fastened to maintain the structure of the boat.

Gear space

Packing kayak on beachBehind the seat is enough space to store a cooler or a large dry bag of gear which can be attached to the seat adjustment straps or the seat pole. In front of the foot rest there is room for a two smaller dry bags, but this dependent on how long your legs are! Mine are short which means there’s more storage space.


Oru Kayak Review: The verdict

From a practical point of view, the low weight of portability of the Beach LT is a dream for people with small cars and limited storage facilities. And the ease of use, set up and transportation makes it a highly appealing option for solo paddlers. Another huge plus point is the ability to paddle in hard to reach places. You can buy a backpack that holds the folded boat enabling adventurers to hike to faraway lakes or access secluded coves. Places which would be much more tricky to get to with an inflatable canoe or kayak, and impossible to reach with a regular canoe. This opens up a whole world of water-based exploration.

The main downside to this lightweight Oru model is that its use is limited to flat, calm water in relatively low wind. Ideal if you’re using it in sheltered bays, lakes or slow moving rivers. But not so suited to use in the open seas or on rough beaches.

Aside from that, there is very little to fault about the Beach LT. The robustness is surprisingly great, the quick set up is miraculous, and its performance in the water is unexpectedly efficient. I absolutely LOVE spending time in it (in the right conditions), and can’t wait to take it on more mini adventures.

Find the latest price at:
Oru Kayak | Amazon | REI


Unpacking car

Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.

About the author

author-joey

Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, hitting the trail in her running shoes, or attempting to conquer the waves on her surfboard – she lives for it. Camping is what she loves to do the most, but has also spent many hours clinging to the side of a rock face, cycling about the place, cruising the ski-slopes on her snowboard and hiking small mountains and big hills.

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