Buying My Oru Folding Kayak
By Nina Sabghir
I was looking for a folding kayak I could use when doing swim support and other situations where I didn’t want to struggle with picking up my boat from the club, car topping and then transporting the boat to the launch site & back. So, I picked up a used Featherkraft K-Light. Wait! Isn’t this about the Oru? Hang in there.
The K-Light was a bit tricky to assemble but handled nicely in the water. The problem was that sitting in it put pressure on my bad hip and nothing I tried prevented serious pain.
Since REI has a great return policy, I decided to give the Oru Bay Plus a try. Oru makes several models of folding kayak. They offer different features and styles. Oru also sells paddles, spray skirts, carry bags and other accessories for their kayaks.
I chose the Bay Plus because it uses racket closures. I figured these would be easier to pull tight than closures relying on hand strength. The boat specs are 12 feet long by 25 inches wide. The cockpit is 30 x 16 inches and takes a skirt. Folded, it becomes its own 33 x 12 x 29-inch box and weighs 28 lbs. Carry capacity is 300 lbs. It can be packed for light camping using dry bags, since the cockpit opens into the body of the boat. I bought the float bags to fill the bow and stern ends.
I found it difficult to carry the folded Oru using the shoulder strap. A taller person won’t have this problem. So, I got the bag which enables me to carry the kayak backpack style. The bag also has pockets for the 4-piece paddle.
Learning to set up and repack took some practice. The folds are stiff at first. I even bungled a few steps, but the kayak handled well despite this. Paddling is easy. This isn’t a fast model, but stability and handling were my priorities, along with comfort and ease of use. The Oru ticks off all these. I also got better at the steps with a few uses. I haven’t tried rolling or doing a self-rescue with it. But I can’t roll anyway. But I’ve seen videos of rolling Orus, so it can be done.
Oru makes several other models. The Beach is wider, with a more open cockpit. It’s more of a recreational kayak. While it doesn’t take a skirt, there’s room for a small dog or child to share the space. If I had the money I would get one to use with my grandkids. The Coast is a 16-foot long ocean kayak. There’s a paddler in Norway who goes out in all seasons with the Coast, and posts amazing pictures on Instagram. A tandem kayak is in the works.
You can place lights inside the boat and give off a soft glow through the translucent materials. The corrugated plastic is strong and can be recycled.
Oru is an American company manufacturing in California. Customer service is great. A rubber deck strap broke and they promptly replaced it.
I’m glad I got the Oru, and hopefully the person with the Featherkraft is happy too.