Owning a kayak typically means that you also have a garage or storage area where you can keep your boat. Or, at least, that’s what it used to mean. Oru Kayak is the inventor of the “origami kayak.” The Inlet Foldable Kayak combines the stability and balance of a traditional hardbody kayak with the small storage footprint of an inflatable kayak.
As one of the industry leaders in recreational use kayaks, Oru is breaking new ground with the release of their latest design. Released on August 13, Oru’s new Inlet model is perfect for Kayak lovers who have no room to store a boat of any size.
When Oru offered me a chance to test out the Inlet folding kayak for myself, I was excited to give it a shot.
Using an origami-inspired design, the Inlet goes from a compact, rectangle-shaped unit to a full-sized, single person kayak in about three minutes. The innovative design allows users to enjoy the use of a full-size kayak without the headache of trying to find a place to store it. With a lightweight design and sturdy body, the Inlet is an exciting new option for those who are ready to hit the water but don’t want to give up storage space.
And there’s a lot to love about this folding boat:
- Compact design for convenient storage
- Lightweight for easy portability
- Assembly takes less than three minutes
- Large enough to fit users of various heights
- Comes with the necessary accessories plus some useful bonuses
- Comfortable padded seat and back support
But does the Inlet live up to its potential? Do you feel secure when out on the water in a folding kayak. After trying the Inlet myself, here’s what I found.
What I Liked About the Oru Inlet Kayak
The Inlet’s stand out feature is its compact folding design. Once folded and secured with the attached straps and buckles, the Inlet measures approximately 40” x 18” x 10”. The company advertises the folded Inlet as roughly the same size as a guitar case, adding that it can slip under a couch. While those claims feel slightly exaggerated (by comparison, my hard body Marshall guitar case is 6” high and my couch is approximately 2” off the ground), the compact nature of the Inlet is undeniably impressive. The kayak is easy to store even in a small apartment. When placing the inlet in my midsize SUV, I was unable to lay it completely flat and it easily fit on a diagonal in my trunk. Sliding it into my backseat was even easier, but not having to secure the kayak to my roof rack was the best part.
As someone who has been beaten by many “easy to assemble” furniture purchases, I was unsure about Oru’s claims that the Inlet could be assembled and folded back up in only three minutes. After watching the instructional video only once, I was able to easily assemble the boat in about nine minutes. My second attempt took less than three minutes. Folding the Inlet backup into its storage setting was a little more difficult because I needed to apply pressure to get the buckles to close before I could tighten the straps. Standing with the Inlet between my legs and using my lower body to hold the boat closed helped, and by my second attempt, I was able to fold the Inlet back into its storage state in about three minutes.
Oru Kayak promises that the Inlet is designed to last for up to 20,000 folds and while I didn’t get close to that number, I’m inclined to believe them based on my experiences with the company.
Since it was my first time using the Inlet, I decided to test it out in our pool to make sure I felt safe before taking it into open water. I found that the Inlet felt sturdy and had an excellent turning radius even in narrow conditions. I also had plenty of space for my legs and added storage items thanks to the large front and rear bulkheads in the 10-foot-long boat. At 5’5” I had no issue finding a comfortable position in the Inlet. Even more impressive was the fact that my 6’4” husband also felt like he had ample legroom and could rest comfortably on the padded inlet seat and seat back for an extended period.
As for portability, the Inlet’s light weight of 20 pounds makes it easy to carry a short distance to the water’s edge. Although I felt like the Inlet was appropriate for use in gentle water, its thin and lightweight design may not lend itself to rougher conditions.
Another major positive for the Inlet was its inclusion of high quality accessories. A telescoping paddle that separated into three parts was lightweight, comfortable to use and convenient to store. The Inlet also comes with a branded lifejacket and a travel bag that is key for customers who want to hike to their kayaking destination or travel by plane or train with the Inlet. The travel bag has a dedicated spot for the Inlet’s paddle as well as an additional zippered area for personal items. Padded straps, a padded back and a waist belt make it easy for customers to comfortably carry the Inlet long distances.
What I Didn’t Like About the Oru Kayak
The Inlet comes with a steep price tag. Users can buy a hardbody kayak that can withstand more aggressive water conditions than the Inlet for the same price or less. And for those who are short on storage space, there are less expensive inflatable kayaks available.
We would also like to see carrying handles on both sides of the Inlet instead of just one. This would allow users to get a firmer grip on the kayak when it is in its folded position and make it easier for users to carry the kayak facing inwards or outwards. However, these are pretty minor concerns.
The Verdict: Should You Buy the Oru Inlet Kayak?
The Inlet may hit customers with sticker shock at first glance, but the kayak is worth the high price for what users get in portability and compact storage size. Unfolding and folding the kayak takes just three minutes after the initial trial runs, saving users time that they would otherwise spend inflating and deflating the Inlet’s inflatable counterparts. The relative ease of setting up the Inlet makes it a viable option for users with mobility issues or who lack the upper body strength to carry the hardbody kayak to the water’s edge.
City dwellers or anyone lacking in storage space who want to be able to escape to the water during their free time will appreciate the compact design of the Inlet, which is still durable enough to be used in gentle rivers and lakes. We also like that the Inlet’s price tag includes all the necessary accessories that users would want, including the paddle, travel bag and lifejacket, thus eliminating any surprise costs that could come after the kayak has arrived.
Buy the Inlet Foldable Kayak by Oru