If you live in an apartment, I highly doubt a kayak or canoe is number one on your must-have list. The last thing anyone wants is to clutter up the space, especially when it’s scarce in the first place. City living calls for things like under-bed storage and foldaway furniture, not clunky, one-off pieces of entertainment gear that you can’t shove in a closet or under your desk.
But if you Can? Imagine if you could spend the evening exploring New York Harbor or Boston’s Charles River in something you could literally throw in your coat closet, between rain boots and a jacket, when you’re done with it. Because that’s exactly what you can do with the Oru Lake ($599), a folding kayak reminiscent of a piece of origami perfect for water-craving city dwellers. At just 18 pounds, it’s the brand’s lightest, most portable product yet, designed to take you from couch to canal (or creek, or lake) in just minutes.
Oru, Lake — $599.00
Originally $699, now $599
Made from a single sheet of plastic, this flexible kayak unfolds like a piece of paper and becomes a lightweight, freshwater-friendly kayak. When you’re done, pop the side and fold it into the “briefcase,” then be on your merry way.
If you’re unfamiliar with Oru, the brand is known for its folding kayaks that are inspired by the Japanese art of paper folding. Traditional wooden or fiberglass boats are heavy, clunky and hardly suitable for apartment living, while inflatable kayaks can often be cumbersome. Neither does Orus—its flexible kayaks are designed specifically for urbanites short on space but passionate about the outdoors. And Lake is its lightest, yet easiest to use.
Why We Love Oru Lake
Its hero feature is that it’s basically a briefcase that packs it. I unboxed my Oru Lake by the handles to find a neatly folded plastic package that looked like something a cartoon businessman from the 1950s would carry to work. With a few unsnaps and unbuckles, I quickly figured it out was Real Kayak. Apart from a fold-up seat, there were no spare parts or miscellaneous tools to put it together. All I had to do was pop out some seams, buckle some more snaps, and lock in the seat/floorboard combo—all of which took three minutes flat—and I pedaled.
Considering how minimal this kayak was, I was skeptical about how well it would work. In fact, I literally texted my friend that I was taking the kayak for a spin (with a flotation vest, of course) and I joked that “it might sink.” Except it didn’t! Paddle like a breeze on a small lake! Its lightweight frame is perfect for calm freshwater like the lake I was in, gliding easily across the surface and without wobbling or rocking. Success!
but main meal That folding feature makes it easy to get to and from the marina. Folding it is as easy as unfolding it – just as long as you do it when it’s completely dry. From there, you can save it anywhere. I have a house with a spacious garage, but even a studio apartment or city loft is more than enough space to house Oru Lake. Throw it in the trunk, in the coat closet, under your bed, next to your desk, in overhead storage—you don’t need a lot of space to keep it, which is what makes it so great.
Getting on the water is no easy feat when you live in the city. Unless you want to pay for rental equipment and lug it around or are lucky enough to have a boat anchored nearby, it’s not easy. That’s why we’re obsessed with this badass lil’ boat. It’s the ideal beginner kayak that’s light enough for you to take and bring wherever you want—and won’t suck up space when not in use.
Now, it’s not perfect. I would say the seat is a bit uncomfortable. It’s just an unpadded piece of plastic, so if you want to pedal for hours without aches or pains, invest in the Lake+ ($749), which has a footrest and a cushion-adjustable seat. It is certainly not suitable for any water other than a glass-calm lake. If you’re planning on saltwater paddling or anything with tides and wind, consider leveling up with the slightly stiffer Inlet ($899) or the sportier Bay ST ($1499).
But if you’re a novice adventurer who wants to trade in the concrete jungle for some time on the water, the lake is a landlubber’s dream. Get your sea legs here.
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