The original Oru Kayak that's withstood the test of time. Launched on Kickstarter, sold by retailers around the world, and in the permanent collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Stable enough for beginners, while fast and sporty for expert kayakers. Plenty of room to stash gear for day trips and short camping excursions. Transforming it from box to boat takes just a few minutes.
So I did a TON of research on my new kayak. I'm a recreational kayaker just getting into open-water kayaking but most of the time I'm kayaking in the local rivers, lakes, and bays of Maryland. I drive a 4-door Mercedes sedan and racking a kayak on the roof isn't an option, so I instantly knew I needed a packable kayak. My first thought was an inflatable, but nothing stood out to me. Then, a buddy of mine pointed me to the local REI where they had the Bay ST on display. I was immediately awestruck-- the kayak is sleek, beautiful, and seems sturdy as hell for what it is. After tinkering around with it for an hour or so at the store I took one home and immediately took it out on the water. Here's my review:
Assembly: Assembly gets easier and easier as you do it more often. There are a couple steps which are frustrating, like positioning the back-half of the kayak's folds into the seatback but overall, it's super easy. Disassembly is even easier.
Performance: This is where I was really let-down by the kayak. On the water, I noticed that the kayak just didn't hold speed very well, it immediately lost all momentum. I played around a little bit and realized that it was because of a serious port-side lean. Another reviewer on this site actually mentioned the same issue and it became apparent that it was the same one I was having. Other than the lean, the kayak is very stable and glides through the water reasonably well. There were 0 leaks and I had total confidence while paddling. I reached out to Oru Kayak about the lean and they responded quickly that the lean is due to a fold that isn't broken in. The company CEO even sent me a video showing me how to remedy the issue. He told me to crease that fold and let the kayak hold it overnight. I did exactly that and I'm going to take the kayak out again to see how it performs. I will update this review once I do.
Aesthetics: Man is this thing a looker! Short of stitch & glue kayaks, this thing looks unlike anything else on the water. I took it out for a paddle after dark and put a couple of LED lanterns inside the kayak and it just glowed-- it was simply amazing. Buy this and people will always come up to you asking about it.
Portability: You buy this because you need a portable kayak. If you don't need the portability-- go buy a regular kayak (it'll perform much much better). I can easily pack this thing up and fit it in my car's trunk. It's light enough that I can carry it with the shoulder strap but it isn't very comfortable over a long distance. I actually prefer building it out and carrying it over my shoulder that way-- since the weight is spread out more evenly.
All in all, this is a decent kayak. No, I don't think it's worth $1600 which is why I'll probably return it even if the tracking issue is fixed. But if you're a city-dweller and are looking for a kayak you can take anywhere, this is it!
The most recent reviews on here are not accurate. Why did someone trash the durability when they stated they did not use it?
I am a little 5'6" 130 lb dude with size 10 shoes. The first section below is a little rant about the boat and a few performance things and the second section is of my actual use.
I've been through 3 Oru Bay ST's. First one was not folded quite right and had a terrible port lean. Returned after first use. The second was great on the water, except I found a small inside puncture and a zipper channel handle broke. Returned after first use. The third has a license stamp that punctures through the boat on the stern. I was pissed about this but its high enough and so far no leaks or other issues. You need to understand what this kayak is and cannot compare it to a regular kayak. This thing is light, any imperfection in your stroke, wind, or current will turn this thing. It lays flat and wide on the water so it handles easily but not very fast or great at maintaining speed. The cockpit is huge and easy to jump in and out of. As a smaller dude I'm afraid I cannot roll it. Placing your feet however is cramped and the foot stays blow. They take a lot of adjustment to figure out how to get right and the kicker is, you have to reset them every time you use the kayak. I recommend keeping heels close together and pads then spread out with your knees out to brace the kayak. The backrest is terrible, make sure you have it at the right height and just off the back of the combing. I replaced the seat pad with a gel pad. THIS IS A MUST.
I have been on Lake Michigan with small swells and slow moving rivers. The Bay St has great acceleration, good handling, and ok speed. Since it's super light you go right over any wave but you do get tossed around quite a bit. No water leaked in. I had one unplanned wet exit that went extremely well except for losing all the booze in my flask. With zero effort I was able to lift and flip it over. I hoped on the rear, straddled, and slid into the cockpit with ease. Draining with a bilge was a little annoying because water would collect between the orange bottom and the boat. Using the bilge while edging sort of solved this.
I love this boat. It looks freakin' good. From start to finish, including packing my gear in and adjusting my crap, it takes 12 minutes to get together. The performance is great for a folded up campaign sign. It does scratch easily but when you rub your hand over there isnt a scratch or anything so I believe the integrity is fine. I gave it 3 stars because I should not have to return 2 times and have a boat plate on my new one. I also wish the foot stay was nicer and not as wide.
Sorry to bother you. I bought Bay ST in April 2018. The whole experience made me very sad... I want to share this with kayak lovers and warn them think carefully before buying kayak!!!
The Oru customer service was not helpful at all.
I do think Oru is a brilliant idea and helps a lot of kayak lovers, especially in a small country with limited space, like us.
But by the way the boat was delivered, presented and the process of it was very poor.....
If Oru did care what customers think, they will not ignore my questions since very beginning. Its more then 5 weeks!!!
I bought this boat for my husband, for our first anniversary. It is very important.
I waited so long for possible pre-owned one, but in vain. I asked if there will be sale season but oru said no, never have sale... Yesterday, I saw a 15% summer sale!!!
I am on tight hand but I still wish Oru brings us joy of explore more..... I booked a new Bay ST.
First is the shipment cost more than 2 weeks! April is not a hot season!
I am not live in US. I asked a friend to bring it when he visited us. The boat finally arrived one day before his flight. We almost could never get the boat!!! Oru customer service did not even give us an explanation. Just said it was on the way...
I order a new boat but came like a used one!!! Handler is broken when my friend opened it in US. He called them and Oru promised to send one new handler to me to Taiwan directly. It had been 25 days.... No news at all. I could not even know if the handler was send out... ???
Could you imaging when we opened the boat and saw lots of black spot, marks, unfit zipper and a broken handler.... can’t believe it’s a new boat....it should be a happy gift but it’s not.
When I reply those problems, from the delay of shipping, the broken handle, the marks. Oru never gave me face to face reply. They just behave perfunctory...No reply if the boat or the handler was on the way... Why it was so late???
I really want to send it back to Oru and ask for full refund, but it’s not the same country and the shipping fee is not affordable...or I will.
The whole process is not happy... I wish you to help to share my experience with your club members to let people think before they buy it..
Bought the Oru Bay used for a $700 because I have a tailwheel airplane in Alaska and it gives me opportunities to go places where there aren't roads. I love kayaking and have an inflatable expedition which I love, however, the weight and bulkiness were a bit of a drag.
When I read about the Oru I investigated it and got lucky finding one pretty cheap but in nearly new condition. I asked the previous owner why he was selling and he said it was too tippy for him. Thinking this wasn't a biggie I purchased and got in the water the same day. Overall I'd say it has made me a better more conscious kayaker and the darn thing is just fun.
Behind the seat in my plane it has little effect on my weight and balance and is manageable for weekend trips. Flying and landed off airport near an Alaskan glacier is fun enough, but to put together a light weight, reasonably rigid and capable kayak for tooling around icebergs is pretty damn fun.
I'm 6' and 205 with an athletic build and getting in and out easily is a process that requires a little practice. It takes me 7 minutes flat to put it together and 4 minutes to stow it. I've been out on many lakes with the Bay and in Price William Sound hugging the coast.
To date I have not tipped over yet. I've had to repair twice a teeny tiny leak that was a small nuisance but repair is holding well. Since I ALWAYS have a roll of duct tape handy, I'm not concerned about repairing leaks on expeditions.
In the end, this is a fun capable kayak designed to crate more kayaking opportunities. It does that very well.
It may be very cool, very fashion, and also, good function, and nice product with good design. However, you may want really rethink it before you purchase this not cheap kayak. The one major issue is "Durability". I cannot comment on the boat itself, however, the parts, are just very simple, basic plastic. I used one time for 3 hours in water, plus 2 practices to assemble in home, one of the SEAM Channel is broken. The replacement need $30. Also, all 4 of sticks all lose and ready to full off.
I was crazy about this good kayak, but, my wife was very against it. The main reason is she cannot physical touch and visit in in store, and worry about the material. And, she is right.
I'm about 6" and 200 lbs. I bought the Bay shortly after Oru ran its original Kickstarter campaign. I'm now going to sell it.
I've used it several times in an effort to get used to it. But for me, with long legs and wide girth, it's too small. Entry into the cockpit is difficult. I have to slide my legs, straight-legged, into the interior. With longish legs, it's hard to prop up my legs to gain leverage for paddling and control. On exit, I have to lift myself straight up and out: no bending of knees permitted. If capsized, I doubt I could reenter the Bay.
I see why the came up with the Beach model!
Fit issues aside, I've found the control to be a bit skittish, meaning the kayak is harder to control than heavier models. On the other hand, portability is great! And as others have noted, it's quite a discussion starter on the beach.
Test paddle before you buy! If you want a light weight easy day kayak that folks will flock to: great. But for more serious paddling, look elsewhere.
My two stars are based primarily on fit and handling. For design and appearance, I'd give it a 5-star review. I teach and am known as a tough grader!
A bit disappointed and thinking it may be just the one I bought, I went to the REI store where they had an assembled model on display. It also leaned to the port, even more so than mine. Curious if anyone else has noted this issue?
I've an e-mail to Oru - no reply yet. I would definitely exchange this for another if I could be assured this is not a standard 'defect' in the manufacturing process.
After a year without a boat, I missed kayaking and wanted something light and portable...the Oru was the answer! Had a few hiccups...bow had a stern fairing so had to go thru several failed attempts to get the proper fairing. Then realized that the clip on the bow that is there to secure the fairing is the wrong one...I'm not going to bother trying to get that replaced.
The boat handles great and is easy to assemble and disassemble. My only complaint is the seat and that is because I got spoiled by my Necky seat which was specifically designed for those of us who suffer from sciatica. I purchased a Necky ACS seat, removed some parts, adapted some parts from the Oru seat back mount and voila!...I can now ride comfortably for hours! I sit a little higher with my ACS seat so had to go through a new learning curve as to handling, but all is good. I am so happy to be back on the water and love, love, love that I can throw this little beauty in the back of my tiny Jeep.
It is perfect for the lakes around Spokane, WA. I look forward to taking to the Puget Sound/Orcas Island area this summer. I purchased a Seal skirt for it and am currently trying to successfully roll the kayak. I am super happy with it. The customer service is excellent too. My own learning curve caused me to break a couple of pieces and they replaced them quickly without issue. They really are an awesome start-up. I would recommend this kayak to anyone!
The kayak is responsive and turns very well. No rudders needed. No trouble in steering through heavy current either. The seat is comfortable enough and the footstraps are easy to adjust. This being a rec kayak you probably won't be able to keep up with the standard seakayaks in terms of speed. My avg paddling speed in calm waters is around 6km/hr, top speed around 12km/hr. This could be improved with better paddling technique.
The corrugated plastic holds well up to bumps and dragging through rocky landings. The only time I have punctured it was when I knocked it against a railing with the kayak in folder form. Easily repaired with gorilla glue.
Disassembly takes around 5 mins. I highly recommend getting the ORU pack. Plenty of room in there for the PFD, sprayskirt and some dry bags.
All things considered this is a good product and even though I've been a bit unlucky with my model I highly recommend it.
They fit easily into the trunk and backseat of my Jaguar. But probably the main reason for using the ORU Kayaks is that they are real fun to paddle. They are very responsive, fast and easy to manoeuvre. I do not repeat what others have written about the flexibility, portability, elegant design ++ , which we fully salute and endorse.
Many of the spectators while you fold/unfold the ORU Kayak are WOW'ing and a common comment is that it must be very expensive and they are surprised when they hear the price tag. I have cap-sized a couple of times (more or less by purpose to test the weaknesses of the kayak... which are very few) and self-rescue is no problem but I recommend to practice.
We have recommended the ORU kayak to many friends across the globe and many have already followed in our 'strokes'
The Oru Kayak team is knowledgeable, helpful and available for questions, information and orders. I highly recommend the Oru Kayak. It is light in weight but heavy on features. It is comfortable and handles well. I am a very happy paddler
Thank you Oru Kayak !!!
I gave it an 8 only because of the challenges of putting it together and comfort. Over time it is supposed to become more flexible and I have only used mine about 5 times. But it is stiff and it probably takes me about 20 minutes to put together. Also, I am concerned with some of the parts being plastic and how long they will last over time.
My biggest complaint is the seat and foot rest. I don't find either comfortable. I did get an additional cushion and that did help some and I will consider upgrading the seat once the newer one becomes available as a separate item. But the foot rest, I don't see any way that it will improve. I did buy some pipe insulation, cut them to the width of the kayak and then duct tape them together and put that under my knees. That did help but despite trying having the footrest at different positions I just don't like it. Getting in and out is also challenging, granted being used to a canoe, that is a new learning curve for me but the size of the cockpit does also make it challenging.
I don't want to sound like I'm just complaining, I promise I do LOVE my Oru!
If I'm going out to the flats to wade, I have a 3 lb. dumb bell on a rope that I use as an anchor for the kayak. A clip at the end of the rope can attach to one of several points on or in the kayak. There's additional room for storage in various sites, behind the seat and in the bow as well.
You do not want to stand and pole in this kayak. It's not made for it. It's really quite fast, but you trade stability for speed. I've never flipped in it, because I'm experienced and careful, but above all, lucky, I guess.
If I'm going to be kayaking in rough waters, I have an inflatable float bag that can be placed in the bow, in front of the bulkhead, and another that goes in the stern behind the bulkhead. Then, I use a spray skirt also. This gives additional security when paddling in rough water. I've seen many videos about how to roll a sit-in-side kayak, but have never actually practiced it. Probably should... someday I will.
Getting in and out isn't hard, but takes a bit more effort than in a sit-on-top kayak. I get my left leg out, then carefully place my right foot in the middle of the kayak, lean forward, and stand up. Rarely do I have the luxury of a nice pier made for kayaks.
I had three issues - weight of the boat, transporting, and storage. The Oru answered all issues. The boat weighs in at 26 lbs. (I'm 5'1") A kayak weighing 50 lbs. would be impossible for me to lift. Transporting is a cinch - I throw it in my trunk. No expensive car top. And storage is a cinch as well. It folds up to the size of a large suitcase.
There are other advantages - I can launch from anywhere. High dock, low dock, rocky beach, sandy beach. I've done it all. All you need is room park your car and room to unfold it. And it's a sweet little boat. It tracks nicely and is light in the water. A lovely paddle is available to anyone.
Lastly, the company is great to work with. Great video to follow to learn how to unfold it. And customer service is great. I would highly recommend both the company and the boat.
Even though the first 10 yards in, I caught a swell and brought in about 2 quarts of water, I was able to muster up enough adrenaline so I made about 10 extremely quick paddles. She held straight and true head on into the surf. I was a bit shaky, but not this craft. It did everything I wanted it to do. Have a Scotty flush mount fishing rod holder and I will definitely give it a go on the Fall striper run, but I definitely need a stabilizer. Thanks to the "guys" at ORU that make a great product!!
Now I've had my Oru since the beginning of July and the bottom line is that this boat gets two enthusiastic thumbs way up! It's light, portable, sleek, suitably robust, handles well and makes paddling far, far too convenient. Do yourself a favour and get one!
- - - Handling
Let's talk handling first, because that's what a boat better be good at. If it transforms into a herd of Dinobots but handles like a shopping cart, I ain't buying it.
This may come as a surprise, but the Oru handles as well as any kayak its size. The chines are cut nicely to allow sleek tracking, and the lightweight kayak gets an advantage on speed. An adjustable footrest allows a paddler to push more into each stroke.
For the past couple years, I've made do with some plastic rec kayaks at the local marina to get my kayak fix. The Oru is way above rec status - rec boats are heavy, slow, and well, terrible really. The Oru is definitely a step above that. It can't quite compare to the performance of a 17' sea kayak with a rudder, but is one of the best kayaks of this size I've used and I have no qualms taking it anywhere I'd take a comparably sized and priced Necky for instance.
I've had the Oru on a flatwater man-made lake in the centre of my city (Regina, SK). I've taken it in roughish conditions on a mid sized lake with odd counter-currents and 30km/hr (18mph) winds and on a leisurely paddle in a longish lake. All with good tracking and manoeuverability. At the end of each paddle, an on-looker will almost always ask if my white and orange boat brought in any water. No. It doesn't. The only time I get wet is by paddling under a waterfall in the city lake or from entering the boat with wet sandals. Self-inflicted every time. It has never let in any water. The boat is sturdy, the corrugated plastic robust, and the handling very nice. It's a real boat, folks. I wouldn't paddle it over a bed of dagger-like rocks, but it's taken some bumps and scrapes with no signs of wear.
The Oru comes with a quality seat too, much like other kayaks in it's category. It doesn't have any dedicated storage, but you can stuff things behind the seat and strap items to the bow. (Straps included.) Mostly because of storage, I'd call the Oru mostly a daytripping kind of kayak. At some point this summer I plan do an overnight paddle across a nearby lake with a backpacking tent and sleeping bag tucked behind the seat. If you had someone to carry some of your multiday gear, you could easily take this on a longer trip.
- - - The Clever Twist
People will stop to talk as you assemble the Oru. It's natural. You show up with a box and ride into the waves in a boat. Who doesn't want to know more? It takes a maybe 30 minutes the first time you fold it into a boat, but after that can assemble it in less than 10 (mine has a particularly tough spot on the front fold that will get more flexible with more folds and reduce this time a bit). Collapsing it into a box is even quicker - 5 minutes max and that's mostly if you take time to sponge the water off and let it air dry a bit. There's one especially gratifying step in the folding process, a moment where you are folding it up where it's a boat, basically a boat, still a boat, then wham - a box. This gets a collective "ahh" from a crowd of onlookers every time and makes me grin like I invented the thing. Which I didn't. Still, I get a moment to bask in the brilliance of the design.
Everything - seat, footrest, even a PFD can be stowed in the box. I have a two-piece paddle and that's really the only thing I need to store outside the box. The box is about 32"x29"x12", though I'd give it at least 18" of width for proper storage. It fits in the corner of my bedroom.
While transporting is way more convenient than a rigid vessel, the Oru is a bit big in my Ford Focus hatchback. It takes up 2/3 of the back seat or most of my hatch. Because the straps and handles catch on the seat or hatch a bit, it fits best in an empty hatch, which mine never is. When I first got it I thought I could store the Oru in my hatch under its cover, but the Oru is taller than the hatch cover, meaning I can tuck it in there, but need to cover it with a blanket to keep people from seeing the kayak and its "Oru kayak" wording through my back window. A slightly bigger vehicle would be ideal. You could tuck the Oru in the back cargo area of an SUV easily and nobody would even know it was there.
Carrying the kayak is comfortable for fifty meters (50 yards) or so. But it is kind of awkward any farther. It's just a bit too big and sways into my calf or hip periodically. Once assembled, the kayak is light and easily carried, reminds me of the Olympic-stye racing kayaks for how easy it can be carried.
- - - Costumer Service
I've contacted Oru a few times via email and had friendly responses from Jess, Oru's customer service rep. My kayak arrived in six weeks as advertised on the site. They say four to six, but I'd expect six is the norm.
After the kayak arrived, I misplaced the user's manual and Jess shipped another copy within days of my email.
- - - Extras
The paddle, float bags and backpack. All of these are available on the Oru site now. I don't own any of these, figured I'd make sure I liked the boat first before investing too deeply into the system. I expect them all to be the same quality as the kayak and will probably purchase a backpack as my adventures take me farther from parking lots. I picked up a Aquabound Sting Ray paddle over the Oru paddle mostly because I got to try the Aquabound at a local store. (The Sting Ray is outstanding, by the way.)
- - - The Price
First, I'll say that for the month of August 2014, Oru is offering $100 off if you enter a code from someone who has purchased one. Feel free to enter VXISCSF7 at checkout for your discount. In return I get a gift certificate from REI as well.
By now, price can be your only reservation. The Oru is $1195 US. The Oru is capable and very convenient. I have it in the water about every third day, often on my way home from work. In the month I've owned it, after shipping costs and converting to Canadian dollars, the boat has cost me about $120 per hour of use. By the end of summer, I'll be at $60. And that's just my first summer with this kayak.
In short, the sheer convenience of this boat means I use it a lot. More than I would a rigid-build one that needs to be manhandled from a garage and strapped to a car. For me, it instantly rekindled a love of paddling and is worth every penny.
- - - Summary Pros + Cons
In terms of handling, I'm pretty impressed. The Oru is only 26 pounds, which makes for pretty responsive maneuvering in the water. It seems pretty quick too, possibly because it weighs half the weight of similar sized kayaks.
The seat is about as comfortable as other kayaks I've paddled. It's not sitting on a couch comfortable, but it's definitely something you can handle for a couple of hours on the water. The adjustable back and foot bar make it easy to customize for all sizes.
The cockpit rim is very similar to traditional kayaks, which means many accessories like skirts and clip on cup holders will still work.
Some downsides include the lack of storage bins (it's just not possible since the boat folds). There's plenty of space behind the seat to shove stuff, but it's not particularly accessible while paddling. There are also tie-down straps to attach extra equipment.
I also have a little bit of trouble getting into the boat. it seems slightly tighter than other kayaks I've tried. Each time I enter/exit the boat, it seems to get easier so this may not be a real issue (and I'm by no means a small person at 6'2" so many people might not even notice).
You can read a more in-depth review on my blog:
The kayak is surprisingly fast, tracks very well, and is simplicity itself to set up. The longest trips I've made so far have been around 9-10 miles.
The reason I chose the Oru Kayak is that I live in a second floor walk-up apartment, lack the storage space for a standard kayak, and I drive a small car. Previously, I used an inflatable kayak for several years. The Oru Kayak sets up faster than the inflatables, and has the advantages of rigidity and speed. It is not a perfect fishing kayak, but it is certainly adaptable to fishing and will get you to your favorite fishing hole quickly and easily.
This kayak is an amazing accomplishment from a talented team, and it can open the door to outdoor adventures for thousands of apartment dwellers and others who lack storage space. It could also be a smart choice for others who want to travel with a very capable kayak. This is a winner.
I do question the durability because a couple bumps will show dents and creases which may effect the integrity and fold marks. It is not very stable in rough water, if you become sideways and get hit by a wave, there is a high chance of flipping.
I do wish they give an extra outer vinyl bag to protect the kayak instead of using the kayak folded into a bag itself. This will prevent scratches, creases, and dents during transport.
I think future improvements that will be nice would be to adhere a vinyl skin underneath the kayak.
Have a support brace to convert into a catamaran design with inflatable tubes for extra stability.
I do wish the price point to be around $500.
Here are some highlights:
1) The boat is extremely well made. It's made out of corrugated plastic, and you'd think that the boat would be a bit flexible as a result. It's not. The Oru is rigid and responsive in the water, and doesn't get tossed around easily. Structurally, it can take a beating. I've hit rocks and logs, moored against concrete bridge pilings, and it doesn't have any gashes, rips, tears, cracks, anything. No parts have broken during setup/takedown, either.
2) IT FOLDS UP AND STORES EASILY! I can't emphasize this enough. As an urban apartment dweller, this is by far the biggest advantage it has over a traditional kayak. Not only can I put it in the back of a Smart car (thanks, Car2Go!) and drive to launching points, I've taken it on the light rail and a Metro bus. It's not particularly easy to travel with the kayak on Metro, but the rail was great! And after a full day of paddling, I can put carry it up the stairwell of my apartment and put it in the closet.
3) IT FOLDS UP AND STORES EASILY! Yes, I'm saying this again, but going to talk about the actual process of unfolding and closing up the Oru. Like most reviewers below, it takes some getting used to before actually feeling comfortable when building and taking apart the Oru. The first time I put it together, I used the video provided by the people at Oru and it took me about 25 minutes. Part of the time, I spent explaining the concept and process to passers-by, but it definitely takes a decent amount of time on the first go. Same thing when putting it together. The folds of the boat are extremely stiff for the first couple of folds, but after doing it a few times, it gets much easier and takes substantially less time. I can put the boat together in a little more than 5 minutes, and take it apart in just under 5. (Helpful tip: don't be afraid to sit on the boat to close it up. Just make sure the footrest is free of the folds first!)
4) You can take the kayak places other boats can't go. The carrying strap allows for a shoulder mount, which can be used for easy transport of the boat to more remote locations. I've hiked with the boat about 1.5 miles in the Snoqualmie Pass area to a remote lake where I was the only boat on the water. It is a bit cumbersome to carry it on your shoulder and I wouldn't recommend anything super strenuous until the backpack comes out (sometime soon, I think). But, weighing only 25 lbs, you can easily carry it on a hike.
Other minor things to note:
• I'm 5-11, 175 lbs, so the cockpit and boat fit really well. It seems there would be potential issues for someone who would be extremely tall, or extremely heavy.
• You WILL have to demonstrate the folding/unfolding process if you launch in a public place. Every single time I've launched, even in more remote city locations, people have asked about the kayak and wanted to learn more. But, trust me, this is a rewarding experience and reinforces how cool the product is.
• Like I mentioned above, be prepared to spend a little bit of time figuring out the initial setup and takedown procedures. And don't be afraid to use force to fold it back up. It can handle it! Just make sure the footrest is out of the way of folds when putting it back together, and use any available hull straps to keep it temporarily shut while you put the cover/lid and outer straps on.
• Try not to get frustrated by the initial process. The first few times you setup and takedown the kayak, you should be prepared to spend **at least** 15 minutes each way. It gets faster with experience as you learn to recognize where the folds are and how much force you can actually apply to the boat.
• The initial outing in the boat took some time getting used to. Like some people have mentioned below, the Oru is lightweight, portable, and fast. That also makes it feel light in the water. Spend time in calm water first, and you'll get a great feel for how it handles.
Overall, I'm extremely happy with the Oru Kayak and look forward to many years of use!
The kayak was stable, easy to paddle, tracked well, turned easily, and was dry inside. The freeboard is a little higher than my hard shell. The backrest and seat pad are OK. There is a simple adjustable bar for your feet. All-in-all it performed as expected for a 12 foot long, 25 inch wide, 25 pound plastic kayak despite its unusual construction. I will have to wait for spring to test it further.
Overall, I've absolutely loved it. My wife and I were considering buying traditional rigid kayaks (we are new to kayaking) but when a friend told me about the Oru, I thought it would be a great substitute. For us, the flexibility of being able to throw 2 kayaks in the trunk or take them on the bus at a moments notice is an unbeatable proposition. Oslo is full of new places to head out on the water, and we wouldn't bother if we had to move around two big kayaks. Furthermore, I don't know where we'd store 2 normal kayaks.
Almost as important, the boat feels nice to paddle. It's much stiffer and tougher than you'd expect, it's comfortable to sit in (I'm 6'2", 185 lbs), and it is quite stable (and doesn't leak if you put it together right!). I've mostly paddled on flat water, but also on a couple of rough days in the Oslo fjord. I've also launched in some rocky and steep places and it seems to be holding up outside of cosmetic scratches.
I'd caution folks on a couple things. It's not an iPhone. You need to take some time to get to know how to put it together and take it apart. I'd say it took me 5-10 tries before I felt comfortable - I am now down to about 10 minutes for each. If you rush things before you really know how to do it - which I did of course - you can risk getting a leak. The instructions were very useful to get started and I should have paid more attention to them the first several times I assembled the kayak. Furthermore, I'd also say that you need to be careful if you are more than 6'2". I took a friend out who is 6'4" and he felt it was a little tight.
The best thing about the Oru is it makes you think about kayaking in a whole new way. I go places most kayakers wouldn't consider and I can decide to go last minute if the weather is nice!
This is only a snippet of "Part I" of my review of the Oru. See the whole review on my Facebook page at goo.gl/UfEulN
I don't have enough kayak experience to have a good feel of how it handles compared with other kayaks, but found it handles well. I'm 5' 10" and about 181 lbs. An older woman kayaker told me she bought a Kevlar kayak because it was only 30 lbs and she couldn't carry much weight. She was astounded mine weighted 25 lbs.
I think each kayak design makes tradeoffs, but the portability, and quick set up compared with other foldable kayaks, makes up for any shortcomings.
I had a buckle get stuck. I sent a picture to the company and they said it apparently got cross threaded, presumably because it didn't go in straight. They offered to send in a new strap and buckle, but I succeeded in unbuckling it by pulling hard on the strap with pliers while stabilizing the boat with my feet and pressing the releases.
What this kayak is not is a kayak designed to feel rigid and rugged - it is lightweight, portable and fast. It is however rugged. I don't feel like it is going to fail on me. Once I got used to paddling it, I was racing along and enjoying myself.
The minor issues I had I addressed with Oru, and they were extremely responsive over them.
Personally I recommend them.
Luckily, Oru Kayak is based in the East Bay (Calif.), and though a friend of a friend, I was able to arrange a test run on Saturday. On all counts, I was extremely impressed!
The assembly was as easy as advertised. Anton Willis, the Oru's inventor was there to walk me through assembly, but its simple and intuitive. With a little practice, anyone will be able to assemble and break down the Oru within 5 minutes.
On the water, the Oru handles smoothly and is surprisingly fast. I can't speak for extreme ocean or whitewater kayakers, but the Oru will be able to easily handle whatever I can throw at it.
Lastly, durability. In the video on Oru's Kickstarter page, its hard to tell how strong the material is. I'd seen it described as similar to what postal bins are made out of, but in fact its a much hardier form of corrugated plastic. Its strong enough to stand in with full weight, and I didn't worry about dinging it at all. And Anton said that it can be folded 20,000 times without weakening.
All in all, I really like this boat. My only complaint is that I won't be able to get one of my own until next spring (2013).