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The Beach LT Sport by Oru Kayak, folded up in carry mode on the beach

All folded up, Oru Kayak’s Beach LT Sport packs up surprisingly small.

The Inertia

Kayaking is in the middle of a renaissance. Portable kayaks are taking the world of water-travel by storm by removing the most annoying part of the equation: lugging the boats around and storing them. While the majority of these new additions to the category are of the inflatable variety, there is another option that gives the performance of a hard-shell kayak without the moving-and-storage-troubles: Folding Kayaks.

Folding kayaks have been around for over a century in one form or another, even seeing use in the Second World War by British and Australian Forces. Fast-forward to today, and one company is leading the charge in bringing foldable kayaks into the 21st century through an ancient tradition: Origami.

Yes, the Japanese art of paper folding that most of us did in grade school is also a great way to make a boat, it turns out. Oru Kayak has developed a series of boats that can be folded up and stashed in a closet or storage room when not in use. Combining ancient tradition and modern materials, the Beach LT Sport is a solid, stable, and fun kayak that will provide years of enjoyment on the water. We got our hands on it to give it a good ol’ gear test.

Pros Cons
Unique design Slight learning curve to set up
Stable and easy to paddle Square shape felt awkward to carry
Long lasting – rated to 20,000 folds/unfolds Storage compartments inaccessible while on the water
Easy to clean and dry Seat is prone to waterlogging
Self-contained: No bag or pump to leave onshore

Who would like this kayak: People who want a shaped hull and don’t want to lug around extras like a bag and a pump (or leave them onshore).

Who might not want this kayak: People who have trouble carrying large, wide objects with a single shoulder strap.

Oru Kayak's beach lt sport foldable kayak on the beach, ready to go exploring.

It looks like a kayak, because it is a kayak. The Beach LT Sport performs well on the water and also looks the part.

First Impressions

It felt a bit intimidating seeing the kayak all folded up in a self-contained unit. How a roughly square-shaped piece of folded-up corrugated plastic could safely transport me on the water seemed mysterious. Luckily the boat has a QR code with an easy-to-follow youtube video explaining the process in about 10 minutes.

10 minutes is about average for the first go around, but once you really get the hang of it, it’s possible to cut that time in half. Aside from changing up some of the folds, strapping the ends into a point, and using some zipper channels to hold it all together on the stern and bow, the whole piece shifts like a 12 foot transformer. It’s incredible how just zipping the ends together turned the Beach LT Sport into a strong and durable vessel.

using the zipper enclosures to seal the oru kayak beach lt sport

Aside from the seat and paddle, the “zipper” enclosures on the Oru Kayak Beach LT Sport were the only pieces not attached to the main unit.

After making it a sea-worthy, you just need to add in the seat, connect a tension strap, put the footrests in place, and the boat is ready to go.

Once on the water, the Beach LT Sport felt just like any hardshell kayak. The shaped hull allows the kayak to move over the water with efficiency and ease – even wind chop seemed to splash away when crashing on the bow of the boat, and very little water came inside the boat. It seems as though the geometry both under and above the surface lends itself well to keeping water diverted. The boat is very stable, both upwind and on a cross-breeze, something that can’t be said for all kayaks, especially inflatable ones that often don’t track well. This unit is quite sturdy, and gave me plenty of admiration for the ancient art of origami and the strength that comes from a well-engineered fold.

Notable Features

The main feature is, of course, the fact that it’s a 12′ boat that you can carry with a shoulder strap and fits in the trunk of a car. After the initial disbelief wore off, I became confident in the design and realized that it has some major advantages over a hard shell or inflatable kayak. The advantages over a hard shell are obvious – portability – but it also does that better than an inflatable, with faster set up and take-down time, especially considering how quickly it dries out compared to an inflatable kayak. Novelty factor aside, it’s a well-performing kayak that can move around the water and feels safe the whole time.

Additionally, the boat has plenty of watertight storage space in the bow and stern. The catch is that you need to remove the zipper enclosures on the bow or stern to access, so you wouldn’t really want to stash anything you might need while out on the water. But I had room in the main sitting area for my Icemule Jaunt, a waterproof backpack cooler that also floats, so that’s really all I needed for onboard entertainment. And the ability to pack this full of camping gear (140 liters and up to 300 lbs including the driver) and keep it dry is a definite win.

view from the cockpit of the beach lt sport folding kayak from Oru

The Beach LT sport felt great while gliding out on the water.

Final Thoughts

Oru Kayak’s Beach LT Sport is an incredible way to enjoy the water. Once you get the hang of it, it’s quick and easy to get it seaworthy. The large square shape is a bit awkward to carry, so going long distances might be a challenge. But it fits nicely into a trunk, is easy to clean and dry, and is rated to last 20,000 folds, meaning you could use it every day for almost 55 years.

This is a great option for people who are short on storage space, but want the feel of a traditional kayak, and don’t want to worry about spare parts such as a pump and bag while out on the water. It isn’t cheap, but you can tell Oru has gone the extra mile in creating a folding kayak that is easy to use, performs well on the water, and will last for years. The novelty factor alone will have you making new friends when people approach you and want to see if you’re actually going to take it out on the water. And when you paddle off and return back safely, they’ll be even more impressed than when you left shore.

Oru Kayak Beach LT Sport Specs

Weight: 28 Lbs
Length: 12’1″
Width: 29″
Cockpit: 24″ x 69″
Storage: 140 liters
Max paddler height: 6’6″
Weight capacity: 300 Lbs
Kayak box: 33″ by 13″ by 29″
Set-up time: 10-15 minutes

Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.

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