One of the best things about living the van life and travelling in a van is being able to get out in nature more often. When living in a van, the whole world becomes your garden and playground, and the outdoorsy adventure possibilities are endless. The only thing limiting your adventures is the amount of gear your compact camper van can carry, you can’t possibly take a surfboard, climbing gear and a kayak. Or can you? Today we’re going to be showing you one of the best van life ideas to get more equipment on board: a folding kayak. 

The main downside to small campers and micro campers is the tiny amount of storage space they come with, even if you are travelling in something larger or living the Sprinter Van life storage space can still be tight. When you travel in a van you need to get creative, minimise your belongings and work out what the van life essentials are for you. Switching regular items out for more compact versions is a great way to squeeze more gear into your camper, just like the Oru Folding Kayak that we’re going to be looking at today. So, read on if you’re looking for a more compact solution to getting out on the water or are looking for some campervan gifts for the vandwellers in your life. 

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Oru’s Folding Kayak Inspiration 

The Oru Folding Kayak has been around since 2012, and they now have five different kayaks to choose from. When Oru first set out, they were inspired by two things: greenland kayaks and Japanese origami. Greenland kayaks are elegant beasts, slimmer than a modern kayak and perfect for a day out on the ocean. We can see what Oru saw in these beautiful wooden boats and why they are the ideal place to gain inspiration. 

In order to make the boat fold from a box into a usable kayak, Oru needed some out of the box thinking. That is where the Japanese origami comes in. Origami is the ancient art of paper folding, making beautiful and ornate 3-D items out of a sheet of paper, using a set of complicated and intricate folds. By combining the design of a greenland kayak with the ideas behind origami, Oru has managed to create something unique and a new way to get out on the water. 

Oru’s collection of folding kayaks all hold several things in common. They all fold from a full-sized kayak to be the size of a suitcase or smaller. They are all easy to set up, with box to boat taking around five minutes. And they all kick ass on the water. So, let’s take a closer look at their most beginner-friendly folding kayak, the Beach LT.

The Beach LT Folding Kayak 

The Beach LT is designed to make the outdoors more accessible and to break down the barriers to getting out on the water. Once assembled, this folding kayak is wide and stable on the water, perfect for those with little experience or the experts, looking for a boat perfect for calm waters. The beach LT is designed to be used on calm waters but is, of course, strong enough to take the bumps and bashes associated with kayaking. 

The Beach LT is made from 5mm double-layered custom-extruded polypropylene which is both lightweight and extremely strong. By using this polypropylene, Oru has managed to keep the weight of the Beach LT to just 26lbs, which is less than half the weight of an average kayak. Being lightweight means the folding kayak is easy to transport using either the shoulder strap that comes with the kayak for short journeys or the Oru pack that you can purchase to carry the boat on your back. With the Oru pack, you can Reach more remote locations to find the perfect setting to go out on the water, something you wouldn’t be able to easily do with a standard kayak. 

This folding kayak can hold one adult plus a small child or pet, making it perfect for a day out with the family or for sharing with friends. It also has plenty of storage space in front and behind the sitting area to be able to store a tasty picnic for lunch out on the water. The Oru Beach LT costs $1299, which we don’t think is bad for such an innovative piece of kit that will enhance any beach day.

The Folding Kayak Collection

As well as the Beach LT, Oru has three other kayaks ready to buy plus a brand new model available to pre-order through Kickstarter. The three models currently available are The Haven, The Bay ST and The Coast XT. The new kid on the block is the Inlet folding kayak. In order to choose the perfect kayak for you, you need to look at your experience level and decide what you will be using your kayak for, most of the time. 

The Haven is the only folding kayak designed to carry two people and is the worlds first origami tandem kayak. This kayak is perfect for people who want to go out on the water with a partner or for those who have bigger kids who aren’t quite ready to go out on their own yet. A great feature of The Haven is that is can also easily convert to be a one-person kayak so you can get in a bit of solo paddle time. 

The Bay ST was Oru’s first folding kayak, although it has been updated and improved over the years. This boat is stable enough for beginners but is more of a pro model compared to the Beach LT. This kayak can take more serious paddling and features a closed cockpit to keep you dry in rockier waters. If you’re looking for something even more serious, then The Coast XT is for you. The Coast XT is designed for pro kayakers and therefore has a sophisticated design, making the kayak perfect for pro-level performance. 

The Latest Model 

However, the kayak to keep an eye on is Oru’s latest model, The Inlet folding kayak. The Inlet folding kayak, which is currently available to preorder through Kickstarter with an estimated delivery date of June 2020, folds into the smallest, most compact shape yet. The Inlet folds to be just 42” long x 19” tall x 10” wide, much smaller and more comfortable to carry than the other models. On top of its small dimensions, this hardshell kayak weighs in at just 20lbs, the weight of three bricks, meaning you really could take this boat on a hike with you to reach more remote waters. 

As well as a smaller size and lower weight, the Inlet folding kayak also has a lower price point than any of the other Oru models, coming in at just $899. 

The Inlet comes in at a smaller size thanks to a brand new folding pattern that focuses on efficiency, making the process from box to boat as easy as possible, with a completion time of just 3-5minutes. The Inlet is designed for everyone; this kayak is suitable for beginners but also welcomes those with a more expert skill level. If you want to get out on the water, anytime, anywhere, then this is the kayak for you. 

Great For Van Life

Any Oru folding kayak would be perfect for taking on your next van life adventure. As it folds down to be the size of a suitcase, there is no excuse for not being able to squeeze one into your camper. Stash it away under the bed or in a cupboard and, if you’re struggling for space, this kayak is small enough to store on the front seats when not in use. 

One of the best things about choosing a folding kayak over a regular kayak is that there is no need to fit a roof rack to your van. This saves not only money but also unnecessary weight being added to your camper van, meaning your fuel will go further.

Storing a kayak on a roof rack also draws a lot of attention to your van, by being able to fold up your vessel and store it inside you are drawing less attention to your van, which is excellent if you are stealth camping or boondocking. By being able to store the Oru kayaks inside, you are also minimising the risk of it being stolen, as it is securely stored inside your van, not outside. 

Final Thoughts…

We love the Oru folding kayak range and hope that you’ve been inspired to get out on the water when you go on your next van life journey. The Oru kayaks feature beautiful and innovative design and are the best looking, and most functional, compact kayaks on the market. We think these kayaks are made for van life and anyone with an adventurous spirit. Let us know what you think by joining the Van Clan over on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter