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Submitted: 11-25-2013 by Jay Fredlund
I'm writing this review because the Oru has provided me with something awesome: the ability to own and store my own kayak living in a one bedroom apartment in Downtown Seattle. This was one of the biggest draws for me and it hasn't disappointed. Unlike inflatables (which, prior to Oru, were about the only thing I could have as an apartment dweller), the Oru is sturdy, responsive, and handles the chop of the water very well.
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!
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