When it comes to the best inflatable or packable kayak around, we come back to the Oru Beach LT year after year. This impressive model is our Editor's Choice Award winner and our favorite all-around kayak for just about any casual paddling adventure and all levels of kayaker. The origami-style hardshell is a cinch to put together, with a large cockpit that makes loading and unloading gear, pets, and yourself easy. It's long and lean, tracking well while riding the line of being wide enough to be stable and narrow enough to paddle nearly effortlessly. Our only real complaint about this boat is its price tag — though after years of regular paddling, we're finding it's well worth the investment.Editor's Note: This review was updated on September 16, 2022, to include side-by-side comparisons with the new Oru Lake.
Oru Beach LT Review
Cons: Expensive, seat cushion thin, rigid pack makes for an awkward carry
Manufacturer: Oru Kayak
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|Pros||No inflation required, lightweight, very durable, stable, fast, tracks well, easy set up and clean up||Handles well, high durability, fast, stable, fabric is water resistant||Handles and tracks well, very durable, helpful features, option for single or tandem paddling||All-inclusive package, adjustable seating, can paddle tandem or solo, comfortable seats||Extremely portable, maneuverable, stable, easy set up|
|Cons||Expensive, seat cushion thin, rigid pack makes for an awkward carry||Heavy, floor difficult to inflate, hard to drain||Heavy, no paddles or pump included, expensive||Awkward bulky bag, foot pump is small, wobbly paddles||Low durability, poor tracking, weight doesn’t include pump or paddle|
|Bottom Line||This lightweight and foldable kayak has performance closer to that of a hardshell and is a joy to paddle||With excellent handling, a long lifespan, and great comfort, this kayak will go the distance||Rather heavy but a great performance for a two-person model that can also be used solo||An inexpensive and more comfortable way to get out on the water with your friends or by yourself||Getting on the water miles from any roads has never been easier than with this extremely portable kayak|
|Rating Categories||Oru Beach LT||Advanced Elements A...||Advanced Elements A...||Sea Eagle 370 Pro||Advanced Elements P...|
|Ease of Set Up (20%)|
|Specs||Oru Beach LT||Advanced Elements A...||Advanced Elements A...||Sea Eagle 370 Pro||Advanced Elements P...|
|Measured Weight (boat and storage bag only)||26.1 lbs||33.25 lbs||55.2 lbs||42.8 lbs||5.25 lbs|
|Capacity||Single; 300 lbs||Single; 300 lbs||Tandem; 550 lbs||Tandem; 650 lbs||Single; 250 lbs|
|Kayak Size (length x width)||12' 3" x 2' 6"||10' 3" x 2' 9"||15' x 2' 8"||12' 6" x 2' 10"||7' 6" x 2' 11"|
|Packed Size (length x width x height)||32" x 28.5" x 11"||33" x 16" x 15"||35" x 21" x 12"||36" x 20" x 8"||14" x 12" x 7"|
|Included Accessories||Repair pieces||Repair kit||Repair kit||Foot pump, repair kit, paddles||Repair kit|
|Material/Construction||double-layered polypropylene, 10-year UV treatment||Aluminum ribs in bow & stern, PVC-coated polyester||Aluminum ribs in bow & stern, PVC tarpaulin, 3 layers rip-stop material||38 mil PVC||Polyurethane-coated ripstop polyester|
|Features||Adjustable foot brace and backrest, bulkheads, carry handles||Adjustable backrest, bungees, pressure relief valve in floor, skeg||Paddle keepers, seatback pockets, bungee straps, D-ring attachment points, converts to solo boat||Seatback pockets, bow & stern grablines, drainage hole, adjustable seats, two small tracking fins, converts to solo boat||Rubber-molded handle, mesh carry bag doubles as onboard storage, accessory D-rings|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Oru Beach is a single-person foldable kayak with a 300-pound capacity. It weighs 26.1 pounds and is made of UV-treated double-layered polypropylene. The Beach features an adjustable seat back and footrests, bulkheads, and bow and stern carry handles.
The Oru Beach LT handles incredibly well for being a portable model. At 12'3" long, it's among the longest single-occupant boats we tested. Despite having no skegs, the added length translates into great tracking and the ability to cut through waves like a pro. It also rides low in the water and feels impressively stable. Within the Girl Scout troop that took these boats out for a spin, the girl who was least comfortable in a boat felt secure riding in the Oru and was able to have a great time on the water with her friends.
Due to its construction, relatively low weight, and the level at which it rides in the water, this boat is both surprisingly maneuverable and extraordinarily fast. It's also a relatively short boat in terms of height above the waves, which helps it to catch less wind — so gusts are less likely to blow you off course. Additionally, the double-layered polypropylene gives a lot of confidence when navigating over submerged objects like sticks, logs, plants, and rocks, as well as the ability to land on a rocky shore and survive a short drag across a sandy beach.
We love how the Beach LT handles in flatwater, but the large cockpit isn't the best suited to keeping out large waves. The overall shape of the boat cuts through said waves, but once they breach the hull of the boat, the overly large cockpit willingly accepts all water, and you'll be sitting in a puddle in no time, with no scupper hole to drain it back out. Oru does sell two other models that both have smaller cockpits and can be fitted with a spray skirt if you plan to do a lot of paddling in choppy waters. And on flatwater we appreciate the openness of the cockpit for comfort reasons.
Though not quite as comfortable as some of the squishier, inflatable competition, the Beach is still a pretty nice craft to ride in. As a low-riding, narrow boat, it's easy to get in and out of with good stability. Its seat is a real cushion (not inflatable), though it's not particularly thick. The seatback is also fully adjustable, so you can change your posture as needed. We also appreciate the presence and adjustability of the foot brace, a feature that many boats don't offer.
The overly large cockpit of the Oru Beach is great for bringing along additional items without having to jam things into nooks and crannies. Though dry bags are necessary to keep everything from getting wet, there is plenty of space and 300 pounds worth of capacity for additional items. One tester's 80-pound dog also gave this extra-large cockpit her stamp of approval as she surveyed the scene sprawled out in front, sometimes with her head resting happily on the hull.
Aside from the slightly thinner seat and the issue of taking on water in choppy conditions, the Beach LT is a pretty comfortable kayak to spend the whole day in — or even the whole weekend. The only real struggle we had was with the design of the seatback attachment point. The bottom support post connects to the orange floor of the kayak with ease, and then the back of the seat has a post that goes into sockets on the gunnels. It slides back into place, creating a tight fit for the seatback with adjustable straps that can be used to adjust the tilt of your seat. However, since that support post snaps backward into place, and you adjust the seat by pulling it forward, we noticed that the adjustments we made frequently pulled that support bar right out of its sockets. However, this didn't happen often, and the adjustable straps on the front are the part that matters most for your comfort.
Ease of Set Up
Another category in which the Oru Beach excels. After all, if you're purchasing a kayak that you have to set up and take apart every time, it's nice to find one that isn't a pain to do so. Though the first time setting it up is a bit of a mystery ("How does this little box become this giant kayak??"), it is incredibly easy to get the hang of, and we were soon consistently setting it up in under five minutes. The only piece from the box-looking package that you carry to the beach that doesn't become part of the kayak is the black carry strap itself, which takes no effort at all to toss in the cockpit and bring on the water with you. And with no pump, there's another piece you don't have to worry about carrying, weighing, or storing.
When you've had enough water time, the Beach LT is also impressively easy to put away. There's no waiting for fabric to dry or tilting this boat in every possible direction to get the water out. Simply unclip and flip! Even if the boat gets covered in sand (a common occurance), the hard polypropylene surface is a cinch to wipe off with a cloth or even just your hand. The carry strap is easy to put on and has nice metal brackets on the bottom corners. Those brackets facilitate the ease of reattaching the carrying strap and protect the bottom of the strap and corners of the boat from potential harm.
Honestly, after setting up the Oru Beach once or twice, we had no problems or complaints with the process. It's shockingly quick and straightforward and became a fast favorite for our testers to assemble and disassemble. This is certainly one of the easiest of all the kayaks in our review to set up.
The only category where the Beach LT didn't wow our testers was in portability. It isn't a horribly unportable kayak, it just didn't blow us away compared to other models reviewed. On the plus side, the Beach is one of the lightest kayaks we reviewed, weighing barely over 26 pounds. Considering you don't also have to cart along a pump, we think this weight is pretty reasonable. The messenger style carry is also a step up from the awkward duffel carry of many of the inflatable boats. Additionally, the rigid structure lends itself well to being stacked or lined up cleanly against the wall of the storage shed for those who appreciate tidy organization.
With easy-to-grab bow and stern handles, the Beach LT is also no sweat to carry when set up, assuming you've got a friend to grab the other end. One feature we love is the presence of handles inside the gunnels on either side of the cockpit. They make it a piece of cake to grab the setup boat in one hand, along with your paddle, life jacket, and water bottle in the other, and make short work of that walk down to the water's edge. No other kayak that we tested has such convenient single-person, assembled carry options.
However, as a rigid construction kayak, we had a few challenges and discomforts while carrying the Beach LT between our car and launch points. Shorter testers mentioned that they frequently hit the backs of their heels and Achilles tendon with the packed up boat, despite having the messenger strap as short as it would go. We also noticed that the Beach LT tends to rub uncomfortably against bare skin — as in when it is carried by folks wearing shorts, bathing suits, or who are shirtless. Additionally, though this rigidity is greatly appreciated in many other aspects of usage, it does make it harder to stuff the Oru into small spaces like a narrow car trunk or through a small sedan door. Overall though, it is a pretty simple kayak to cart around.
Constructed of double-layered polypropylene, we had little reason to doubt the durability of the Oru to take a beating. However, our burning question was, of course, how many times can you fold/unfold this thing before it rips into pieces or tears a hole and is no longer waterproof? According to the manufacturer, their boats are guaranteed for 20,000 folds!! We don't think we could assemble this boat that many times in our lives, regardless of how much we love kayaking. If you used this boat every single day of the year, 20,000 folds would last you almost 55 years. With that kind of backing, we feel pretty confident that the Oru will last a good long time.
We certainly have no complaints about the performance of this impressively tough vessel despite now having tested it for over four years. We've taken it over rocks, sticks, and sand, both in the water and out. The metal plates of the carrying strap that go on the bottom also facilitate a long life for the strap (and bottom corners of the boat), as carrying the Beach LT without that strap would be nearly impossible. Oru also includes an extra clip and grommet for other repairs that may need to take place over the lifespan of your yak. Additionally, they claim the polypropylene has been given a ten-year UV treatment to help protect it from the damaging rays of the sun — an excellent feature, as we're sure you'll love this boat so much you'll want to paddle it all the time.
We have but one extremely minor concern with the construction of the Beach LT. The orange floor has a cut-out to secure the bottom of the seatback, exposing the interior corrugation of the double-layer polypropylene. While we don't find this particularly off-putting in terms of longevity, it does allow water to collect inside the orange piece while paddling. In such little channels, it is a struggle to dump all the water out of that orange piece, which we could see creating a bit of a funky odor down the line — especially if you like to paddle in some less-than-pristine waters and store your boat in a humid environment. But aside from this minor complaint, we're impressed with how well this sea vessel has withstood several years of regular use.
Should You Buy the Oru Beach LT?
Costing over a grand, the Oru Beach is very expensive compared to most other models in our review. While we appreciate its top-notch performance and superb construction, spending this much on a kayak may not be the easiest choice for everyone. However, if you really need to save space, you paddle every weekend, and you want one of the best, most versatile packable yaks on the market, this one is well worth the investment. We've been using our for years and love it.
What Other Inflatable Kayaks Should You Consider?
The Oru Beach LT is an excellent kayak. Shockingly easy to set up and pack away, we think you'll have no reason not to paddle all the time if you have this boat. If the cost is too much for your infrequent kayak usage, and you want a more maneuverable, shorter, and lighter foldable boat (though with less tracking ability), the Oru Lake is worth considering. If you want to stick with a more traditional (and actually inflatable) boat, the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame is an exceptional deal and provides a fantastic on-water experience. Still, though the Oru Beach comes at a high price, we love its exceptional performance in diverse conditions and impressive longevity, unmatched by any other kayak in its category.
— Maggie Nichols
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