The more approachable-sized Oru Lake beckons to be paddled, with its low weight and easy setup. At just 17 pounds, this suitcase-style boat is a breeze to take with you just about anywhere. Not even a strap is left unused when the boat is set up, making adventures much more accessible. The smooth polypropylene hull glides easily through the water, and the cockpit has plenty of room for any gear you might want to bring. Its best use, though, is in the name: lakes, particularly those that are flat and calm. The small deck and overly open cockpit offer little protection from waves, and the bow tends to bounce over every crest. With its wide flat bottom and shorter length, this boat doesn't track as well as many others. Still, for so many reasons, we love paddling this craft on still waters.Editor's Note: This kayak was tested alongside our inflatable kayak lineup in September 2022.
Oru Lake Review
Cons: Doesn't track well, too open for waves, seat plate has sharp edges, basic package is lacking
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|Pros||Very lightweight, no parts leftover, smooth hull, lots of room inside||Handles well, high durability, fast, stable, fabric is water resistant||All-inclusive package, adjustable seating, can paddle tandem or solo, comfortable seats||All-inclusive package, inexpensive, lightweight||Extremely portable, maneuverable, stable, easy set up|
|Cons||Doesn't track well, too open for waves, seat plate has sharp edges, basic package is lacking||Heavy, floor difficult to inflate, hard to drain||Awkward bulky bag, foot pump is small, wobbly paddles||Tracks poorly, tacos when fully inflated, deforms at full pressure, questionable durability||Low durability, poor tracking, weight doesn’t include pump or paddle|
|Bottom Line||A less expensive folding kayak that's exceptionally easy to set up and store and is a joy to paddle on calm, flat waters||With excellent handling, a long lifespan, and great comfort, this kayak will go the distance||An inexpensive and more comfortable way to get out on the water with your friends or by yourself||This boat is fine if money is your bottom line, but it paddles poorly and has lackluster performance across the board||Getting on the water miles from any roads has never been easier than with this extremely portable kayak|
|Rating Categories||Oru Lake||Advanced Elements A...||Sea Eagle 370 Pro||Intex Explorer K2||Advanced Elements P...|
|Ease of Set Up (20%)|
|Specs||Oru Lake||Advanced Elements A...||Sea Eagle 370 Pro||Intex Explorer K2||Advanced Elements P...|
|Measured Weight (boat and storage bag only)||17.0 lbs||33.25 lbs||42.8 lbs||26.2 lbs||5.25 lbs|
|Capacity||Single; 250 lbs||Single; 300 lbs||Tandem; 650 lbs||Tandem; 400 lbs||Single; 250 lbs|
|Kayak Size (length x width)||8'11" x 2' 8"||10' 3" x 2' 9"||12' 6" x 2' 10"||10' x 3'||7' 6" x 2' 11"|
|Packed Size (length x width x height)||42" x 18.5" x 10.5"||33" x 16" x 15"||36" x 20" x 8"||27" x 15" x 17"||14" x 12" x 7"|
|Included Accessories||Extra plastic buckle, extra velcro patches||Repair kit||Foot pump, repair kit, paddles||Repair patches, pump, and paddles||Repair kit|
|Material/Construction||double-layered polypropylene, 10-year UV treatment||Aluminum ribs in bow & stern, PVC-coated polyester||38 mil PVC||Polypropylene||Polyurethane-coated ripstop polyester|
|Features||Adjustable backrest||Adjustable backrest, bungees, pressure relief valve in floor, skeg||Seatback pockets, bow & stern grablines, drainage hole, adjustable seats, two small tracking fins, converts to solo boat||Removable skeg, bow & stern grab lines, adjustable backrest, manual drainage hole||Rubber-molded handle, mesh carry bag doubles as onboard storage, accessory D-rings|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Oru Lake is a single-person folding kayak with a capacity of 250 pounds. It weighs just 17 pounds and is made of UV-treated double-layered polypropylene. The basic package has no extra footrest, adjustability, handles, or other amenities — though many are available for additional purchase.
The smooth plastic hull of the Oru Lake glides effortlessly through the water with next to no drag. Its wide, flat bottom provides plenty of stability and space for even long-legged paddlers. Though the basic package doesn't include a footrest, we added one (for an additional cost) and greatly appreciated its extreme adjustability and usefulness for serious strokes. However, this shallow boat lacks a keel or rudder. Combined with its shorter length of just under 9 feet, the Lake loves to zigzag left and right if paddled without a J-stroke. Its low weight and very small deck (and therefore large, open cockpit) allow it to bounce across waves and easily swallow them as they crash over the top side of the craft. We enjoy paddling the Lake most on calm, flat waters, employing the classic J-stroke and cognizant hip steering to ensure continuous and peaceful forward motion.
The large cockpit and expansive width help keep the Oru Lake stable for easy entry and exit. For short paddle trips, the lightly padded basic seat is plenty to keep you comfortable, and the slightly raised vantage from the top of the orange seat board helps you stay reasonably dry from the growing paddle puddle that collects in the bottom of the boat. The seat back allows for minor adjustments, though only in a forward direction (no leaning back here), as the seat plate is fixed in place and not movable once the boat is clipped together. Over longer paddling journeys, we found the thin seat's charm wears off, leaving our bums feeling sore as if we were sitting directly on a hard surface. The Lake can be purchased with several additional and useful features — including a thicker seat pad — but the basic model lacks any extra bells and whistles.
Ease of Set Up
It's tough to beat how easy it is to set up the Lake. Though the first time or two involve working through the included pictorial instruction booklet or watching videos online, once you've gotten the hang of it, setting up and taking down this simple watercraft takes just a few minutes. Beyond not needing a pump, the Lake is its own carrying case. Even the straps that hold it together are simply attached to the edges, easily held in close to minimize dangling while you're adventuring on the water. Our only complaint is that the edges of the orange seat plate are quite sharp, and we cut our hands on them more than once while learning the ins and outs of setting up and putting away this boat.
Weighing a scant 17 pounds, the Oru Lake is easily one of the lightest kayaks we tested. It folds into a suitcase shape with a single handle that's easy to use. Though it has no additional handles when set up — on the sides, bow, or stern — it's light enough that we hardly missed them. Here again, is an area in which Oru offers many upgrades for the Lake. Two D-rings on the closure straps allow you to attach a padded shoulder strap for easier carrying (sold separately). If you're hoping to head farther out, you can also purchase a backpack for the Lake with a handy paddle pocket to boot. With just the basic package, as we tested, the suitcase carry will get you most places.
The double-layer, 10-year UV-treated polypropylene that makes up the Oru Lake is sturdy and strong. As it's not inflatable, you don't run the risk of popping your kayak going over rocks. And though we tested this model for just a few months, we've had another boat from Oru, made of the same materials, that we've been paddling regularly for over four years, with no issues. The only worry we have with the Lake is that some of the creases in the bow and stern are very acute angles that can be accidentally folded incorrectly when the boat is brand new and not "used to" its shape yet. But with proper care, ours eased its way into folding the right way every time and caused us no grief. It also comes with an extra plastic buckle for the closure straps, just in case.
Should You Buy the Oru Lake?
If you're sold on the portability of a packable kayak but don't want to deal with the hassle of a pump or the extra space of a longer boat, the Oru Lake is a great option. It is wonderful to paddle on still, flat waters, as long as you're comfortable modifying your stroke to compensate for its lack of tracking. For infrequent and shorter missions, the basic package of the Lake is all you need to have some simple, lightweight fun for less cash.
What Other Inflatable Kayaks Should You Consider?
While we adore paddling the Oru Lake in the right conditions, it might not be right for your aquatic adventures. If you don't want to deal with the zigzag feeling of this short, keel-less watercraft, the 3-foot-longer Oru Beach is much simpler to keep heading in a straight line. If tackling waves is more what you're after, you'd be better off with a boat that boasts a larger deck and smaller cockpit opening. We like the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame and Pakayak Bluefin for their performance in rougher waters and ability to take a spray skirt. But if you're all about flat waters, high maneuverability, and low storage space, the lightweight and highly enjoyable Oru Lake may be just the kayak you've been searching for.
— Maggie Nichols
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