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Oru Lake Review

A less expensive folding kayak that's exceptionally easy to set up and store and is a joy to paddle on calm, flat waters
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Oru Lake Review
Credit: Maggie Nichols
Price:  $499 List
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Manufacturer:   Oru
By Maggie Nichols ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 11, 2023
76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 15
  • Gliding and Tracking - 25% 7.5
  • Maneuverability - 20% 8.5
  • Stability - 20% 5.5
  • Ease of Transport and Set Up - 15% 9.0
  • Comfort - 10% 6.5
  • Construction Quality - 10% 9.0

Our Verdict

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.
REASONS TO BUY
Very lightweight
No parts leftover
Smooth hull
Lots of room inside
REASONS TO AVOID
Doesn't track well
Too open for waves
Seat plate has sharp edges
Basic package is lacking

Editor's Note: This review was updated on October 11, 2023, to include comparisons and new results from our most recent round of testing.

Editor's Note: This kayak was tested alongside our inflatable kayak lineup in September 2022.

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Price $499 List
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Bottom Line A marginally more affordable folding boat that's a breeze to set up and enjoyable on calm and flat watersThis yak is among our favorites and it's built to last and perform at a high levelA very open design is simple and comfortable while also lightweight and easy to use, though not a serious or intense-paddling contenderThis improved folding craft is lightweight and does pretty well, if less technical, for a budget-friendly priceAn affordable and pleasant paddling experience with a friend or solo on calm waters
Rating Categories Oru Lake Advanced Elements A... Aquaglide Deschutes... Tucktec Folding Kayak Sea Eagle 370 Pro
Gliding and Tracking (25%)
7.5
9.0
5.0
7.0
5.5
Maneuverability (20%)
8.5
7.0
7.5
8.0
6.0
Stability (20%)
5.5
7.0
8.5
5.0
4.5
Ease of Transport and Set Up (15%)
9.0
4.5
8.0
7.0
6.0
Comfort (10%)
6.5
8.5
8.0
6.0
6.5
Construction Quality (10%)
9.0
8.0
5.5
7.5
5.5
Specs Oru Lake Advanced Elements A... Aquaglide Deschutes... Tucktec Folding Kayak Sea Eagle 370 Pro
Measured Weight (boat and storage bag only) 17.0 lbs 33.25 lbs 26.0 lbs 26.0 lbs 42.8 lbs
Capacity Single; 250 lb Single; 300 lb Single; 300 lb Single; 300 lbs Tandem; 650 lb
Kayak Size (length x width) 8'11" x 2' 8" 10' 3" x 2' 9" 10' 9" x 3' 1" 10' x 2' 7"
(9' 4.5" boat only; rudder not included)
12' 6" x 2' 10"
Packed Size (length x width x height) 42" x 18.5" x 10.5" 33" x 16" x 15" 27" x 20" x 11" 46.5" x 14.5" x 9" 36" x 20" x 8"
Included Accessories Extra plastic buckle, extra velcro patches Repair kit Repair kit Paddle Foot pump, repair kit, paddles
Material/Construction Double-layered polypropylene, 10-year UV treatment Aluminum ribs in bow & stern, PVC-coated polyester Duratex reinforced PVC 1/8" high-density polyethylene thermoplastic 38 mil PVC
Features Adjustable backrest Adjustable backrest, bungees, pressure relief valve in floor, skeg Permanent footrest, adjustable backrest, carry handles, bow & stern bungees, removable skeg, stern drainage hole, repair kit Adjustable foot rest, adjustable backrest, front bungee, carry handles on ends Seatback pockets, bow & stern grablines, drainage hole, adjustable seats, two small tracking fins, converts to solo boat

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.

Performance Comparison


oru lake - though it's a tight fit, we paddled this kayak-loving 80+ pound dog...
Though it's a tight fit, we paddled this kayak-loving 80+ pound dog around in the Oru Lake, much to her delight.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Gliding and Tracking


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.

oru lake - the very small deck and large open cockpit of the oru lake make it...
The very small deck and large open cockpit of the Oru Lake make it susceptible to waves. But on perfectly calm days like this, we adore a leisurely paddle in this small kayak.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Manueverability


With a shallow hull and shorter overall length, the Lake turns on a dime. It's lightweight and easy to paddle and maneuver wherever you need it to be. Riding fairly low in the water, the Lake is less affected by wind than some other, taller models, but it's not completely immune to being blown off course on breezy days. Its rigid hull inspires confidence to go over any submerged objects without worry. 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.

oru lake - the added weight of this pooch helped to stabilize the oru lake on...
The added weight of this pooch helped to stabilize the Oru Lake on choppier waters - and she also got plenty of waves crashing over her face which she loves.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Stability


The large cockpit and expansive width help keep the Oru Lake stable for easy entry and exit. 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. Without tubes of air running the full length of this craft, it feels less stable because it is allowed to move more underneath you. While its width and rigidity maintain decent stability, the Lake is more likely to shift underneath you as you paddle, twist around to talk to your friends, or slide about searching for that sandwich tucked away somewhere.

oru lake - the oru lake is so lightweight and leaves no pieces behind after set...
The Oru Lake is so lightweight and leaves no pieces behind after set up, making it one of our favorites to carry down to the dock before assembly.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Transport and 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.

oru lake - the oru lake (17 pounds) in front of the oru beach lt (26 pounds).
The Oru Lake (17 pounds) in front of the Oru Beach LT (26 pounds).
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Comfort


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.

oru lake - this wide, flat-bottomed boat is stable and has plenty of space even...
This wide, flat-bottomed boat is stable and has plenty of space even for tall paddlers - though its thinly padded seat (part of the basic package) leaves something to be desired on longer journeys.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Construction Quality


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 more than five 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.

oru lake - the lake is made of uv-treated, double-layer polypropylene that's...
The Lake is made of UV-treated, double-layer polypropylene that's well-designed to handle years of paddling. Here you can also see the closure strap and buckle, secured inside the boat, out of the way of your paddle stroke.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

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.

oru lake - there's much we love about paddling the oru lake (pictured with the...
There's much we love about paddling the Oru Lake (pictured with the Oru Beach in the background).
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Maggie Nichols