Review of Oru Kayak The Beach LT
What is the Oru Kayak?
Oru Kayaks are foldable, portable kayaks designed to open up opportunities for people in all environments to enjoy the freedom of paddling, whether it be on the coast, bay, river or lake. Taking their inspiration from origami, the primary selling point of an Oru Kayak is its ability to fold up for easy storage and transportation – undoubtedly the most challenging aspect of owning a regular kayak.
Living in Chiang Mai, kayaking is not the first pastime that springs to mind for a day out despite a number of decent sized reservoirs and great scenery. That said, kayaking in Chiang Mai is relatively popular both for locals who tend to paddle within city limits on the Ping river as well as tourists who travel slightly further afield for a more interesting excursion with one of several tour operators. These tours tend to use sit on kayaks which are perfectly fine as they are very sturdy designs and simple to operate and can take a lot of abuse but a decent sized trailer is required just to transport them to the river, made all the more difficult on some narrow winding roads in Chiang Mai.
As soon as I saw the design of The Beach LT I was blown away by its ingenious design and striking look and with hindsight its amazing this hasn’t been made before! But is it as good as it looks and very important, is it easy to fold out / up? My track record with packed furniture is not the best so would I have the same challenges with the Oru Kayak?
When packed, it is about the size of a suitcase and weighs about 12kg / 26lbs which is a fair amount but given how sturdy it is it’s a reasonable weight. The carry handle has comfortable padding and I have walked several hundred metres with it with no issues. I have seen videos of people carrying it backpack style which would be amazing but perhaps that’s another model.
Assembly of The Beach LT
The instructions are very clear and concise and i’d also recommend watching their youtube videos on assembly at least for the first couple of times to familiarize yourself with the process. After the first couple of attempts I was assembling the kayak in just a few minutes it was that easy. Folding it back up was somewhat more difficult and for this I didn’t find the instruction manual sufficient with no illustrations to help. After watching the youtube video a couple of times it became obvious though and again, after the first couple of times takes just minutes to pack away. Overall I am very impressed by the design of the Oru Kayak The Beach LT and the intuitive design.
Ok so great so far but how does it fair in the outdoors? According to the website, the Beach LT is intended for use in smooth, calm water making it ideal for the reservoirs found in Chiang Mai. It is 3.5m approx in length (12ft) and so has plenty of room for bags / gear and is very comfortable thanks to the back support and padded seat as well as adjustable foot rest. The kayak is incredibly stable and certainly moves at a fair pace thanks to the sleek design. They’re also very sturdy being made from 5 mm double-layered, custom-extruded polypropylene with a 10-year UV treatment and it certainly feels well made.
Now for my only minor gripe. Being a brilliant white colour (which aesthetically may look beautiful) is a magnet for any kind of dirt and discolored water. The slats within the polypropylene are designed to allow water to flow through them but this also means silt and other material can also get inside and once it is, its not going anywhere. The nature of being on a lake is that the shores are likely going to be very muddy and so getting in and out makes the kayak filthy and takes forever to clean. Of course this in no way hinders the integrity of the Oru Kayak and is perhaps nit picking but i’d much prefer the kayak to come in a darker colour.
Since I picked up the Oru Kayak The Beach LT I have been to Mae Kuang several times and Sri Lanna National Park being the most sizable resevoirs within an hour driving distance. Both are fantastic for kayaking in the Oru Kayak with lovely scenery, easy parking and perfect conditions for the kayak. It is fun exploring the various inlets and coves and taking some cooking gear for a coffee on a secluded beach and a great way to exercise. I am not an avid kayaking fan so the Oru Kayak is perfect for me as I can hide it away easily when I get home and it fits perfectly in my boot when I want to head out. The Oru Kayak The Beach LT can be bought from TANKstore at time of writing for 47,900 THB which seems expensive but for the build quality and innovation I would say represents reasonable value for money.