ORU Folding BEACH LT Sport Kayak
This was a terribly difficult review to write. The ask was to test an ORU 12’ kayak that folded into the size of an overhead suitcase. I was apprehensive. The concept just didn’t make sense to me. I quickly assumed it was a result of some MIT type grad student’s lab design project: here’s a sheet of paper, make me a boat kind of thing. My gut said, “No thank you,” because I fish from a sit on top kayak 12 months a year and know it like I do my family. I know when everything is balanced and when I’m asking too much of it. The ORU people said it was solid. I wasn’t sold on testing ORU’s Beach LT Sport kayak. But then, who knew the ORU Beach LT Sport would be like feng shui on the water?
They shipped one, I hedged. I shuffled that squat, neat package around my garage for a few weeks, seizing every opportunity to not cut the tape, until enough was enough. With fellow fisherman Bob Buscher, we opened two beers, set it on my lawn and in 20 minutes, had a sweet kayak ready to fish. Disassembling it, we both understood the 12’ Beach LT Sport was smart, well designed, sleek, comfortable and in need of a test drive. At South Kingstown’s Tucker Pond, I paddled in a 20-knot blow when I would not have taken my sit on top. Paddling in with ease, I realized I was sold on the ORU.
The ORU Beach LT Sport is what is
The specs are impressive. Built from a 5mm skin of two layers of custom-extruded polypropylene with a 10-year ultraviolet preventative treatment, LT Sports weigh just 28 pounds, are 12’1” long and 29” wide. That’s light and trim, designed well for inshore waters. A little less beam can result in a tippy feeling, especially with weight onboard, but I didn’t feel that. They’re guaranteed to work even after unfolding “tens of thousands of times,” because it’s all one piece. Match that level of wear and pride to something else you own. It holds 300 pound and storage is available fore and aft. This is a devilishly clever packable, manageable, enjoyable kayak keenly designed for lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers. It’s not meant for open ocean journeys or Class III rapids but it’s rugged and ready to be packed, hauled, scraped, loved and reopened for years. The ORU Beach LT Sport proudly is what it is.
Testing ORU’s Beach LT Sport Kayak, the learning the unpack/pack up dance was easy once I slowed to override desires to trash the instructions and figure it out for myself. Don’t do that. ORU engineers have done the heavy lifting; take joy in that. The top of the box is also the floorboard. There are bullseyes and arrows to lead you home. Each bungee has a purpose. The seat has straps and adjustments, hook and loop strips are there for a reason. Everything goes back in the box. The box fits in a backpack.
Toss it in your trunk, lay one in a pickup bed, strap one to your e-bike. ORU’s are built to travel and as with many parts of life, once you understand its limitations, which are few, it’s one hell of a fun ride.
Walking to water, you will appreciate carrying a 12’ kayak with one hand, leaving an extra hand for paddle, PFD or dry bag. You might just get to water in one trip with a ORU folding BEACH LT Kayak. Once adjusted, I was surprised how comfortable the seat was. The gunwales have a rail system to handle a Scotty Plastics or similar style accessories. Rod holder? Check. Cup holder? Check. I used an ORU paddle and a NRS PFD designed for ORU to complete the package. All three, vest, paddle and boat are easily customized for paddler height, balance and comfort.
I left the shore easily, steamed through a hefty southwest wind swell, then purposefully turned the Beach LT Sport around in crests to see if the ORU would heal and she held tight. A little water came onboard but that would have happened in any boat. It was easy to turn, held a straight line and didn’t feel like it wanted to turn turtle as I repeatedly rolled it into waves. Those are great features for any kayak, let alone one that fits in a backpack. Be prepared for unexpected levels of envy from other paddlers. On my maiden voyage, in that wind, I met two people on bicycles who were kayakers. I spent more time talking about the boat than I did paddling it, which was a fine testament to how innovative the ORU is.
ORU Folding BEACHLT Kayak
Back in the garage, under two other kayaks hanging from rafters, I gently pushed it under a workbench, knowing that not only did it require a minimal amount of space, but the Beach LT Sport had sublimely become the boat I would reach for the next weekend. The message, one I hesitated to hear, was that ORU’s are feng shui, wind and water, an arrangement of pieces which bring balance to our world. We could all benefit from more of that, especially when it fits on your back. www.orukayak.com.