Last Updated on September 5, 2023 by Afsar
As a passionate kayaker, I understand the excitement and sense of adventure of exploring new waters. If you’re searching for the perfect folding kayak to enhance your paddling experience, you’ve come to the right place! Since the inception of the first folding kayak by Alfred Heurich in 1905, the industry has evolved significantly, with foldable kayaks now gaining widespread recognition for their exceptional portability and functionality.
Today, folding kayaks are increasingly popular among paddlers who value the perfect balance between convenience and performance. Unlike traditional hardshell kayaks, these innovative vessels can be compactly folded, stored in your car’s trunk, and effortlessly assembled once you reach your kayaking destination. They’re versatile enough for a wide range of kayaking adventures, from serene rivers and lakes to leisurely paddles in your backyard pond. However, they are not recommended for whitewater kayaking.
With numerous manufacturers keen to capitalize on the growing demand for portable kayaks, it’s crucial to make an informed decision when selecting the right folding kayak for your needs. In this article, I’ll share my insights on some of the leading folding kayaks available in the market and offer guidance on essential factors to consider when choosing. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the world of top-tier portable folding kayaks and embark on a journey toward finding your perfect paddling companion.
Oru Kayak Foldable Kayak: BayST
“Folding Kayaks That Go Anywhere” is the slogan of Oru Kayak. Located in Emeryville, CA, Oru Kayak has become a significant player in the folding kayak segment. Intending to help people connecting to nature, they have meticulously crafted this folding kayak. This foldable kayak from Oru Kayak is lightweight, stable, durable, and can be used by both adults and youth for fishing, travel, sightseeing, adventure, and more.Established in 2012, Oru kayak is the proud owner of the world’s first origami kayak: Oru Kayak. This innovative, fold-out Bay ST kayak is an excellent kayak for beginners. It can offer a great amount of stability while allowing the paddler to maneuver the mighty waters too. Unlike most foldable kayak out in the market, it is quite easy to assemble the Oru Kayak. Usually, it should take less than 5 minutes to assemble the kayak, thanks to the innovate origami-inspired foldable structure. Forget wasting time, and start paddling within five minutes.The sleek design of the Oru Kayak will definitely turn eyes when you start paddling with your friends. The custom polypropylene ensures that this foldable kayak is highly durable. Primarily used for recreational, this can be used for fishing too. You can take the Oru Kayak for any types of excursions like day-trip or a longer and tougher expedition. You can use the spacious cockpit to store your gears. In my opinion, this is the best folding kayak for beginners.
Recommended for beginners and intermediate users
Length: 12 FT
Width: 25 inches
Weight: 28 lbs
Maximum weight capacity: 300 lbs
Rated folding: 20,000 folds
- Custom polypropylene
- Rust-resistant hardware
- Treated with 10 years of UV protection
- Rated with a lifetime of 20,000 folds
- Unique Origami folding design
- Sturdy design
- Can be used by both newbiew and intermediate user
- Can be assembled in five minutes
- Lightweight: High portability design
- A lot of gears can be stored in the open cockpit
- Compact size takes less space
- Highly durable
- Day-to-day trip or long excursion both possible
Oru Kayak : The Coast XT
While Oru Kayak Bay ST is for beginners and intermediate users, Coast XT is specially made for the advanced and serious anglers. This is a flagship kayak coming from Oru Kayak which simply won’t quit. Primarily made for serious expeditions and pro-level performance, the Coast XT is very powerful and offers excellent features a seasoned angler could imagine.
The Coast XT offers superb speed along with great handling. Oru Kayak claims it to be the most sophisticated kayak from their collection, and they even made major improvements to the assembly process in the past months. Oru Kayak used 5mm double-layered custom-extruded polypropylene to make the kayak. It has been rated as 20,000 fold cycles, and also comes with 10-year UV treatment.
It is 16 ft long, weighs 34 lbs, and has a maximum weight capacity of 400 lb. Due to the enormous size, an adult can sit down while having a lot of space for camping or fishing gears. Just like other Oru Kayaks, this one also offers hassle-free assembly process which takes around 5 minutes. Also, when you fold it up, it becomes the size of a large suitcase. As a result, you can stash it almost anywhere like the trunk, closet, garage, boat, or even under your bed.
As mentioned before, the custom polypropylene exter ensures that it can handle choppy waters or tackle any surfaces. It claimed to be the most robust and most transportable kayak imaginable by the manufacturer. On top of that, the unique design along with the rigid hull ensures superior tracking and speed. In a nutshell, OruKayak Coast XT the best folding kayak available on the market without a doubt. The price of the kayak might be offsetting for some people, but it surely is worthy of the money.
The best folding kayak without a doubt.
Length: 16 FTWidth: 25 inchesWeight: 36 lbsMaximum weight capacity: 400 lbsRated folding: 20,000 folds
- Origami folding design
- Capable of serious expeditions and offers pro-level performance
- Rigid hull provided superb speed with great handling
- Easy to assemble and fold
- When folded, it becomes a size of a large suitcase
- Can be stashed in the trunk, closet, garage, and more places
- Highly durable: 5mm double-layered custom-extruded polypropylene
- Folding rating: 20,000 fold cycle
- 10 year UV treatment
- Can withstand saltwater, rocks or bumping obstacles under the water
- Weighs only 34 lbs making it very lightweight considering the 16 ft size
- Maximum weight capacity: 400 lbs
- Sitting arrangement: 1 person
- A lot of gears can be stored
Oru Kayak Haven : Foldable Origami Kayak
Recently, Oru Kayak released the first ever foldable tandem kayak to the market. It has been named Haven. It’s basically a folding tandem kayak with fantastic performance. Most of the tandem kayaks available on the market weigh heavy. However, the unique design with mindblowing engineering, Or delivered another masterpiece with very low weight. Finding an awesome portable kayak for tandem purpose is tough, and this is the best portable kayak for tandem purpose.
If you wanted to paddle with your friends or partner but doesn’t want the hassle of dragging a gigantic tandem kayak, now is your chance. This amazing kayak supports both two seater and single seater configurations. So if you want to paddle solo, you can do that without a hassle. Its integrated track system supports accessories including cup holders, fishing rods, and more. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support Oru Pack accessory. Just like other Oru kayaks, this one is also easy to assemble and fold. Once folded, you can store it in the trunks, closet, or other places.Oru Kayak used 5mm double-layered custom-extruded polypropylene. It has 20,000 fold cycles and comes with a 10-year UV treatment. Considering all the features, I can safely say that this is the best folding kayak for tandem purpose.
- First origami foldable tandem kayak
- Can be used for both solo and tandem purpose
- Quick setup
- Supports accessories like a cup holder and fishing rods
- Easy to store
- 5mm double-layered custom-extruded polypropylene
- 20,000 fold cycles
- 10-year UV treatment
Tucktec Folding Kayak
This 10 ft long foldable kayak from Tucktec Folding kayak company comes with a lot of great features that you won’t miss the traditional hard-shell kayaks. Camping, fishing, or simply recreational kayaking, all can be done with this foldable kayak. Tucktec Folding Kayak company claims that the kayak can be unfolded within two minutes, and can be folded back within two minutes. It doesn’t require any extra tools to assemble; you can do it by your bare hands. So if you are like me who don’t like attaching kayak roof racks, you can definitely get benefited from this kayak.
Weighing under 30 lbs, this kayak is lightweight and got high portability. Despite the foldable design, it performs just like any other standard kayaks. The manufacturer used a single sheet of 1/8 thick solid HDPE which won’t puncture. The straightforward design and wide flat bottom allow the kayak to track straight. It got good stabilization for beginners, and maneuvering is also great with it.If you are into inflatable kayak or doesn’t want to take the hassle of putting a hard-shell kayak on the top of the car, foldable kayak like this should be in your top list. Once, folded, this kayak becomes a small box and can be stored very easily.
Length: 10 FTWeight: <30 lbsMaximum weight capacity: 350 lbs
- Unique folding design
- Available in different colors
- Length: 10 ft
- Takes 2-3 minutes to assemble
- No extra tools needed to assemble
- Made using 1/8 inch thick solid HDPE
- Won’t puncture
- The wide flat bottom keeps the kayak straight
- Great for beginners
- Nice maneuver
- Seat included
- High portability
- Takes minimal space
Elevens Cruise Plus Foldable and Portable Kayak
Unlike most of the folding kayaks, this item from Elevens is actually a foldable sit-in kayak. It is made of custom-extruded double-ply FRPP, which is rated to 10,000 folds. Its high durability allows the kayak to withstand the harsh marine environments. It can be used in both saltwater and freshwater. Primarily made for recreational paddling, it can be used for touring, sightseeing, and day-trips. On top of that, it can be used for weekend getaways too.
Cruise Plus weighs only 30 pounds and has a dimension of 34x30x14 inches when folded. When folded, the size becomes so small that it can be stored easily in your closet or back trunk of your car. It has been designed in such a way that you won’t need any extra tools to assemble it. The only downside that I can think of is the assembly time. When other folding kayaks take around five minutes to assemble, this one actually takes around ten minutes to assemble. One big reason behind the long assembly time is because of its sit-in design. However, the hull design actually offers secondary stability and makes it faster.The package comes with free paddle, life vest, seat, cup holder, cellphone/camera mount and a storage bag. It is available in two different colors: Red and Blue. I would suggest you getting the red color as it is easy to spot on the water which works as a safety measure. This is one of the best portable kayaks on the market.
Length: 12.8 FTWidth: 23.6 inchesWeight: 30 lbsMaximum weight capacity: 200 lbsRated Folding: 10,000 folds
- Custom-extruded double-ply FRPP material
- Rated with 10,000 folds
- Can withstand saltwater and sun
- Great for touring paddling, day-trips, and weekend gateways
- Easy to transport
- Weighs 30 lbs
- Compact design allows easy storing
- Easy assembly: no tools needed
- The excellent hull design allows fast speed
MyCanoe 2.5 Plus Origami Folding Portable Canoe w/Rowing System
Technically this is a foldable canoe, but it has a slim design, and I thought I would just put it here if any of you my lovely readers like to check it out. Primarily, Mycanoe started as a Kickstarter project, and a lot of people saw the benefits of its design and decided to back the project. Mycanoe is actually an award-winning, patented, and TUV certified foldable origami canoe which takes minimal space when folded. It took three years for the manufacturers to do the sketches, prototypes, and has been tested by early adopters for improvement.
Unlike most of the mentioned foldable kayaks in this list, this foldable canoe is quite long. It has a length of 14 ft and weighs 36 lbs. Double-layer marine-grade custom manufactured polypropylene provides high durability with great stability. In total, there are eight seating positions available in this canoe. You can take advantage of the ample storage space to put a cooler or other fishing gears. You will also get an optional stabilizer kit which adds extra stability for choppy water or fishing. It takes around 10 minutes to assemble, and five minutes to fold it back. This is the best folding canoes out there in the market.
Length: 14.5 FTWeight: 36 lbsRated Folding: 20,000 folds
- Single seam construction
- 10 minutes to assemble and 5 minutes to fold
- Double-layer marine-grade custom manufactured polypropylene hull
- Multiple positions for seats
- Adjustable seat locations
- Ample storage for cooler and fishing gears
- Optional stabilizer kit for choppy water or fishing
- The main body weighs 36 lbs and accessory weighs only 16 lbs
- 14.5 ft long length
- The body has 15 year UV treatment
- Rated with 20,000 folds
- TUV performance with quality assurance tests certified
How to Choose the Best folding Kayaks?
There are a lot of things to check before buying a folding kayak, but certainly, the portability and folding mechanism are the most important factors to check. On top of that, you also need a kayak which offers stability, tracking, and all other features you might be looking for in a kayak. However, if you end up buying a kayak which offers all the features but sucks in the portability, then it’s no good because you bought a folding kayak for its high portability.
A lot of the kayak manufacturers are trying to come up with their own version of folding kayaks. However, very few managed to penetrate the market with their products. A lot of the companies failed because their products just don’t stand well in the market. One big reason is the assembly process.
Manufacturers like Oru Kayak managed to come up with innovative designs which allow the kayakers to assemble and fold their kayak within minutes. Most of the kayaks from Oru Kayak takes only 10 minutes to assemble and less time to fold back. Nobody wants to waste time doing these stuff but paddle on the water.So when buying a folding kayak, you need to check the folding mechanism used by the manufacturer. If it takes a long time or if the process is not straightforward, then it might become problematic. You should definitely prefer something which has a straightforward assembly and folding system. On top of that, a good folding kayak should not need a tool to assemble or disassemble. A paddler should be able to do it by their bare hands.
Once folded, the kayak should turn into a shape which is easy to store. For example, folding kayaks from Oru Kayaks turn into a large suitcase or portfolio. In that way, it can be stored or stashed into a car trunk, closet, garage, Almira, or other places. If you buy a folding kayak which doesn’t convert into a shape like that, you will have a hard time transporting it. The primary reason to buy a folding kayak is the portability, and you definitely don’t want to spoil it. The portability of the kayak is measured by how easy it is to store and transport from one place to another. Unlike the hard shell kayaks, you do not need a roof rack for folding kayaks. They can be stored in the trunk of the car or the backseat if you want. You need to check the dimension of the folded version of the product and compare it with the size of the trunk of your vehicle. If you plan to carry it in your hand, you also need to check the dimension and see if it is suitable for you to carry. However, if you are choosing a small kayak, you should also know that they may not come with all the features you are looking for in a kayak.
Folding kayaks are lighter than traditional kayaks. That is the reason we want to buy them. The unique mechanism deployed by the manufacturers allows them to be lightweight yet functional. Usually, a folding kayak weighs around 22-30 lbs. However, a lot of the inflatable kayaks are lighter than the folding kayaks, but that comes with its cost. Usually, with the folding kayaks, you get more features than an inflatable kayak. Also, you don’t have to inflate it instead assemble it.
If you are planning to carry the kayak by yourself or planning to hike, I would suggest you buy a lightweight folding kayak. Depending on the paddler, the ideal size should be around 22 lbs to 30 lbs. Please note that some of the folding kayaks comes with an extra carrying bag, and it can add extra pounds to the weight. If you are not a strong person or someone with a back problem, I highly suggest choosing a lightweight folding kayak.
Unlike a hard-shell kayak, you won’t be needing a kayak cart to take the kayak to the water from the back of your car.
As a paddler, I have always liked kayaks that provide a good amount of stability. You need to consider the beam of the foldable kayak. I prefer kayaks with a higher inch beam as it offers great stability. Also, the newbies seem to enjoy a good amount of stability with such feature. On the other side, a wider beam means that the kayak will be less fast than the narrow kayaks. That’s one trade-off that we need to accept to get better stabilization.
However, if you are already familiar with kayaking, and want to have better maneuverability and speed, you can choose a kayak with a narrow beam. If you are buying a folding kayak for a kid, I would suggest buying one with a broader beam. A rule of thumb would be getting 30+ inches beam for beginners. On the contrary, a beam of around 25 inches should be suitable for a seasoned kayaker.
Let’s get one thing straight: we want highly durable kayaks. Unlike a traditional one-piece kayak, folding kayaks are more complex and comes with lots of different mechanisms to make the thing work. A lot of the folding kayaks comes with a folding mechanism which might weaken the kayak over time. For example, you will be folding the kayak back and forth every time you go paddling. It will take a toll on the body of the kayak, and this is why the manufacturers provide a fold rating. Most of the high-quality folding kayaks will come with a rating of 20,000 folds. However, cheaper kayaks might have a lesser folding rating. If you are a person who loves to go kayaking very often, I would recommend you getting a folding kayak with 20,000 fold rating.The material of the folding kayak plays a great role in determining the durability of the kayak. Some manufacturers use PVC, but Oru Kayak uses polypropylene, which is an industry-grade material. It allows the assembly and disassembly process much smoother and faster. Oru kayak uses 5mm double-layered custom-extruded polypropylene to offer high durability.
The hull design of the kayak is important as it will play a great role in the performance of the kayak. You should get a folding kayak with rigid-hull as it will surely offer better tracking and stability.
Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)
What is a folding kayak?
As the name suggests, these are the kayaks that can be folded. A folding kayak will come with a mechanism allowing it to be folded. Different manufacturers are using different techniques to make it work, but the functionality is similar. A collapsible frame covered with heavy-duty waterproof fabric or material ensures that you get to paddle safely on the water.You will find different types of frames available in a kayak. Most of the times they use wood or aluminum tubes. However, some manufacturers use composite materials for the skeleton of the kayak. You may find rods which can be attached to provide strength to the whole frame. However, Aluminum frames are getting popular for their great characteristics. Aluminum frames are lightweight and durable than wooden frames. Additionally, they won’t corrode like wood.
How to store a folding kayak?
Easy as pie. Storing foldable kayak is one of the easiest tasks in the world. After you finish using your folding kayak, you can just fold it to reduce the size of the kayak. Most of the portable kayaks will turn into a large suitcase or a portfolio. Once you fold it, you can just stash the kayak into the closet, trunk, garage, or maybe under your bed. Some of the folding kayaks will come with a storage bag. You can also fold the kayak and put it in the bag to store it securely.
However, if you live close to the water, and want to keep it assembled, I suggest you choose one of the kayak wall racks to protect it from any damage. You can either store it in the ceiling or the rack, but you need to be careful. The weight of the kayak needs to be appropriately distributed, or it may end up damaging it. If you are storing your portable kayak for a long time, I highly suggest you disassemble it and use the storage bag provided by the manufacturer. And then, just stash into a corner of closet or garage.
How to fold the folding kayak?
When you purchase a folding kayak, you will find manuals from the manufacturer in the package. They provide all the necessary information and step-by-step instruction on how to fold the kayak. However, if you want to see some visual instructions, you can always go to the manufacturer’s website to see if they provided any video tutorials. You can also use Youtube as a lot of Youtube shares their experience with the kayaks, and you may find a video with the folding mechanic you are looking for.
What are the benefits of using a folding kayak?
There are many reasons why one should buy a foldable kayak. Usually, people are skeptical about the functionality of folding kayaks, and I assure you that they work fine. If you are willing to spend a little extra money and get the best folding kayak out there, you will not regret taking the decision. Let’s check some of the benefits you can expect by using a folding kayak.
1. Easy to carry
First thing first: it is super easy to carry a folding kayak. After you finish using it, you can just disassemble it, and stow in the carrying bag. The carrying bag will come with a shoulder strap which allows the paddler to carry it with ease.
2. Storing is super easy
Unlike one-piece kayaks, folding kayaks are super easy to store. If you have owned a kayak before, you know that it is such a tedious task to keep the kayak secure in the storage. You have to get cover, cradles, and put them in a way that the kayak doesn’t get damaged. However, with a folding kayak, all of these things become very easy. Just put the kayak in the carrying case, and stash it in the closet or garage.
Sometimes, you may want to paddle in a remote lake, and there’s no way of carrying a hard-shell kayak to that place. You can either bring an inflatable or folding kayak to such areas. Also, if you are into hiking, you will prefer a folding kayak over a hard-shell kayak for its portability.
4. Looks cool
Let’s be honest. Folding kayaks look cool. You arrive at the shore and start to assemble the kayak. Everybody looks at you while wondering what you are doing. You finally put all the pieces together and make a fully-functional kayak. That’s cool.
5. Saves a lot of time
Forget wasting time managing your kayak, and start paddling. It takes five to ten minutes to assemble a folding kayak, and you don’t have to worry about the transportation, setting up kayak carts, and more monotonous tasks. Life is much simpler when you are using a folding kayak.
A foldable kayak can significantly change the way you look at kayaking. A lot of people finds the whole process of carrying and transporting kayak ugly, and a foldable kayak can totally change that. If you are interested in kayaking, sightseeing and getting some outdoor time, a folding kayak should be in your wish list.
These small and lightweight folding kayaks will be very beneficial, and they are available in different sizes for different types of kayaking. If you are a beginner, try purchasing a beginner friendly portable kayak. Personally, I am a huge fan of Oru kayaks, and definitely recommend checking them. Look at all the folding kayaks listed in the “best folding kayak list,” and consider the buying factors to help you land the best folding kayak on the market.
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Afsar is an avid kayak blogger born near the coast. He has a passion for kayaking and started as a child. He has paddled in various conditions and locations and promotes responsible kayaking. Afsar’s blog is widely read, and they are a respected voice in the kayaking community, offering valuable content on kayaking trips, gear, tips, and tricks. Afsar collaborates with other bloggers and brands and continues to inspire others through their writing and social media.