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120530 portable kayak david lang 05 Oru   The Origami Kayak

Last week, I had the pleasure of testing out Oru Kayak, the world’s first origami kayak. It was wonderful!

Anton Willis, the designer, and I met at the Berkeley Marina to put his latest iteration to the test. I had been watching Anton construct the kayak for months at TechShop and had always bugged him about taking me out for a test ride. I finally got my wish.

kayak angle view Oru   The Origami Kayak

He pulled the folded kayak, roughly the size of a large artist portfolio, out of his car and set it in the grass near the docks. A small crowd began to form as he unfolded the cut sheet of corrugated plastic, the same material as the political advertisement in your neighbor’s front lawn. The entire build time took about ten minutes, but easily could’ve been halved without the peppering of questions from the onlookers.

kayak carrying case Oru   The Origami Kayak

Before I knew it, I was paddling around the marina at a surprisingly high clip. I don’t consider myself a kayak expert, but the Oru design felt fast and comfortable. You quickly forget that it’s a neatly folded piece of plastic. The big question on my mind, and probably everyone else’s, was: how much water would it take on? It was, after all, an origami kayak. After kayaking around the marina and near the larger waves of the San Francisco Bay, I was still completely dry without a drop of water inside the vessel.  Anton told me it doesn’t take on any more water than a typical kayak – spray and paddle drip.

Anton expects the kayak to retail for about $500. You can sign up to receive the release date announcement on Oru’s website.

David Lang

Co-Founder of OpenROV, a community of DIY ocean explorers and makers of low-cost underwater robots. Author of Zero to Maker. And on Twitter!


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