10 to 15 years ago our options for kayaks were a bit more limited. The biggest problem with becoming a kayak owner is that you needed a place to store the dang thing, if you were living in an apartment or complex your options were extremely limited. Thankfully the mix of technology and some innovative people have been able to change this and offer kayaks that can fold, giving you the on-water performance you crave at an affordable price.
Figuring out how to get the most from your folding kayak comes down to understanding a few different things when picking out the kayak. Here we will answer a few of the most common topics to make it easier for you to know how to best proceed.
The Best Folding Kayaks are as Follows:
- Oru Bay ST Kayak – (Best Value)
- Oru Coast XT Kayak – (Best for Touring)
- Oru Kayak Beach LT –(Best Budget Option)
- Folbot Touring Kiawah Foldable Kayak
- Elevens Cruise Plus Foldable Kayak
Best Folding Kayak Reviews
The following are my favorite folding kayak brands that have been picked based on the trustworthiness of the brand, what customers think of the kayak, and how well the kayak is made.
#1: Oru Kayak Bay St Folding Portable Lightweight Kayak
The Original origami kayak that started it all, Oru first launched this kayak back in 2012, and you can now buy it around the world. Over the years, the design of the Bay St Kayak has continually improved until it has become a much better kayak than what it ever was from before. The design makes it more comfortable to use than many of its predecessors. We should also mention, this makes for a great kayak for beginners because of how it offers plenty of stability at the same time as you’re using it. In addition, the design allows you to cut through the waters and have a great time kayaking over the waters.
Ready for the Adventures of a Lifetime
Hopping into the Bay St Kayak, you can guarantee plenty of fun and exciting adventures that won’t go away any time soon. In fact, you can get an estimate 20,000 fold cycles out of this kayak, which means that you can use it many times before you have to replace it. To put that into perspective, many of the other folding kayaks only have a lifecycle of 10,000 fold cycles.
What’s the Weight Limit?
You can fit a person of up to 300 pounds in the Bay St Kayak. In addition, this kayak includes up to 90 liters of storage space, and it comes with float bags. You will find them inside of the kayak when you first unfold it. Float bags were intended as a type of material to keep some of your most essential equipment dry and free from harm.
The Process of Setting It Up
This kayak does take a little bit of practice for the process of setting it up, but once you have figured it out, it doesn’t take too much more to understand how to do it. As stated before, one of the biggest cons from even the best portable kayak comes from the fact that it can be difficult to fold it up. However, with a little bit of practice with this one, you shouldn’t have too much for problems. The first time that you try to set it up, it will take about an hour. The second time, it will take 20 minutes, and thereafter, setup takes around 10 minutes.
- Sleek and fast performance on the water.
- Easy to assemble and disassemble.
- Stable kayak on the water – good for beginners.
- Super light and easy to carry.
- Difficult kayak to enter after you’ve fallen out.
- The seat pad starts to get uncomfortable after a couple of hours.
- The boat opening is small and can feel obnoxious when getting in and out of it.
- It does take some time to learn how to assemble and disassemble the kayak.
#2: Oru Kayak Coast XT Folding Kayak
If you want a kayak that grabbed its inspiration from the kayaks in the Arctic Ocean, look no further than the best folding kayak, the Oru Coast XT. What you have is a kayak that will fold into a box, and like many of the kayaks with the folding design, you can easily store this away. Some enthusiasts even suggest that you take it along with you on a hike so that you can access some of the most remote lakes. Take along a friend, and you will have access to a lake where you will be almost completely alone on it. This folding sea kayak also has a higher weight capacity than the Bay St Kayak, and it can hold up to 400 pounds.
Why People Enjoy This Kayak
If you were to pick the Kayak Coast XT, you have a kayak that does well with maneuvering. You can do some advanced turns and edging with this kayak. In addition, this kayak feels stable enough that it works great for a beginner kayaker. Like with the Bay St Kayak, the assembly isn’t terribly difficult if you follow the instructions, but it does take some time to get used to assembling this kayak. After the learning period, however, you shouldn’t experience too much difficulty. As we have recommended before with folding kayaks, it’s normally best to have someone else nearby who can help you. It makes the process easier.
You Can Store It Easily for Use
One of the advantages of this kayak is that you can store it easily inside of a small car and take it to the lake for use without a problem. However, if you were to decide to use it on the ocean, it is recommended that you stay near the coast. What a lot of people have said that they like the most about the Kayak Coast XT is how it cuts through the water like a hot knife through butter. You can maneuver easily with this kayak and do some of the more advanced kayakers techniques with this kayak. Some of the reasons for the acceleration of this kayak could be due to its lightweight and the low hull that reduces the friction with the water.
- It can cut through the waters with a minimal level of friction.
- You have an awesome acceleration rate with this kayak.
- This kayak does as well as any hardshell kayak, and it has the same level of speed or even better.
- You can store this kayak easily in a small storage space if needed without it taking up much room.
- The assembly has a long learning curve, and it can be annoying.
- Some people have reported that this kayak leaks near the hull, and it’s not the most durable.
- Very expensive kayak considering that it leaks and has problems with taking on water.
#3: Oru Folding Kayak Beach LT Lightweight Kayak
Built to perform, this kayak will expand your playground and make it even better than ever before. If we had to say what the Kayak Beach LT was made for, manufacturers designed it for the picnics with the family and the full-day trips. Because of the origami design, you can set it up within minutes. It does take some time to get used to set up, but once you have figured out this aspect of the kayak, it will be quite simple.
Great in Terms of Price
When we compare the Kayak Beach LT to some of the other folding kayaks, you have great pricing on this one. You have one of the cheapest. Some people may still find that this one is a bit on the pricy side in comparison to the hardshell kayaks, but if you don’t have the space for a hardshell kayak, like you live in an apartment, you can store this kayak away in the closet, and you don’t have to worry too much about it.
Simple to Assemble
Following the instructional video on how to assemble this kayak, you won’t find it terribly difficult to assemble. However, you may have to set it up once or twice before you start to get the hang of it, especially if you have never used a compact kayak before. It has been reported that you can assemble this kayak in as little as five minutes, however, once you have begun to get the hang of it.
How Does It Perform?
When we look at the performance of the Kayak Beach LT folding kayak, you have a great kayak that you can assemble and disassemble rather quickly. One of the things to keep in mind, however, is that because of its large open cockpit, they didn’t intend this kayak to be used on rough and choppy waters. The water will seep into this kayak, and you don’t have a drain hole. The places where it would make for the most sense include calm lagoons, lakes and ponds. They especially built this kayak so that families could have a lot of fun with it, and you have a weight capacity of up to 300 pounds.
- You can assemble and disassemble this kayak very quickly as needed.
- The kayak feels comfortable to sit in, and you have one that will be fun to paddle around in.
- This kayak doesn’t have any problems with leaks, but it can help to get a spray skirt.
- The tracking and the glide of this kayak is poor, and some people may feel dissatisfied with it.
- They made the seat cheaply, and it seemed like a second thought rather than priority.
- The wind can take this kayak off course too easily, which can be annoying.
#4: Folbot Touring Kiawah Foldable Kayak
Taking a look at the Folbot Touring Kiawah Foldable Kayak, you have one of the most lightweight kayaks that you can buy on the market. This means that you should experience no trouble with lugging it out to the lake or taking it on a hike to reach one of the more remote lakes. We do have to mention, however, this kayak doesn’t have as much speed as what you’d get with the longer Cooper. This boat has an incredible level of maneuverability and stability without a problem.
Arrows through the Water
One of the great things about the design of this kayak is that it can easily shoot through the water at high speeds without a problem. You have a great kayak that is also easy to maneuver when in the water.
Set It up Easily
Of the different folding kayaks, this is probably the best folding kayak when it comes to ease of setup because you can set it up quite easily. You have an aluminum frame that they designed well with this kayak, and the zippered hull means that you can set this one up rather quickly.
Easy to Store Away
What people like about this kayak is that you could easily fold it up and put it inside of a backpack to use it for later. What a lot of people like about using this kayak is that they know they can store it away easily. You can put it away in the trunk of a car, or you can put it away in your gear closet. It depends on the need.
Protecting the Deck and the Outer Materials with Polyurethane
One of the things that people have to stay alert to is the wear and tear to the kayak over time. When you’re out on the water, the ultraviolet rays can start to have a negative impact the coloring of your kayak. This is a kayak that the manufacturers made with the intention of making sure that it doesn’t get punctured. All the outer materials of this kayak were designed so that they can take a beating without having to worry that it won’t last long. In terms of durability, you have a great kayak that will last for years.
- Made in the United States.
- Lightweight kayak that you can store away easily.
- The assembly of this kayak is one of the simplest among the folding kayaks.
- This kayak looks great on the water, and it can compete with some of the best traditional hardshell kayaks
- This kayak doesn’t come with float bags.
- They could have chosen to offer this kayak in more colors.
- The Folbot Kiawah is only suited for riders who are between 133 pounds up to 180 pounds, which means anyone over that weight or close to it won’t be a good fit.
#5: Elevens Cruise Plus Foldable and Portable Kayak
The Elevens Cruise Plus Foldable offers you a kayak that will be about as light as what they come. They don’t get much lighter than this. Another benefit of this kayak is that you have the cheapest kayak on the list. This kayak assembles easily, and you can get it up to speed quickly.
What You Get with the Elevens Cruise Plus
When it comes to this kayak, you also get a couple of different accessories that come with it like a life jacket, cellphone mount, cupholder, paddle and storage bag. We also have to say that the stability of this kayak is great because of how it adds to the mechanical stability of the ride. That makes it a good choice for beginners because when you first start, you want it to have stability. The one downside of this kayak is that it only has a weight capacity of 200 pounds, so anyone over that amount won’t be able to fit in with it.
The Durability of the Elevens Cruise Plus
Looking at this kayak, you have a great kayak that looks fantastic, and it has been built to withstand the elements. Manufacturers have rated this kayak to last for up to 10,000 folds, and it has the ability to withstand the elements from the sun and from the ocean saltwater. This is the perfect kayak for those day trips where you’re exploring the great outdoors.
Transporting It Has Never Been Simpler
Like with the best backpack kayak options, you have can transport this one easily because it weighs a minimal. You can fold it up when finished and take it with you wherever you need it. It weighs 30 pounds, and when you look at it, you have a folding size of 34 x 30 x 14 inches. This kayak when folded up will be small enough that you can throw it in the back of your closet until you need it. You can also fit it inside a small car for the maximum level of convenience. When we look at the average lifespan, this kayak gives you a lifespan of between three to four years, but you have a seller warranty of up to one year.
- The low price is one of the most attractive things about this kayak.
- You can set this kayak up in under 10 minutes once you learn how it works.
- You can buy this kayak in four great-looking colors – yellow, red, white and blue.
- The one-year warranty that you get with this kayak is kind of weak in comparison to the others.
- In comparison to the other kayaks, this kayak doesn’t have a long lifespan. You can expect it to last between three to four years.
- You get what you pay for in terms of value. This kayak uses material that feels cheap to the touch. While it cost the least, you also get the least value.
How to Choose the Best Folding Kayak
In the past, portable kayaks cost so much that they only appealed to people who knew for certain that they couldn’t store a kayak or transport a rigid hard shell kayak. They feel bulky to lift, but most people still chose it over the cost. However, they have become more affordable with time, and these kayaks feel lightweight and durable.
Where Do You Want to Paddle?
Where you plan to put the paddle blades in the water will have a big impact on your decision. With touring kayaks, the design allows for extra storage space so that you can do some camping out while kayaking. Whitewater kayaks, on the other hand, were designed so that they can withstand the whitewater rapids, and if you want to paddle the white waters, you should choose one that specifically was built for this. Sea kayaks were built to allow for you to adventure out into the ocean, but they have the advantage that you can turn them into a camping kayak. However, beware: While any sea kayak could be used as touring kayaks, not every touring kayak was built for sea kayaking, and that’s an important distinction to make because it could be dangerous otherwise.
When looking for a folding kayak it is important to find out where it can be used from both the manufacturer and customers. Some people may be interested in fishing kayaks as well.
Things to Be Aware Of
We also need to understand the context of folding kayaks specifically. Not all fold up kayaks were created equal. While you have some that use higher quality materials and have a better design than your traditional hardshell kayak, you have some that do a much better job. The six features that matter the most with folding kayaks include:
- Design quality: Quality materials used are an essential criteria for any kind of kayak, but especially for collapsible kayaks. When looking for the best collapsable kayak it is best to see how long the manufacturer has been around and what customers say about the craft. The more negative reviews the more reason to stay away.
- Comfort level: Chances are you will be sitting in this kayak for at least a couple of hours as you explore your local paddling hot spot. As a result you will most likely remain seated for most of that time so you want a craft that can be comfortable for both your butt and back. Comfort is an often overlooked criteria in the kayaking world but it is an important one especially if you want to enjoy your journey. If the seat or cockpit is known to be uncomfortable make sure that there are options such as kayak seats that can easily be fitted into your chosen kayak. The manufacturer should have some options available as well.
- Ease of use: This rings true especially for folding kayaks, how easy is it to set up and put together? Chances are when you buy a collapsible kayak you don’t want to spend more than 20 minutes trying to figure out how to put the thing together. A way to avoid this is to do some research beforehand, read instructions, see if they are complicated, look at what previous customers say about setup.
- Extra included features: Who doesn’t like extra features to be included with the kayak? See what can be included, asking never hurt anybody.
- Pricing and your budget: It’s always a good idea to budget before buying something that has a higher price tag, this rings true especially for kayaks. If you are new to kayaking and want something a bit cheaper perhaps you should try an inflatable kayak first? Conversely you can also look for used folding kayaks on sites like craigslist.
- Durability: How can you tell if a folding kayak is durable? Most kayak manufacturers will state that their kayaks are durable but this does not always ring true. Look on youtube and look for tests such as this one.
- Your Size: When looking for a proper folding kayak you have to account for how tall you are and your weight. All kayak manufacturers will have the maximum capacity of the kayak, so take that and what you are bringing on your paddling trip into consideration. Again looking at customer reviews are a great way to see if the kayak is the right fit for you and your body type.
What are the Benefits of Folding Kayaks
For those who have never made use of a folding kayak, you may feel skeptical as to the benefits of them. What are some of the things that you might enjoy from a folding kayak?
Benefit #1: Carrying the Kayak: Easy
First, you can carry your folding kayak inside of a bag and store it in a suitcase easily. Try putting your regular hardshell kayak in a briefcase and taking it out on the water. You don’t have to deal with a long and arduous process of putting it together or anything else. It comes together easily. Once you have finished with it, you can store it and forget it till you need it again.
Benefit #2: Saves on Time
Wouldn’t it be great if you could spend more time in the water and less time fighting with your kayak to get it off the car and dragging it into the water? Not to mention, after a long kayaking session, you don’t want to have to lift up your kayak back on the car so that you can head back home. Your arms hurt, and getting a bulky kayak off the car is a lot easier than putting it back up on the car.
Benefit #3: Cart It along Anywhere
The prospect of traveling your kayak so that you can take it anywhere with you sounds appealing. You can take it on long road trips without it reducing gas mileage, or you can hop a plane and have it stored in your luggage. With a traditional hardshell kayaks, you need tons of space just to store it and a proper vehicle to transport your kayak .
Benefit #4: Stash It Away
Some people live in small studio apartments, and they don’t have the room for a big kayak. In that case, buying a folding kayak has become one of the alternatives that people have chosen over the traditional kayak. Another option from a folding kayak is that you can buy an inflatable one, which doesn’t come with the expensive cost like with a true folding kayak. For both types, you can store your kayak out of the weather and avoid having the weather damaging your kayak.
Things to Look for That Differentiate Folding Kayaks
To differentiate the types of kayaks, you should first understand the different types of folding kayaks that you have. In fact, not all folding kayaks were created with the same mold. First, decide on whether you want to sit on top of or inside of the kayak. This also depends on where you plan to do your kayaking. For example, those who plan to kayak in slow-moving water like a pond or lake don’t have to worry as much about water going over the top and flooding the kayak. A sit inside kayak is recommended for those individuals who will kayak on the ocean or in fast moving water like a river.
When it comes to foldable kayaks, you have two popular forms. You have either the inflatable kayak made of high grade PVC or one made from polypropylene material. Both of these kayaks will differ from each other, but they both have durability. You may not think that an inflatable kayak would do well because of its material. However it’s been made from drop stitch PVC that keeps it in good condition when hitting unsuspecting items beneath the water.
The biggest difference between polypropylene kayaks and inflatable kayaks is that the polypropylene kayak can be folded out to create the kayak, while the inflatable kayak gets blown up to form the kayak. In addition, inflatable kayaks tend to cost a little less than their polypropylene counterpart. Understanding what you want in advance can eliminate much of the confusion and help you to find the best folding kayak. In this article we are mostly honing in on polypropylene material kayaks. We have a huge inflatable kayak buying guide you can read here.
Polypropylene Folding Kayaks
The main bunch of kayaks that we will be reviewing in this article, polypropylene is the main material used in hardshell folding kayaks. These folding kayaks were first brought to the attention by the public by Oru kayaks in the way of a kickstarter campaign and eventually became known as the “shark tank kayak”.
Polypropylene folding kayaks typically have better on-water performance than most of their inflatable cousins because of the rigidity of the kayak. As a result they can track better, go a little faster and perform closer to the performance of a fiberglass style sea kayak.
What’s the Best Way to Use a Folding Kayak
In most cases, these kayaks will have much of the same use as what you might get from a traditional hardshell kayak. The best way to use a folding kayak will depend on what they specifically designed the kayak for. For example, some kayaks were built more for a lake or pond, rather than using in a river. In fact, it could even be dangerous to use the wrong type of kayak in a river.
Be Careful Where You Buy
The biggest controversy you face comes from getting cheaper folding kayaks. Let’s say that you have a knock-off version from China. The offer hands you a kayak for the low price of $400, but it’s a knock-off. The person selling it claims that it comes with a 6-month warranty. Should you buy it? In our opinion, this comes with too much risk. When you buy something like a folding kayak, you want to make sure that it works great. For that reason, especially if you’re a beginner, you might be better off sticking with some of the more common brands in this field like:
In doing this, you know that you have a brand that will stick behind you in the event that you were to experience any problems with the kayak.
Prerequisites/Precautions for Using a Folding Kayak
We must emphasize the importance of using the right type of kayak in the right situation. Another danger is that the kayak couldn’t hold up against the aggressive rapids, and you could find yourself in danger. In general, especially with fast waters, it is best if you have a friend to work with because you want to be safe when kayaking and enjoy the excursion. The rapids of a river can be strong and pull a person under and hold them there. Without a buddy who has come prepared with the right safety gear, it can turn deadly. Essential safety equipment for whitewater kayaking includes:
- Spray skirt
- Helmet (for river conditions)
- Footwear with good traction
- Float bags
In conclusion, if we had to say which kayak gives you the best value, we’d have to say that you should go with the Kayak Coast XT. Outside of the fact that it costs the most of the kayaks, you have a great deal in terms of having a kayak that meets up with many of the factors that we outlined in the second section. For example, you can stash it away easily, and you can do some of the more advanced maneuvers with this kayak if wanted. At the end of the day, it meets up with many of the requirements in a good kayak.