Best Folding Kayaks (2024)

best folding kayaks

You want a kayak that performs exceptionally and is portable at the same time. Unlike hard-shell and inflatable kayaks, folding kayaks offer both of these benefits.

But how do you choose a folding kayak? There are many options and narrowing down to one can be difficult. Every manufacturer claims they have the perfect product—they never mention the downsides. This can be confusing.

So let me help you. Here are the best folding kayaks to help you make an informed decision.

Best Folding Kayak Reviews

Read on for my reviews:

1. Oru Kayak Inlet

oru folding kayak inlet

The Oru Inlet folding kayak is ideal for kayakers of all skill levels. It is light, nimble, and generally easy to handle.

Build Quality

This folding kayak is built using 5 mm, double-layered polypropylene. It features a 10-year UV treatment for durability. The kayak is abrasion- and puncture-resistant. The hull is extremely tough and won’t get damaged when you bump into obstacles.

The Oru kayak only weighs 20 pounds and can hold up to 275 pounds.

Ease of Assembly

The Oru Inlet is super easy to set up. All you have to do is unfold it, attach a few parts, adjust the seat and footrest, and start kayaking. It should take you five or so minutes to get everything done. You won’t need any tools.

Stability and Performance

The kayak is 9’6 long and 30 inches wide. It is stable and glides well. The Oru Inlet is designed for use by beginners and intermediate paddlers. But this is not to say that experts can’t enjoy it. It is ideal for use in calm water.


Disassembling the Inlet for storage is just as simple as assembling. You remove a few parts, fold it, put the parts inside, and buckle it into a box. It can fit under the bed or somewhere in a corner.

Features and Specifications

  • Double-layered polypropylene construction
  • Adjustable backrest and footrest
  • Comfortable seat pad
  • Quick and easy assembly
  • Removable bulkheads
  • 10-year UV treatment
  • Designed for calm waters and beginner paddlers
  • 30-day guarantee, one-year warranty
  • Rated to 20,000 fold cycles
  • Measures: 9’6 x 30”
  • Weight: 20 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 275 lbs
What I Like
  • Easy to assemble and disassemble
  • Adjustable backrest and footrest
  • Lightweight and portable
What I Don’t Like
  • Not very rugged

Customer Feedback

For many kayakers, the Oru Inlet has been a conversation starter with fellow kayakers. It easily captures the attention of other water users. The initial assembly was slightly challenging for a few people. But after several tries, they can do it in minutes. The Oru kayak is stable on the water and it tracks well. Most of the users highly recommend it.

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2. Oru Kayak Beach LT

The Oru Kayak Beach LT is longer than the Inlet. Although it is narrower, it is better suited for bigger kayakers. Take a closer look.

Build Quality

The Oru Kayak Beach LT is built using 5 mm double-layered, custom-extruded polypropylene. It features a 10-year UV-treatment to make it abrasion- and puncture-resistant. The tough hull won’t be damaged if you slide over rocks or hit obstacles. It weighs 26 pounds.

Ease of Assembly

Putting the Beach LT together will take a bit of practice. Don’t expect to do it in minutes the first couple of times. With practice, you’ll master the steps. Extra tools are not required. It’s all about unfolding, attaching, buckling, and adjusting.

Stability and Performance

With a length of 12 feet and a width of 28 inches, stability won’t be much of an issue. The length facilitates speed and tracking so you won’t be disappointed.


Folding the Oru Kayak Beach LT is arguably easier than setting it up. It folds into a 33” x 12” x 29” box that doesn’t take up a lot of storage space.

Features and Specifications

  • Custom-extruded polypropylene construction
  • Adjustable backrest and footrest
  • Fairing handles and cockpit handles for carrying
  • Buckle-closure system for intuitive assembly
  • Abrasion- and puncture-resistant 
  • Large open cockpit
  • Rated to 20,000 fold cycles
  • Measures: 12’ x 28”
  • Weight: 26 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs
What I Like
  • Sufficient storage room in the kayak
  • Sleek and reliable design
  • Folds into a portable box
  • Suitable for tall kayakers
What I Don’t Like
  • Assembly takes some time to learn

Customer Feedback

Although putting the Beach LT is not the easiest thing to do, it is not as hard as most people expected. They say that the Oru Kayak is stable on the water and tracks well. A few kayakers seem to recommend that you get a spray skirt. There are hardly any complaints.

3. Oru Kayak Bay ST

Oru Kayak Bay ST

If you are looking for something fast and sporty, you will love the Bay ST. While the others above are more suited for beginners, this Oru kayak is designed for advanced and intermediate kayakers.

Build Quality

The Bay ST is built using double-layered, custom-extruded polypropylene and is UV treated. It is not easily punctured. The super-tough hull won’t get damaged when you bump into obstacles on one of your adventurous trips. The kayak weighs 28 pounds and can hold up to 300 pounds.

Ease of Assembly

The Oru Bay ST assembly can be slightly challenging at first. It is advanced and doesn’t have an open cockpit. But after a few tries, it will get easier and you can do it in under 10 minutes. Everything you need for the process is included in the package.

Stability and Performance

This kayak is 12 feet long and 25 inches wide. As you can see, it is long and narrow so stability for beginners may be a problem. However, this means that tracking is top-notch. It will also glide with impressive speed. The manufacturer says that it can handle different conditions and has been tested on Class III rivers.


Folding the Oru kayak takes some time. But it gets easier with practice. It folds into a 33” x 12” x 29” box. It can fit into smaller spaces and you can travel with it wherever you like.

Features and Specifications

  • Custom-extruded, UV treated polypropylene
  • Deck lines for gear storage and rescue
  • Fairing handles
  • Adjustable backrest
  • Adjustable footrest
  • Padded seat
  • Zipper channels for sealing the deck
  • 30-day guarantee, one-year warranty
  • Rated to 20,000 fold cycles
  • Measures: 12’ x 25”
  • Weight: 28 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs
What I Like
  • Great speed
  • Sleek design
  • A joy to paddle
What I Don’t Like
  • Assembly can be tough

Customer Feedback

Most users agree that assembly is a little hard and it takes a few tries to get the hang of it. Some say it took them an hour the first time. But by the third time, they could get it done in 20 minutes or less. The same applies to folding the kayak. In the water, it glides smoothly and everyone seems to love it.

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4. Oru Kayak Foldable Kayak Coast XT

Oru Kayak Foldable Kayak Coast XT

The Coast XT is for serious kayakers. This one is designed for speed, perfect for paddlers who love going on long tours.

Build Quality

Like all the other Oru folding kayaks, the Coast XT is built using double-layered, custom-extruded polypropylene. It has been treated with 10 years of UV treatment. The hull is rugged and can withstand if you bump into obstacles or slide over rocks.

The Coast XT weighs 36 pounds and can hold up to 400 pounds.

Ease of Assembly

The Oru kayak Coast XT is easy to assemble. However, it takes a bit of practice. The good thing is that the manufacturer has detailed videos that will take you through the process step by step.

Stability and Performance

The Coast XT is built for performance. It is 16 feet long and 25 inches wide. The shape allows it to glide through the water with outstanding speed and minimum resistance. Maneuverability and stability may be an issue for inexperienced kayakers.


This kayak folds into a 33” x 12” x 29” box. Although it is heavier than the other Oru kayaks, the box is compact and can be stored in smaller spaces.

Features and Specifications

  • Custom-extruded polypropylene construction
  • 10-year UV treatment
  • Abrasion- and puncture-resistant
  • Deck lines for gear and self-rescue
  • Padded seat
  • Adjustable backrest
  • Thigh braces for maneuverability
  • Fairing handles
  • Adjustable footrest
  • Rated to 20,000 fold cycles
  • Measures: 16′ x 25”
  • Weight: 36 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 400 lbs
What I Like
  • Impeccable performance
  • Can roll in strong conditions
  • Great weight capacity
  • Ideal for big and tall kayakers
What I Don’t Like
  • The seat is not comfortable for long periods

Customer Feedback

Many kayakers were skeptical about a touring folding kayak. But they say that it performed beyond their expectations. Others even took it on overnight expeditions and they weren’t disappointed at all. The assembly process isn’t easy at first but most paddlers can now do it in less than 20 minutes. They also say that it can hold a lot of gear and remain steady in the water.

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Buying Guide – How to Choose a Folding Kayak

What is a Folding Kayak?

The name tells it all. A folding kayak is a yak that can be folded for transport/storage and unfolded/assembled again for use.

What Are Folding Kayaks Made Out of?

The kayaks are made using foldable material, like polypropylene, featuring origami technology. The material is flexible and can resist impact.

Others are made of a frame, like aluminum, and a waterproof fabric that is stretched over the frame.

What should you consider when buying the best folding kayak?

a. Build Quality

A foldable kayak is either built using waterproof material with aluminum/wood/plastic frames or foldable plastic.

The first thing you need to have in mind is the fact that you will be using your kayak in the water. The materials should be waterproof and rust-resistant.

You’ll also spend a lot of your kayaking time under the sun. Notice that the Oru kayaks feature UV treatment. It prevents the material from degrading when exposed to the sun.

While still on quality, don’t forget that kayaking is not always smooth sailing.

Sometimes you will bump into rocks and many other obstacles. You want a boat that can withstand all that. Honestly, a foldable kayak won’t be as durable as a blow-up. But it should be able to withstand minor impacts. Get something that will allow you to be adventurous without constantly worrying about the kayak.

Lastly, on quality, you should also consider fold cycles. These boats are all about folding and unfolding. With time, any material will deteriorate because of that. The sections that crease get weaker each time you fold and unfold your kayak. This is something you have to deal with if you get a folding kayak.

You’ll notice that the kayaks above are rated to a certain number of cycles, as are all other folding yaks. Those are the number of times you can fold and unfold. After you exceed that number, you may need a new yak.

Don’t ignore that rating while buying your vessel. Think about how frequently you’ll use the kayak.

b. Ease of Assembly

Folding kayaks are perfect for people who prefer a kayak that is easy to store and transport. But that means that every time you want to go into the water, you’ll need to set it up. Likewise, when you are done, you will have to fold it.

Some kayaks are easier to fold and unfold than others.

The more the parts, the more complicated this process will be. Single plastic material kayaks are easier to set up than the ones with frames.

As you choose your kayak, know that you will be putting it together every time and disassembling it again. You should look at the assembly videos. Many manufacturers have them on their websites. See how simple or complicated it is.

The last thing you want is to spend hours assembling your foldable kayak instead of being in the water having fun.

c. Stability and Performance

A folding kayak is not just good for its storage and transport convenience. It has to be remarkable on the water too.

Like conventional kayaks, different folding kayaks are designed for different paddlers and situations. Long and narrow ones, such as the Coast XT, are made for touring and advanced kayakers. Shorter and wider ones, like the Inlet, are better for beginners.

You can tell how a boat will perform by looking at the measurements.

Wide kayaks have balance and will offer great stability. However, they have more resistance and won’t be very fast on the water. Such kayaks are usually shorter too, 10 to about 12 feet. They are more suited for beginners and recreational kayaking.

Longer and narrower kayaks may not have the best primary stability. But their performance is impeccable. They slice through the water with minimal resistance and track straighter. Their length makes them less maneuverable. They are best suited for advanced paddlers.

d. Storage 

All foldable kayaks don’t fold to the same size. Some will still be bulky even when folded. And this defeats the whole point of buying a folding kayak.

Buy a kayak that folds into a good size. One that you can conveniently store in a small space and transport in your car or a plane. But be careful, especially with single-piece plastic kayaks. If it folds too compactly, the quality may be wanting.

Find something that is in between. The above Oru kayaks, for instance, fold into the size of a suitcase. Maybe not the smallest suitcase, but at least they are quality. They are a perfect example of balance between the two factors.

Another thing, the kayak should be easy to disassemble. This is just as important as setting it up. You won’t have a lot of energy or patience after paddling.

Imagine struggling to take apart and fold a boat when you are in a hurry or tired. It doesn’t sound enjoyable, does it?

How to Build a Folding Kayak, and Pack It Away Again

This process will not look the same for all folding kayaks. The exact steps will depend on the manufacturer and design of the boat.

With the Oru kayaks, for instance, the box is also the kayak.

Pretty cool, huh?

Take a look.

Step 1: Open the Box and Lay It Out

First, loosen the shoulder straps and set them aside. These will not be part of the kayak.

Remove the lid—which doubles as the yak’s floorboard.

Reach inside the box and remove the rest of the components. They include a stern (back bulkhead), backrest, seat pad, and other parts.

Lay everything out.

Unfasten the side straps and straighten out the box. It will look like a bowl—but in the shape of a kayak.

Step 2: Install Your Footrest

It is attached to the bow using a bungee cord.

There are straps attached to the handles on the sides of the kayak. Attach these to the buckles on the footrest.

Step 3: Close the Bow

Tighten the straps at the bow end. Next, attach the front bulkhead such that it is in the bulkhead channels.

Fold the flaps over the footrest. Attach and tighten the straps as shown.

Stretch the fairing over the bow and attach the buckle to the strap at the front of the kayak.

Step 4: Close the Stern

This is a repeat of the above step.

Tighten the strap at the end of the stern. Insert the back bulkhead into the bulkhead channels.

Fold in the flaps then fasten and tighten the straps.

Stretch the fairing over the back and attach the buckle to the strap.

Step 5: Install the Cockpit

Insert the floorboard into the cockpit. If it doesn’t stay flat, don’t worry. Attaching the seat will straighten it out.

Install the backrest into the cockpit as shown in the video above.

Lastly, place the seat pad onto the floorboard, under the bungee to secure it.

Adjust the footrests, backrest height, and angle to a comfortable position.

What Is the Best Way to Pack a Folding Kayak?

Packing a folding kayak is extremely easy.

Repeat the above steps in reverse.

Remove the parts in the cockpit: the seat pad, backrest, and floorboard.

Remove the front fairing and unfasten the bow straps. Do the same thing at the back. Remove the bulkheads and footrest then fold the kayak into a box as shown in the video. Put the components back into the box.

Put the lid on top of the box then fasten the shoulder straps.

How to Store Folding Kayaks

Folding kayaks don’t require any special techniques or equipment for storage.

But first…

Make sure you clean your kayak before storage. Wash off the saltwater, mud, sand, and anything that may have gotten stuck somewhere.

Rinse it thoroughly with fresh water and let it dry.

You can store it anywhere as long as the place is dry and not exposed to direct sunlight. 

Pros and Cons of Folding Kayaks

If you are yet to decide whether or not to buy a folding kayak, this might help. Like every other kayak type, foldable boats have their advantages and downsides.

Pros of Foldable Kayaks

1. Easy to Store and Transport

Anyone who has owned a traditional kayak before will tell you that kayak storage and kayak transport are not fun.

Getting it from the house to the water and back can be frustrating, especially when you are alone. On top of that, you have to find space in the house or garage to store it.

If you have a small car or live in a small apartment, owning a kayak may seem impossible.

Unless it is a foldable kayak.

Foldables can fit at the back of small cars and you can store them under the bed or in your closet. They are also lightweight making transport much more bearable.

2. They Are Stable and Track Well

It is understandable if you are skeptical about folding kayaks. Is the foldable material rigid enough? Won’t it wobble and zigzag all over the place?

First, the materials and technology ensure that the kayaks are remarkably stiff and stable. And just as with traditional boats, wider means more stable. So if you are worried about stability, you can buy a wider foldable.

Folding kayaks cut through the water with excellent smoothness. Most of them have a shape that greatly enhances tracking.

3. They Are Quite Fast on the Water

While this will depend on a specific model, it is safe to say that folding kayaks are generally fast. They are better than inflatables in this area.

Foldables have a sleek shape. Add to that their exceptional rigidity and you have a boat that tears through the water with outstanding speed.

If you are looking for a super fast folding kayak, make sure you buy one designed for speed. You will be amazed.

4. They Are Lightweight

You can’t compare the weight of folding kayaks with that of traditional boats.

Most manufacturers use lightweight materials. Many foldable models weigh about 30 pounds. Some of them are only 20 pounds.

This is awesome considering that hardshell kayaks weigh roughly 50 pounds. Others are even at 100 pounds!

5. Easy to Assemble, And in Less Time Than Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable kayaks are easy to carry and store too, no doubt. But inflating and deflating them can be a lot of work. You won’t like it when using a manual pump.

A foldable, on the other hand, only requires folding and unfolding. You don’t need a pump or any extra tools.

Cons of Folding Kayaks

1. They Are a Bit Expensive

All these fun benefits don’t come cheap.

There aren’t many folding kayak brands on the market and the ones that are available cost a lot. You will pay anywhere from about $900 to $2000+ for a quality foldable kayak.

2. Not as Durable Compared to Traditional Kayaks

Folding and unfolding something over and over will, in the end, weaken it. Unfortunately, this applies to folding kayaks too.

Your polyethylene kayak can last a lifetime, even with heavy use. But foldable canoes have a lifespan. They are rated to a specific number of folding cycles.

3. They May Be Too Tight for Some People

As already stated, there aren’t many folding kayak models on the market. And those that are there may not be suitable for larger paddlers. Some kayakers may find the cockpit too small.

Hopefully, manufacturers will start making folding boats suitable for those on the bigger side.

4. They Require More Maintenance

There are many removable parts in a folding kayak, compared to a regular kayak. Add to this the constant folding and unfolding routine.

This means more care and maintenance if you want the yak to last long.

Folding Kayaks FAQs

Foldable kayaks are not that common. People mainly prefer hard-shells and inflatables. Many are skeptical about these packable boats. So let’s answer some frequently asked questions about folding kayaks.

Q: Are Folding Kayaks Any Good?

A: A quality folding kayak is worth buying. It saves you the stress of storage and transport that comes with traditional kayaks. And it performs better than inflatable boats.

Q: How Do Folding Kayaks Compare in Efficiency, Performance, and Speed with Hardshell Boats?

A: Foldables are lightweight and super responsive. They are efficient and cut through the water with outstanding speed. If performance is a priority for you, a folding kayak won’t disappoint. There are even models designed specifically for performance and speed.

That said, hardshell kayaks are still superior when it comes to performance. Materials like fiberglass and carbon fiber are stiff and they make some really swift boats.

However, it all comes down to the design of a specific model. An expedition folding kayak is more likely to perform better than a recreational hardshell kayak.

Q: Are Folding Kayaks Delicate or Damage Prone?

A: This depends on the materials used. A foldable made using military-grade materials can withstand a lot of abuse. But just like with any kayak, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take care of it. Don’t drag your folding kayak on gravel or bump it into rocks (if you can help it).

Q: Do Foldable Kayaks Cost More Than Hardshell Kayaks?

A: If you are comparing them to cheap and mid-range hardshell kayaks, then yes. Folding kayaks cost more.

But high-end traditional kayaks cost as much or even way more than the most expensive foldable.

Q: What Are the Best Materials for the Frame and Skin in a Folding Kayak?

A: The materials that are currently used—aluminum and wood (for frames), polyethylene, etc.— all have their pros and cons. Just make sure you are buying from a reputable manufacturer.

Q: How Are the Best Folding Kayaks Compared to Regular Kayaks?

Foldable boats are just as good as conventional kayaks in many areas.

But they are better in that, they offer the benefits of both an inflatable and a hard-shell kayak. Unlike a solid kayak, you can pack your folding yak at the end of your trip and throw it in the trunk of your car. You don’t need a roof rack or a large storage space.

However, they have their downsides too. The material used to make a foldable kayak is not as stiff as that of a hard-shell kayak. It is meant to fold and might flex. This is not common but you don’t want it to happen in a bad situation. If you paddle in calm lakes and rivers, there’s nothing to worry about.

Q: Are Foldable Kayaks Ideal for Bigger Kayakers?

There have been cases of packable boats bending or flexing with heavier kayakers on board. Others have even snapped into two. Folding kayaks are not cheap so you can imagine how frustrating that is.

This takes us back to the point about build quality. Any type of kayak can be poorly made. Some inflatable kayaks can’t handle a lot of weight. The same goes for solid boats.

Assess the quality of materials used and the weight capacity rating. You will find foldable boats that are right for larger paddlers, like the Coast XT.

Q: Do Folding Kayaks Last?

Some foldable yaks are durable while others, not so much. But this goes for other kayak types too. You should check the material used to make the boat. See also what other users are saying based on their experience.

But the bottom line is that there are many durable folding kayaks around.


A foldable kayak is great if you don’t have the storage space or a roof rack for easy transport. While there are many disappointing products on the market, there are tons of awesome ones too. The best folding kayaks discussed above are made using quality materials. The setup process isn’t complicated and their performance is amazing.

When choosing a foldable yak, consider the build quality, ease of assembly, performance, and storage. Don’t forget to check the fold cycle rating as well.

Do you have any questions about folding kayaks? Feel free to ask us below.

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