Promising big adventure in a small package, Oru Kayak has taken its popular folding design and made a lighter and even easier-to-assemble kayak with the all-new Inlet. I had the chance to paddle and review a prototype of the new design in the heart of Grand Teton National Park, and Oru rep Jess Anthony was there to show off the new features.
Oru Kayak Inlet Specs
Max paddler weight: 275 lbs
Max paddler height: 6’2”
The new Inlet is Oru’s most successful Kickstarter campaign. At the time of writing, the Inlet had raised almost $1 million USD thanks to 846 backers. These backers will receive the first production models for a discounted rate in June of 2020.
The 10-foot-long recreational Inlet is aimed at flatwater paddlers, and suited for exploring sheltered shores. Most impressively, this 20-pound unit folds up in a suitcase-style package about the size of a beefy briefcase or my grandma’s supersized shoulder bag.
Oru’s Inlet has been generating lots of hype, and collected a handful of awards during the summer of 2019, including best in show awards at Outdoor Retailer from Gear Junkie and Gear Patrol, and Editor’s Choice from Popular Mechanics and Business Insider. It’s an impressive little kayak. With a three-minute assembly time and its light weight, the Oru makes getting on the water super simple and accessible for even the most space-cramped urbanites.
Oru Kayak’s New Inlet Review
Jess gave me a quick tutorial on assembly onshore and ran through the updates Oru made when creating the Inlet.
First, Oru redesigned the fold pattern for the first time since it started making folding kayaks in 2012. This is to streamline the setup and take-down process. I can attest the new fold pattern is more intuitive especially during take-down. Gone is that one tricky, late-stage fold that I’ve sometimes been befuddled by on past Oru Kayak test paddles.
Also new is the Inlet’s integrated floorboard—on previous models, the kayak’s floorboard is part of the carrying case—which speeds up assembly. Like other Oru models, the Inlet has an easy-to-install adjustable footrest, adjustable backrest, bow and stern bulkheads to reinforce rigidity, and buckle deck closures. The Inlet’s fewer loose parts, combined with the streamlined pattern fold and less material overall thanks to its 10-foot length, offers weight savings and a faster assembly process. Tipping the scales at just 20 pounds, the Inlet’s Kickstarter campaign rightly points out the kayak weighs the same as a Thanksgiving turkey. It’s also a third lighter than Oru’s bestselling Bay model.
After a demo from Jess, I was soon assembling the Inlet in Oru’s suggested time of three minutes. Very cool.
I got the chance to paddle the Inlet in a sheltered bay on String Lake. The Inlet’s spacious, open cockpit makes entry and exit easy. And, like the name suggests, it also makes this design suited for the calm waters we were testing on. With the Inlet, think chill and fun adventures like paddles with friends, fishing and photography. Other Oru models, like the Coast, are more suited to challenging conditions or making miles. The Inlet is an easy-paddling design recreational paddlers will enjoy—it has great stability, decent speed for its length and I found even performed well when a gusty, unexpected early-season snowstorm descended.
Oru Kayak Inlet Assembly and Disassembly
All of Oru’s kayaks boast excellent compatibility for easy storage and travel. The Inlet supercharges this feature. Even though I must have assembled and disassembled the Inlet five times during my weekend in Grand Teton National Park, each time I was wowed by the small suitcase the Inlet transforms into.
Just 42 inches long, 19 inches tall and 10 inches wide when folded up, the Inlet can be stored on a closet shelf, tossed in the trunk of a compact car, carried onto rush hour public transit or checked on your next flight.
At the Jackson Hole, Wyoming airport at the end of the weekend, Jess had the Inlet in hand and checked it on her flight back to Oru headquarters in San Francisco. Oru is also designing a backpack for the Inlet for easy transport, that will include straps for camping gear, so it’ll be even easier to hike this kayak into remote alpine lakes in places like Grand Teton National Park.
The Inlet’s Kickstarter campaign is open for pre-orders until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, October 10, 2019.