Traditional kayaks are excellent, but I believe we can all agree that they’re heavy, big, and difficult to move on your own. Also, not everyone has access to a garage or sufficient storage capacity for a full-sized raft. Folding kayaks are a great method to save space since they can be folded fast into a small package. Inflatable kayaks may appear to be the logical solution to the issue right now. They’re small, movable, fold down to the size of a standard suitcase, and don’t need to be inflated.
I am going to help you find the top 7 Best Folding Kayaks in 2023 in this article! When it comes to picking the ideal folding kayak for you, we highlight our top recommendations and what qualities to look for.
Top 3 Picks – Best Lightweight Kayak For Seniors in 2023
Best Folding Kayak: Things to consider
You must pick the appropriate kayak, but there are so many elements to consider that it might be overwhelming, especially if you’re a newbie.
You may find yourself scratching your head, wondering, “Where do I even begin?”
That’s why I’m here: to point you on the correct path and give you a few pointers along the way. I even went so far as to review the best portable kayaks currently on the market.
Designs of folding kayaks
In general, there are two kinds of folding kayaks:
- Kayaks that can be inflated.
- Kayaks are made out of origami.
The kayak that inflates:
The inflatable kayak is inflated with air and usually has many air chambers for increased security. It may be inflated with any type of pump – foot, hand, or electric, according to your preference. Users can easily store it when it’s inflated and deflated in the carrying bag that usually comes with it.
Even if it isn’t 100% associated with folding, the inflate-deflate process fits within the overall concept of compactness and ease of transport.
Inflatable kayaks are also often less expensive than their Origami counterparts.
Because the fabric or creases may hold a lot of water, draining an inflated kayak might take a long time. This makes them slightly heavier and less portable than other varieties.
Kayak made out of origami:
Fortunately, kayak folding is a lot easier than it is with paper. These ‘yaks are composed of a material that folds back on itself in a simple fashion.
Some may say that the act of folding and unfolding is a pain in the neck, however, the truth is the dreaded phrase:
It is said that practice makes perfect.
Once you’ve mastered the mechanism and practiced a few times, you’ll be able to transition from the “suitcase” to the full-size boat in a couple of minutes.
Canvas or nylon “skin” wrapped over an aluminum and wood skeleton would be the template for Origami-style kayaks. However, because of the meticulously created geometrical folds that lead to a solid framework, these ‘yaks are typically frameless nowadays.
Once it comes to size, origami kayaks come out on top. They usually fold down to a smaller size than inflatables, and you won’t have to take the pump around with you.
In addition, whereas most inflatable kayaks come with a backpack, the so-called Origami boats don’t — they are suitcase boats in the true meaning of the term.
Determine, how long it takes you to build the kayak before you go. Depending on the form of the kayak, many folding boats take anywhere from 5 – 15 minutes to set up. Frame-folding kayaks take much longer to put up than origami kayaks.
The TuckTec, for example, is an origami-style kayak that takes around 3 minutes to build up. This Neris Smart folding kayaking, on the other hand, takes up to 15 minutes to put up due to the requirement to construct the frame and also inflate various areas of the kayak.
After you’ve decided on the type of folding kayak you want – inflatable and Origami-style – you must think about the construction.
The quality and durability of a kayak are ultimately determined by the material used to construct it.
Now, the most often used materials for inflatables are:
PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
Lightweight, simple to fold, and inexpensive — but not ideal for high temperatures or continuous UV light exposure.
A superior combination of 1200D polyester & synthetic nitrile rubber that provides complete tear resistance. It’s more commonly utilized to strengthen the chambers along the sides and also at the bottom because of its strength.
The durability of synthetic rubber cloth is praised. It’s great at resisting strong chemicals and high temperatures, but it’s also the most expensive of the three alternatives.
Polypropylene, on the other hand, is the greatest material for Origami patterns. This kind of plastic has good folding capabilities and responds well to various environmental factors. On top of its basic resistance to puncture wounds & abrasion, it’s sometimes double-layered & UV-treated to give further protection.
Because you’re here reading this essay, you’ve already reaped some significant size advantages:
In this way, folding kayaks are possibly the handiest sort of kayak.
That’s not to suggest you shouldn’t double-check its measurements, both folded or unfolded. Here’s something more to think about while you’re at it:
- The stability of a kayak (beam) is affected by its breadth. Taller paddlers with a greater center of gravity will benefit from wider kayaks.
- In terms of length, the basic rule is that longer kayaks are quicker, but they lose some maneuverability.
- Consider paying attention to the maximum weight limit. It will show how much weight a kayak can carry, both in respect of the kayaker plus gear.
All of these statistics, of course, work together to determine how the kayak would “behave” in various circumstances. For example, Oru’s Origami kayaks come in five various sizes, each designed for a specific purpose:
There’s also a myth that folding boats are weak, fragile, and less robust than standard kayaks, but this is no longer the case owing to developments in technology and design. Folding kayaks are now made of sturdy, long-lasting materials like PVC, CMS, durable rubber, and reinforced plastic.
This implies that foldable kayaks are extremely tough and can withstand a lot of criticism. They are also designed to be waterproof, scratch and knock resistant, as well as puncture-resistant. However, the major reason you’d buy a foldable kayak is for the convenience it provides.
If you’re seeking durable kayaks, have a look at our review of the finest sea-touring kayaks.
When purchasing a folding kayak, another element to consider is the kayak’s capacity.
Frame folding boats are heavy but also have a considerably larger capacity, whereas origami kayaks are lightweight but have a smaller total capacity. Frame-folding kayaks are therefore better for traveling and excursions, whereas origami boats are better for leisure use.
Top 7 Best Folding Kayaks Reviews and Ratings in 2023
Are you short on space? This Oru Inlet is the tiniest folding kayak on the market, shrinking to the spacing of a suitcase. The Inlet is a top selection for novices or casual paddlers who want a vessel that will enable them to explore a quiet lake without the inconvenience of pumping an inflated design. It is less expensive than the other Oru portfolio products.
This origami-inspired Oru kayak is made up of a single sheet of reinforced plastic and takes 3-4 minutes to build. The Oru boats are among the lightest and most flexible folding kayaks available. The intake is their entry-level model, and it’s also the cheapest.
There are five distinct varieties of Oru kayaks available, each designed for a certain circumstance. The Inlet, Beach, and Haven are the 3 open cockpit types. They’re designed for flatwater use, and they’re both stable and beginner-friendly. This Haven is a tandem or two-person design.
The Coast and the Bay are the other two variants, both closed cockpit performance versions that can handle rough seas but require some experience to master.
This Oru Inlet folding paddle is a wonderful example within the Oru product range, and it’s meant to be used on flat water for leisure purposes. When you get the hang of it, it only takes 3-4 min to set up, and it’s compact enough to move.
This folding boat is also strong and resilient, with a double hull that resists punctures and abrasion.
In addition, the Oru Inlet has several characteristics that make it comfortable, such as a large cockpit with adjustable feet and backrests. It is strongly advised for all new kayakers.
The Bay ST is Oru’s entry into the folding kayak market, a kayak with a tiny cockpit that can handle a range of water conditions.
Beginners may find paddling the Bay ST unsettling at first, while intermediate paddlers and up will appreciate its speed and consistent tracking.
Both the front & back hatches of the kayak have lots of storage space that can be used after the kayak is parked.
The Bay ST is the original origami-inspired folding kayak from Oru, and it’s the one that began it all. So, if you’re looking for a proven performer, this is a good choice.
Now that you’ve learned more about Oru kayaks, you know to expect a 5-millimeter dual-layer polypropylene build and a 20,000-cycle folding limit. But what makes it unique?
This Oru Bay ST is a 12-ft intermediate-level kayak that may be used in a range of water situations, such as bays and small bodies of water. It is one of the lightweights on the list, at only 26 pounds.
It features a 300-pound capacity, as well as front bungee cords and a large cockpit that may be utilized as additional storage space. It’s also suitable with standard-sized spray skirts in the cockpit.
The Bay ST’s 25-inch beam, on the other hand, could make it seem a little tippy for beginners — at least at first.
This Oru Bay ST is the origami watercraft that started it all for Oru — the original. So, if you want a fold-up kayak with proven quality and performance, this kayak is best for you.
This one is a hybrid of types, combining the benefits of inflatable plus folding boats into one, with a dash of customization and adaptability thrown in for good measure.
So, the Advanced Elements kayak is foldable or inflatable, two-person capable, and convertible?
That’s true, this kayak has everything — and then some. This is the most “multi-reason” kayak available. Consider this:
The kayak’s base is made of metal, with inflatable sections for added buoyancy. This kayak could fit adequate provisions for a multiday trip with just one person. For tandem paddling, a second seat may easily be installed.
It can be converted from a double to a single-person kayak, as well as from an open deck to a sit-in kayak. The ‘yak, however, is not included with the Convertible Decks. To acquire them, you’ll have to spend a lot more money – or settle with the “basic” one.
Another disadvantage might be the weight. And, while it’s not particularly hefty, this Advanced Elements kayak is somewhat heavier than my prior selection, weighing in at 52 pounds.
However, considering its built-in aluminum frame & 550-pound capacity, I can’t say I’m surprised it’s so heavy.
If you want adaptability and don’t mind obtaining a hybrid of both a folding as well as an inflatable boat, Advanced Elements’ “Convertible” is the best option.
This is a further Oru Kayak on the list. What can I say, the people at Oru seem to know how to make a solid folding kayak. On that point, I’ve decided to wrap out our round-up with Oru’s most popular model, the Beach LT.
When you look at the price-to-value ratio, it’s easy to see why the Beach LT is so popular:
The 12-foot recreational kayak epitomizes having fun, being relaxed, and being beginner-friendly. It’s made of the same 5mm, double-layered polypropylene that ensures durability, but it’s just 25 pounds.
The capacity of the Oru Kayak Beach LT is average – 300 pounds to be exact – and you’ll receive easy-to-access storage space as well as a wide and roomy cockpit, making it a perfect choice for long days on the water.
It’s also less expensive than the majority of the other Oru folding kayaks I’ve discussed today, coming second to the Inlet.
Oru’s Beach LT is a folding kayak that is a cross between a recreational as well as a touring kayak. As a result, it’s ideal for long days on the water, as it offers stability and lots of storage room.
Beginners will feel at ease kayaking on flat water, & experienced paddlers will not become bored as easily as they may with slower boats. Try this Oru Bay ST above for a speedier variant of the Beach LT.
I believe this Beach LT is Oru’s most famous origami kayak, & I can see why. So, if you only need a dependable – and very portable – recreational ‘yak, this is the one to get.
When folded, this Tucktec folding kayak has a roll shape that makes it exceptionally small when stored. Our folding kayak is far less expensive and less robust than others on this list.
While it isn’t a great performer, it is nonetheless pleasant to paddle on flat water & can even be used as a fishing boat on peaceful stream rivers.
The Tucktec has a strong plastic shell with a broad design that aids with kayak stability on the water. If you’re searching for a fun and easy-to-use folding kayak, the Tucktec is a great choice.
It’s easy to set up, and if you’ve learned it, you can do it in approximately 3 minutes. That makes it possibly the quickest folding kayak, which compensates for its lack of tracking ability.
It’s crucial to know that this Tucktec folding kayak isn’t designed for choppy or rough water, thus it’s best used on flat water.
This Tucktec Folding Boat is made of a single durable sheet of plastic and is one of the cheapest kayaks on the market. Within its price range, it’s a more durable option than inflatable kayaks and performs similarly to a cheap hard-shell kayak.
The Tucktec is a leisure kayak that is designed for calm days with low wind. It is nimble, tracks straight, & is created for recreational kayakers. The kayak’s seat is the most prevalent criticism, and some paddlers replace it with a more comfortable option.
At last, shoulder lashes, a snap-on following blade, froth rails with handles, foldable seats with ergonomic back help, as well as a body sheet with bolted switch cinches are remembered for the entire set.
6. Pakayak Bluefin 142
This Pakayak Bluefin is one of the few kayaks on the market that doesn’t sacrifice performance and paddle feel because of its small size. The Bluefin employs a nesting method to compress each of its six components into a 312-foot bag, using the same materials as a plastic rotomolded touring kayak.
The kayak is held together by durable latches that are waterproof thanks to silicone gaskets. The kayak can be put up in about five minutes.
Pakayak has invented a folding kayak paddle that can be conveniently stowed within itself thanks to an ingenious nesting design (much like a Russian Doll). On the water, this model looks almost identical to a regular recreational plastic kayak.
Each of the five parts is connected by tongue and groove and held together by several stainless steel clamps, whereas a silicone gasket keeps the kayak waterproof on the inside.
This Pakyak Bluefin 142 folding boat has a long, slender hull that tracks well in certain circumstances and can even surf tiny waves. Unpacking and mounting each part of the Pakayak folding kayaks take about 3 minutes.
You receive 2 bungee systems, 2 large storage compartments, and plenty of cockpit room with the Pakayak Bluefin 142. Its carry handles make transporting this foldable kayak a breeze.
The folding kayak is best suited for experienced paddlers, and we don’t recommend beginners use it in stormy conditions.
Assuming you’re an accomplished kayaker looking for an ocean kayak that doesn’t take up a great deal of extra room, this is the best kayak for you.
A well-reviewed inflatable kayak is ideal for first-time buyers. Most paddlers can afford it because of the reduced price. It’s ideal for slow-moving rivers and sheltered waterways.
The AdvancedFrame line from Advanced Elements includes a number of models, including the AdvancedFrame Convertible, which may be paddled single or tandem.
The aluminum-reinforced body of AdvancedFrame kayaks sets them apart from the competition – both among inflatable and foldable kayaks.
And it’s the same with this so-called Sports model:
The surprisingly strong 10.4-foot kayak weighs just 26 pounds thanks to its 3-layer PVC build, 1000D polyester reinforcements, plus built-in metal ribs that define the bow & stern.
It resembles their bigger AdvancedFrame models on a smaller size.
The Sport has a wider, easier-to-enter cockpit aperture, as well as its own seat including a movable backrest, which is a great touch.
But take note, this is a leisure kayak. As a result, it has a low weight restriction of only 250lbs and nothing else to offer – but for casual day paddles, you won’t need much more.
Well, and in case you’re curious, it also doesn’t cost a fortune.
If you’re on a budget and need a compact, portable plus beginner-friendly kayak, the AdvancedFrame Sport is a great option.
1. What is the definition of a folding kayak?
The folding boat is a transportable boat that can be folded or packed down to a small size. To choose the finest folding kayak for you, read our post on the perfect folding kayaks.
2. Are foldable kayaks long-lasting?
Folding kayaks, on the other hand, are less durable than standard kayaks. All of the folding boats on our list are tough, dependable, and can withstand a beating.
3. How should a folding kayak be stored?
After you’ve used the folding kayak, be sure to clean it with clean water and air dry it. After that, depending on the sort of folding boat you have, either disassemble or fold the sections into the backpack. When storing the folding kayak, make sure to take extra precautions because the manner you store it will decide how long it lasts.
What should you look for in the Best Folding Kayaks for 2023? The folding kayaks arrive with a broad range of features & specifications, so what should you be searching for? Because the purpose of a folding kayak is lightweight, portability, and ease of use, you’ll like to know how heavy it is, how long it takes to build up, and how long it lasts.
Finally, please note not every folding kayak can withstand extreme circumstances if you’re fascinated by ocean kayaking & extensive expeditions. Before putting the kayak through any long-distance expeditions, strong currents, or rapids, be sure you know what it’s meant for.
Meet Bian, a passionate watersports enthusiast and founder of kayakwave.com
Brian has written guides extensively about kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, sharing surfing tips, techniques, and personal experiences with readers. Brian has also contributed to many publications and websites, sharing his expertise and love of the water with others.