The unfolded Oru Kayak is 12ft long.

Folding bikes are a common sight in busy cities like London. They can be stored at home or in the office and taken on public transport for mixed-mode commuting. But what about a folding boat?

Picture this: you leave your cramped flat in the suburbs with a portfolio-sized case slung around your shoulder, you get to the river, unfold the case into a kayak and swan along the Thames to work.

Origami boat

Well, this is now possible with the arrival of the Oru Kayak, designed by American architect and product designer, Anton Willis.

Willis grew up in California where he would regularly kayak in the rivers and along the coast. However, when he moved to the city space became an issue.

Advances in the art and science of origami got me thinking about different ways you could fold up a boat

He says, “A few years ago I moved into a small apartment in San Francisco and had to put my kayak into storage and at the same time I read a magazine article about the advances in the art and science of origami and that got me thinking about different ways you could fold up a boat.”

Light but durable

After four years and twenty-five prototypes Willis and his team have finally made a kayak that easily folds away into a compact, lightweight case and is durable on the water.

Willis says, “It is not designed for white water but basically everything else is fine. We’ve tested it in the ocean and it has worked fine dealing with salt water and waves.”

When unfolded the kayak is 12ft long but only weighs 25lbs as it is made from a lightweight but hardy plastic. Willis says, “It’s a corrugated plastic that is typically used for signs and in the US everyone recognizes it because the postal carrier bins are made out of it.”

Testing out the kayaks in San Francisco Bay.

Only a single sheet of this double-layered plastic is used to make the boat with the single seam sealed by a watertight rubber gasket. Despite this, it is strong enough to hold a maximum of 260lbs.


Willis has raised the money to get the Oru Kayak into production using the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter. Willis says, “We are halfway through the campaign now and we’ve raised about $300,00 so far.”

Astonshingly, the Oru Kayak raised more than its entire funding goal of $80,000 on the first day of the campaign.

Willis plans to make more kayak models in the new year including a longer version to take camping and a junior one. With only 13 days to go, you can pledge money or pre-order your kayak at Kickstarter.

Watch the video below to see how easily the Oru Kayak assembles:

Photo credits: Nicolas Zurcher

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