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Making a Portable Kayak Out of Origami

Updated on April 8, 2014
This is the Oru Kayak company
This is the Oru Kayak company

It all started just 2-3 years ago, when architect student , Anton Willis, of Mendocino County, moved to the tight and crowded San Francisco. This was a culture shock. Mendocino County demographics are small, one of the "larger cities" is Ukiah, about 1 hour north of Santa Rosa. That "urban" area is not more than 15,000 people. It was a lumber town but now is struggling to find its new way in the 21st Century. By comparison, Santa Rosa, is over 170,000.

When Anton moved into his tiny and expensive apartment, he found it very difficult to get is large kayak to fit. With space being such a premium, the kayak was taking up a lot of usable space. For a guy from the vast spacious county, where outdoor activities are the norm, the crowded and congested city had its challenges.

That is when it happened. What if one could make a portable and folding 12-ft. kayak? That simple idea caused him to explore possibilities using paper origami models, over 20 of them, in his spare time. One of the most negative aspects of owning a kayak is its size and how to transport it safely.

To fund his idea via prototypes, he listed his project on Kickstarter. Enough were interested so that his first prototype with seemless, recycled plastic, was made. When packed up, it is the size of an artist portfolio and can fit in every car, even small ones. To unpack, once learned, it takes not more than 10 minutes to unfold and snap into a strong and secure 12-ft kayak capable of going in the ocean, rivers or lakes.

The Oru Kayak is one person and animal and weighs 26 lbs, 26 inches wide and 13 inches tall and can hold up to 300 lbs. The carrying case is 33"x 29" x 10". The kayak folds up and rated for 20,000 folds without structural failure. The hull is double layered. The most basic package sells for $1100.00.

Granted, it is a bit more expensive but what you are getting is its portability in any vehicle and ease of carrying down to the launch site. The one thing the kayak cannot do is whitewater or anything greater than mild ocean waves. It is water tight. While the skin is rated for 20,000 folds, the manufacturer does admit they have never tested it to see if the folds will last to 20,000.

This is a cool idea.


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