We all love going out on a trip with our kayak or canoe and enjoy our day. Whether we go out for fishing or to have fun with friends, we all know how hard it is sometimes to drag our watercraft into the water. Or sometimes we can’t find space to store it if it’s too big. But don’t worry. Collapsible kayaks and canoes exist for situations where portability matters. And, we are here to help. With this buying guide, you will be able to choose one of the best folding kayaks and canoes for yourself.
Before we start with our picks and reviews, there are some things you should know and consider before buying a folding canoe or kayak. We are going to look deeply into every detail, so you can ease your decision and you will be able to choose the one most suitable for you.
Folding Kayaks and Canoes- 6 Great Picks
- Oru Kayak BayST
- Oru Kayak BeachLT
- MYCANOE 2.5 Origami Foldable Canoe
- Tucktec Folding Kayak
- Elevens Cruise Plus Foldable and Portable Kayak
- Pakayak Bluefin 14 Ft Kayak
What Is A Folding Kayak?
Folding kayaks, also known as folders, are basically normal kayaks made to make transportation and storage easier. This type of yaks has collapsible wooden or aluminum frames, covered by canvas or nylon skin. Throughout the years, people have figured out a way to make them as portable as possible. Folding kayaks have been a thing even during the Second World War, so you can imagine how far people have come with the development of this type of boats.
Folding kayaks have everything you can find in a regular hardshell kayak. One difference between a collapsible kayak and regular hardshell one is the speed. Hardshell kayaks may have better speed, but folders are easier to maneuver. If you are a beginner trying to get into the world of kayaking, folding kayaks are a great first choice, because of how easy it is to travel with them.
Pros And Cons Of Foldable Kayaks and Canoes
Before we even consider buying a foldable kayak or canoe, we should know the pros and cons. We are going to look at the advantages and disadvantages and what we can ignore in the specifications and what not.
As we mentioned, the collapsible kayaks and canoes are really compact and portable. You are able to store them even if you have limited space in your house or garage. When it comes to weight, they are lighter than regular hardshell boats, so dragging or carrying them to the water is an easy task.
When it comes to on-water experience, they are really maneuverable and track well. A lot of kayakers think folders are the most responsive kayaks. They are also stable enough. You can stand up on them without worrying that much.
Setting up the boat is also a piece of cake. It takes a couple of minutes to do so and you are ready to go. This type of yaks doesn’t require any type of skills or tools to be set up.
Packable kayaks are also perfect if you are a beginner since traveling with them does not require a lot of additional equipment. Everyone can handle them and that makes them a good choice for a first-ever boat.
Foldable boats are great and there is rarely anything bad to say about them. But nothing is perfect. Unlike the typical hardshell kayaks, folders are not as fast. You can still reach decent speed with them, but because of their lightweight, they can’t reach the speed that you will usually reach with other types. The other thing that comes to my mind is the sea sock, which makes getting in and out a little bit tricky.
And since they are not regular hard shells, you should be careful when you are kayaking around sharp rocks or other objects. That does not mean that they are not durable. They still do an exceptional job considering the materials they are made of. Their lifespan is also shorter, because of the fold cycles. But, we will go into more detail on that a bit later.
Last, but not least, they are pricier. The price is higher because most of them are made in the US and that costs more. Another factor is that this type of yaks takes a longer time and is more difficult to be manufactured than the hardshell or inflatable ones. But don’t get it twisted. If you have the money to spend, they are worth it, but you should always pay attention to the brand!
Best Folding Kayaks and Canoes in 2020 – Reviews
It’s time to present to you our reviews based on opinions by kayakers and fishermen, as well as some personal experience.
Oru Kayak BayST
We are starting our list with Oru Kayak BayST. Oru Kayaks are the brand that sells the most foldable kayaks every year because of their amazing quality and what they offer to their users. The name Oru gives a slight hint where it comes from – origami. For those who don’t know, that’s a worldwide Japanese phenomenon and it literally means folding paper. This just proves the art behind the Oru Kayaks and how much time in learning was spend for crafting the perfect foldable kayak.
Oru Kayak BayST has been tested in rough waters and the durability is impeccable. Many tests have been done not only by the manufacturers but by users as well and the results have been on the highest level. It’s pretty stable and easy to maneuver, making it perfect kayak for beginners.
It is said that the folding circle of BayST is around 20 000 folds, which exceeds the U.S. Coast Guard recreation vessel requirements. 20 000 folds are one of the largest numbers of folds you can find on the market.
BayST is really easy to use both on and off the water. It takes around 10 minutes to assemble and 5 minutes to fold it. The length of the yak is 12’ and it is 29” wide. It has plenty of space to put all your gear. The maximum loading capacity is 300 lbs. The size of the bag that is stored in is 29” by 33”. The weight of this ‘yak is 28 lbs, so you can easily carry it around with one hand when it’s already assembled.
BayST by Oru has an Award-Winning design that was featured on worldwide magazines like Forbes, Wallstreet Journal, and many others. It’s the most sold kayak from the folding category in the world. If that doesn’t make it worth its money, believe me, the many great reviews by kayakers who own it do!
- Perfect for beginners
- Really compact
- Good stability
- Outstanding durability
- Amazing fold circle and lifespan
- Plenty of space
- Good comfort
- Easy to use
- It takes strength to close the snaps
- The paddle that goes with this yak is not that great
- Made mainly for recreational paddling
Oru Kayak BeachLT
The second boat we will review is the Oru Kayak BeachLT. This origami kayak is the cheaper brother of BayST.
There is no that much of a difference between the two kayaks. The cockpit of the BeachLT also has a length of 12 ft., but it is a little bit wider at 28 inches. It weighs 26 lbs. The maximum capacity of BeachLT is also 300 lbs. On the other hand, BeachLT provides a decent space to store your equipment.
The main difference between the two kayaks is that BeachLT has a large, open cockpit. So, it is more convenient for beginners or people with long legs.
Oru Kayak BeachLT is also more beginner-friendly in terms of time to assemble. So if you are looking for a kayak mainly for occasional paddling, we would recommend this one. Why not save yourself 200-300$?
MYCANOE 2.5 Origami Foldable Canoe
Let’s now take a look at one of the best folding canoes available on the market – MYCANOE 2.5 Origami.
Starting with the dimensions, the length of this canoe is 14ft. Its width is 35 inches. It weighs 52 lbs and it has a maximum capacity of 440 lbs. Actually, MYCANOE recommends a maximum capacity of 400 lbs, so you don’t overboard your canoe. This way it will be more stable and you will be able to paddle it more smoothly. The dimensions of the folded case are 37 x 8 x 25 inches.
The body of MYCANOE 2.5 is one of the best on the market, as it is made from a custom UV treatment polypropylene. The folding cycle is around 20 000 folds. MYCANOE is really durable and stable and can be used nearly everywhere.
In terms of performance and versatility, this folding canoe is considered one of the best on the market. It has great tracking, maneuverability, and speed. There are optional stabilizers, oar lock kit, and even motor if you want to use it for fishing.
There is plenty of storage for your gear. You can even take your kids or dog with you and you will still find space.
MYCANOE is definitely worth the money if you are looking for a long and spacious boat with great on-water performance, which you can use for recreational paddling or fishing.
- Plenty of space
- Amazing performance
- Fast assembly
- Easy to store
- Easy to use
- Amazing speed
- A little bit heavy, considering it’s foldable
- Hard to assemble until you get used to it
Tucktec Folding Kayak
Tucktec Folding Kayak is here not only for its great performance but because it’s a hardshell folding kayak or the closest thing to a regular one. This means the durability this yak has is one of the best out there. It’s made out of HDPE also know as High-Density Polyethylene, just like normal hard shells. This means it won’t rip, puncture or tear so easily.
This yak is big in terms of space and capacity. It has a large, open cockpit. There will be plenty of space for your gear. The maximum capacity that it has is 350 lbs, which is one of the highest you will find for a non-professional folding kayak. The dimensions when assembled are 9 ft x 6 inches. When folded, they are 45” x 15” x 8″.
Tucktec also has the quickest set-up that we have encountered. It assembles in 2 minutes and it folds in 2 minutes as well. It requires no skill or hard thinking to do it.
Performance-wise, you just know it will not disappoint. It glides perfectly on water and it’s as stable as it gets, considering it’s a folding kayak. You won’t have almost any problem, even in the roughest conditions. It maneuvers easily, has good tracking and unlike most folders, has great speed.
Tucktec is perfect for both beginners and advanced kayakers and the fact that it is cheap makes it even better. This portable kayak provides really great value for its money.
- Performs like a regular hard shell kayak
- Affordable price
- Great speed
- Good tracking
- A lot of space
- Large cockpit
- Really quick assembly and folding
- Quite heavy for some people
- Not so comfortable for big guys
- The fold cycle is said to be more than 1000 folds, but it’s not mentioned exactly how much
Elevens Cruise Plus Foldable and Portable Kayak
Cruise Plus by Elevens is simply the arrow of all foldable kayaks. It’s not only lightweight and stable, but it reaches amazing speed in a very short time. We can even say this is one of the fastest folding vessels we have encountered, if not the fastest.
Cruise Plus is a yak that you want to use to enjoy your day and paddle for fun. It’s not that big and it can’t take much of your gear, so if you are going on long kayaking trips with a lot of equipment – just leave it behind.
The length of Elevens Cruise Plus is 12.8 ft and the width is 23.6 in. It weighs 30 lbs and the maximum weight capacity is 200 lbs. This is why we said it won’t fit much of your equipment or gear. When folded into the backpack, the dimensions are 34 x 30 x 14 inches.
The lifespan is from 3 to 4 years if used very often and the folding cycle is around 10 000 folds which is not bad at all, considering the price and the fact this boat is smaller. Actually, you should know that the durability of this boat is amazing. It’s made out of FRPP – a polymer with amazing flexibility and toughness. This means it is well resisted against tears, punctures, abrasions, and also UV protected.
In terms of performance, we already mentioned the supreme speed this yak has. It has good tracking and overall it’s pretty stable for its size. You definitely won’t be disappointed. Another great thing is the small, but useful features this boat comes with – life vest, storage bag, cellphone mount, cup holder and a paddle.
All at all, Elevens Cruise Plus would be a wonderful option for you if you want a fast adventure that you can enjoy solo or with your friends. The price is reasonable and you will have fun using it.
- Supreme Speed
- Good performance
- Great durability
- Comes with a lot of features
- Reasonable price
- Not so suitable for heavy paddlers
- Small storage
Pakayak Bluefin 14 Ft Kayak
Pakayak Bluefin 14 is the next great packable kayak reviewed here. Just imagine a 14-feet hard shell kayak that could be packed in a backpack. Bluefin is exactly that. This sit-in kayak is made in the USA. And, its body is made of high-density UV-resistant polyethylene which is known as very durable material.
The design of Bluefin 14 actually makes it unique. The shape of this kayak is based around the Bluefin tuna, known as one of the fastest fishes in the world. Actually, for ultimate portability and easy storage, the kayak hull could be disassembled in 6 sections. The quick assembling of Pakayak Bluefin 14 is an easy game with the leak-free clamping system.
The maximum weight capacity of Bluefin 14 is 300 lb. When assembled the kayak is 14-feet long, and has a width of 24 inches and height of 16 inches. Actually, this boat provides also plenty of cargo space. It comes with large 115-liters front dry hatch and watertight 41-liters rear hatch. So, you will have enough storage space for your camping or fishing gear.
Pakayak Bluefin 14 performs really well in the water as a typical hard-shell kayak. It has reasonable speed and very good maneuverability. Comfort is also not compromised as the boat comes with a seat. It also has flag style adjustable foot braces for better comfort of the paddler. And it enables you to put a trolling motor and a rudder.
All at all, Pakayak Bluefin 14 is a unique packable kayak. It has all the features you can expect from a hard-shell kayak but at the same time you don’t need a roof rack and you will not dedicate half of your garage for it.
- Rigid and durable hard-shell kayaks
- Packable in a backpack
- Plenty of storage space
- Comfortable seat and adjustable foot braces
- Some taller paddlers state they don’t have enough room for their legs
- Not so lightweight at 55 pounds
How To Choose A Folding Kayak?
Of course, before buying your folding kayak or canoe there are some things to consider. And, there are also some things you should not pay that much attention to. If you have a regular hardshell or inflatable kayak, you will know what we mean.
It’s really important to know what you want to use your yak for. No matter if it’s a regular hardshell, inflatable one or in this case – foldable kayak. Collapsible kayaks are great if you are going on a trip and want to have fun with family and friends in the water.
If you want to use it for fishing in lakes or ponds it’s also fine, but be careful around rivers. They can still be used there, but we advise you to go there only if you already have a decent enough experience in kayaking. There are plenty of rocks and as we mentioned that might be dangerous for you and your boat. Speaking about where to use it, take into consideration if you want to use it for recreational, occasional or professional paddling as well.
When it comes to kayaks – the size always matters. You should pay attention to the size of your collapsible kayak as it should comfortably accommodate you.
The weight of the folding kayak shouldn’t be a problem, but it is definitely an important consideration. We already mentioned plenty of times how compact these boats are. Most of them fold into a bag that you can carry on your shoulder without any problem, even if you are not the strongest person.
Maximum Weight Capacity
This is where it gets tricky. Most manufacturers always give full information about the kayak they are selling, so there will definitely be one about the maximum weight capacity. You should always calculate how much you weigh and how much equipment or gear you want to bring with yourself. But here is a little advice – never be on the edge of the limit.
You will most likely feel comfortable and have enough space in the folding kayak or canoe, but always read the information the manufacturers have given you. A small number of people who are giving reviews have told us that if you are a bigger person, you may feel squeezed. But this is not a problem that has occurred often. A solution is to always buy a foldable kayak that is a little bit larger than what you first considered.
The lifespan of this type of yaks is said to be based on the amount of time you use it. If you use it often, that means you fold it often. And foldable kayaks have a lifespan of a certain amount of folds and unfolds. If you want to know why is that, it’s because the creases tend to weaken during each fold, similar to when we fold and unfold a boat from the same piece of paper. The number, of course, is not small and it’s usually mentioned in the information about the item.
Ease Of Use
Let’s be honest – who wouldn’t want an easy to assemble kayak? Well, to be honest, all of them are pretty easy to assemble. The fewer parts it has, the easier it will be to settle it. There are not that many detachable parts. The main one will probably be the seat. Some of the additional features that come with folding kayak may also be detachable – deck straps, cut holders, ribs, footrests.
How to pack and store a collapsible kayak?
When you buy a folding kayak, most probably it will come with step-by-step instructions on how to fold, install, unfold and uninstall the boat. The whole thing lasts a couple of minutes and you can store it in a bag before or after use. Not every foldable kayak comes with a bag, so you might need to order it additionally from the brand’s website.
The bag is usually a little bit smaller than the suitcase you bring when you travel and can be stored in every corner of your house or garage. And, you can carry the bag as a briefcase in one hand or over the shoulder.
It can be stored in the backseat of your car. Don’t worry, it won’t get in your way and you will be able to see what’s behind you in your rear-view mirror without a problem.