Folding vs Hardshell Kayaks

4-minute read + 16-minute video

Kayak portability is a huge must for some paddlers. In this video, our friend Dan Arbuckle (of Headwaters Kayak) compares two highly-portable kayaks: a small hardshell model and a folding model.

oru inlet folding kayak and eddyline sky10 hardshell kayak side by side on the beach 

If you don’t have a roof rack on your vehicle (and don’t want one), if you don’t have much storage space, or if you simply prefer a smaller, lighter boat, you’re in the right place.

Dan shows us the differences between the Eddyline Sky10 hardshell kayak and the collapsible Oru Inlet kayak. Both are highly portable. Which would be the best choice for you?

Advantages of the Eddyline Sky10

Eddyline calls their Sky10 “a recreational sized kayak that provides the safety and comfort features and performance of full-fledged sea kayaks.” It weighs 32 pounds, has two watertight bulkheads and runs for $1,399 USD (2023 MSRP price).

The obvious advantage of any hardshell kayak is it’s ready to go as soon as you take it out of your vehicle or storage spot. Pull it out and bring it right to the water. This 10-foot model is small enough to fit inside most SUVs, making a roof rack unnecessary. No strapping on, no undoing straps to remove it.

Hardshell kayaks are robust. They’ll last for years—even decades—with normal use and care.

When paddling the Eddyline, Dan notices immediately he feels more part of the boat rather than just sitting in a boat, as he feels with the Oru. He also notes feeling more comfort immediately compared with the foldable model.

The Sky10 gives him five points of contact: seat, feet, back, hips and thighs. Even though it’s narrower, he feels better stability with those points of contact—and he never clips his hands on the side of the cockpit when he paddles.

Disadvantages of the Eddyline Hardshell Kayak

The biggest disadvantage of the hardshell model is: “You have to work around 10 feet of kayak,” Dan says. You trade space for the convenience of no set up. A hardshell takes more space in both your vehicle and in storage.

Advantages of the Oru Inlet

Oru describes their Inlet model as “the lightest, most portable, and easiest to assemble folding kayak yet—an origami kayak for everyone.” It’s 9-feet/8-inches long when unfolded, weighs 20 pounds and costs $899 USD.

The biggest advantage of the Oru is its ultra-portability. As Dan points out, you don’t even need an SUV. This folded kayak in its case will fit in the trunk or backseat of a small car, and in a closet for storage.

Dan finds the Oru easy to maneuver and very stable in the calm flatwater he paddled. It tracks very well for a boat of that size.

Disadvantages of the Oru Inlet Folding Kayak

While the Oru’s setup is quick (the website says about 3 minutes), it still requires set-up and take-down each time you paddle.

The Oru doesn’t instill the same confidence of durability over time because of the constant folding and unfolding that will happen over the years. The company launched its first kayak in 2012, so history isn’t there yet to prove longevity.

When paddling, the Oru Inlet is quite wide, so you may have to reach out more so your hands don’t clip the side of it with your strokes. Dan finds this model getting uncomfortable within a half-hour—with limited back support, sitting very low and nowhere to put his knees.

in the Oru kayak on a mountain lake 

He notes that that lack of being “part of the boat” (no connection with knees and thighs) feels a little less stable in waves and wind. And its lightness, while an advantage when carrying it, makes it more susceptible to the wind when on the water.

“It’s important to have some perspective here,” says Dan. “When you spend $1,000 on a kayak, you’re going to get something. A rotomolded kayak [like the Eddyline] is fairly cheap, so those kayaks will have lots of features. With this kayak, you’re spending $1,000 for portability.”

The Bottom Line

The Oru Inlet is an ideal kayak for people who live in an apartment or other dwelling with very little storage space. It’s ideal for those with small vehicles. It’ll work for those who want an easy kayak to bring to a local lake or slow-moving river for an hour or two on the water.

“I love the fact that it’s 20 pounds, anyone can handle it, and it gets you out here and on the water,” Dan concludes.

A hardshell kayak like the Eddyline Sky10 will give you better speed, glide and tracking. Maneuverability is similar, but the hardshell doesn’t get blown around in the wind like the lighter Oru.

A hardshell is “a little harder to deal with off the water, but the experience on the water was substantially better. The comfort was not even in the same ballpark,” Dan concludes.

Photos courtesy of Headwaters Kayak. See more of their videos on their YouTube channel.

Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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