Some of the best kayaks of 2023 are collapsible kayaks (a.k.a. "folding kayaks"). That's because they solve the problem of storage space, as they are able to quickly break down into something compact and easily transportable. This opens up space in your garage or basement (or living room), simplifies travel with your watercraft, and makes easy portage next to the waterfront.
There are a number of folding kayaks on the market, however, and it can be difficult to find the best fit. Some are costly, some are better for roof racks, and others are better for certain bodies of water. Find exceptional performance and versatility in the water this summer, along with easy setup on land with The Manual’s guide to the best folding kayaks.
Oru Kayak Foldable Kayak Beach LT
Best folding kayak for beginners
Every kayak in Oru's fleet features an innovative, easily foldable design with freedom and joy on the water in mind. Oru kayaks are among the most lightweight and versatile folding kayaks on the market. They're packable and compact without compromising on durability or performance. They also feature double-layered hulls that are puncture and scratch resistant. This supplements a range of adjustable amenities, like a spacious cockpit and adjustable foot and backrests.
Made from a single sheet of reinforced plastic, Oru kayaks are inspired by origami, and the body can be assembled in just 3 to 4 minutes. These watercraft weigh as little as 18 pounds and can fold into a box the size of a large suitcase.
All Oru kayaks are easy to pack, store, transport, and assemble with six models available designed for different conditions. Three open cockpit models are stable and great for beginner and first-time kayakers looking to keep to mostly flat water. The brand's upgraded models are fashioned for rougher water and there's even one for family cruising.
Pakayak Bluefin 142
Best folding kayak for experienced paddlers
Like a nesting Russian Doll, the Pakayak sea kayak folds within itself into a carry-friendly package. On the water, however, this model does little to stand out from standard, recreational kayaks. Pakayak takes pride in its innovative design, crafting boats with the same processes as its non-foldable kin. What that means is high-end, traditional performance in a transportable package. The carry handles make this folding kayak quite easy to move from your garage to the water, with or without a good vehicle roof rack.
Pakayak folding kayaks can be assembled in just three minutes by unpacking and attaching each section. Each of the Bluefin’s five sections snaps together with tongue-and-groove holds, and the craft is reinforced with multiple stainless steel clamps. A silicone gasket inside the kayak keeps it watertight. Two bungee systems, two storage compartments, and a larger cockpit offer loads of space.
Suitable for experienced paddlers, the Bluefin 142 folding kayak features a lean and long hull that tracks water well in most conditions. Pakayak’s quality is reflected in its price. If you don’t mind shelling out a little extra for a long-lasting, upright boat, the Bluefin 142 is the way to go.
Isle Pioneer Pro Hybrid SUP-Kayak
Best SUP/kayak hybrid
Isle's all-new Pioneer Pro is both an inflatable stand-up paddleboard and a kayak and yet it's not really either one. The hybrid design is closest to an inflatable SUP board and is in fact an upgraded version of the company's best-selling SUP. But, the addition of an optional kayak seat and footrest quickly converts this to a legit kayak in minutes. The clever design makes this one of the most versatile hybrids on the market.
It's available in three sizes: 9'6", 10'6", 11'6". All offer a good mix of comfort, stability, and portability, so there's a model for paddlers of all skill levels. The longer versions also provide enough deck space for tandem SUP'ing, kayaking for two, or even yoga. Plus, at less than $900, it's surprisingly well-priced when you consider you won't need to buy both a standup paddleboard and a kayak. We also love the long list of available accessories, so you can customize yours however you like.
Tucktec Foldable Kayak
Best folding kayak on a budget
Since 2018, Tucktec’s offered some of the most durable and affordable origami kayaks on the market. Its roll design folds into a compact, carryable, cannoli-shaped bun when packed away. It's a fantastic option if you’re looking for a recreational and easy-to-use folding kayak that, once mastered, sets up in just a couple of minutes. There are no tools and only six clamps required to get the 10-foot craft ready for the water.
On the water, it features a hard plastic shell and a wide design that helps stabilize the kayak. While not the best water performer, the Tucktec kayak works best on chill lake waters and in calm streams. It tracks reasonably straight and is light on the water, making it a great boat for beginners.
Rated for thousands of refolds, Tucktek folding kayaks even exceed U.S. Coast Guard safety and manufacturing requirements. Each kayak comes with a USCG manufacturer certificate.
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Tandem Inflatable Kayak
Best tandem folding kayak
Being in the business for over a decade has given Advanced Elements the opportunity to develop a vast array of collapsible craft. Patented designs have evolved the way that inflatable kayaks perform on the water with the company’s kayaks delivering some of the best in durability, portability, and performance. Especially with AdvancedFrame.
The AdvancedFrame is a hybrid folding/inflatable craft of sorts, combining the advantages of each kayak design into one versatile product. Built for two — but easily pilotable for one — this is arguably the most multipurpose kayak on the market. Whether you’re a recreational kayaker paddling calm waters, an angler looking for a versatile fishing chariot, or a paddler who likes adventurous trips across varied waters, this kayak fits a lot of folks.
At 52 pounds, the craft is not the easiest to carry, but this comes with the advantage of a massive 550-pound capacity.
Sea Eagle Razorlite 393RL Pro Carbon
Best mid-range folding kayak
Sea Eagle's Razorlite 393RL Pro Carbon is an original inflatable that lives up to its raptor name. It's constructed from drop stitch material that competes for durability with even the most rugged hard-hulled kayaks. The material allows the Razorlite to inflate to an elevated PSI, providing extra-firm stability, and allowing it to soar across the water with its rigid bow and stern molds that help cut through the waves.
The 393RL weighs in at only 35 pounds, but it can hold up to 500 pounds. This kayak offers an excellent combination of performance, comfort, and portability, and you can assemble it in just 10 minutes. This is buttressed by the light, AB40 paddle, a tall back seat, an adjustable FlexBrace footrest, an included backpack, and a high-pressure pump. At a mid-range price point, the Sea Eagle is a great option to get you on the water without spending a fortune.
Trak Kayaks 2.0 Signature Series Folding Kayak
Best premium folding kayak
This baby is expensive, especially compared to the Tucktec. But if you’re in the market for a high-quality, splurge-worthy performance ship, this monster is your bag. The latest Trak 2.0 Signature Series is a seaworthy, 16-foot folding sea kayak that can carry you on virtually any water. It boasts military-grade polyurethane fabric construction coupled with a high-tech aerospace aluminum frame to create a rigid monster. Packable and compact enough to carry on planes, trains, and automobiles, it packs or unpacks in about 10 minutes.
For over 15 years, Trak has designed and developed innovative portable kayaks. The Signature Series is its sea-worthy entry, a 48-pound ship designed with durability and long-distance performance in mind. Its V-shape cuts through hard waves and slices with a 22.5-inch beam.
Dreaming of the water now that you’ve explored these portable, easy-access options? Don’t wait! Tis’ the season to get you outdoors and on the water, and there's no better way than with a proper folding kayak.
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