A look into modular and folding watercraft

photo Oru Kayak Bay+: At 12 feet long and a paltry 28 pounds, the Bay+ offers the perfect blend of easy setup, a comfortable ride and smooth handling. A perfect fishing or backcountry paddling kayak. $1,575

If you've ever folded origami or played with Legos, you may have caught a glimpse of the future of kayaks.

Foldable and modular watercraft have been growing in popularity for the last several years, despite having been around for much longer. There are numerous brands manufacturing kayaks that can either collapse or be broken into parts for easy storage and transport, and some high-profile designs have caught on recently.

Why go that route as opposed to a traditional kayak, though? Here's a quick look at some pros and cons for the newest trend in paddling.


- Easy to transport: Whether a kayak folds into a convenient carrying case or breaks into three separate pieces, you won't need an SUV or a kayak rack to take it down to the river. And kayaks that break down are lighter than their one-piece, inflexible companions.

- Easy to store: Anyone with a 15-foot touring kayak knows storage can be difficult. While modular crafts essentially take the same space, the pieces can be stacked or stored individually, and foldable kayaks can break down to the size of a golf bag - or smaller.

- More freedom: Because of how easy these models are to move and set up, wherever you want to paddle, you can. Even Oru Kayak's mammoth 16-foot Coast series can easily be set up and paddled by one person.

- Two boats in one: Many modular kayaks can be extended with a middle section, almost like a dining room table. The versatility means solo and tandem trips are possible with one boat!


- Price point: Modular and foldable crafts definitely run on the higher end of the price range, especially compared to inflatable crafts. Proceed with your wallet in mind.

- Responsiveness: Folding kayaks, specifically, track as though they are longer than they are due to the hard creases in the boat. This can make whitewater more difficult to navigate.

- Speed: Due to the neoprene on many folding kayaks' hulls, they tend to paddle slower than a fiberglass or plastic counterpart.

- Upkeep: Modular boats need to be more carefully maintained so their locking mechanisms stay in pristine condition.