The Best Folding Kayaks for Hitting the Water Anywhere

Kayaking is no longer an outdoor activity reserved solely for adventurers who have plenty of storage space and a vehicle capable of schlepping 14 feet of plastic from point A to B. Now, kayaks can collapse into roughly the size of a suitcase—perfect for tucking under the bed or in the back of a car. In this guide, we highlight 9 top picks and what features to look for when choosing the right folding kayak for you.

What to Consider

Kayaks come in varying shapes and sizes, each with an intended purpose. Shorter, wider kayaks tend to fall into the recreational kayak category and are made for paddlers roaming calm waters. Longer, narrower kayaks, called touring kayaks, are built for braving long distances and rough seas. If you’re not sure which kayak to choose, opt for one that suits the conditions you’ll be paddling in most of the time. Recreational kayaks tend to be easier to paddle and maneuver than touring kayaks.

Most kayaks are single-person designs. But for families, dog owners, and friends keen to venture out on the water in one craft, consider a tandem kayak. Tandem kayaks are built to carry heavier loads and have more space to accommodate two paddlers.

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There are multiple folding and collapsing systems on the compact kayak market, colloquially called origami, frame with skin, nesting, and inflatable. In the origami method, the kayak is usually made from a single piece of thick plastic that folds out to form the boat. The frame with skin system is much more complex to set up and take down, and typically involves a collapsible metal frame you install inside of a thick plastic outer layer. Inflatable kayaks are the most popular form of compact kayak, using an air pump system that inflates the kayak. Nesting kayaks are made from the same material as rotomolded plastic kayaks but pack down into multiple pieces.

How We Selected

I have been kayaking recreationally for over two decades and have enjoyed paddling trips at tons of destinations around the world, including in Fiji, Hawaii, and western Australia. I’m also the founder of The Salt Sirens, a website dedicated to ocean sports. These recommendations are based on my own expertise as well as folding kayak reviews from expert sources like and Paddling Magazine. I also read through reviews on popular kayaking forms and review websites. I considered durability, ease of use, manufacturer’s customer service availability, and value for money in my selection process.

Editor’s Note: Many kayak manufacturers are experiencing delays in production and distribution due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Combined with an uptick in demand, some folding kayaks might be out of stock or on backorder.

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Best Recreational Kayak

Oru Beach LT

• Length: 12 ft, 1 in.
• Weight: 25 lb. 

Beach LT is Oru’s hybrid between a recreational and a touring folding kayak. As such, it’s great for full days out on the water, and it provides stability and plenty of easy-access storage space. Beginners will feel comfortable paddling on flat water, and experienced paddlers won’t be at risk of getting bored like they can in more sluggish boats. For a faster version of the Beach LT, consider the Oru Bay ST below.

  • Great for full days on the water
  • Onboard storage
  • Stable design
  • Might feel a little slow to some

Most Similar to a Traditional Touring Kayak

Pakayak Bluefin 142



• Length: 14 ft, 2 in.
• Weight: 59 lb. 

The Pakayak Bluefin is one of the few kayak options where a compact size doesn’t mean sacrificing performance or paddle feel. Built from the same materials as a plastic rotomolded touring kayak, the Bluefin uses a nesting system to collapse each of its six pieces into a 3½-foot bag. Durable latches, made watertight with silicone gaskets, connect the kayak together. Setting up the kayak takes about five minutes. 

  • Paddles like a traditional kayak
  • Quick setup

Best Performance

Oru Coast ST

• Length: 16 ft, 2 in.
• Weight: 32 lb. 

An ideal foldable kayak for intermediate to advanced paddlers, the Oru Coast ST is built to withstand choppy water, currents, and waves. Add a spray skirt to keep dry as you paddle or in inclement weather. There’s also enough storage space onboard the Coast ST for multiday trips. 

  • Capable for multiday trips
  • Built-in storage
  • Expensive
  • Not best for beginners

Best Touring Kayak

Trak 2.0 Signature



• Length: 16 ft.
• Weight: 44 lb.

You’ll pay a premium for the size convenience of the Trak 2.0 foldable kayak, but it’s the highest performing touring kayak that fits neatly into the back of a car. The Trak 2.0 takes roughly 15 minutes to set up once you’re familiar with the process, which is a little more tedious than origami-style kayaks. To set up the ten-piece Trak 2.0, assemble its aluminum-rod frame and place the frame into the kayak’s polyurethane skin. Flotation bladders tuck into the frame. Jack hydraulics change the rocker of the kayak, making it easy to adapt for varying conditions.

  • Variable rocker creates a kayak suited to all conditions

Best for Beginners

Oru Inlet


• Length: 9 ft, 8 in.
• Weight: 20 lb. 

Short on space? The Oru Inlet is the smallest foldable kayak available, collapsing down to the size of a small suitcase. More affordable than the rest of the Oru lineup, the Inlet is a top pick for beginners and casual kayakers who want a craft that will let you explore a calm lake—without the hassle of pumping an inflatable model.

  • Affordable
  • Great packability

Most Versatile

Oru Bay ST


• Length: 12 ft, 3 in.
• Weight: 26 lb. 

Oru entered the folding kayak scene with the Bay ST, a kayak capable of handling a variety of water conditions due to its compact cockpit. Beginners might feel a bit unstable paddling the Bay ST at first, but intermediate paddlers on up will enjoy its speed and reliable tracking. There is plenty of storage space onboard in the front and back compartments, accessible once the kayak is docked.

  • Lots of storage
  • Fast
  • Reliable tracking
  • Beginners might feel unstable initially

Inflatable Kayak With a Frame

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak

Advanced Elements


• Length: 10 ft, 5 in.
• Weight: 36 lb. 

The pain point among most inflatable kayaks is that they paddle slower than rigid kayaks. But the aluminum frame of the AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak counteracts the clumsiness of its inflatable compartments to some extent. Ideal for casual calm water paddling, its front and back bungee compartments make this a top choice for day trips.  

  • Affordable
  • Frame creates faster paddling than inflatable-only designs
  • Not best for rough conditions

Best Tandem Kayak

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Kayak

Advanced Elements


• Length: 15 ft.
• Weight: 52 lb. 

The Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible is a hybrid between an inflatable and foldable kayak. An aluminum frame forms the base of the kayak with inflatable compartments for buoyancy. With one person, the kayak could fit enough supplies for a multiday excursion. A second seat can easily be added for tandem paddling.

  • Able to add a second seat
  • Inflating takes longer than other collapsing designs

Budget Friendly

Tucktec Folding Kayak



• Length: 9 ft, 8 in.
• Weight: 28 lb. 

One of the most affordable kayaks available, the Tucktec Folding Kayak is built from a single sturdy sheet of plastic. It’s a more durable alternative to inflatable kayaks within its price range and performs similar to a budget hard-shell kayak. Best for calm days with little wind, the Tucktec is agile, tracks straight, and is made for recreational kayakers. The most common complaint about the kayak is its seat, which some paddlers swap out for a more comfortable alternative. 

  • Very affordable
  • Agile feel
  • Not best for rough conditions
  • Uncomfortable seat

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