Saturday, July 23, 2022

Stand Up Paddleboard vs. Folding Kayak

I almost got an Oru folding kayak but didn't. I got an inflatable stand up paddleboard (iSUP) instead. Next year I might still get an Oru, but for this summer I decided on an inflatable stand up paddleboard that could double as a kayak. Specifically, I chose the Tahe Beach 10'6" SUP-YAK over the Oru Lake/Lake+. Here are some things I thought about when making this decision.

Portability: tie

Folding kayaks and iSUPs will each fit in the trunk or backseat of your car, making packability, portability and storage essentially a tie. 

Set Up Time: advantage Oru Lake

Here's a category where the Oru stands out, especially the Lake model. Once you get good at it, it's said that you can easily fold/unfold the Lake in under three minutes. It takes me almost ten minutes to pump up the iSUP to 15psi and then three or four additional minutes to attach the seat or chair and footrest. You're in the water ten minutes quicker with the Oru. (So far, I don't mind manually pumping the iSUP for 8 to 10 minutes. It's kind of like a pre-kayak warmup workout. You can always get an electric pump...for an additional cost.)

Weight: tie

The Oru Lake weighs approx. 18lbs. The Tahe Beach SUP-YAK weighs 23 to 24 lbs. That's a nominal difference and since you're not lifting anything up onto the top of a vehicle and all you're doing is carrying it to the water, I consider this a tie. It wasn't significant enough of a difference for me to make note of it. Both are easy to carry.

Versatility: advantage Tahe SUP-YAK

Simply put, it's super easy to go from sitting (kayaking) to standing (paddle boarding) very easy with the SUP-YAK. That's exactly what it's designed to do. Pretty much anything you can do on a folding kayak you can do with the SUP-YAK, plus you can also stand up to paddle. That's a win-win.

Speed and Tracking in the Water: advantage Oru Lake

The Oru Lake will get you from point A to point B faster than kayaking on a paddleboard. It more than likely tracks better as well due to the way it cuts through the water. That said, the SUP-YAK is a pretty smooth ride. Which leads me to...

Stability and Confidence in the Water: advantage Tahe SUP-YAK

By the time you've pumped the Tahe Beach SUP-YAK up to 15psi, you've got a rigid board that is going to be very stable in the water. It's 34 inches wide and you can stand up on it, so of course it's stable! You can also feel pretty confident in rougher conditions. There's no need for drain holes or being worried about it taking on water because with the flat design water just rolls off. If I had an Oru Lake I would only want to be out in calm, flat conditions and although it's unlikely that either are going to fail, I'd be a little less confident in the folding kayak.

Comfort - advantage Tahe SUP-YAK

The seat that comes as part of the SUP-YAK package is quite comfortable and substantial. You can also upgrade to a low frame camp chair type seat, sold separately. I like the one sold by Airkayaks. Either way, you'll be sitting up higher off the water in the SUP-YAK than in the Oru, and that may also make it more comfortable.

Dry Off - slight advantage to Oru Lake

One of the knocks on inflatable kayaks is that they are tricky to dry off entirely and failure to do so can lead to mold. This is not as much of a problem with inflatable stand up paddleboards. A SUP's flat design means that there aren't any nooks and crannies for water to hide. Still, after initially drying it off when coming out of the water, I like to unroll the SUP again once home so that it can air dry. I wouldn't want it to be put away while still damp. I can only assume that the drying process for the Oru Lake is slightly easier, but the advantage isn't as distinct as when compared to inflatable kayaks.

Oru Lake kayak

Tahe Beach "SUP-YAK"

For me the thing that mattered the most was versatility. I love having the option to sit or stand while paddling. Sometimes I'll paddle up the river and SUP all the way back down. If I never wanted to stand and only wanted to kayak, then the Oru Lake would probably have been my first choice since as a kayak it's going to perform more like a hardshell.


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