Oru kayak's reckless and irresponsible advertising

Oru Kayak has produced some of the most reckless and irresponsible kayaking ads that we’ve ever seen at the National Center for Cold Water Safety. This six-minute video contains examples and explains why the Center is calling the company out for undermining kayaking safety.


Thank you, Moulton.


Thank you for sharing this. Quite awful.


Let’s hear Oru’s rep!y!

Kudos Moulton! Well done.
We miss you here on the Chesapeake…


Great video! Thanks for sharing. I’m a bit surprised no one has called you out for being an elitist yet. Paddling safety first!


Well done.


When I researched before buying my IK, I looked into Oru. They are the only folding boat that even gets close to the price of an IK. But I was scared away by the fact it doesn’t have any flotation. At least not in the standard package. I met 3 parties that had Oru kayaks and neither had flotation. I asked them and they acted like not having to inflate anything was one of the reasons to buy it.

Those Oru folders are basically Walmart recreational kayaks but cheesier. Scratch that, the Walmart kayak I saw had some flotation chamber.

Thanks for calling them out. I didn’t even consider their cold-paddling tales.


Thanks. People are getting just stupid.

I see people on stand up paddle boards in winter on Lake Tahoe with street clothes and no PFD.
I see them on Puget Sound in summer in bathing suits with the PFD on the deck.
Drift boaters routinely row their boats in cold weather with waders and no PFD.

It is very surprising that we don’t have more fatalities with all of the rookie unprepared paddlers out there.


We’ll have to wait and see. The common corporate response is to either ignore critics or circle the wagons and counterattack. It all depends on management. When we called out Starboard Paddleboards for unsafe ads, the CEO immediately got involved and we had a very sincere and productive dialog. They dropped their offending images and we took down our critical video. Took about 2 days for that to happen.


Trolls call me out all the time, and “elitist” is not a term they frequently use. Lol. Civil rights activist once told me that advocacy makes one a lightning rod. Expect to have thunderbolts hurled at you. It’s a sign that you’ve got their attention. Goes with the territory, in other words.


Lots of paddlers get away with it. Just like people get away with not wearing seat belts or bike helmets. However, all it takes is one mistake and suddenly, you have a life-threatening situation. Some of those paddlers are lucky and get rescued before they die, but then have nightmares for months and wind up backing away from the sport. I think all we can do is try to educate them about the danger, and we certainly don’t need manufacturers and retailers undermining those efforts. That’s where the Center is coming from on this.

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I’m glad to hear that Starboard responded positively. I have always liked their company philosophy and owned one of their boards for a short while. Decided I didn’t like SUP that much but am still a fan of the company.


That really constitutes a lot of dangerously irresponsible ads. I pretty much shrug off ads showing rec SOTs paddled in obviously calm tropical conditions, by people in summer casual wear without PFDs on, with the beach nearby. Still not ideal, but not nearly as dangerous as the situations in the Oru ads.

The combo of no PFD, no immersion wear, cold season, cold water, highly “variable” waters (strong currents, exposure, remoteness), long distance of open water, camping cargo loading down an unskirted, nonflotation-compartment, flimsy kayak…WOW. And wine while on the water…just dumb.

Good for you for dogging that company!

There is one guy who regularly appears at a reservoir I also regularly paddle in. He has an Oru kayak, of which he is very eager to brag and compare specs with my surf ski. Why he singled me out for this attention, I don’t know and don’t like. Maybe because both boats are unusual here among the masses of SUPs and rec kayaks.

Anyway, his first questions were “How much does that weigh?” and “How long is that?” immediately followed by his obvious elevator speech, except also obviously he was disappointed that my ski was very light and considerably longer. I felt like it was some weird kind of dck comparison, but it fell flat on this female, uninterested longtime paddler.

After several attempts to engage me (probably trying to start a “race”), he figured out I had no interest in swapping boats or whatever. It felt like he must be someone who bought one early for this region and got a deal if he could gin up a market for them.

My husband’s friend did that for the laughably useless NuCanoe. NOBODY bought one, not even my husband, whom the guy tried very, very hard to sucker into buying one, I suspect to sucker him into “investing.” The friend said he had signed up to be a rep for NuCanoe. The bit about standing up on the NuCanoe also fell flat, because that’s doable on most SOTs already, AND they don’t weigh 80 lbs! He said he wanted to fish without needing to trailer the dory and go out without a buddy to help, but I bet he never rooftopped that NuCanoe, either.

It was an answer to a question that had not been asked. With the ORU, the “cool” origami aspect and light weight are appealing, until you find out how unseaworthy it is.

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I thought this may be hyperbole at first, but Moulton and the Cold water institute laid out a very damning case to convict them of gross negligence in advertising many times over.

The multiple images of people in down (feather) snow gear and a kayak is a red flag the size of a billboard! Down and water do not mix in any reality.
And in the deception pass one, couldn’t it be assumed the boat would immediately sink assuming it had 40lbs gear in it with no flotation bags? In that case death is almost certain unless you can swim to shore and warm up before becoming hypothermic. And it could be theorized that capsize is most likely to happen near the middle of a crossing where waves and wind would be strongest, and rescue is least likely.

Drinking beer on a desert river or other small/warm water may not be prudent, but it happens. No beef there. Wine on puget sound seems like a very poor idea though.

Overall, you can tell the marketing director at Oru knows nothing about safe paddling at best, or is negligently ignoring safety at worst.

What’s their obsession with kayaking in the snow?? Even when I was toasty warm in heavy fleece layers and a dry suit, paddling below freezing in the NE is unpleasant. It just is. There is no marketing benefit to show off your boats when its 20* outside!!! No one wants to paddle then anyways! Show me a sunny caribean beach or crystal clear Florida river if you want to get me salivating.

Hopefully they respond positively to your overture along the lines of Starboard. Oru can keep most of their gimick-y stuff and show safe practice.


Interesting. I hadn’t really seen the ads to see what they have been doing. Definitely troublesome, particularly considering my experience and other peoples’ reports in actual rescues with them.

The Oru company is based not just in California, but in SF Bay Area (where I am). We do see lots of the boats, particularly with younger and city folks. Very understandable, given the storage and transport benefits.

From time to time, we will get Oru Bay or Coast model owners wanting to take sea kayak classes where I teach at. We always teach the class in our hard shell boats and explain the concerns and issues related to Orus. I did stay longer with one couple who brought their boats (Oru Bays) down after the second class (what we call Intermediate Sea Kayaking) to go over how to do the rescues and what the limitations are. Was a learning for me, not having actually seen or done rescues with these boats.

It seems so long as the boats don’t fill with water, they can be 2 person rescued (TX rescue), but it is difficult and both people have to be very involved (the swimmer is lifting the stern to dump water). But if they do get much water in them (or presumably the loaded boat case mentioned in the video), they not only would be hard to impossible to rescue in, the few hard frame parts (like the slider on the back deck that holds the 2 sides together) are likely to break from all the weight.

The couple could not paddle float rescue the Bays. Maybe the longer Coast model could be.

Bay Area Sea Kayakers have had negative experience with Oru paddlers on some of their trips (here is one trip report from their email list - MS Word file), so it is common for the trip initiators now to give a blanket “no Oru” requirement.


Wow, even with float bags it was that bad! Good to know!

To be Oru not to be, that is the question each time you paddle one.

this is funny

I see some of them showing up on Lake Washington and in the Ship Canal. I haven’t yet seen any out on the Sound yet but I suppose it’s only a matter of time. Has any experienced boater paddled one and can they comment on how they feel in conditions that are appropriate for their (Oru’s) design compromises?