For those who live in a big city, canoes are just things you associate with getaways or, at the very least, an expensive rental at a nearby body of water. People who live in suburbia barely have room to store them, much less those of us who live in apartment buildings.
Imagine trying to lug a massive canoe up your narrow staircase or trying to fit it in your overhead storage space – not possible!
But Ghent-based designer Otto Van De Steene found the solution one day while he was fiddling around with an origami canoe. It made him think: could this be replicated in a real-life canoe? Steene has proved that it can with the ‘ONAK,’ a portable canoe that folds down to the size of a suitcase.
Steene had seen numerous other models that just didn’t measure up at outdoor recreation stores. “You have the canoes that have really good performance on the water – they’re fast, but they’re quite heavy and take an hour to assemble. Nothing to do in an evening after work.”
Trial and Error
One that was recently released was the Oru folding kayak which had the potential to be successful, but the plastic construction didn’t lend itself to durability. Steene tried making his out of a custom-made polypropylene for his own design, as it’s lighter and stiffer, improving the boat’s performance.
With its honeycomb-core composite material, it’s ten times as strong as standard polypropylene, making it highly durable and fully recyclable.“By making hundreds of paper models and fifteen real prototypes, we also refined the design of our patent pending hull.
This was a huge challenge due to the limitations of origami. We opted for a narrow and fast canoe design that keeps its momentum very well, while still being delightfully easy and stable to maneuver for beginners.
”The process of assembling or packing up the portable canoe takes about ten minutes. The size is a bit bigger than the Oru – 47”x15.7”x10” as a roller case, expanding to 183” long by 33.5” wide –, but the fact that it’s on wheels makes it more conducive to transporting from place to place.
It can also carry about 440 pounds with enough room for two adults, a child, and gear.
The Okak has met its goal after just a couple days left on its Kickstarter campaign, but if you back the project in time, you can still get a pretty good price. Once it hits the market, it will sell for about $1450 with two paddles.