If you like to paddle your own canoe but don’t live on a lake, river or stream, the mechanics of urban canoeing can be daunting. First, strap the clumsy aluminum or fiberglass vessel to the car, park near a launch area, carry the canoe to the water’s edge and enjoy a serene glide. Then, do all the heavy lifting in reverse. Unless, of course, you are an early adopter of the ONAK, a canoe that folds into a wheeled cart no larger than a suitcase and can be unfolded into a water-worthy craft that can carry three people or up to 440 pounds.
“It all started back in 2013,” says Otto Van De Steen, ONAK Canoes founder. “What if I could make real-sized origami foldable canoes? I got obsessed over the idea. Hundreds of paper canoes and dozens of prototypes later, I’m proud we persisted with our idea.” Van De Steen, a Belgian inventor, teamed up with Thomas Weyn, an engineer, to find the right material for a foldable canoe. EconCor N.V., Neugen, Belgium, developed a thermo-formable honeycomb curve composite, Honeycomb-Curv™, 10 times stronger than normal polypropylene. The extremely tough and fully recyclable material formed a stiff, angular canoe body almost entirely in one piece, with very few other parts required. Honeycomb air cells give the canoe so much additional buoyancy that it stays afloat even when entirely flooded with water. Telescopic canoe paddles can be adjusted for size.
ONAK Canoes just launched a Kickstarter campaign to manufacture the canoe, with pre-order prices (first come, first served) between $1331 and $1442, depending upon features. ONAK has launched an online community, where ONAK canoe owners can share personal experiences and favorite urban paddling routes.