Sturdy Foldable Canoe


ONAK Canoe in Ghent

If you want to go canoeing, but you live in the city and don’t have a vehicle,  your only choices were to get to the water and rent a canoe or just not go canoeing.  Now, Belgian inventor Otto Van De Steene has taken an idea he developed from a paper origami canoe and created a fully functional folding canoe that is small enough to take on the subway.  Sure there have been foldable canoes and kayaks around for decades, but none like this.


“It all started back in 2013.  I had just come back from a photographing trip in Norway and lost my cameras in an accident. To clear my head, I started making little paper canoes as I missed my canoe in Norway. That’s when it struck me: 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.”   – Otto Van De Steene

Honeycomb – Curv™ Polypropylene

Clearly paper isn’t a suitable material for a canoe, so Van De Steene and his team began investigating materials that could work.  They ended up developing  something new called “Honeycomb – Curv™ Polypropylene.” They are in the process of patenting it.  Not only is the material waterproof,  it is 10 times stronger than normal polypropylene and it can’t sink.

The hull of the canoe is one flat piece of this material with fold lines incorporated into the design.  The hull unrolls from its box-like packaged shape to a single flat piece.  Then it is folded into the canoe shape like an origami piece.  Straps hold the canoe together against a couple of internal braces.

It makes no sense to fold a canoe down to an easily transported package then have to deal with a full-sized paddle.  The solution: a telescoping paddle that fits into the packaged canoe, taking up no additional space.

ONAK Canoe in Action

Van De Steene got together with Thomas Weyn, an engineer,  to found their company, ONAK. The canoe has now been prototyped and tested as can be seen in this video:

The assembled canoe is 15.25 feet long and 2.8 feet wide and weighs 27 pounds.  It can handle two people easily with a load capacity of up to 551 pounds.  When folded into its packaged configuration as a case on wheels,  it has dimensions of 16 by 48 by 10 inches.  Two paddles will fit inside the package.

Getting into Production

Like so many firms these days, ONAK has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds needed to get into full-scale production.  The idea is to use the money they raise to automate and improve the production process and to build a custom made, heated press.

As of today,  with 27 days to go, they have raised $62,551 of their $166, 713 goal.  The rewards include canoes at a discounted price.  Unfortunately the 50 single canoes for $995 have already been taken.  There remain 149 canoes available for a pledge of $1,106.  If you and four friends get together you can pledge a total of $4440 and get five canoes ($888 each) – there were nine of these packages left today.  Paddles are extra.


ONAK is taking an approach to marketing that focuses on word of mouth.  First,  the canoes will only be sold directly from the company’s web store. Second, each canoe comes with a website address emblazoned on the side that includes your own special page.  There you can report on your adventures with the canoe.  In return you get a portion of the sales that come though your page.

Packaging The ONAK To Go

Finally,  here’s a little animation that illustrates how the canoe comes apart and into it’s packaged configuration:


So there you have it,  a new and unique take on the idea of a foldable canoe.  If you’d like one,  head on over to the ONAK Kickstarter page and the company website to get all the details.

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