Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

If a coach, trainer, parent or friend is willing to head down to the shoreline and escort you, you may want to invest in a Pakboat, a line of foldable and inflatable canoes or kayaks that can be conveniently packed for travel and be taken anywhere.

The Pakboats are light, sturdy, easy to assemble and disassemble, and are remarkably compact. The roomy Pakboats, the brainchild of Alv and Linda Elvestad, enable swimmers to be escorted anywhere and swim safely anytime, anywhere.

They are great. We take our Pakboat everywhere,” said Jack Fabian, the coach and father of Eva Fabian, a member of America’s national open water swimming team who has traveled all around the world over her lengthy career. “I take it with me on the plane or in the car and assemble right on the beach or lake. It’s really light and the swimmers can swim safely knowing that I am right escorting them all the way. It is great exercise for the coach, too.”

Oru Kayak is another foldable option. The innovative company led by designer Anton Willis offers the Oru Kayak, a watertight 12-foot long kayak that folds in a carrying case and was nominated for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

As Willis described, “Stash it in a trunk. Check it on a plane. Stow it on a sailboat. Hike it in to remote waters. No garage, SUV or roof racks necessary. The Oru Kayak makes boating simple, easy, and accessible— so you can spend more time on the water.”

While Alv and Linda Elvestad were inspired by folding kayaks from Norway, Willis was forced to store his kayak in storage when he moved into a small San Francisco apartment.

Inspired by origami, the traditional Japanese art of paper folding, Willis sketched a few ideas for a folding kayak. His sketches turned into countless paper models and, tirelessly, over 20 full-scale prototypes that were tested in bays, lakes, rivers and oceans over a 4-year period. “When I moved to San Francisco, I started thinking, What if a boat could fold away like origami? What if you could take it on journeys in the water or anywhere you want to go?

Pakboats and Oru Kayak offer different answers.

After obtaining start-up money through crowd funding via Kickstarter, Willis and co-founder Ardy Sobhani raised US$440,000 in 35 days and pre-sold almost 500 boats to launch Oru Kayak. “It is a folding boat that packs into a folding case. It is perfect for fast, stable and it handles incredibly well. It is perfect for paddling on bays, lakes and rivers,” Willis explains.

Corey Hass writes about the Oru Kayak in Outside Magazine, “In the last year, we’ve paddled Oru’s novel folding kayak in the Pacific Ocean, floated it down the Colorado River, used it to hunt ducks, chase fish, took it to Mexico, and even carried it on our backs to reach high alpine lakes.

High standards have been met. And open water swimmers can utilize their folding boats for their own purposes.

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