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Onak is a canoe that you can fold up like a suitcase

Have you ever folded a paper boat and floated it in the water, wishing that you could jump in and paddle away? If so, then Onak, the origami foldable canoe, could be the answer to your wishes.

Onak is a full-sized, 183-inch long by 33.5-inch wide canoe constructed of a polypropylene honeycomb structure, which gives it a rigidity while remaining both lightweight and buoyant. The key feature of the Onak is that it folds into a neat, rectangular package measuring 16 x 48 x 10 inches, along with two paddles and can be wheeled around like a suitcase. The entire package with paddles weighs around 37 lbs.

Onak founders Otto Van De Steene and Thomas Weyn started the design process folding pieces of origami in a coffee shop. “Onak came out of pure necessity,” said Van De Steene. “We wanted to travel with a canoe and use it in the city, but we couldn’t find anything right.”

After hundreds of paper models and 15 real prototypes, Onak launched on Kickstarter in July and has already surpassed its $166,713 (€150,000) goal.

While some origami appears impossibly complex, Onak estimates that assembling the canoe will take around 15 minutes, and packing it back up for travel will be even quicker at 10 minutes. Practice will cut down on those times; Onak says it can unfold the canoe in under 10 minutes and refold it in less than 5 minutes.

“Onak can take you anywhere, and we have actually proved it,” said Van De Steene. “We’ve been on a trip all across Europe using on public transport.”

ONAK: Unfold your getaway

At $1,111 (€995) for the canoe and an extra $111 (€100) for two paddles, it is certainly on the upper end of typical canoe pricing. Onak justifies its cost because of its material development and production in Europe.

“Hulls will always be all made in Germany and Belgium,” Van De Steene told Digital Trends. “Final assembly and pressing of the Hulls will be done in the Netherlands.”

Following the Kickstarter campaign, Van De Steene will spend time with Onak’s overseas suppliers to fine tune the design and supervise production.

“For the aluminum parts and straps we didn’t find the best suppliers to be in Europe, so we went to Bali, Taiwan, Korea, and China for this,” added Van De Steene. “Some of these processes are sadly not being done in Europe at a large enough scale anymore to be a valid economic option. We always select our suppliers with ethics and ecology in mind, not necessarily the price.”

Deliveries of the Onak canoe are estimated to start March 2017.

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Marcus Yam
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Marcus entered tech media in the late '90s and fondly remembers a time when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI…
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