Onak: an origami canoe from a new composite material

Canoe and origami enthusiasts, pay attention! Two Belgian canoers, designer Otto van de Steene and engineer Thomas Weyn combined the best of two worlds by designing a foldable canoe called ONAK that is only the size of a suitcase when folded and can be assembled in ten minutes.

The idea came to Van de Steene when he was folding canoes out of paper and he wondered if it was possible to make a life-sized foldable canoe. Of course, the real thing is not made out of paper. Instead, when Van de Steene and Weyn could not find a suitable material for their canoe, they developed a new one. To keep the weight down, they removed almost the entire frame, which meant that the material had to be strong yet light.

In the end, they used a polypropylene composite material (Curv) and a honeycomb construction (Honeycomb) with EconCore technology. The material is ten times as strong as normal polypropylene and fully recyclable. It can also withstand outside damages, for instance from rocks at the bottom in shallow water. The designers even canoed through 2 cm (0.8 inch) of ice. To make it fully waterproof, the canoe is covered with a PET coating.

Thanks to the air cells in the honeycomb structure, the canoe even keeps afloat when it is completely filled with water. With CNC thermoforming the necessary folds are made in the material to be able to make a canoe out of it.

When folded, the canoe is rectangular, no bigger than 120 x 40 x 25 cm (47 x 16 x 10 inch) and weighs 17 kg (37 lbs). Unfolded, it has the size of a normal canoe and can carry a weight of 250 kg (550 lbs).

If origami sounds challenging to you, don’t worry. The ONAK canoe is designed to be able to be used by beginners and more experienced canoers alike. The designers travelled through Europe to demonstrate how practical the canoe can be, as you can see in the video below. The second video is the kickstarter campaign, which earned 156% of their goal.

The canoe can be preordered for € 1,295 including two adjustable paddles and € 1,195 without. Fast buyers should have their boat delivered in March 2017.