Shrink to Fit: Portable Gear

Portable outdoor toys that play big and travel small

From left to right: Dahon Mu Rohloff folding bike, Werner Soul SUP paddle, and a folding kayak from Oru (Inga Hendrickson)
Dahon Mu Rholoff Folding Bike Corran Matrix SUP Inflatable Werner Soul Paddle Oru Folding Kayak

From land to sea to river, these big-boy toys pack light and follow you anywhere.

Corran Matrix Inflatable SUP

Corran Matrix inflatable SUP
Corran Matrix inflatable SUP (Inga Hendrickson)

Blow-up SUPs are solid and responsive but almost never measure up to their epoxy counterparts. To stiffen this 11.5-foot touring board, lauded kayak and SUP designer Corran Addison added removable carbon rods along the edges of the PVC deck. Inflate the Matrix to a rock-hard 15 psi and it paddles almost like a standard fiberglass board. Bonus: a hinged skeg attaches to the tail and helps the board track better than its competitors. Once deflated, the whole package rolls into a 30-inch-long, foot-thick, 25-pound burrito that you can chuck in a checked bag. $1,399.

Oru Folding Kayak

Oru folding kayak
Oru folding kayak (Inga Hendrickson)

Made from a single piece of corrugated plastic, the 12-foot-long Oru tucks into itself to become its own garment-bag-size carrying case. Pressed creases make the origami-like assembly much faster and easier (ten minutes after some practice) than other collapsible boats we've tested. Sure, it's slow in the water, and the lack of functional bulkheads means you'll have to swim to shore if you capsize. But the 26-pound boat is impressively stable and watertight. Packed up, it fits in the back of a Camry with room for two kids. $1,095.

Dahon Mu Rohloff Folding Bike

Dhon Mu Rholoff folding bike
Dhon Mu Rholoff folding bike (Inga Hendrickson)

The perfect portable bike breaks down into a compact package, is low-maintenance, and feels (almost) like a normal ride. The Mu Rohloff fits this bill better than any we've tested. The 27-pound aluminum frame folds down small enough to fit into a suitcase and features fast BMX-size wheels, hydraulic disc brakes, a 14-speed internally geared hub that rarely needs adjustment, and a Gates Carbon Drive belt system, which means you'll never have to worry about grease stains on your jeans. $5,500.

Werner Soul SUP Paddle

Werner Soul SUP paddle
Werner Soul SUP paddle (Inga Hendrickson)

Werner has been making break-down kayak paddles for decades, and you can feel that experience in the Soul. The locked-in joint system gives the carbon and fiberglass shaft the stability of a one-piece while allowing SUPers to choose from six length settings. The blade's buoyant foam core gives the 25.5-ounce paddle an energetic feel in the water. $324.

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