Take 8 strangers, put them in some foldable kayaks with all their own gear, send them down 50 miles of high flowing class I and II waters on the John Day for three days and you're bound to have a wild time. And that, we did.
The John Day river isn't necessarily known for wild or challenging rapids, but in a (weighted down) kayak, at high flow, water can drastically change and get a little bit trickier to navigate, dry side up. The Oru kayaks, too, aren't known as a whitewater boat, but you know what… they handle SO well! The model we used was the 2017 Bay ST, weighing in at just 26 pounds. Oh, and we filled them too; beer, gear and all the good things.
These boats aren't just for your calm water adventures; they have proved themselves worthy to be able to take some rough handling and whitewater. While we did have some swimmers due to the unpredictable eddy lines, the boats are very stable feeling, even when filled with gear. I’m no expert paddler, but I really felt comfortable paddling around in this boat in these conditions.
This trip was a test. We tested these boats and we tested ourselves. We had a few accidental swims, an evacuation to get a guest out in the middle of nowhere, and weren’t too easy on the boats. When you jam them full with overnight gear, beer, tents, clothes, and food, it becomes very tight to seal them back up, tugging and pulling on all the little pieces. I mean, there were times when I was using my full body weight pulling at pieces, and I had nothing break on me. These things are so durable! They are made from polypropylene with a 10-year UV treatment, rated for 20,000 folds… that’s a lot of folds!
Next time you’re thinking about taking a multi day river trip, grab the Oru and trust that beast to get you down. She’s a trusty, good lookin’ vessel.