New Kayak Company Creates Recycled Sit-On-Tops

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Osiris Outdoor Co-Founders Rob Turner and Wes Smith prop up a prototype Reprisal kayak

As much as kayaking requires the preservation of nature, the material used for our equipment doesn’t help.

The majority of kayaks are made out of plastic, a petroleum-based material that doesn’t naturally degrade back into the environment once we’ve thrown it out. And as much as companies push recycling on the public as environmentally friendly, most recycled products still end up in landfills or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. But a new company called Osiris Outdoors is in the process of doing something that’s never been done by creating kayaks that are completely made out of recycled plastic.

“Our mission was to make outdoor sporting equipment using recycled plastic,” said Robert Turner, co-owner of Osiris Outdoor, which is based in Raleigh, NC. Wesley Smith is the other owner and the two have backgrounds in engineering, allowing them to design and produce the Reprisal kayak. The kayak is a sit-on-top made for flatwater paddling with space for coolers and rod holders.

“So our motive isn’t to drive price up but to make something reasonably prices that will attract buyers,” Turner said, explaining why they chose to make a recreational sit-on-top. “We’re two guys with not much overhead so we can have those lower prices and we’re not trying to maximize profits.”

The two began seriously planning in late 2020 and recently this year they launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds to create more kayaks.

“We’re both pretty big outdoors people and enjoy kayaking so we just decided to combine the two passions,” Smith said.

On the Kickstarter site, they write that, “We’ve become dependent on plastic, and we constantly throw it away. Plastics take hundreds, if not thousands, of years to break down. The overwhelming majority of plastic never actually gets recycled. We decided to chip away at that problem, and we’re grateful you’ve decided to pitch in.”

And chip away they have, with 50 kayaks being made available through the Kickstarter. So far, they’ve sold more than 30 of those kayaks.

The goal was set to $20,000—we hit that within first 12 hours, or first day,” Turner said. “That was really inspiring to see that there was this huge level of support to back us.”

They now have more than $30,000 pledged and with those funds they are able to produce more kayaks and figure out their next step for their highly durable and stable kayaks.

“We wanted to use proceeds to propel and grow the manufacturing process,” Turner said. “We’re going to begin the design process for model number 2. We want to eventually bring all aspects of manufacturing in house—from recycling plastic to doing the molds. But now we’re just building the foundation for the company.”

Turner said their model number two might include things like a framed seat, a raised seated area and maybe some kind of rudder. But for now, Turner and Smith said their current model is made out of highly durable recycled plastic that, when tested, matched up to the strength of “virgin” plastic.

Turner and Smith said they decided to make a SOT for their first model because data they looked at suggested that this kind of kayak was the most popular. “It was the least amount of barriers to entry for us,” Turner said.

Smith added, “We’re not a nonprofit, we’re trying to be competitive and as we bring manufacturing capabilities in house we can keep reducing the cost. We just want to be consistent with quality of kayaks at a similar price point. People might see recycled plastic and think it’s low quality but it’s not.”

And so the two settled on sit on tops as a way to gain the most attention from the public. “We wanted to cater to as many people as possible who don’t necessarily need to be skilled in ocean or whitewater kayaking,” Turner said. “But we want to branch out as we continue to grow.”

Does this mean whitewater kayaks will eventually be part of their stock? Maybe. But for now the two are working on creating a stable company.

“It’s a grassroots effort right now and we’re  trying to build a community that understands our mission. We’re only available through Kickstarter and that comes with it’s own skepticism. For now we’re looking at the next step: we are still deciding how we want to distribute. A decent amount of retail stores that reached out. But we are still trying to determine what is the best route—through a website or retail stores or maybe a third party platform like amazon.”

But one thing is sure for Turner and Smith: the amount of interest generated so far has guaranteed that they’ll be around to make more kayaks out of recycled plastic.

 

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