When it comes to buying a brand new kayak (or even a used one), kayak weight isn’t usually on the buyer’s list of features to look for. For most buyers, this just isn’t as important as the kayak’s measurements and dimensions, brand, or model. For those who are a little more technical with their search, they’ll look at the kayak’s volume, rocker, hull material, and others. But still, the kayak’s weight remains ignored.
But does a kayak’s weight really matter?
It Does Matter
If you previously owned a kayak or have gone kayaking with a friend or family who owns one, then you’d know that before you can actually engage in your paddling adventure you first need to bring the kayak to your kayaking destination.
So first, you’ll need to carry the kayak out of the garage or shed. Then, you’ll need to lift over the vehicle and onto a kayak roof rack (there is a way to transport a kayak without a roof rack, but we strongly recommend that you use one). And when you get to your destination, you need to unload the kayak carefully to avoid damaging the kayak and the car’s paint. After that, you’ll have to carry the kayak from the parking lot to your launch area.
And when you’re done kayaking, you’ll have to repeat the same process in reverse. That is, carry your kayak from the water to the parking lot, load it onto the vehicle, and unload it when you get home before carrying it back to the garage or shed.
Now, let’s say that you finally decide to buy your own kayak and go on a solo kayaking trip. Can you imagine doing all that with a hundred-pound kayak on your own (not to mention all the kayaking gears and equipment you’ll need to bring along)? And let’s say that you could, but then how tired would you be (and you haven’t started paddling yet)?
This is why it’s important to consider the weight of the kayak you plan to buy. You’ll want to make sure that you can carry your kayak properly and comfortably (or drag it on a kayak cart) to the beach, riverbank, or wherever your launch point may be.
A kayak’s weight can be affected by several variables, including the material the kayak is made of and the kayak’s overall size.
Kayak Materials and Types
The first thing that will have a huge impact on a kayak’s weight is the material that it is made of. Manufacturers use different materials for their own kayak lines, from plastic to fabric and others.
Polyethylene is a type of hard plastic that is used not only in kayak making but also in the manufacture of automobile body panels, food crates, and other everyday and not-so-everyday items. You may be tempted to buy polyethylene kayaks because they are affordable and durable, but you should know that they are the heaviest types of kayaks around. Lifting one of these things (especially the wider polyethylene fishing kayaks) on top of your car will feel like you’re wrestling with a rock.
Kayak’s made from composite materials like fiberglass, Kevlar, and graphite is much, much lighter than polyethylene kayaks (with graphite being the lightest of the three). Any adult with decent strength should have very little trouble carrying these types of kayaks. However, they are also way, way more expensive with graphite being the most expensive of the lot.
Folding kayaks have a collapsible frame made from wood, aluminum, or plastic and skin made of strong waterproof fabric. Compared with the other two types of kayaks above, folding kayaks are significantly lighter weighing around 30 lbs. give or take.
Last but not least are the inflatable kayaks, which (as the name suggests) needs to be filled with air before you can ride them on the water. That said, even a fully inflated kayak should be light enough even for children to carry since it’s mostly air and fabric (i.e. PVC, polyurethane, or Hypalon). And when deflated, inflatable kayaks can be folded down small enough to fit inside a duffel bag or a backpack. How’s that for a lightweight boat?
Some kayaks are designed to be lightweight by making them shorter or by using light materials without compromising the kayak’s weight to strength ratio.
It’s safe to say that shorter kayaks are lighter than longer kayaks. However, the material the kayak’s made of should still be considered. For instance, a 10 feet polyethylene fishing kayak can weigh over 60 lbs. making it heavier than 13 feet touring kayak made from heavy-duty PVC which weighs around 30 lbs.
Some types of kayaks like sea kayaks and touring kayaks need to be longer than other types of single-person kayaks. This is because the length will influence many kayaks characteristics like its speed, stability, and others.
Fortunately, longer solo kayaks do not need to be heavier than other solo kayaks as we’ve established above. A lot of longer hardshell solo kayaks have hulls made from light composite materials to cut down on the weight while maintaining their rigidity.
Two-person or tandem kayaks will obviously be heavier than single-person kayaks. They are often longer and wider, which means that it will be almost impossible to carry these kayaks on your own. But hey, if you’re using a tandem kayak, then that means you have a kayak buddy to help you carry this thing, right?
But what if you’re kayaking with your kids? Sure, they can still help with the lifting, but if you don’t want them to do some heavy-lifting, then you should consider getting an inflatable tandem kayak. Don’t worry, these tandem IKs are safe (otherwise, they won’t be available in the market) and strong enough to carry two or even three persons all at once.
Globo Surf Overview
So when coming up with a list of features you want in a kayak you want to buy, make sure that you include kayak weight in it. The best way to find how much a kayak weighs is to use the internet. Simply type in the name and model of the kayak you’re interested in and hit ‘enter’. Also, make sure that you have a plan ready concerning logistics, including how you intend to transport your kayak on your own.