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Kayak Weight – Why Does it Matter?

Size, material, stability, maneuverability, and weight limit. These are features most people look out for when choosing a kayak. That makes sense except one important feature is left out. And that’s the WEIGHT of the kayak. Most people simply forget about the kayak’s weight as it doesn’t seem to have any impact on performance but it actually does. People also forget that the weight of a kayak also determines how easy it is to transport the kayak.

This article focuses on the weight of kayaks and why you should care about how much your kayak weighs. You’ll be giving some thought to the weight of any yak you buy in the future after reading this article.

How Heavy is a Kayak on Average?

On average, recreational single kayaks weigh around 35 pounds (16 kg), tandem kayaks are heavier weighing up to 65 pounds (27 kg) while dedicated fishing kayaks are usually the heaviest as they can weigh over 120 pounds (54 kg). Most kayaks on the market will most likely have a weight somewhere between 20 pounds (9 kg) to over 100 pounds (45 kg).

The actual weight of your kayak will depend on the brand, construction, material, and purpose of the kayak. The best way to know the weight of any yak is to visit the manufacturer’s website and search for the particular kayak model. You are bound to find the weight of the kayak on the product page. You can also find the weight of the kayak on the Amazon page of the kayak if you are keen to buy yours on Amazon.

Why Should You Care About the Weight of Your Kayak?

You need to be concerned about the weight of your vessel as it affects its performance and ease of transportation as I previously mentioned. Except if your kayak is an inflatable or folding kayak, you will need a car to transport it to and from the water. Now, you need to load the vessel on the roof of your car and the weight of your kayak will determine how easy this will be for you.

It’s unlikely you can drive to your launch spot so you are going to park your car somewhere and carry your kayak to shore. If the road to your launch spot is long and the kayak is heavy, you may be setting yourself up for a miserable time on the water as transporting the kayak may exhaust you.

Smart folks like yourself may find a way around the difficulty of transporting heavy kayaks by using a kayak cart. I’ve already talked about kayak carts, and choosing any of those carts will make transporting your kayak extremely convenient. But the weight of your kayak affects more than just the ease of transportation as it also affects the performance of the kayak.

The weight of a kayak can affect how fast or stable the kayak is. However, the performance of a kayak is determined by several other factors such as length, width, hull design, and so on.

Takeaway: Choose a kayak with a weight you can bear especially if you are paddling solo. The length and width of a kayak also affect how easy it is to lift it and you may find yourself comfortably lifting a heavier long narrow vessel compared to a shorter wider vessel.

Regardless of the weight of your kayak, I’ll recommend you use a kayak cart when carrying the yak from your car to the shore especially if the distance is a bit far.

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What Are the Factors Affecting Kayak Weight?

There are many factors that affect the weight of a kayak, some of which will be discussed below:

Type of Kayak

This is one of the major determinants of the weight of a kayak. Single kayaks are usually the lightest weighing up to 30 pounds depending on the materials used and included accessories.

Single Kayak

Chances are that you’ll be buying a single kayak, especially if it’s your first time buying a kayak. Your budget is obviously the most important determinant of the type of kayak you go for. But it’s important you also think about the weight of the kayak and go for the one you will be able to lift onto your car roof and comfortably carry from your parking spot to the launch spot.

The weight of your kayak can determine how often you go kayaking. Below are the weights of some single kayaks available on the market today.

  • Perception Kayaks Tribute 10.0 – 36 pounds (16kg)
  • Perception Kayaks Prodigy XS – 26 pounds (12kg)

Tandem Kayak

Tandem kayaks are designed to be paddled by two people and are usually heavier than single kayaks. They can weigh up to and exceed 60 pounds. Despite their heavier nature, tandem kayaks are easy to carry by two people and are ideal for people that go paddling with their friends, family members, or significant others.

Fishing Kayak

The weight of fishing kayaks can be anywhere between 35 pounds to over 120 pounds. The reason for this wide range is that fishing kayaks come in different sizes and there are even fishing yaks that are designed for tandem use. Also, the features of fishing yaks vary as some paddlers may require more storage space than others.

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Hull Material

The material used to manufacture your kayak determines its weight and durability. Below are the most popular materials used to manufacture kayaks:

Rotomolded Kayak Weight

Rotomolded are solid, one-piece plastic molded kayaks. This type of kayak is usually the heaviest and the cheapest and they are manufactured by melting plastic pellets and then molding them into the shape of a kayak, hence their name.

They are cheap because their method of manufacture is inexpensive. However, there are also very heavy and more difficult to carry and paddle.

Thermoform Kayak Weight

Compared to rotomolded kayaks, thermoform kayaks are lighter and more versatile. They are also affordable though they still cost more than rotomolded kayaks.

The method of manufacture of thermoform kayaks involves molding two separate halves of a kayak and sandwiching the pieces at the top and bottom. And this results in a very lightweight and durable product.

Fiberglass/Composite Kayak Weight

Kayaks made of composite materials such as kevlar, fiberglass, and graphite composite are very lightweight and fast on the water. However, these materials are very expensive and this reflects in the price of the kayaks.

Wood Kayak Weight

As the name implies, this type of kayak is made from wood and usually includes a fiberglass resin to make them waterproof. Wood kayaks are beautiful and relatively lightweight. However, they are expensive and not so durable.

Size of the Kayak

The length and breadth of a kayak also have an effect on its weight although these features closely relate to the materials to determine the weight of a kayak.

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Average Weight for Different Types of Kayaks

Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable kayaks, as the name implies, are designed to be inflated before and deflated after use. This feature makes it easy to pack inflatable kayaks into backpacks or carry bags making it easy to transport them.

Depending on the manufacturer, quality of construction, size of the kayaks, and material used, inflatable kayaks can weigh anywhere between under 20 pounds to over 50 pounds with an average weight of around 30 pounds. When you compare the weight of inflatable kayaks to that of conventional kayaks, there’s about a 5 to 10 pounds reduction in weight.

However, the real benefit of inflatable kayaks over conventional kayaks isn’t a reduction in weight (as some inflatable kayaks can weigh up to 50 pounds) but the ability of the kayaks to pack compactly into a backpack or carry case. As a result, it’s extremely easy to carry and transport inflatable kayaks as carrying them is no different from carrying a case or backpack.

Pedal Kayaks

This type of kayak has a pedal mechanism and allows you to go hands-free. With your hands-free from padding, activities like taking photos and fishing are more convenient on a pedal kayak.

Pedal kayaks are usually wider than conventional kayaks and weigh more as a result. The pedal mechanism also adds more weight to the kayak. An example of a pedal kayak is BKC PK 13 which weighs about 36.3 kg and the pedal mechanism can account for about 7 kg or more of the total weight.

Most pedal kayaks on the market will have about the same weight as the BKC PK 13 or even weigh more although I’ve come across some very lightweight pedal kayaks that weigh about 23 kg.

Fishing Kayaks

I’ve talked about fishing kayaks above so I won’t be going into much detail here. Fishing kayaks weigh more than single kayaks due to storage space requirements and additional accessories. And you can expect fishing kayaks to weigh as little as 35 pounds or as high as over 200 pounds, especially for high-end models.

Of course, as the weight of your fishing kayak approaches 60 pounds, transporting it would require a kayak cart.

Single Kayaks

Conventional kayaks weigh between 30 to 50 pounds depending on the building materials and accessories they come with.

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How to Load and Transport a Kayak?

If you have a hard shell kayak, you are going to need a vehicle to transport your watercraft. This wouldn’t be a problem for car owners. However, if you don’t own a car, consider investing in a foldable or inflatable kayak.

If you have a pick that has a spacious truck bed, you can basically put kayaks of any weight on the bed and drift off to your kayaking location. I almost said drive off into the sunset there. Your concern here will only be to load and unload your vessel from the truck bed.

If you drive a car or an SUV, you’ll need a roof rack to transport your vessel. Your concern here will be loading the kayak on the roof rack, properly securing it, and unloading it at your destination. You should ensure that the roof rack is capable of holding your kayak which means you have to check the rack’s weight limit. There are also different factors to consider when choosing a roof rack such as type, mounting mechanism, and so on.

You can also take a look at kayak trailers which are essentially kayak racks on wheels that are hauled behind a vehicle.

Final Thoughts

The weight of kayaks is something to consider when shopping for one. At the very least, you want a vessel you can manage yourself and easily lift onto your roof rack or bed truck while also easily transporting it from your parking spot to the launch spot.

Weight also plays a role when the vessel is on the water as it determines buoyancy, stability, and cargo space and you have to find that magical middle ground where all the features are balanced.

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