If you are considering purchasing a kayak that is light enough for you to transport it without a hassle or roof rack, then this article is meant for you! We review the best lightweight kayak for any type of paddling adventure. So, whether you plan on camping, fishing, or chilling, we got you covered. As a treat, we also share a short buying guide near the end.
IN A HURRY? HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS…
|Product||Brand||Best for||Ideal Usage||Buy|
|Oru Kayak Foldable Kayak||Best portable kayak||Ideal for medium to long trips and traveling||Check Price|
|Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100||Best portable kayak||Ideal for fishing||Check Price|
|Sevylor Quikpak K1||Best lightweight inflatable kayak||Ideal for short trips and sightseeing||Check Price|
|StraitEdge Angler Inflatable kayak||Best lightweight inflatable kayak||Ideal for fishing||Check Price|
|Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe||Best lightweight tandem kayak||Ideal for short trips and sightseeing||Check Price|
|Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2 Person||Best lightweight tandem kayak||Ideal for fishing||Check Price|
|Intex Challenger Kayak||Best lightweight kayak for women||Ideal for short trips and sightseeing||Check Price|
|Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler||Best lightweight kayak for women||Ideal for fishing||Check Price|
What is the best lightweight kayak?
Best portable kayak: Ideal for traveling and medium to long trips
The Oru Foldable Kayak is an ingenious design for those limited on space in their vehicle. There’s no need for a roof rack as the kayak folds up nicely and can even fit in the trunk of a car.
Once you’re out of the car and on the beach, Oru advertises that you can go from box to boat in around 5 minutes. It may take longer the first few times, though, and it’s best to practice a bit at home.
Once you do have the kayak open, there’s a lot of customization that can be done. Removable bulkheads allow for some flexibility and create extra storage space when installed.
The footrests are adjustable for whatever size kayaker you may be. The included cushioning and spacious seating area offer a nice ride while out on the water.
Best portable kayak: Ideal for fishing
Compared to other fishing kayaks, the Tamarack Angler 100 does sit on the lighter side at 51 pounds. This is considerable when another fishing kayak on the market can weigh twice that.
The trade-off is the maximum load capacity of 275 pounds. For a fishing kayak, this might mean you have to leave some of your gear on the shore.
The Angler 100 does have many areas to store the items that are light enough to bring on board. The downside here is that the kayak is limited on restraints, and those items may move around while paddling.
The kayak is designed to be comfortable for hours on the water with a cushioned seat and adjustable footrest. There are even two fishing rod holders, so you can focus on other things while you’re out.
To be completely leakproof, this kayak does require the application of silicone adhesive on areas that may allow water inside. It’s tedious but not a dealbreaker.
Best lightweight inflatable kayak: Ideal for short trips and sightseeing
An inflatable kayak with a 400-pound maximum load capacity? The people at Sevylor are on to something with this design. Unfortunately, this high load capacity might go to waste due to the limited storage options on the kayak.
It is designed to have a small footprint, as the kayak compacts down to a small size, and even the paddle breaks down into three pieces for storage. The best part is that the kayak inflates in minutes and is ready to go.
The shape of the kayak makes it almost impossible to tip over out on the water, which can be a blessing to newer kayakers. The tarpaulin bottom is puncture-resistant, but even in the event of a poke, the unit has five different air chambers to keep you afloat.
This sit on top inflatable kayak is relatively easy to steer due to the fact that it’s only 18 pounds. Yet, being lightweight also makes it susceptible to wind and waves out on the water.
Best lightweight inflatable kayak: Ideal for fishing
The StraitEdge Angle Inflatable Kayak is designed with fishing in mind. It comes with two rod holders and an accessory bar to store features that may prove beneficial as you hunt for fish.
It has some room for storage and rings and lacing to keep your items in place. Though, with a maximum load capacity of 300 pounds, you may have an issue bringing along all your gear.
That said, the sit on top kayak is also made with durability in mind. Abrasion pads in the high-contact zones help prevent puncture so you can ride well into the sunset. In the event of a break, the unit has five air chambers to keep you above water.
Aluminum rods help give the kayak a shape, and although these add a bit of weight, they also provide the kayak even more strength.
A significant downside of this particular unit is that it comes without a paddle or pump. So, you’re forced to research and then shell out the money to pick up those items.
Best lightweight tandem kayak: Ideal for camping and sightseeing
The Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe lets you bring along a friend when you set sail, or at least has room for a lot more gear! Between the space and the maximum load capacity limit, you’ll be able to pick up the optional sport fishing package. This option gets you a multi-purpose storage box and two rod holders.
As with other inflatables, the Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe inflates in a reasonable amount of time. It has a robust nylon shell to prevent punctures and three air chambers to guarantee flotation even if something does get through the nylon.
The kayak can get uncomfortable over time due to poor back support. Also, though it seats two adults comfortably, it is quite the stretch (and added discomfort) to add a third. That said, this unit does allow for kayakers of different heights, though with adjustable foot braces.
Best lightweight tandem kayak: Ideal for fishing
The Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person kayak comfortably seats two people and has nice options for storage of gear. The four rod holders make it easy for two people to fish without encroaching on each other’s space. If you’re out on your own, seats are removable for extra storage space, and the kayak is easy to steer even as a sole occupant.
Aside from weighing a mere 41 lbs, it also folds up into an easy-to-carry 3 x 3 x 10 inches carrying case. This makes it an ideal choice for anyone who doesn’t want to deal with boat trailers and car roof racks. Its high portability also makes it a good choice for traveling by airplane to an exotic fishing land.
The kayak is made with durability in mind. The 1000 denier tarpaulin bottom and reinforced 840 denier nylon cover can handle almost anything – even if you’re forced to drag the kayak over weeds, bushes, or rocks.
Following a common trend with inflatables, this sit on top kayak does have three independent air chambers to keep you from sinking. Since this inflatable tends to sit higher in the water thanks to extra buoyancy, it is more susceptible to wind and currents.
Best lightweight kayak for women: Ideal for short trips and sightseeing
The Intex Challenger K1 is a lightweight inflatable kayak that comes with a paddle, pump, and even a carrying bag for easy portability. You can be set up and on the water in short order, enjoying what you came out to do.
The puncture-resistant vinyl should keep you safe while you’re out. However, if one air chamber does spring a leak, there is another to keep you above the water so you can get back to land.
This sit on top kayak is very light and sits high on the water. The center of gravity makes it very difficult to flip, which gives you one less thing to worry about.
There is an attachable skeg for stability, but it does take up space if you decide not to use it. The low maximum load capacity and the smaller size of the kayak make it ideal for persons who are smaller in stature. Finally, the backrest leaves a lot to be desired and can get quite uncomfortable if out for more than a few hours.
Best lightweight kayak for women: Ideal for fishing
The Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler has a durable design and has fishing on its mind. It has lots of storage for fishing gear and a pair of rod holders. So, you can safely store and access whatever you need to catch the big one while out on the water – so long as you stay under the 275-pound maximum load capacity.
The kayak itself is a reasonable 44 pounds and has two handles for portability. It is ideal for warm seasons on calm or slow-moving waters such as ponds and lakes.
This lightweight kayak does a great job with back support but surprisingly leaves a lot to the imagination in the seating area. You may want to spring for a more comfortable seat for a day out on the water.
The kayak is very streamlined and stable in the water, making it easy to maneuver and even easier to keep stable when you’re fighting that fish. If you do get some water on board, the drain plug can make short work of it.
How to choose a lightweight kayak
It might come as no surprise to learn that whether a kayak is lightweight or not simply boils down to its size and type of material being used. While it might be straightforward to see that the smaller the kayak the less heavy it will be, the same cannot be said for the type of material being used. After doing some research, we narrowed down three types of materials that are used for making a lightweight kayak. In what follows we’ll look at these types of materials and also highlight their advantages and disadvantages. But first a short video giving an overall view as to what today’s kayaks are made out of.
1. Plastic Kayaks Made Through Thermoforming
If you watched the video above you will know that there are different processes for making a plastic kayak. But, the one process that stands out in making affordable yet ultra-lightweight kayaks is thermoforming.
This process delivers kayaks that are as light as composite but at a much lower price range. Also, the structure of the plastic being used in this process has elasticity so that it regains its shape after being compressed or pressed. The end result is a rigid and durable lightweight kayak that can handle a lot of abuse.
In addition, the plastic being used has a high heat distortion temperature. This means that the kayak will only start to deform once it reaches a very high temperature. So, unless you are trying to melt the kayak, it will withstand all weather temperatures.
For the environmentalists, the best part about these types of kayaks is that they are 100% recyclable. That said, the UV protection in the outer layer tends to deteriorate over an extended period of time.
2. Inflatable Kayaks
Inflatable kayaks are made of a polyester or nylon fabric core that is coated in either synthetic rubber or PVC. The main purpose of the woven fabric core is to add reinforcement while eliminating elasticity. This is why inflatable kayaks are able to contain the pressure for an extended period once inflated.
The nylon fabric is good for resisting punctures and tears but impacts the kayak’s ability to hold air and thus more drag. The polyester fabric has a rigidity that approaches that of hard shell kayaks. Yet it is less resistant to punctures and tears when compared to the nylon fabric
Though the outer layer of an inflatable kayak is either made of synthetic rubber or PVC, most are made from PVC. The main reason is that it can easily and quickly be heat-welded which translates into a better price. But, synthetic rubbers are tough, durable, and at the same time more expensive than PVC.
All in all, you can rest assured that we only reviewed inflatable kayaks that are rigid enough to handle sharp objects such as dog nails.
3. Folding Kayaks
The folding kayaks are remarkably strong and have certainly stood the test of time. The first designs had a skin-on-frame made out of wood and aluminum frame. Nowadays, the new wave of folding kayaks implements more of a collapsible kayak. Although there is still a bit of frame flex to contend with, the performance is much like a rigid kayak.
In comparison to inflatable kayaks, folding kayaks are usually lighter and don’t require you to carry a pump. However, the downside of folding kayaks other than their higher price is their lack of versatility. They are usually designed for a specific activity unless you are willing to pay even more. Also, because of their inherent rigidity, folding kayaks aren’t as impact-resistant as inflatables.