How Much Does a Kayak Weigh? (And Does it Really Matter?)

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There are many features that you should consider when you’re shopping around for the right kayak. For many, asking how much does a kayak weigh can be one of the most important questions to consider. 

If you’re a solo kayaker, weight can be a make or break feature because if a boat is too heavy, you’ll be unable to tote it around by yourself. Weight is also important because it can impact your experience if you choose a boat that’s too heavy.

Today, I’ll share with you everything you need to know about a kayak’s weight. Read on to see what influences a boat’s width and how that impacts you as a shopper. 

Key Takeaways

  • The weight of a kayak varies depending on the material, size, and type of the kayak. It’s usually written in the owner’s manual.
  • Hardshell kayaks are typically heavier than inflatable kayaks, but they can be made of lighter materials like carbon fiber or fiberglass.
  • Kayak weight affects the performance, stability, and transportability of the kayak. A lighter kayak is easier to carry and maneuver, but a heavier kayak may be more durable and stable.
  • Kayak weight capacity is the maximum amount of weight that a kayak can safely carry, including the paddler and the gear.
  • Kayak weight can be reduced by choosing a shorter and narrower kayak or minimizing the accessories.

How to Find a Kayak’s Weight

The weight of a kayak differs from model to model. The type of kayak you have will heavily influence the overall weight of your kayak. Even still, kayaks of the same type, think recreational or touring, weigh differently from brand to brand. For example, a Wilderness Systems recreational kayak won’t be the same weight as a Pelican recreational kayak

The easiest way to figure out your kayak’s weight is by reading the boat’s owner’s manual. On average, you’ll find that kayaks can weigh anywhere from 20 pounds to 80 pounds. Some kayaks can even tip over the hundred pound mark.

Everything from what a kayak is made out of, to additional accessories, to the type of kayak it is, influences the kayak weight. Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know about a kayak’s weight and how that can impact your adventures.

Main Factors that Affect Kayak Weight

The main factors that will impact a kayak’s weight is the material it is made out of and the size of your kayak. The material it’s made out of will determine how heavy it will be because different kayak materials weigh differently. How much of that material will also impact your kayak’s weight. A bigger boat will usually weigh more than a smaller one. 

How Construction Affects Kayak Weight

Hard shell kayaks will almost always weigh more than their inflatable counterparts. When completely deflated, an inflatable kayak can weigh anywhere from 20 to 35 pounds. The type of material used in the inflatable plays a major role and how much the kayak weighs. 

Heavier material like a heavy duty fabric coated PVC or Hypalon material will weigh a lot more than a lightweight PVC material. If your inflatable boat is made out of a multi-layered inflatable material, this too can make the kayak much heavier. 

With hardshell kayaks, heavier materials will result in a heavier kayak as well. Polyethylene is a plastic material commonly used in kayaks. While incredibly durable and affordable, it’s also one of the heavier materials used to create kayaks.

A composite kayak made out of carbon fiber or Kevlar can make for a much lighter kayak as these materials are more lightweight. 

Related: What is the difference between inflatable kayak and inflatable boat?

Kayak Dimensions Can Determine Weight 

Wider and longer kayaks will require more material and will be heavier because of it. If you want to cut down on your kayak’s weight, then you’ll want to shop for one that is shorter and narrow. 

While a shorter kayak will allow you to cut down on a kayak’s overall weight, you do end up sacrificing space. When you’re considering the size of your kayak and how much you want it to weigh.

You don’t always have to sacrifice storage, however. keep in mind other storage options like front and rear bungee straps that will allow you to secure your gear. 

Kayak Type Can Determine a Kayak’s Weight 

The type of kayak you will have will also play a large role in determining your kayak’s weight. There are different types of kayaks meant for specific activities. Because of this, certain types of kayaks will always be heavier than other types. 

Average Weight for Hardshell Kayaks 

As I mentioned earlier, hardshell kayaks come in all sorts of materials. While it’s important to consider the material used if weight is a priority for you, it’s equally important to consider the type of hardshell kayak you’re looking at as well. 

Touring kayaks are designed for calmer waters. Because of this, they will often be made out of lighter composite materials like fiberglass or carbon fiber. Thermoformed kayaks are also some of the lightest kayaks around. Many lightweight touring kayaks can average anywhere from 25 to 35 pounds.

Recreational kayaks on the other hand are often built to handle rough conditions. Many recreational kayaks like sea kayaks will be made out of a durable, tougher plastic like a rotomolded material. These kayaks are typically shorter and more narrow and you’ll find that they weigh around 40 pounds. 

Average Weight for Tandem Kayaks 

Tandem kayaks are also typically designed for calm waters. Because of their weight capacity and their size, tandem kayaks weigh a lot more than other boats. Although they can often be found made out of a lightweight material, because they are meant to accommodate two riders, they can range anywhere from 50 to 80 pounds. 

How Much Does an Inflatable Kayak Weigh?  

If weight is a feature that is very important to you when you’re shopping for the right kayak, then you may want to consider inflatable kayaks. Inflatable kayaks are the lightest weight kayak types on the market. 

Related: Are inflatable kayaks any good?

Some inflatable kayaks even come in a backpack carry system, allowing you to carry them with very minimal effort. While these are some of the lightest options when it comes to kayak weight, the weight of an inflatable can also vary depending on the material used and the construction of the kayak. 

Inflatable kayaks weigh anywhere from 25 pounds to 40 pounds. Simply constructed backcountry inflatable kayaks can even weigh as little as 17 pounds. 

If your inflatable kayak has internal structures to help support the kayak, then that will also add to the kayak’s weight. For example, the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame kayak incorporates internal kayak framing materials like a metal ‘back bone’ in the base or aluminum ribs in the bow and stern. These elements can weigh down an inflatable kayak, making it much heavier. 

Also read: How to get in your inflatable kayak.

Which Weighs More: Kayaks or Canoes?

Generally speaking, a kayak and a canoe of the same size will not always be the same weight. Very often, you will find that canoes weigh a lot less than kayaks do. This is simply due to the fact that canoes offer a much more open design. 

RELATED: Canoe Vs Kayak: What’s the Difference?

Unlike a canoe, kayaks have a covering on the bow and stern in order to offer kayakers protection and additional space to store away kayaking gear. This extra coverage can add more weight to a kayak because more material is used. 

Canoes, on the other hand, feature an open construction because there’s less material used, they can often way less than a similarly sized kayak. Much like kayaks, canoes can also be made out of light composite materials including fiberglass, Kevlar, and even birch tree wood. 

Also read: How to store your inflatable kayak.

How Much Does a Fishing Kayak Weigh?

Fishing kayaks tend to be the heaviest kayak variety. This is because they are are usually wider in order to accommodate kayakers who need to move around a lot and store fishing gear. 

They’re rugged design and broader hull make them some of the heaviest types of kayaks around with an average weight of about 80 to 120 pound. You can find lighter weight fishing kayaks on the market, but these will usually be smaller and made out of a lighter material like carbon fiber. 

Also read: Are inflatable kayaks good for fishing?

More advanced and feature-rich fishing kayaks will often be heavier and can even reach up to 150 pounds. The more features and accessories installed on your kayak, the heavier it will be.

How Much Does a Whitewater Kayak Weigh?

Whitewater kayaks are typically made out of polyethylene plastic. Because this material isn’t as lightweight as fiberglass, recreational whitewater kayaks tend to be heavier. 

For an intense water sport activity like white water rafting, you typically want your kayak to be durable, tough, and of course able to withstand impacts. Rotomolded kayaks offer this durable and rugged construction needed for whitewater rafting. 

Because of their rugged and heavier construction, recreational whitewater kayaks can range in weight anywhere from 40 to 60 pounds. 

How to Transport a Heavy Kayak

One of the biggest nuisances with having a heavy kayak is that you have to load it up on your car and transport it. It can be difficult to load up a heavy kayak over your car’s roof rack system or onto your truck bed. Especially if it’s heavy and bulky like wider polyethylene fishing kayaks. 

Aside from loading the kayak, carrying your kayak to the launching boat can be equally challenging. If you have a hardshell kayak, even a lightweight one, it can be really helpful to invest in a kayak cart. 

A kayak cart is a nifty tool that straps underneath your kayak. Kayak carts have wheels that allow you to easily pull your kayak to your intended launching point.  There are all sorts of kayak carts that can accommodate even the heaviest kayaks.  

If you’re transporting several kayaks, a kayak trailer can be another beneficial product to invest in. Kayak trailers hitch up to the back of your truck and allow you to tote several kayaks at a time. 

Also read: How to transport a kayak.

How Much Does a Kayak Weigh: Other Factors to Consider

Unless you plan on using your kayak the way it is right out of the box, you can always expect your kayak to weigh a little bit more than its actual weight. 

Every kayaker will at some point customize their kayak so that it meets their needs specifically. Often, this is done by adding additional accessories that become a permanent fixture on your kayak. 

Whether it is swapping out the seat for a more rigid one, adding more components for storage capabilities, or adding in other features like a trolling motor or rod rack for kayak fishing, accessories will always add weight to your kayak. The more features and accessories you use, the more your kayak will weigh. 

When you add gear to your kayak, you’ll need to consider how this extra weight will impact the way you transport the kayak as well as the way it sits on the water. If you’re going to incorporate additional gear permanently, make sure to distribute the weight evenly so that you don’t have too much extra weight on the rear or on the front of the kayak. 

For example, if you’re going to be installing a rod rack system in the rear of your kayak, then you may want to set up extra storage in the front of the kayak. This will help  distribute your boat’s weight so that one end isn’t heavier than the other.

Not All Inflatables Are Lightweight 

Just because a kayak is inflatable, doesn’t mean it is necessarily lightweight. The type of inflatable you have can impact how heavy your kayak is once it’s fully inflated.

Traditional inflatable boats are usually made out of three separate air chambers and require a very low air pressure in order to be fully inflated and ready to use. 

Inflatable kayaks that offer more rigidity will often be heavier than traditional inflatable kayaks. This is largely in part because of their inflation construction. Ridgid kayaks that feature drop stitch construction or I-beam flooring tend to be a lot heavier than traditional inflatable kayaks. 

Drop stitch construction consists of an air chamber that has thousands of tiny fibers connecting the top of the chamber to the bottom. This allows the boat to take on a higher air pressure in order to provide rigidity that mimics a hard shell kayak. This rigidity is what will make the kayak weigh more.

The same goes for kayaks with an I-beam flooring. An I-beam floor consists of several parallel tubes that allow you to reach a higher PSI when you inflate them.

Also read: How to inflate a kayak.

Not All Hardshell Kayaks Are Heavy 

If your hard shell kayak is made out of a lightweight material, you might be surprised at how lightweight it can actually be. Hardshell kayaks made out of carbon fiber or fiberglass are the best options to go with if you want a lightweight kayak. 

If you opt for a shorter kayak made out of this material, then the weight of the kayak can be much lighter than a rigid, longer inflatable kayak. 

If you’re a solo paddler who wants a kayak hat they can easily tote around, then a carbon fiber solo kayak can be extremely durable, yet lightweight enough for any adventure. 

Sit In Kayaks vs Sit On Top Kayaks

It doesn’t really matter whether your kayak is a sit in kayak or sit on top kayak when it comes to the boat’s overall weight. What will really impact the weight between the two is the types of accessories you choose to use. 

Related: Sit-in vs sit-on kayak.

For example, your kayak may end up weighing more if you swap out the seat of your kayak. Many sit on top kayaks allow you to adjust the seat or incorporate a different seat that gives you added comfort and stability. Seats like lawn chair style seats or a drop stitch inflatable seat tend to be a lot heavier than seats that fold open and clip into the kayak.

What Is the Maximum Weight That Kayaks Can Hold?

Every boat has a weight limit and a kayak weight limit depends on the kayak type you have, its construction, and how many passengers it can take on. Typically, a one person recreational, touring, or sea kayak will offer a weight capacity of 250 to 300 pounds.

Larger kayaks like tandem kayaks and fishing kayaks will often offer a much larger weight capacity ranging anywhere from 300 pounds to 600 pounds. 

You can determine what weight limit is appropriate for you by shopping for a kayak that has a weight capacity at least 125 pounds more than your body weight. This will give you enough room to bring along additional gear while remaining under the weight capacity recommended by the manufacturer. 

Related: What size kayak do I need for my weight?

Kayak Weight Matters, but This Matters More

While the weight of a kayak is important to consider, knowing your kayak’s weight capacity is much more important. 

Your kayak’s load capacity will allow you to understand how much gear you can bring and remain safe on the water.  It can also help you determine whether you can bring along your furry friend or even a small child to kayak with you. 

Also read: What makes a kayak safe on te water?

If you go over your kayak’s weight capacity, you run the risk of overloading your kayak and increasing your chances of tipping over, or even sinking. Beyond the worst case scenario, overloading your kayak will result in terrible tracking, stability, and overall performance.

If you’re going to be bringing along extra gear with you when you kayak, it is important to evenly distribute the weight throughout your kayak. This will keep you stable, and you will be able to have better control as you paddle.  

So, How Much Does a Kayak Really Weigh?

Considering how much does a kayak weigh can be an important feature when you’re looking for the right kayak. I hope this guide has helped you understand how to determine kayak weight and why kayak weight is important. 

As a kayaker who has used boats of all sizes, I have found that kayak weight can significantly impact the type of kayaking I want to do. If you enjoy slow paced, relaxed kayaking, it’s best to opt for shorter kayaks that are made from a lightweight material like thermoformed plastic.

Conversely, if you enjoy recreational kayaking, rugged and durable rotomolded kayaks may be a better option to go with. 

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