Kayaks are so many things in one vessel. They bring us the calming feeling of being able to glide through the glassy waters of the peaceful lake. At the rapids of a whitewater river, it allows us to be wild and adventurous.
Having said that, won’t it be nice that they light and easy to bring? Any water enthusiast would agree that nothing beats the feeling of being able to grab your ultimate key to the waters at a moment’s notice. To bring them wherever and wherever you want sans the worries of storage, car racks, and the efforts of getting them into the water.
The market offers many choices for kayaks that are easy to bring – one-piece hard shell, inflatables, modular, or foldable. All aim to be carried easily. But, can they be moved lightly? Read on as we listed down the best lightweight kayaks in the market today.
Why Should You Pick A Lightweight Kayak?
The ease of carrying and transporting the kayak to the place you desire is what you would need a lightweight kayak for. Having a light boat lets you take additional equipment since it doesn’t weigh too much.
These boats are also handy if lightweight for times you want to go paddling alone. They also aren’t too hard to store at home. Lightweight kayaks are ideal for solo paddlers, kids and teeners, paddlers with small houses and cars, and paddlers that go for minimal gear.
Top 9 Best Lightweight Kayaks Reviewed
The choices available for lightweight kayaks are plenty that it could make you feel like choosing one is a daunting task. It could be, yes. But, the trick in traversing through a fleet of kayaks is simple – know what you need and be sure what you need it for.
If these still seem confusing, we’ve prepared for you a list of the best lightweight kayaks to narrow your options down. Our research and reviews reduced the hundreds of kayaks in the market to 10 of the exceptional lightweight kayaks.
|Weight||Dimensions||Weight Capacity||Number of Passengers||Kayak Type|
|Bay ST by Oru Kayak||34 lbs||33″ x 12″ x 29″||400 lbs||1||Sit-in|
|Challenger K1 Kayak by Intex||28.4 lbs||108″ x 30″ x 13″||220 lbs||1||Sit-in|
|Aruba 10 Sit-In Kayak by Sun Dolphin||40 lbs||120″ x 30″ x 13″||250 lbs||1||Sit-in|
|Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak||26 lbs||9.25″ x 17.91″ x 33.46″||500 lbs||up to 2||Sit-on-top|
|AdvancedFrame Sport Kayak by Advanced Elements||26 lbs||125″ x 30″ x 10″||250 lbs||1||Sit-in|
|Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak by Coleman||18 lbs||103″ x 36″ x 30″||400 lbs||1||Sit-on-top|
|Pelican Maxim 100X Sit-in Lightweight Kayak||36 lbs||120″ x 28″ x 14″||275 lbs||1||Sit-in|
|Lotus 80 Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle by Lifetime||38 lbs||96 x 30″ x 10″||250 lbs||1||Sit-on-top|
|Explorer K2 Kayak by Intex||30.6 lbs||123″ x 36″ x 21.6″||400 lbs||up to 2||Sit-on-top|
|Wave 60 Youth Kayak with Paddle by Lifetime||18 lbs||72″ x 24″ x 9″||130 lbs||1||Sit-on-top|
#1. Bay ST by Oru Kayak – Best Overall
- Cockpit Dimensions: 16” by 30”
- Max paddler height: 6’3”
- Set-up time: 10 to 15 minutes
- Fairing handles for a comfortable grip to pull in and out of the water
- Zipper channels for quickly sliding on and sealing the deck
- Coaming for attaching sprayskirt around the cockpit edge
A few of the major drawbacks of owning a kayak are storage and transportation. Living in a small space does not make it feasible for paddlers to accommodate a traditional 12-foot kayak. Your vehicle might not be able to store it for transport, what more if you do not have a car.
Renting a kayak won’t help your budget either, especially if you are an aquaphile.
Oru Kayak considered that and came up with an origami-style folding kayak. Bay ST is just one of the many innovations they have in their kayak line. Like most products that Oru Kayak manufacture, this kayak is made from a single sheet of stiff, corrugated, and ridged polypropylene plastic.
Bay ST by Oru Kayak comes curled up in a bag and can be easily assembled into 12 to 16 feet long, sea faring boat. Traveling with this kayak is relatively easy. By air, you can check it in, and will count as a piece of carry-on baggage. But, to do that, the kayak must be in an Oru Pack or the Inlet Pack as they call it.
Traveling by land is more comfortable and more convenient. Simply fold and curl it up, lay it down the trunk, and you are good to go.
|Comfortable foam seat, adjustable backrest, and adjustable footrest||More expensive than most brands|
|Streamlined fold pattern packs down into a box||Inconvenient for large bodies|
|Stable and easy to paddle||Paddles are not included|
|Light and easy to transport|
- Cockpit Dimensions: 16.25” by 23.13”
- Max paddler height: 5’4”
- Set-up time: 15 to 30 minutes
- Heavy-duty puncture-resistant vinyl
- Two separate air chambers
- Boston valves for quick inflation and deflation
Being on a tight budget leaves you with not many choices. But, being so doesn’t give you an excuse to settle for less. With that said, your excellent selection is one that is cheap, stable, and perfect for lakes and calm rivers – the Challenger K1 Kayak by Intex
Challenger K1 Kayak by Intex is a straightforward kayak that comes complete with a decent pump, a repair kit to fix any issues efficiently, and a paddle. What makes it stand out from other kayaks in its price range is the roomy space in the cockpit. This feature makes it an ideal boat for beginners in kayaking.
If you are worried about stability, then indeed, this is the kayak for you. Its additional I-beam feature allows you to sit in it however you like. This feature also lets you stand up if you need to, making it a pretty good hunting and fishing kayak.
Aesthetically, it looks vibrantly colorful with graphics. These designs come in with a purpose – the vivid colors allow other watercraft and bystanders to spot it from a distance and dodge any accident.
On the surface, designs are perfectly positioned grab lines to make it safe to pass through uneven grounds. What’s more, are its extra air chambers that will safely get you on the shore in the event of accidental punctures in the kayak.
|Easy paddling due to streamlined design||Folding the deflated kayak can be tedious|
|Vibrant looking exterior design||Paddle included is not superior|
|Includes everything you need||Doesn’t track very well|
- Cockpit Dimensions: 35” by 17.0”
- Max paddler height: 6’1”
- Set-up time: no set-up time
- Shock cord deck rigging
- Carrying handles and paddle holder
- Adjustable foot braces and protective thigh pads
Aruba 10 Sit-In Kayak by Sun Dolphin is an entry-level recreational kayak that comes at 10 feet with an expansive cockpit at 17 inches. Similar to a lot of recreational kayaks, it offers decent stability and easy access when getting in and out.
Its weight capacity of 250 lbs is just right to accommodate paddlers of up to 6’1” with no bearing on the stability.
The first hard-shell kayak on the list, Aruba 10 Sit-In Kayak by Sun Dolphin is constructed from HDPE (high-density polyethylene). HDPE is a popular material for kayaks since they are durable and have good impact resistance.
However, some may reject HDPE constructed kayaks due to its low UV resistance. Sun Dolphin did something to counteract this drawback by using Fortiflex reinforcement that offers sufficient and appropriate UV stabilization.
This kayak features a “V” hull. This hull gives a sharper bow and stern ends, allowing the kayak to cut through the water capably while giving efficient speed. This shape also adds to the stability of the kayak. The hull and the bottom of the kayak let you lean some way on the side without tipping.
Perfect for beginners who are looking for one stable and forgiving boat that can be easily transported, too!
|Suitable for beginners and intermediate kayakers||Scratches easily|
|Can be car-racked on even the smallest cars||Limited storage|
|Large open cockpit makes it easy to move||Poor tracking|
|Lightweight and easy to carry|
|Different color choices|
- Cockpit Dimensions: 114” by 14.0”
- Max paddler height: 5’5”
- Set-up time: 5 to 10 minutes
- Open and close drain valve
- Sun & saltwater resistant hull material
- I-beam construction floor
If you are on the lookout for a tandem kayak to paddle on tranquil waters but is on a budget, the best kayak to consider is Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak by Sea Eagle. This relatively easy to use boat is simple to set up and comes packed with everything you need to get out on the water.
This inflatable tandem kayak made of 33 mil Polykrylar can handle a tandem paddler of up to 500 lbs. Thanks to the series of prodigious tubes, it stays afloat whether there is just one passenger or two. It keeps its stability even when you choose to place the included seats anywhere in the boat. Or whether you have a different style of paddling.
It is also the best option if you are looking for a comfortable kayak to paddle. Since it is made mostly of air tubes, it is squishy and relatively comfortable to sit in. As mentioned earlier, the seats can be positioned anywhere to help you achieve your ideal position to spend a lazy water ride.
Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak by Sea Eagle also lets you get into the water when you want. The direction in setting it up is easy. It even comes with a manual with prints of helpful pictures, so you definitely won’t be lost setting it up.
|All accessories required are included||Its lightweight frame is vulnerable to strong wind|
|Puncture and sun-resistant material||No footing to brace your feet on|
|Very light and packs down small||Not big enough for two adults|
|Quality make and construction|
|Rated for Class III rapids|
- Cockpit Dimensions: 43” x 16.5”
- Max paddler height: 6’2”
- Set-up time: 5 to 10 minutes
- An integrated pressure relief valve in the floor
- Bungee deck lacing
- Molded rubber handles
A compact design with ease of inflating and deflating are 2 of the major selling points of lightweight kayaks. AdvancedFrame Sport Kayak AE1017-0 by Advanced Elements has them and more. But, what makes it different from other kayaks with the same characteristics are its inflation chambers.
Most kayaks have six inflation chambers. This kayak has four. But, it doesn’t mean it functions lesser than others. Four chambers are just enough to get it ready for the waters. It looks and paddles like a rigid and hard-shelled kayak with an inflatable’s portability.
AdvancedFrame Sport Kayak AE1017-0 by Advanced Elements may be a little bulkier than kayaks at its weight range because of its incorporated rib-frame. This additional feature adds excellent value to the boat’s stability when combined with its sturdy outline of a rigid hull.
Tracking is also improved with this kayak. The aluminum frame contributes to the excellent maneuverability and tracking reinforced stern—moreover, the design and construction lets for easy setup and increased boating efficiency.
This kayak is made with three layers of materials that extend significant puncture resistance. Its durability allows carrying of up to 250 pounds of weight. This strength doesn’t mean it is hard to assemble. You can, in a few minutes by merely unfolding, inflating, and attaching the seat.
|Comes with carrying bag and repair kit||Expensive than most brands|
|Generous onboard storage space||Tough to paddle upstream|
|Compact design for easy storing||No spray cover|
|Manages most water conditions|
|High-quality paddle designs|
- Cockpit Dimensions: 33.5” by 8.5”
- Max paddler height: 6’1”
- Set-up time: 5 to 10 minutes
- Easy-to-carry backpack system turns into the seat
- 21-gauge PVC construction
- Tarpaulin bottom and multiple air chambers
Sevylor, an Outdoor Camping company by Coleman, has been making inflatable boats and kayaks since 1941. No wonder one of the kayaks we have on our list is from their long-standing experience in manufacturing these water vessels.
Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak by Coleman is one great recreational kayak that is perfect for getting in and out of the water. It hardly takes up any room and weighs less than 20 lbs. The dimension and weight give you no reason to back out when the seas call you.
This boat that is a hybrid between a floatie and a kayak is quite a substantial vessel. It features a PVC body with a tarpaulin bottom that aids in the kayak resist scratches and punctures. This construction lets the kayak handle some rough rocks and surfaces sans affecting the durability of the boat.
Quikpak K1 is built with multiple air chambers that guarantee the paddler’s safety even when one of the air chambers gets damaged on the ride. It is a sit-on-top kayak, and it is advantageous as it allows you to handle even the largest bodies in comfortable positions. Add to that a backrest that helps your back and avoid backaches.
|Portable backpack system for easy transport||Not all chambers might be able to hold air|
|Double lock valves using two locking points||Not suitable for strong water currents|
|Sturdy bottom to avoid puncture||Not the best for speed or tracking|
|Pump and paddle included|
|Great for a leisurely float|
- Cockpit Dimensions: 50” by 30”
- Max paddler height: 6’1”
- Set-up time: No set-up time
- UV-Protected High-Density Polyethylene Construction
- The hull design offers ultra-stability and excellent tracking
- Front and rear T-handles for easy transport
Another hard-shelled kayak entry on this list is the Lotus 80 Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle by Lifetime. Its no-nonsense and straightforward design is paired with rugged polyethylene construction. It tracks so well that a lot of users find it remaining in an upright position even in harsh water conditions.
Its extensive hull makes it perfect for beginners. New paddlers will feel secure since it is stable enough to sustain even an energetic dog. Having said that, even a long-time but nervous kayakers will feel safe and secure.
What contributes to this stability is the fact that it is rounder in shape and compacter in length. When in the waters and paddling, turning and changing directions are more stable.
At 38 lbs, this kayak is incredibly lightweight. Its front and back handles allow for easy transport and carrying.
Paddling is also comfortable with the backrest and the adjustable straps it has. These straps are accommodating to one’s preferences. The foot grooves are set in four various points in the kayak’s base to allow people of different heights to use it. It comes in handy for taller people to paddle even with knees bent as they will still have support to rest their feet on.
|Durable high-density polyethylene construction||No padding on the seats|
|No-frills, straightforward and functional design||Not for whitewater|
|Very stable—almost cannot tip or swamp||Not built for speed|
|Fits in most cars|
- Cockpit Dimensions: 90” by 30”
- Max paddler height: 5’1”
- Set-up time: 5 to 10 minutes
- Low-profile for lakes and mild rivers
- Cockpit designed for comfort and space
- Adjustable inflatable seats with backrest
One of the best-selling inflatable kayaks, Explorer K2 Kayak 68307EP by Intex is a fun and affordable way to get to the water and experience kayaking comfortably. From set-up to usage, everything is seamless with this kayak.
It comes in a thin transport bag that doesn’t give a strong impression but does the job just fine. It comes complete with all of what you need – paddles and pump. Inflating it is easy that it won’t take you more than 10 minutes to finish setting up.
One safety feature it has to let you know that you’ve inflated it enough is the printed measuring scale by its side. This scale and the measuring strip help you check if the boat has the right air pressure.
Skegs can be attached after inflating the kayak. These skegs are suggested for improved directional stability. Once connected, your kayak is good to go.
On the waters, Explorer K2 Kayak 68307EP by Intex is quite comfortable to sit in. Paddling isn’t too difficult, either. This kayak will surprise you with speed. It won’t take more paddle strokes for you to reach a reasonable pace.
Explorer K2 Kayak 68307EP by Intex is available in bright yellow color blended with sporty graphics. This design helps to make it easily visible on the waters, thus improving the paddler’s safety.
|Provides easy access with grab line on both ends||The rear seat is very close to the front seat|
|Comfortable inflatable seats attach with Velcro||Not the best performance|
|Bright and vivid colors for added safety||Seats a bit low|
|Everything you need is included|
|Easy to inflate and deflate|
- Cockpit Dimensions: 52” by 30”
- Max paddler height: 5’1”
- Set-up time: no set-up time
- Twin fin design to assist in tracking performance
- UV-protected – does not fade, crack or split
- Multiple footrest positions for different size paddlers
In most instances, kids aren’t always brought along to kayaking trips because most adults believe they are not safe in adult boats. Not with Wave 60 Youth Kayak with Paddle by Lifetime. Placing your child in an adult kayak is indeed risky; thus, the technology developed by Lifetime.
Its length of 6 feet makes it the ideal kayak for children at least five years and up. The design, materials, and construction are from considerations that factored in to make it suitable for kids’ sea kayaking. It can hold a capacity of up to 130 pounds. This means it can accommodate children above five years old to enjoy without problems.
Don’t think that just because it can handle the massive capacity that it is heavy itself. It is very lightweight at 18 lbs, so there won’t be any problem carrying it to the beach from the beach house or the vehicle. Even a teen kayaker can bring it without any help.
Stability and balance are two things that Lifetime is often highly rated for. This stability is an outcome of a well-thought design and construction. For this kayak, the engineers added reverse chines to improve its strength—all with a wide stance that offers kids quite a stable paddling platform.
|Very stable—almost won’t tip or swamp||Limited to kids less than 130 pounds|
|Molded finger handles on each side||Not for high-speed kayaking|
|Light enough to carry for most people||Slight chance of cracking|
|Compact, safe, and comfortable|
|Different footrest positions|
Our Top Pick
Oru Kayaks is rapidly becoming one of Kayak manufacturing’s prominent names – all due to the high-quality, affordable, and portable products. One of their creations that is gaining popularity is their Bay ST kayak.
It is lightweight at 34 lbs. Portable and easy to store as it can be folded. Yet, it still offers the same stability, tracking, maneuverability, and speed as a non-foldable kayak.
Some may be hesitant, considering it is foldable. Oru Kayaks claims that their kayaks can carry out with up to 20,000 folds in their lifetime. That means abrasions that happen with folding anything is not something you should be worried about with this kayak.
It has a design and construction that makes it relaxing and secure for most average-sized anglers. The decent cockpit allows for easy access and exit. Bumps and scrapes are well-handled by the well-constructed seats.
It is fast and stable, and more importantly – it is lightweight and portable.
Buying Guide: What To Look For In A Lightweight Kayak
Kayak shopping is fun. The vivid colors of a kayak may get you to pick them among other kayaks in the fleet, but that should not be the case.
Typically, you would think about the kayak type you need, the materials that built it, size and dimensions, capacity, and price.
But, since we are focusing on lightweight kayaks, here is a narrowed down list of factors you should consider in getting one.
Shorter kayaks are more portable. Portable kayaks are more convenient to bring as they can fit in most cars and can be easily stored away at home.
The differences between short kayaks to long ones lie in maneuverability and speed. Short ones are excellent to use in lakes and rivers. Long ones are best used in oceans. Short ones offer reliable maneuverability but lack in speed. It is the other way around for long kayaks.
Tracking is not too well in short kayaks because of their design; therefore, you will have to exert more effort to keep it in a straight line, unlike long kayaks.
In choosing a lightweight kayak, weight is the most crucial factor to consider. The most significant benefit of comfort and convenience comes from the kayak being lightweight and easy to carry. For paddlers who like to ride alone, no other equipment must be needed in moving them from point to point.
The downside in lightweight kayaks, however, is its stability. Intense waves can easily bully light kayaks, unlike heavier ones. Heavier kayaks have their own disadvantage, too. Such as when it tips over, and you are in it. Getting out is more challenging as it is heavy.
Since we mentioned that light kayaks could easily tip over, the next factor is quite essential as it adds to the vessel’s stability. Beam width helps with the kayak’s behavior in the waters. The wider the kayak, the more stable it is.
But, be sure not to get overboard with width. Wider kayaks are more difficult to control, and you may just end up wasting too much energy from paddling since it will create too much drag. Narrow beams are more comfortable to maneuver and are faster but can flip over quickly.
So, it will be wise to choose just the right width.
Inflatable vs. Hardshell
Space for storage is one thing to consider in getting a kayak. If you can’t afford an extra square meter to store your kayak, then go for the inflatable one. These usually come in bags, are compact, and can be easily stored. Most importantly, you can take it anytime and anywhere.
But, if you can spare a little extra room and are concerned about the material they are made from, hard-shells are your best option. Not only are inflatable kayaks inconvenient when they get punctured, but they also get deflated when it is cold.
The hard-shelled kayaks we have on the list are lightweight and aren’t too long to be inconvenient. They are relatively easy to carry and may offer more than what inflatables can.
Narrowing down the lightweight kayaks in the market today seemed tedious, and we didn’t want you to waste too much time doing that on your own. But, be extra careful in picking which one to grab when you go kayak shopping.
Bay ST Kayak by Oru Kayaks met all the qualifications we looked for in a lightweight kayak. However, it is still up to you. Consider your needs and your body physique when picking. Also, pay attention to all the features and specifications. Above all, be sure that it matches the budget you have.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: Which is a better kayak? Longer or shorter?
A: The size of the kayak is beneficial in its own way. It doesn’t matter if it’s long or short; what matters is what you will use it for. And, for some, who will be using it. Longer kayaks are better for tall paddlers. Likewise, shorter are for petite paddlers.
Shorter kayaks are usually for recreational use – for calm lakes and the likes. Longer kayaks are better for oceans and bigger waters.
Q: Are shorter kayaks more stable?
A: Beam width contributes to the stability of the kayak. It should be balanced with the length of the vessel. Kayaks with wider beam width are sure to be more stable, but the drag it creates lets for slow and more challenging paddling. Kayaks with narrower beams may easily tip over.
Q: Should I wear a personal floatation device when riding a kayak?
A: Personal floatation device must be worn not only when you ride a kayak but whenever you get into the waters.
Q: What is the best construction material for a lightweight kayak?
A: The best ones are usually made from plastic. Most of the time, manufacturers use HDPE (high-density polyethylene).
Q: Will the paddles that come along with my kayak worthy of use?
A: It is cheaper to get a kayak that includes its own paddles. However, since they come for free, they sometimes aren’t made of the highest quality. If this is the case with the paddle you received from your kayak, you may replace it with a lightweight kayak paddle made from carbon fiber.