These days, kayaking is one of the most popular activities among outdoor enthusiasts. Kayaks allow you to traverse lakes and rivers in ways you simply just can’t do on foot. Plus, the mechanics of rowing and steering a kayak give you a great workout.
However, the standard kayak can be quite bulky and heavy. This can make it hard to lift them onto your car and make it susceptible to damage. Standard kayaks are also impractical if you need to hike to your aquatic destination.
Fortunately, there is a growing offering of lightweight kayaks that make lifting and transporting them a breeze. But there are a variety of styles, materials, and capacities to choose from, which can make finding the right one for your lifestyle tricky. That is why we have rounded up some of the best lightweight kayaks for you to take a look at.
Top 7 Best Lightweight Kayaks In 2023 Reviews
1 Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle
First up on our list is a great little kayak for the solo adventurer. The Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak is made for either one adult or an adult and one child, so already you know this is going to be lighter than most kayaks.
At only 37 pounds, this kayak is light enough to lift up and drag to where you want to go. It’s also made with a polyethylene material that won’t easily bend or break.
Accommodates even the tallest kayaker…
While it may be smaller and lighter than the average kayak, that doesn’t mean you have to be. The kayak is 8 feet long and 30 inches wide, so it can accommodate even the tallest kayaker. There is an adjustable back strap and multiple footrest pegs that are great for the tall or short.
This Lifetime kayak also provides you with some convenient features to make your experience a little easier. There are two durable carry handles, one on the front and one on the back, that you can use to drag the kayak to the shore. There is also a bungee-corded tank well storage to carry a bag or shoes.
What about performance?
While it may be lightweight, this kayak is built for top performance. A multi-chine hull increases stability and makes it virtually flip proof. So you can hit those rapids without worrying about going under. There is also a twin skeg system that provides excellent tracking, so you stay on course.
- Polyethylene material.
- Adjustable back seat.
- Multiple footrest pegs.
- Storage tank well.
- Paddle Included.
- Not that comfortable.
2 Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
New to the lightweight kayak scene is the inflatable kayak. These are generally the same dimensions as a regular kayak, but offer you the ability to deflate and pack away for optimal storage.
The kayak inflates in minutes…
The Intex Challenger K1 is made from welded nylon that is puncture resistant. The result is a durable yet lightweight kayak at only 27 pounds. The Intex includes a high output pump that inflates the kayak in minutes. Specialty Boston valves also ensure security and speedy deflation time.
Removable inflatable seat with backrest…
If you are hitting the lake for a lengthy kayaking session, you want to make sure that you are as comfortable as possible throughout. The Challenger helps you achieve that with their specially designed cockpit. It features an inflatable seat with a backrest that you can also remove for maximized space.
On the front of the kayak is an oversized storage net that you can use to stow excess gear and supplies. There are also long grab lines along the front and back of the kayak for quick and easy transport once inflated.
The best part?
You’re getting a lot more than just a kayak when you buy the Intex Challenger. There is an 84-inch oar included that is made from durable aluminum that won’t break or rust over time. You also get a handy kit to patch up any potential damage, as well as a carry case to hold the deflated kayak.
- Removable seat and backrest.
- Storage net.
- Aluminum oar.
- Patch kit.
- No drainage.
- Short paddle.
3 SUNDOLPHIN Aruba 10-Foot Sit-in Kayak – Best Long Distance Kayak
The Aruba Sit-In Kayak from Sun Dolphin is a great option for kayakers who are serious about covering longer distances on the water. This kayak is 10 feet long, which nearly measures up with professional touring kayaks. It has a 30-inch maximum width that helps to reduce the chance of flipping when you’re out on the water.
Two people can carry it…
The cockpit is fairly roomy and is designed for your legs to go under the deck. It can accommodate up to 250 pounds, but keep in mind this includes gear. While the kayak is a bit on the heavier side at 40 pounds, it shouldn’t be an issue for two people to carry from the car to the water using the carry handles.
This Sun Dolphin kayak has one of the most comfortable seats you can find…
The seatback is padded and adjustable so you can align yourself to get the ideal paddling posture. There are also adjustable foot pads and knee braces that allow you to lock in place to help you get the most out of each stroke.
Perfect for long-distance kayaking…
You can keep a decent amount of gear protected in a large storage hatch that is situated behind the seat. A small cross-section of webbing on the front of the deck makes it so you can secure a water bottle or an extra oar. These features make the Sun Dolphin Aruba an ideal kayak for full-day tours.
- 10 feet long.
- Comfortable seat.
- Footpad and knee braces.
- Large storage hatch.
4 ADVANCED ELEMENTS AdvancedFrame Sport Kayak – Best Inflatable Kayak
If you are looking for the convenience of an inflatable kayak with the durability of a more traditional touring kayak, then look no further than our next best lightweight kayak.
Inflatable but with welded seams, means no leakage…
The AdvancedFrame Sport from Advanced Elements is an easy to use kayak with exceptional strength and durability that can be utilized in nearly any water conditions. The material is made with three layers of PVC Tarpaulin that is incredibly resistant to punctures. Plus, welded seams offer exceptional protection against leakage.
Hard-edging protects against collisions…
But it’s not just high-quality material that makes this kayak so special. The kayak is reinforced by built-in aluminum ribs that stabilize the hull to keep you on the straight and narrow. The bow and stern are hard-edged, which improves durability by protecting against collisions.
This AdvancedFrame Sport looks and paddles like a traditional hardshell kayak because of special multi-layer construction. The floor and internal core are made with patented Drop Stitch technology, which enhances the kayak’s rigidity and improves its tracking.
The best part?
The AdvancedFrame Sport is extremely easy to set up and take down. Simply unfold, inflate, attach the seat, and you are ready to go. At only 26 pounds, this kayak is a breeze to lift or drag to the shore. When it’s time to pack up, it all neatly folds up into the included carry bag.
- Three layer PVC material.
- Aluminum ribs.
- Drop stitch technology.
- 26 pounds.
- Carry bag.
- Paddle not included.
- Pump not included.
5 Oru Kayak Foldable Kayak – Best Inflatable Kayak for Heavy People
The next kayak on our list combines the strength of a hardshell kayak with that portability of an inflatable one.
The Oru Foldable Kayak is made from 5mm double-layered custom polypropylene that is made to withstand some of the toughest environments. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but they won’t break this kayak. It is also guarded against UV damage and color fading for up to 10 years.
So lightweight and it easily slips into your trunk…
The whole kayak can fold into an easily transportable, suitcase-sized box in 5 minutes flat. There is no need for a costly roof rack or heavy lifting with this kayak since it easily slips into your trunk or truck bed. Plus, since it’s only 26 pounds, you can do it all yourself.
Still, it can accommodate up to 300 pounds… heavier kayakers need not worry…
This kayak has all the features to keep you comfortable and prepared. A curved seat back and padded seat offer superior comfort in even the longest outings. Inside the hull is a generous amount of storage space for all your gear. All in all, this kayak can accommodate up to 300 pounds.
The Oru Kayak’s award-winning design undergoes significant testing for strength and durability during the manufacturing process and is guaranteed for 20,000 folds over its lifetime. It also meets the US Coast Guard standard for recreational vessels.
Still not convinced?
Oru Kayak is so confident in this one-of-a-kind product that they offer a 12-month warranty against any potential defects in the manufacturing. If that wasn’t enough, they also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee if you are unhappy with your kayak for any reason.
- Foldable hardshell design.
- 26 pounds.
- Quick set up and take down.
- 12-month warranty.
- Oar not included.
- Very pricey.
6 Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak – Most Affordable Lightweight Kayak
Next up is another durable and easy to use inflatable kayak that you can get at an affordable price. The Sevylor Quikpak Kayak is designed as a one-person sit-on kayak that you can take pretty much anywhere.
We like the multiple air chambers…
It is made from 21 gauge PVC construction that is rugged and buoyant enough for use on a lake or calm river. The tarpaulin bottom offers superior waterproofing and protection against any incidental punctures. Additionally, the kayak uses multiple air chambers that prevent you from going under in case it does get punctured.
Already affordable, but they throw in a high-pressure hand pump too…
This kayak boasts a 5 minute set up time that lets you spend less energy on preparation and more time on the water. It features a double locking valve system that makes inflating and deflating quick and easy. The good news is that Sevylor includes a high-pressure hand pump to aid you in this process.
Ever so portable…
This nifty kayak folds up and packs into the included backpack, which doubles as the seat. Simply detach the seat, fold it up, stuff it in the bag, and you are on your way. It’s also only 18 pounds, which makes carrying it on your back as easy as carrying a standard backpack.
There is an additional inflatable back shelf that provides even more support and comfort. Multiple footrest points allow you to find that ideal paddling position for a relaxing yet efficient day trip. There’s even a small storage area with a mesh covering that you can use for your gear.
- Carry backpack doubles as a seat.
- 21 gauge PVC material.
- Included pump.
- Poor tracking
- Limited control.
7 Sea Eagle 330 Deluxe – Best Lightweight 2 Person Kayak
Kayaking is an incredibly fun activity, but it can be even more fun with a buddy. If you want to hit the lake in tandem with a friend, then this last kayak on our list might be the one for you.
The Sea Eagle 330 Deluxe is an inflatable sit-on style kayak designed for tandem paddlers who prefer the portability of inflatable models to a hard-shelled kayak.
Easy to store…
The kayak itself weighs only 26 pounds and is only 2 feet wide by 16 inches long when it’s deflated. This means it is easy to store if you are limited on space at home or in the car.
All in all, this is one of the best 2 person kayaks you can find…
This kayak also has a whopping 500-pound capacity, which is more than enough for you, a friend, and all the gear you need to bring along. It is designed to endure whitewater and is rated for rapids up to Class III.
The hull is made from a durable plastic that is resistant to punctures, and the I-beam floor won’t bend when it comes in contact with rocks. With this kayak, you won’t have to worry about external factors sinking your trip.
Convertable for a solo trip…
With the included foot pump, you will only need a total of 10 minutes to inflate and assemble the kayak. The seats are comfortable, but it lacks the adjustability of a typical kayak seat, so some may find it puts a strain on your back and arms after a while. The seats are also removable, so you can easily convert it for a solo trip.
That’s not all…
Sea Eagle is so confident in its manufacturing that it is offering a 3-year warranty on this kayak. If you run into any defects in the first few years, you can swap it out for a properly functioning kayak.
- Two-person kayak.
- 500-pound capacity.
- Two oars included.
- 26 pounds.
- Included foot pump.
- Non-adjustable seat.
- Hard to clean.
Best Lightweight Kayaks Buying Guide
Now that you have had a chance to check out some of the better lightweight kayaks on the market, you are probably closer to making a final decision.
However, we realize no two paddlers are alike when it comes to their needs and lifestyle. This can make finding the right one for you a bit tricky. That’s why we’ve put together this handy buying guide with some of the most important factors to consider before choosing a lightweight kayak.
When it comes to lightweight kayaks, there are generally two kinds of styles you can find. Hardshell kayaks are the more traditional style that many of us are used to. They are usually made from polyethylene, which is a form of durable plastic that is resistant to breaking. These are a great option for rough or rocky waters, and they usually have good control and tracking.
However, they require a large amount of space to transport because of their size and shape. If you don’t have a roof rack or a pickup truck, you may have a difficult time getting the kayak to its destination. These kayaks tend to push the limits of what we consider lightweight and may require two people to lift.
There is also the option of an inflatable kayak. These are usually made from PVC or similar material that may not be as durable as plastic, but they are pliable enough to resist hazards by bouncing off.
Inflatables can also fold up into a fraction of its size…
Where this type of kayak excels is in portability and weight. These kayaks can deflate and pack up to a size that is a fraction of its fully inflated size. This is great if you are limited on storage and transport space. Also, because they are filled with air, they are significantly lighter than the hard shell version.
Another thing you want to consider style-wise is if your kayak is sit-on or sit-in. A sit-in kayak is considered a traditional style kayak where everything below your waist slides under the deck of the kayak. This usually comes with straps and braces that enable you to perform a more efficient paddle.
A sit-on kayak is designed for you to have your whole body on top of the kayak. These may be a bit more susceptible to flipping, but it’s easy enough to flip over and not have to empty the water out. If you are planning on taking frequent swimming breaks while kayaking, this is a great choice.
You’re here for lightweight kayaks after all, so this is obviously one of the most important factors when choosing a kayak. However, this means different things for different people.
If your kayak is too heavy, it’s going to make every step of your kayaking trip difficult. Lifting it onto your car and dragging it to the water will be difficult to do alone and may require more than one person if you have one that’s over 30 pounds. However, if you have one that’s too light, you may be more susceptible to hazards and flipping.
Remember to factor your gear, but…
A kayak that is somewhere between 20 and 30 pounds will probably be the sweet spot between durability and lightweight. Also, consider the overall weight capacity of the kayak. You want something that will hold all of your weight plus the weight of your gear. Anything over 250 pounds capacity is ideal for a single person kayak.
This really depends on where you are going and how much space you have. If you have a decent vehicle with a roof rack and going to a water source that is easily accessible by car, then a standard hardshell kayak will do just fine.
But if you need to pack it inside a car or you are limited on storage space back home, then consider a kayak that deflates or otherwise compacts into something smaller than its water ready size. Also, if your destination requires that you access it on foot, then you definitely want something that you can carry with you or on your back.
There are many smaller things to consider that can make your kayaking experience a whole lot easier.
First of all, does it include a paddle? It would be unfortunate to invest in a good kayak only to realize that you don’t have what is effectively the engine of your vessel. You’ll want to make sure the paddle is made from quality material like aluminum to prevent breakage.
If you are going for the inflatable kayak, make sure you snag one that includes a pump. It goes without saying; it would not be ideal if you have an inflatable kayak without a way to inflate it. Pay close attention to the quality of the pump since you don’t want to waste precious energy and time filling it up.
Another important thing to consider is storage space. If you are going out for a full-day trip, you want to make sure you have space that is both large enough for all your gear and protective enough to ensure nothing gets lost or damaged.
Before We Finish Up
We’ve mentioned a lot a few things along the way that you may want further clarity on. Do check out our informative articles on How to Transport a Kayak Without a Roof Rack, or what the advantages are of Sit on Top vs Sit in Kayaks.
Then if Sun Dolphin’s offering caught your eye, head on over to our full Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 review.
Got all the best gear? If you’re not certain you do, read our Best Kayak Accessories reviews.
Final Thoughts On The Best Lightweight Kayaks
We are confident we have provided you with all of the information you need to find the right kayak for your lifestyle. But in case you needed an extra push, we wanted to offer you our top pick from our list of the best lightweight kayaks…The Oru Foldable Kayak
It combines the durability of a hardshell kayak with the portability of an inflatable kayak that is hard to match. You won’t have to fumble with annoying pumps to get this kayak ready. With an origami-inspired design, this kayak is ready to fold up and fold out at a moment’s notice.
While you may be paying a bit more, we just can’t stress enough the value of how strong and convenient this kayak is. This is a great option for seasoned and novice paddlers alike.
See you on the water…