Best Lightweight Kayaks That Are Easy to Transport

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I have researched 20 kayaks and found that the Oru Inlet folding kayak is the best lightweight kayak for lakes and rivers.

My preference is to kayak in the ocean, but there is something serene about picking up your kayak and skimming a lake or a river. I’ve primarily had ocean experience and my share of different kayaks that I’ve used in various triathlons and training sessions. I find that the Oru Inlet is the best for transporting.

The Oru Inlet folding kayak also has padding for comfort and other features that make this kayak my number one choice.

I considered several features making a list that others may find helpful when determining which lightweight kayak to purchase. The kayak’s weight was significant, but so was the cost, the ease with which you paddle, safety, and how well it handles.

Based on honest customer reviews, I have listed the most highly rated lightweight kayaks. The takeaway from my research is that there are many great options out there, to the point where it can be overwhelming. To help with the challenge of knowing which lightweight kayak is best for you, I’ve listed the top six for you to read about and decide for yourself.

Lightweight kayaks have benefits, as well as conveniences, and several factors make them top the list. What is best for you will depend on what you will use it for. You will also want to consider the transport options you have.

Take a look to find out more.

Best Lightweight Kayaks Reviews

The most lightweight kayaks according to verified customers goes as follows.

Kayak Max Capacity Weight L X W Total Rating

1. Oru Inlet


Oru Inlet Small
275 Lbs 20 Lbs 9′ 6″ X 30″
4.5/5

2. Sea Eagle 330


SEA eAGLE 330
500 Lbs 26 Lbs 11′ 2″ X 34″
4/5

3. Intex Challenger


220 – 400 Lbs 28.4 Lbs 9′ X 30″
3.5/5

4. Lifetime Youth Wave


130 Lbs 18 Lbs 6′ X 24″
3.5/5

5. Intex Explorer K2


400 Lbs 31 Lbs 10′ X 36″
3.5/5

5. Intex Explorer K2


275 Lbs 39 Lbs 10′ X 28″
3.5/5

1. Oru Inlet Folding Kayak – Best Overall

Oru Inlet Kayak

  • Type: Sit-in
  • Length: 9 ft and 6 in
  • Width: 30 in
  • Weight: 20 lbs
  • Material: Polypropylene
  • Weight Capacity: 275 lbs
  • No. of Kayakers: 1
  • Unique Features: Buckle closure system, adjustable footrest and backrest, seat pad, removable bulkheads, tension strap

The Oru Inlet kayak is a light and portable vessel suitable for freshwater adventures alone or with a dog or child. While it’s built as a one-seat kayak, a small child or furry friend can fit inside, too. The double-layered polypropylene features a 10-year UV treatment. 

The portability of this foldable kayak is unmatched. Made of light and durable material, it’s quick to assemble and take out on the water. When you are finished your adventure, fold it up and carry it in the attached bag. The entire vessel weighs 20 pounds, so it’s easy to transport. 

On the water, this kayak performs best on flat, quiet water. Take it out on streams, lakes, or rivers. It’ll glide smoothly across the water and can withstand bumping into sharp rocks and skidding over formidable obstacles.

This kayak is great for beginners who need a lightweight and durable kayak to get started. But it’s also great for the seasoned kayaker who wants something easy to transport. While it’s not ideal for rough waters, its performance on mirror-smooth water outperforms many others on this list. 

Some customers were wary of the kayak’s build, thinking its foldable material would be weak. But many buyers found that the kayak withstands high winds. You also can’t beat the easy assembly!

Pros

  • Assemble and take apart in less than five minutes
  • Adjustable padded seat and footrest
  • Double-layered, UV-protected polypropylene
  • Ultra-portable
  • Glides smoothly over waters and withstands rocks
  • It fits a small child or pet 

Cons

  • Sand sticks to the seat and paddles easily
  • The small handle on the transporting backpack is hard to carry

2. Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak

Woman paddling in sea eagle kayak

  • Type: Sit-in
  • Length: 11 ft and 2 in
  • Width: 2 ft 10 in
  • Weight: 26 lbs
  • Material: Polykrylar
  • Weight Capacity: 500 lbs
  • No. of Kayakers: 2
  • Unique Features: Open/close drain valve, sun and saltwater resistant, inflatable spray skirts, bow and stern grab line, bottom skegs for speed, five one-way valves

The Sea Eagle 330 inflatable kayak is excellent for saltwater fishing. It’s light and ultra-portable – you can deflate it to fit in the back of a car. This kayak can fit up to two adults up to 500 pounds, and the polykrylar material lasts a long time. 

Sea Eagle prides itself on selling transportable and durable kayaks, and the Sea Eagle 330 is no exception. Deflate it to fit inside your car, and inflate it all the way when you reach the water. At 26 pounds, it’s one of the lightest kayaks to carry from car to shore. 

This kayak has solid performance on the water, too. Take it out to calm waters for a peaceful fishing trip, or head to the beach and surf with it. It’s fantastic for whitewater kayaking, river fishing, or even wildlife watching. The durable material features sun and saltwater protection to keep this vessel lasting as long as you need. 

The polykrylar material is ultra-durable and safe to stay out in the sun for hours on end. If you leave it floating by a dock, make sure to watch for holes or tears from the kayak rubbing off of the wood. 

The Sea Eagle 300 is ideal for activities like saltwater fishing or whitewater kayaking. It’s one of the cheapest kayaks on this list, perfect if you’re on a budget but still want a quality vessel. 

Buyers love this kayak for its portability and durability. The pump included is easy to use to inflate and deflate the kayak to transport however you need. Customers only had one major issue. While the kayak is meant to fit up to 500 pounds, it’s better suited for two small adults or one adult with a child. 

See Full Review of the Sea Eagle 330

Pros

  • Perfect for smooth or rough water
  • Withstands sun and saltwater damage
  • Deflate it to transport with ease
  • Stays inflated as long as you need

Cons

  • It won’t fit two large adults
  • Seats are small, and users will bump paddles often if using four.

3. Intex Challenger Kayak Inflatable Set – Best on a Budget

  • Type: Sit-in
  • Length: 9 ft
  • Width: 30 in
  • Weight: 28.4 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene (high-density)
  • Weight Capacity: 220 lbs
  • No. of Kayakers:
  • Unique Features: Aluminum oars, cargo net, puncture-resistant vinyl, two separate air chambers, removable/adjustable seat, removable skeg

The Intex Challenger has a 7-foot aluminum hub that secures a weight of 220 pounds. The high-density polyethylene material is durable and long-lasting. The kayak has a lot of space and includes cargo nets, but you can remove the seat if you want more space. 

This kayak comes with a high output pump that makes it easy to inflate and deflate whenever you need. When it’s time to head home, the pump quickly deflates the boat to fit in the provided carrying case and the back of your car.

The ergonomic design makes steering the kayak easy as it glides effortlessly through the water. The skeg beneath the kayak ensures speed, but you can remove it for a different experience. While this kayak is mainly ideal for smooth waters, it will withstand rocks, trees, and any other obstacles in your way.

I-beam floors provide additional support and stability, and the strong vinyl material makes the Challenger stand up against punctures.

The Intex Challenger kayak is excellent for anyone who wants to experience the quality of a high-performance kayak without the usual price tag. Enjoying the experience of owning a kayak and being able to hit the water any time is something that many can’t afford. 

Customers who bought this kayak love its durability and ability to stand against sharp objects. The kayak inflates quickly and is easy to carry to the water. However, customers noted that when on the water, it moves slowly. You can likely fix the speed by removing the skeg. 

See The Full Review of the Intex Challenger K1

Pros

  • Affordable
  • The streamlined design makes it easy to paddle
  • Colorful design
  • All-in-one kayak kit with all you need
  • I-beam and aluminum core make it sturdy

Cons

  • The paddle included is weak against strong currents
  • It does not track well
  • Deflating and folding a kayak may seem tedious

4. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak – Best for Kids

  • Type: Sit-on-top
  • Length: 6 ft
  • Width: 24 in
  • Weight: 18 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene (high-density)
  • Weight Capacity: 130 lbs
  • No. of Kayakers:
  • Unique Features: Molded finger handles on each side, twin fins for surfriding, ergonomic cockpit, UV protection

The Lifetime Youth Wave kayak is perfect for getting kids out onto the water and experiencing kayaking. Since the kayak is 2-feet wide and 6-feet long, it is unlikely that it will tip over, giving you peace of mind that your child is safe. This youth kayak has a reverse chine construction, adding stability and making it even less likely to tip over. 

The Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is the number one choice of kayak for children. Not only is this kayak easy to navigate, but it is lightweight enough for your child to pull into the water on their own. At 18 pounds, it’s easy for mom or dad to carry from the car to the shore. 

The sit-on-top feature of the kayak makes it easy for your child to climb back onto the kayak should they fall off (however unlikely) or if they choose to hop off for a swim. The ergonomic cockpit lets your child easily balance while learning the ropes. Twin fins on each side are great if you want to take your little one surfriding. 

The UV-protected material ensures no fading or cracking will occur on this kayak. The high-density polyethylene is long-lasting and resists challenging obstacles. 

It may be difficult for your child to improve upon their paddle stroke because there is no seat, but that may be the only deterrent for this particular kayak. The Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is great for kids aged five and older and comes with a 5-year warranty and a 4 ½ star rating.

Many parents who bought this kayak for their budding kayak enthusiast found it’s exactly what they’re looking for. Children enjoy learning how to kayak on this durable and easy-to-use vessel. 

Pros

  • Lightweight and easy to transport
  • Unstable/difficult to flip
  • Durable 
  • It comes with a 5-year warranty
  • Molded finger handles on the sides

Cons

  • No seat
  • 130 lbs limit
  • No storage

5. Intex Explorer K2 – Best 2-Person Kayak

  • Type: Sit-on-top
  • Length: 10 ft
  • Width: 36 in
  • Weight: 31 lbs
  • Material: vinyl (puncture-resistant)
  • Weight capacity: 400 lbs
  • No. of Kayakers:
  • Unique Features: Adjustable/inflatable seat, removable skeg, bright yellow color, repair kit, grab line on both ends

This two-person kayak is easy to paddle, has comfortable seating and ample room in the cockpit. The puncture-resistant vinyl is heavy-duty but ensures the vessel remains unscathed. There is a removable skeg that offers direction stability and two inflatable and adjustable seats with headrests. 

There is a Boston valve located on either side of the kayak for quick information and deflating of the kayak. For easy transport, there are two handles at either end of the kayak and a grab line and comes with a patch kit for repairs and a U.S. Coast Guard identification. The kayak comes with two aluminum oars and a high-output pump for easy inflation and deflation. The Intex Explorer K2 is heavy, but it isn’t too big a chore with two people carrying the load. 

This Intex kayak is ideal for calm, small bodies of water rather than swift lakes or saltwater. It has multiple chambers to ensure you stay above the water if the kayak loses a lot of air. 

The kayak features durable vinyl that is puncture-resistant and an I-beam floor for added rigidity and extra sturdiness. However, do your best to avoid sharp floating debris, as it can rip the material if you get too close.

The Intex Explorer’s bright yellow design makes it visible, so you are easily visible to other boaters. Compared to others on this list, this kayak is best for two-person adventures on calm lakes or streams. You can even remove the skeg at the bottom of the vessel for better stabilization or different speeds.

Customers found that the material is weighty, making the kayak hard to transport sometimes. They also noticed that the material tears easily on sharp objects. Some people have also commented that the seating is close together so that the person in the back may be uncomfortable if they are on the taller side. However, most buyers found it’s the most affordable and best-performing kayak for two people. 

See the Full Review on the Intex Explorer K2 Here

Pros

  • Tandem kayak
  • Comfortable seats (detach with velcro)
  • Removable skeg
  • Compact when deflated and folded away
  • Easy to maneuver

Cons

  • The rear seat is close to the front seat
  • On the heavy side (37 lbs)
  • Skeg can unexpectedly detach

6. Pelican Maxim 100X – Best Fishing Kayak

  • Type: Sit-on-top
  • Length: 10 ft
  • Width: 28 in
  • Weight: 39 lbs
  • Material: Plastic
  • Weight capacity: 275 lbs
  • No. of Kayakers:
  • Unique Features: Front and rear T handles, storage hatch and bungee cord, mesh deck cover on a storage platform, cockpit table/bottle holder, molded footrests, padded seat cushion, adjustable backrest

The Pelican Maxim kayak is perfect for fishing, with the sit-on-top design and resistance to tipping over, so you can put all of your efforts into pulling in your catch of the day. The Pelican Maxim 100 comes equipped with four fishing pole holders in the hull and two hatches with bag inserts so you can store the fish you catch and not get the kayak messy.

At 39 pounds heavy, this kayak is not the easiest to transport. If you have a truck or bed that gets close to the water, you won’t have significant issues. Otherwise, be prepared to haul a heavy kayak to the water each time you want to use it. 

The Pelican Maxim 100X sit-in recreational kayak is great for the fisherman looking for fishing locations that a motorboat has difficulty reaching, like the edge or shallow part of a lake or stream. The adjustable seat allows the fisherman to switch from paddling to fishing and back again without missing a beat. It’s ideal for calm waters. 

This kayak features three layers that protect from obstacles and UV rays to ensure a worry-free trip. The hard plastic exterior is one of the most durable kayak materials. It’ll withstand sharp objects, scratching, or bumps. The multilayer polyethylene ensures the kayak is harder to break and works for a long time. 

The weight capacity of the Pelican is 275 pounds, which means that you can pack your fishing gear and not have to worry about overloading this kayak with too much weight. It has multiple storage facets, making it one of the best for long adventures or extended fishing trips. 

Some users did have troubles with the seat sliding, even when they secured the ties. There is also a lack of space to put a cooler for fish once they are caught, which some buyers felt would have been beneficial. Buyers also noted the heavy weight, not ideal for transporting long distances.

Pros

  • Very stable
  • Multiple storage areas
  • Stiff, durable material
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Reach tough fishing spots
  • Four fishing pole holders

Cons

  • Even with straps tightened, the seat will slide
  • Heavier compared to others on the list

Types of Lightweight Kayaks

There are more than just a few different types of kayaks that you will want to consider. Each one is designed to work with different types of water conditions as well as varying recreational activities. Here are some of the different types that you are likely to look at before making a purchase:

Sit-On-Top Kayaks

These kayaks are an option that has a seat on top of the kayak. Most people find that these tend to be easier to out of, which makes them an excellent choice for people who like to get out in the middle of the water to go fishing, swimming, or even diving. With these kayaks, you will need to make sure that it is easy to get what you need on the water, and before you make a purchase make sure that there is enough space in the kayak to store coolers, fishing equipment, and tackle boxes. This is a great option that you can use if you’re claustrophobic because you will not feel closed in.

Recreational Kayaks

Recreational kayaks are designed to be used in calm waters. Typically, they do not have a lot of storage space because your legs are designed to fit into the kayak. Since the lower half of your body will be inside the kayak, you will experience less wind resistance. This means that paddling kayak will be easier but getting in and out of the seat may be more difficult. In addition, if water gets into a kayak, it will stay there until the kayak is flipped over to be drained. Most of the lightweight kayaks we have reviewed fall into this category.

Touring Kayaks

This is a type of kayak that is designed for multi-day touring. It is designed with comfortability in mind since you will be spending quite a bit of time in the seat as well as plenty of storage space for all of your daily needs while you are on your kayaking trip. Typically, this specific type of kayak is going to have longer, sleek design so that it can speed through the water without an issue. In addition, to help make turning and paddling the kayak easier to manage, most touring kayaks have a rudder or a skeg, which is basically a fixed rudder that will make it easier to navigate and maneuver the kayak. Some of these kayaks are indeed lightweight but typically range in the $1,000 to $4,000 range.

Sea Kayaks

This is a type of kayak that is designed to be used in open water. These are typically salt-resistant models that have a UV-resistant coating on the surface to help protect the material. They are designed with a smaller cockpit so that a lot of excess water from the waves cannot get into the boat. They are also designed with self-bailing valves that will allow the kayak to drain when it gets overrun amongst the waves and the choppy waters of the sea. These kayaks are also the longest type that you will find, typically ranging in between 16 and 19 feet in length, and the seat is going to be positioned closer to the water so that you have better balance when you are steering the kayak in the ocean. These kayaks, like the touring kayaks are typically more expensive and are meant for more advanced paddlers.

Whitewater Kayaks

Whitewater kayaks are explicitly designed to be used in white water rapids. This type of kayak is designed to be more compact to give you more stability as you travel down the river. With a length of only between four and 10 feet in length, this is an option that is easy to maneuver when you need to, which makes it ideal for avoiding rocks and tree branches that can be found in the water. These are some of the lightest kayaks there are but have a longer learning curve to master. Typically you need to take courses to be able to kayak in whitewater

Fishing Kayaks

This is a model of kayak that is designed specifically for anglers to use. It typically comes with a lot of extra space so that you can store your fishing gear with ease as well as a rod holder where you can set your pole down while you are fishing to enjoy the time that you are spending on the water. Many people find spooling a spinning reel to be more difficult when they are in a kayak, and with a fishing kayak, you will not have any trouble spooling your line that same way that you would on land. If you are unsure of how to do this, check out this video that demonstrates the process. 

What to Consider When Choosing a Lightweight Kayak

Before you make a purchase decision on which lightweight kayak is best for your needs, there are always a few factors that you will want to consider. Some of the most important things to consider include:

Length

One of the considerations that you will need to make before making a purchase is the length of the kayak that you want. As a beginner, this may not seem extremely important to you, but you will definitely want to pay attention to the length of the kayak when you are interested in exploring different types of water. Short boats, which tend to be between eight and 10 feet in length, are often more agile. This means that they are easy to maneuver, but they may lack the speed that you need for specific bodies of water. Short kayaks are designed to be used in rivers and lakes where they may need to turn quickly with very little notice.

Longer kayaks are typically designed to go straight for a long period of time; they have an arrow design that can help them pick up speed quickly. The downside of longer boats is that they do not turn fast, which means that avoiding rocks in a river may be more difficult. Another reason to consider the length of your kayak is to make sure that it fits your vehicle. Otherwise you need a kayak trailer.

Width

When it comes to kayaks, another important consideration to make is the width. Typically, the wider a kayak is, the more stability it will have on the water. This makes it easier to get in and out of the kayak, but this wider design can also create more drag in the water. This will slow you down and make it harder to paddle. This additional drag can also make it more challenging to maneuver the kayak in the water. The narrow where the kayak is, the more responsive it will be. Narrow kayaks pick up speed very well because there is less resistance from the water against the kayak.

Weight

The weight of the kayak that you choose is going to be very important, especially if you plan on taking the kayak out on the water. You will not need additional help to maneuver a smaller, lightweight kayak; however, you may need assistance with a larger model. A kayak that is heavier will be more stable in the water, especially when you encounter waves during your journey. A kayak that is lighter may even be too difficult to manage in the same waves; in fact, a light kayak is likely to tip over.

Materials

Most of the kayaks that you find on the market are going to be made out of plastic. There are also kayaks that are made out of composite fiber or wood, but these two options tend to be a little more expensive, so only advanced kayakers will choose this type of material. The two different types of plastic that you are most likely to find on the market include:

Polyethylene – This is a type of material that is very inexpensive, which makes it ideal for beginners. It is an affordable option that can take a lot of wear and tear from the water, and it is also designed to be abrasion-resistant, so it does not get damaged if the plastic surface rubs against the bottom of the bed of water. Though, if you do encounter a sharp rock, the plastic can be punctured. This is the type of kayak that you are most likely to see in most sporting goods stores, but this type of plastic can also be weighty. In addition, this plastic is designed without UV protection, so you will have to store your kayak in the shade to protect it.

ABS – This is another common option for kayaks; in fact, it is the second most common type of construction. In general, this design will weigh a little less, but it will have a little more UV resistance, which will make it easier to protect.

Comfort Level

When you are considering which kayak you want to purchase, it is essential to sit in the seat and test out how comfortable it actually is. In most situations, you are likely to spend a good bit of time in the seat, which means that comfortability is very important. If you are tall, a smaller cockpit may not work well for you. Ideally, you will want something that is somewhat adjustable so that you can adjust the seat and the footrest to what makes you the most comfortable. If the seat is not as comfortable as you thought you can always get a specialized kayak seat.

Storage Space

Many canoes have storage space that you can Use while you are out in the water. This may be a storage space that is located behind are under your seat, but it can also be bungee rope that is positioned on the top of the kayak to secure your personal items while you are on the water. Think about how many days you would like to go on a kayaking trip, then make sure the kayak that you choose can accommodate supplies for that many days.

Price Point

As with any new purchase that you make, you will only be able to work within your budget. Kayaks can vary quite a bit in price, so decide what your budget is, and then choose the materials and the features that are most important to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an inflatable kayak worth considering?

Yes, an inflatable kayak is an option that you can easily consider for your purchase. It will be easier to carry, and since it can deflate when you are done, it can save a lot of space. Many people worry that the material is not going to be durable enough, but this type of kayak is designed with multiple are chambers, so if one gets punctured while you are in the water, the remainder of the kayak will remain inflated. You will want to make sure that this type of kayak is always fully inflated so that you can have enough stability on the water. Colder water can slowly deflate these kayaks, while too much sun can make up the air expand inside the kayak. In addition, an inflatable option is going to be very lightweight; in fact, some models even weigh less than 20 pounds.

What is a tandem kayak?

a tandem kayak that is mean specifically with two paddlers in mind. Any size kayak can be a tandem, so if you are planning on always going out with a friend, then this option may be worth considering.

What are the little black discs in the deck of the kayak?

If you see a black plug that is about six inches in size in the deck of your boat, it is most likely a built-in storage location that is designed to be waterproof. The storage hatches can also be between your feet or behind you on the floor of the kayak, and they will keep small essentials like your keys, phone, and wallet safe and dry. In addition, if the boat happens to flip over, anything stored in this location will be protected.

How can I transport my kayak?

If you have a roof rack that your kayak can easily fit on, then this is going to be the best way to transport your kayak. Some models will fit inside of a larger vehicle, but larger models may not. You can also purchase a kayak trailer to haul your kayak, which is especially great when you need to haul multiple kayaks with the same vehicle.

Should I wear a personal floatation device?

This is something that you may want to always wear to protect yourself when you are in the water, though it may not be required that you wear the PFD in the area that you live. Some states and provences only require you to have the PFDs on the kayak, so even though it is smart to wear one, you may not be required to legally. We do highly recommend you wear one though as a study determined that of the 70% of boaters who drowned 86% of incidents could of been avoided by wearing a lifejacket. Make sure to check the laws in your state before you go out on the water.

Will the paddles that come with my new kayak work?

When you purchase a kayak, you are going to want to find one that comes with reasonable paddles so that you can move with ease in the water. Cheaper kayaks tend to come with paddles that are not good quality, or they may even come without paddles at all. Sometimes, you will find a lightweight kayak paddle that is made from carbon fiber that will work for your needs.

Final Thoughts

Finding the best light kayak for your needs is essential, and all of the options that we have discussed in this guide are viable choices that will most likely work for your needs. If we were to select one option that stands out above the rest, it would be the Oru Inlet Kayak Foldable Kayak. It is a very durable model that can be used on nearly any type of water, and it folds down to a very compact size that allows you to simply pop the kayak in your trunk and drive to the water.

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