Planning on investing in a new kayak? The kayak’s weight is more important than you might initially realize. So, how much does a kayak weigh? On average, kayaks range anywhere from 20 to 80 pounds in weight. While it might seem benign at first, heavier kayaks are much more difficult to carry to and from the water. Yet lighter models may perform differently out on the water, depending on the water conditions.
Kayaks differ in weight depending on their size and materials. Below, we will provide a broad overview of the major kayak types and the weights you can expect. Afterward, we’ll discuss what role materials play in weight. With all that said, let’s get started!
Overview of Standard Kayak Weights Based on Type
The weight of a kayak will differ significantly based on its type. Often, kayaks are produced with standardized weights to best suit the tasks of a specific outing. When you’re selecting a kayak, make sure to factor in what activities it’s designed for.
|Kayak Type||Minumum Weight||Maximum Weight|
|Recreational Kayak||30 Lbs||60 Lbs|
|Fishing Kayaks (Not Rigged)||35 Lbs||70 Lbs|
|Fishing Kayaks (Fully Rigged)||65 lbs||150 Lbs|
|Inflatable Kayaks||23 Lbs||55 Lbs|
|Tandem Kayaks||55 Lbs||120 Lbs|
|Sit On-Top Kayaks||35 Lbs||80 Lbs|
|Sea/ Touring Kayaks||40 Lbs||90 Lbs|
Weight of Recreational Kayaks
Just like what the name implies, a recreational kayak is designed for casual enthusiasts that want to take their watercraft out on lakes, flatwater streams, or relatively calm rivers. Out of all the variations, recreational kayaks are the most popular in the US.
Most often, recreational kayaks feature spacious, wide cockpits. That said, they don’t offer much in terms of storage – you won’t be overloaded with bulkheads, hatches, or tank wells. This is ideal if you’re a day-trip paddler since this is what recreational models are designed for. Owing to their durable design, these kayaks are a little heavier than other types. Most are constructed from polyethylene plastic, which is an extremely durable composite material that is also high-density.
Since recreational kayaks are designed to withstand abuse, they weigh around 35 pounds (16 kg) on average for a single rider. Consider the Perception Joyride 10: It’s a short 10′ kayak that weighs 50 pounds and is made from composite plastics. Contrast this with the Current Designs kayak, a fiberglass model which is 17′ long yet weighs just as much as the Perception Joyride.
Some prefer the look of wooden recreational kayaks. The Pinguino series wood kayaks are relatively lightweight, weighing as little as 34 pounds depending on their length.
Weight of Sit-on-Top Kayaks
Sit-on-top, or SOT, kayaks feature no enclosed cockpit and position the paddler right on top of the watercraft. The paddler sits a few inches above the waterline.
Generally, SOT kayaks have a wider design, so they provide greater primary stability. This makes them the easiest type of kayak to use on flatwater streams, inlets, calm lakes, and rivers. Owing to the enclosed design of the hull, a SOT is considered almost unsinkable. The weight of a SOT doesn’t differ much from a recreational kayak, ranging from 40 – 70 pounds for a single rider.
Most SOT kayaks are made from polyethylene plastic. Again, polyethylene – and similar high-density thermoformed plastics – are durable yet very heavy.
More expensive models are made with lightweight fiberglass or even more lightweight carbon fiber, which provides better speed at a higher price point. A fiberglass SOT kayak can weigh anywhere from 25 – 50 pounds, depending on how long it is.
The Lifetime Tamarack Angler SOT model is made from polyethylene plastic and weighs about 52 pounds.
At just 26.5 pounds the sit-on-top Stellar 16′ kayak is almost half as light as the Lifetime Tamarack. Despite being four feet longer, the Stellar is so lightweight due to its triple-woven carbon-fiber construction and Honeycombe-processed core.
Weight of Inflatable Kayaks
In contrast with standard hard-shell kayaks, inflatable kayaks are designed to be lighter and easier to transport. Yet, just because they’re lighter, doesn’t mean they’re that much less durable.
A high-quality model may have a better maximum weight capacity and last years with proper care. Deflated, these kayaks can pack down inside a compact carry case or duffle bag. As you can likely guess, they’re easier to transport over land to reach enclosed waterways. This is especially crucial when you are on hikes.
Modern inflatable kayaks are made with separate, independently inflated air chambers for enhanced safety guarantees. Often, they’re constructed with puncture-resistant materials like vinyl.
The standard inflatable kayak for a solo paddler weighs, on average, 30 pounds (13.6 kg).
For instance, the Intex Challenger Kayak K1 and K2 are made from durable, welded composite vinyl. These kayaks weigh just 23.9 pounds yet boast a maximum weight capacity of up to 400 pounds.
The pricier Aquaglide 2020 Deschutes is made from more resilient EVA flooring and ultra-thin Duratex. At just 19 pounds, the Deschutes 110 is both lighter and more compact when deflated than the Intex Challenger.
Weight of Tandem Kayaks
Tandem kayaks differ widely in weight depending on their length, width, and material construction. Tandem kayaks usually range from 18′ to 24′ and hold two riders at once.
Since they’re wider and longer than a solo rider model, tandem kayaks weigh 65 to 75 pounds on average. Most tandem kayaks are made from polyethylene plastics or ABS plastics, making them durable against damage.
As a novelty item, tandem kayaks are designed best for slow-moving rivers, flatwater lakes, ponds, and coastal waters with calmer water conditions. The Perception Tribe tandem model weighs 67 pounds at 13’5″ long, supporting a maximum weight capacity of up to 500 pounds.
Of course, inflatable tandem kayaks can break the mold and weigh much less than this. The Intex Explorer K2 weighs just 30.6 pounds and accommodates up to 400 pounds of maximum weight load. The bright yellow model is made with puncture-resistant vinyl and features three isolated chambers for inflation.
Weight of Fishing Kayaks
Fishing kayaks are very similar to regular models, yet are tailored to meet the needs of anglers much better. Typically, they are a little wider and shorter than standard kayaks yet boast a higher carrying capacity to better tow all your gear.
Most fishing kayaks are around 10′ to 14′ in length and 33 to 35 inches in width. These models are intended to have good primary stability on flat water, calm streams, lakes, and rivers. They are expected to travel long-distance or provide the best possible return in movement per paddle. Many are tailor-made with convenient features like rod holders, extra tank well space, watertight storage options, and more comfortable seating for all-day sitting.
Fishing kayaks don’t differ much from standard models in terms of weight, with an average weight between 40 to 60 pounds. Most are made from ABS plastic or thermoformed polyethylene plastic, boasting high durability, and a very low likelihood of capsizing in calm conditions.
The Pelican SOT fishing kayak is just 10′ long with a maximum weight capacity of 325 pounds and weighing 50 pounds. The watercraft is made from twin-sheet thermoformed plastic, which is a type of higher molecular weight polyethylene. By contrast, the Apex Watercraft kayak is made from fully carbon fiber materials. The 12′ long, 36″ wide kayak weighs just 40 pounds and is molded for enhanced stability and tracking.
Weight of Fully-Rigged Fishing Kayaks
Of course, a fishing kayak’s weight will differ significantly depending on whether or not it’s fully rigged. A fully-rigged fishing kayak means that the watercraft is fitted with rod holders, extra seat options, gear, and food.
The Bonafide SS107 is a portable, premium-quality angler’s kayak that provides both primary and secondary stability. Fully rigged, the kayak weighs 84 pounds depending on your gear.
The 10′ kayak features a 34″ width and a high-backed seat for long-term comfort. The kayak is rigged with a dry pod transducer, foot-perching pads for standing, integrated doubleheader hinge, full rod management system, fat-grip bow handle, bolstered foot braces, and dual-stern skid plates.
Weight of Touring and Sea Kayaks
Both touring and sea kayaks are developed for more advanced paddlers that want to brave open oceans, lakes, bays, and waterways. With an enhanced cargo capacity and higher average cruising speeds, these models are excellent for traversing long distances in a single day.
In contrast with recreational models, sea kayaks have a longer, thinner design and are packed with extra features. Touring kayaks are designed to track well to counteract the influence of unpredictable current conditions; they’re also less likely to get swamped with water when a big wave hits.
Touring kayaks tend to have a V-shaped hull that offers better secondary stability but poorer primary stability, meaning that they feel more “tippy” in calm water yet brave sharp turns much more competently. Generally, touring kayaks tend to weigh a bit less than recreational models, weighing between 35 to 50 pounds. However, the weight will differ significantly depending on the quality and materials used.
The Perception Carolina 14′ kayak weighs 53 pounds with a width of just 24.5″. It accommodates a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds. The pricier Solstice GT is made for advanced paddlers, weighing just 49 pounds at a length of 17’7″. The kayak is made from premium kevlar materials which are very lightweight yet are slightly less durable than composite plastic models.
How Much Do Materials Factor into Weight?
Aside from kayak size, materials play the biggest role in determining a particular kayak’s weight. Traditionally, many kayaks were made of wood. A wooden kayak can weigh anywhere from 30 to 55 pounds depending on the type of wood used. In recent years, wood has fallen out of favor because it requires significant maintenance and care to last years of use.
Modernly, the most common kayak material is high-density, thermoformed polyethylene plastic. The material is repeatedly heated through a molding process that changes its chemical structure into a dense molecular form.
As one of the most widely used polymers in the world, polyethylene is relatively cheap yet boasts great durability against bumps and scrapes. Owing to its elastic qualities, polyethylene kayaks boast very high impact strength and last many years.
Polyethylene kayaks can withstand the roughest conditions, bouncing against rocks while barely sustaining any noticeable scrapes. However, polyethylene is quite heavy. A 10′ polyethylene fishing kayak can weigh 60 pounds or more. Fiberglass kayaks are more lightweight than polyethylene kayaks, so the material is usually reserved for touring and seafaring models. However, fiberglass kayaks are fairly delicate and can be less durable.
On the more expensive end, carbon-fiber composite kayaks are polymer-reinforced. They are stronger than kevlar and fiberglass, boasting excellent heat resistance. Carbon fiber kayaks are much less likely to deform or lose their color over time and, best of all, they are exceptionally light. A carbon fiber 10′ kayak can weigh as little as 25 pounds, which makes it very easy to transport and portage. Vinyl-based inflatable kayaks are much less expensive than carbon, yet boast a similar weight of 28 pounds at 10′ long.
What kayak should I choose?
It’s easy to get bogged down with information overload. Before you go out and purchase a kayak, make sure to factor in what type of kayaking you intend to do.
Ask yourself these key questions:
- Where do I intend to paddle? Lakes, coasts, rivers, or lakes?
- Do I want to fish while I kayak?
- Do I prefer day-long, multi-day or shorter tips when I kayak?
- Do I need to traverse greater distance during a day of kayaking?
- How often will I need to bring a kayak to portage?
If you’re a new paddler, you may be better served by a wider recreational kayak that boasts higher primary stability a flat hull. These kayaks are designed for calm waterways, lakes, and rivers, yet don’t offer the best speed guarantees compared to other models.
For better speed and tracking, you may want a model that’s narrower and lighter. Most speedier kayaks are longer, which would make touring or sea kayaks a good option. Keep in mind that it can be difficult for inexperienced riders to get the hang of touring models since they offer diminished primary stability.
If you’re an angler, you may prefer a feature-rich fishing kayak. Fishing kayaks are shorter, wider, and are highly stable. We recommend a sit-on-top (SOT) model that comes with extra storage space, a higher weight capacity, and built-in rod holders.
Of course, the kayak’s weight should also factor into your decision. If you’ll need to portage your watercraft, you don’t want to hoist a kayak that’ll break your back. For exploring new waterways recreationally, we recommend high-quality, puncture-resistant inflatable kayaks.
As always, the decision rests on your personal preferences. Factor in your primary motivations, goals, and budget before settling on a particular model.
How much does a 10 to 12-foot kayak usually weigh?
Kayaks differ in weight most significantly depending on the material they are made out of. However, all else being equal, a longer kayak will weigh more than a shorter kayak since more materials are needed to construct it.
A 10′ to 12′ polyethylene kayak will weigh around 50 pounds on average, while a 15′ model of the same width will weigh in excess of 70 pounds. However, a premium-quality kevlar 12′ kayak could weigh as little as 25 pounds.
Solo riders should select the kayak’s length primarily depending on their height. We recommend those over 6′ not pick a mode that’s shorter than 12′, as shorter models have more compact leg and foot braces.
Can overweight people kayak safely?
Yes, yes, yes. Overweight people can definitely kayak – and don’t let anyone tell you they can’t!
That said, overweight people will need to be more prudent when selecting a kayak compared to their slim friends. The most comfortable kayaks will generally be sit-on-top models with a higher backrest that can accommodate weight limits in excess of 400 pounds.
Sit-in models work just fine for most people, yet have limits up to 300 pounds and the rim of the enclosed cockpit may be uncomfortable for larger belly size.
The secret? Select a longer and wider kayak, which can displace more water or a broader surface area. These models can holder a greater standard weight. Check out models in the 10 to 13-foot range.
If you’re on the bigger side, factor in the weight of the gear you want to bring with you. You’ll also need to pack items like personal flotation devices in larger sizes. When in doubt, demo a boat before you end up making the purchase – you may find that you don’t like how a particular kayak traverses through the water when you’re actually in it.
Where can I find out a specific kayak’s weight?
Luckily, all major kayak brands clearly post the weight of the particular model right in its description. On an aggregate shopping site like Amazon.com, REI, Austin Kayak or other online retailers and scroll down to the comparison section to look at the specifications of the model you’re looking at.
If the description page is bare, look if any reviewers have posted the guide, or directly look for the kayak by its name through a Google search.
On kayaking sites, the weight is usually posted under a “specifications” header or tab.
Making the right choice can be, at times, tricky. When comparing different models, the kayak’s weight can give you insight into its quality, best uses, and difficulty to handle.
And, no matter what you choose, make sure to have fun on your next journey!