How Much Does a Kayak Weigh? (And What Makes Them Heavy or Light)

Finding out how much your kayaks weigh is a pretty important thing to know before you buy one and get it in the water. Kayaks can get extremely heavy and if strength isn’t your forte then you might want to pick one that’s a bit lighter to make transporting it around a bit easier.

If you don’t have a lightweight kayak you can always buy kayak carts to help you get your kayak from A to B but even with one of them you should probably know the rough weight of a kayak you’re taking out. In this article we’re going to look at what factors go into making one kayak heavier than another and how that will affect how it performs.

What Things Affect a Kayak’s Weight

There are principally four things that are going to affect how different kayaks weigh:

  • Their size
  • Their materials
  • Your weight (and passenger’s weight)
  • How much gear you’re taking with you

We won’t discus your weight and how much gear you’re taking as this will change from person to person and trip to trip but we will look at size and material and how this can affect the kayak’s weight.

Their Size

The first factor that can dramatically affect how much a kayak weighs is its size. Smaller kayaks are generally going to weigh a lot less than larger ones. What size kayak you go for will often be dependant on how you plan to use it. Kayaks made for running whitewater rivers are often shorter and so will weigh less. Fishing and touring kayaks are designed for comfort and being able to take lots of gear so are typically longer (10 ft plus) and so will inevitably weigh a lot more.

It also depends on how many seats they have. Solo kayaks are generally going to weigh a lot less than tandem kayaks. But, that being said, all this depends on the next factor that can affect a kayak’s weight: their materials.

Their Materials

Another factor that probably plays the biggest part in how much a kayak weighs is the materials that they made of. These days kayaks are made out of a variety of different types of materials that all weight considerably different things. But, lighter doesn’t always mean better as what they’re made of can affect how durable your kayak is and how it performs in the water.

There are five common materials that kayaks are made of these days which are:

  • Inflatable kayaks
  • Rotomolded kayaks
  • Themoform kayaks
  • Fiberglass/composite kayaks
  • Wooden kayaks

We’ll now talk about how these materials affect how much a kayak made from it can weigh.

Inflatable Kayak Weight

Easily the lightest weight kayak you can get is an inflatable kayak mainly because they’re filled with air. Inflatable kayaks are typically made from either PVC ( Polyvinyl Chloride) Hypalon or some of the newer ones can be made from Nitrylon.

One of the biggest advantages of an inflatable is their weight with the average one weighing in the region of 30 lbs. This makes inflatable kayaks really easy to carry around. Despite weighing so little, they are surprisingly durable as the materials they’re made out of often have anti puncture and anti abrasion features to ensure they last.

Rotomolded Kayak Weight

Rotomolded kayaks are made from one piece of molded plastic. They’re constructed by melting the plastic to mold them into shape of the kayak. When it comes to weight, plastic as a material isn’t the lightest and so typically these kayaks are the heaviest kind you’ll see. They are however very cheap and affordable plus have good durability making them a good option for a whitewater kayak.

Thermoform Kayak Weight

Thermoform kayaks are another plastic made kayak that have some differences in their construction. The results are that they are a lot lighter than rotomolded kayaks while retaining good durability and longevity. They’re also more affordable than a fiberglass or composite kayak which we’ll look at next.

Fiberglass and Composite Kayak Weight

When you start looking at higher end kayaks you’ll often see them being constructed from Fiberglass and other composite materials like kevlar and graphite. Using these materials can keep the kayaks lightweight and help them to cut through the water to go a lot faster. But, the downside is the cost which is considerably more than most other kayaks.

Wooden Kayak Weight

While wooden kayaks aren’t as widely seen these days they used to be very popular. They are usually lightweight, can look absolutely stunning and can perform well in the water. Sadly though a wooden kayak in going to be a lot less durable than its plastic and composite counterparts. The wood can also take a lot more work to maintain and will accumulate scratches a lot easier.

How to Find Your Kayak’s Weight

Other than jumping on a set of scales to weigh your kayak, there are usually two points of call to find out how much your kayak weighs. The best place to go is the manufacturer’s website for the model that you’re looking at. Each brand will usually have all the specifications and details including the weight of a kayak that you’re looking at.

If you can’t find it we’d recommend visiting a kayak store in person or posting on a forum to ask others who already own that type of kayak how much it weighs.

Why do you Need to Know a Kayak’s Weight

Knowing how much a kayak weighs can have a number of different benefits. The first is need to know how to carry a kayak on your own. Kayaks can get really long and heavy and if you’re not able to lift it on your own it can limit how often you can go paddling. You might need someone to help you lift it or you’ll have to learn how to kayak a kayak on your own.

If you’re transporting your kayak on top of your car in a rack for example, you’ll need to lift the kayak up on to it and if it’s particularly heavy you’ll again need help to load it.

Another reason you’ll need to know is if you’re storing your kayak on a rack or hoist they’ll often have a max weight capacity and you don’t want to over load it as this can cause damage to not only your kayak but your surrounding possessions.

Lastly, kayaks of different weights will perform different in the water. Lighter kayaks are usually easier to control and manuever in the water. That being said, a difference of 5-10 pounds in the weight of your kayak won’t matter much when it comes to the performance.

So How Much does a Kayak Weigh?

Unfortunately, the quick answer to how much does a kayak weigh is it depends. It depends on a number of different things which we’ve discussed above. But, if we had to give an answer, we’d say on average, a kayak weighs between 20 and 80 pounds. This again depends on the factors we’ve discussed above and some kayaks can even get close to 100 lbs.

Just ensure that you don’t buy a kayak that’s too heavy for you. If you only plan to go out in tandem kayaks with a friend or loved one who can help you to lift it and transport it then go for which ever one you want, but if you’re lacking a bit of strength then opt for a lighter one that is more manageable and easy to move around.