Another vote for as light as you can go
but not an extra 800 to save 5 pounds …save the money to get a light paddle.
Even hauling a 33 pound boat up after a hard run I always say to myself … how do those folks do ( lift a 40+ pound boat up 6’ ) it all the time ?
Another vote for as light as you can go
I am 6’2" and 185 (dieted) and for years hefted some pretty heavy boats for awhile (NordKapp, Explorer, Greenlander) that weighed from 55-65lbs in fiberglass up on my 7’ high truck. However, now I am 53 and wiser in some respects - as I paddle a 28lb Black Pearl in cedar strip and love to watch fellow paddler’s jaws drop as I heft it up onto my truck racks one handed.
Downside to light boats? If you wet exit (ever) in windy conditions and don’t hold on tight, you may watch your boat flip end over end as the wind carries it away from you! Sometimes some weight is good…
Upside to this thread? Getting to hear about all you 5’2" paddling women out there in my age range…yeeehahh…
Liquid Logic Manta Ray 10
My wife is 53 and 5’ tall. She paddles a 10-foot Manta Ray Sit-on-top. Its easy to get in and out of. Its light enough for her to drag it up a river bank by herself. I usually put the boats on the minivan, but she helps balance by grabbing the rear handle. If she wanted to paddle on her own, she could easily fit the boat inside the van…just another reason to keep that minivan!
Oh, and the Manta Ray 10 performs well on both lakes and small rivers.
Not for me
I’m guessing a lot of your gals are stronger than me!
When I first started kayaking, I drove to a friendly kayak shop in my old, scratched up car and test loading the kayak I wanted to buy. It’s “only” 35#. I can easily lift a 35# sack onto my shoulder so I figure this test is just a double confirmation that I can load it without scratching the newer car that we had at home.
What I quickly found out was the length (14’) was such that it just swings wildly. And once it started, I couldn’t stop the swinging without putting one end down. So, it’s not so much the weight, but the size that matters.
What I ended up is a much heavier kayak, for much less. I don’t ever “lift” the whole kayak, except from the floor onto the rack (about belly height).
For loading and unloading, I ALWAYS only pickup one end of the kayak at a time!
Detail technique differs depending on your transport. For me, with a regular car, I put one end of the kayak on the trunk (protected by a bathmat), then go to the back and pick up the other end and push the front onto the roof saddle. People have vans/SUV just set their roller far back near the end and push the kayak up that way.
For the price of the extra light material, you might be better off to get one of those fancy hydralic loaders. Both Thule and Yakima offers them for a few hundred extra.
Dude - time to hit the gym…
I love my 19 foot/ 30 lb Black Pearl - but can put up my 53lb Outer Island on my 7’ tall truck and I am no strong man…so I would guess it is all technique and balance. Sort of like a dance with a partner that could kill ya if you make a wrong step…
I plan my moves and do it all in one fluid motion barring any sudden wind gusts or 4 inches of ice under my feet. However, if I can find someone to help - you betcha I will take it!! But, I like to paddle places/dates/times that are not the norm, so mostly paddle solo. So its either sell my tall truck, don’t paddle at all, or learn to do it myself. (and yes, I admit I work out)
Just work on your technique.
You’re absolutely right it’s all about technique.
Since I’ve figured out a technique not needing to lift the whole kayak at all. The weight no longer matters.
I agree about longer boats
At 4' 11", I had trouble with my original boat, a Dagger Savannah (14.5 feet, 55 lbs). It was difficult to store and hard to get down the stairs of my small, second-story apartment. Once downstairs, I had to load it on a rack attached to the bed of my truck. I could climb in the truck bed, but it was a lot of tugging and pushing.
I traded it for a Necky Sky (9.5 feet, 45 lbs) which was easier to store and get downstairs. And now I can just slide it into the bed of the truck. It's also lots easier to get on and off the water because of the length, as much as the weight. It doesn't get away from me as easily.
I guess I should add that the length does limit me a bit about where I can paddle and what group I paddle with, but for what I like, it works just fine.
Go look at an Epic 16. Very fast, stable and light at 39 pounds. Call Epic directly. A woman in the club I belong bought one of their demo.'s at the last Kayak Festival in Charleston for $1,400. It was in very good shape and you can’t go wrong. See if they still have one!
For what it’s worth, here is an opinion.
If this is your first kayak, you probably will “outgrow” it as your skills improve. The first one will soon be boring. Purchase something used, polypropelene boats are the cheapest and most bullet-proof. Sell it later for about what you paid for it, then buy the one you want, now that you know what to look for.
To transport to and from the water, buy a wide wheeled, low pressure tired dolly. Such as the EZ Roller. The wide tires roll easily over a rough sand beach or rocks. Roll the kayak up to the rear of the vehicle, place the bow of the kayak just in front of the rear tire, then lift the bow up onto the rack, go to the rear of the kayak, and slide the boat up onto the rack. Once you figure it out, it’s easy for one person.
I am 50+ and a little busted up, but still pretty strong.
The boats that end on my racks the most are two 50# plastic kayaks.
The height of the racks is important.
The racks on my Toyota truck are about 5’6" and I rarely ask for help loading them. The racks on Kathy’s Silverado are 6’6" and I will usually wait for help to rack them.
Even if the boats were 30# I would still need help to load them on the Silverado, because at 5’9" I need someone to hold up the rear while I lift the front. Balancing a kayak over your head by yourself is not easy.
Plastic is heavier than composite, but I don’t worry about marring them, and that makes racking easier.
Plastic boats tend to be around manufacturers stated specs. Composite boats can be wayyy off. I had a fiberglass Seda Revenge that weighed 25# more than spec.
The boat also has to fit with your paddling style. I have a super light 18’ Kevlar boat, but its not a good match for the Rec boats and short SOT’s the rest of the family use, so it rarely ends up on the rack.
Second Hurricane AquaSports boats
I have the Santee XL, which is now the Santee 116. It is the lightest and biggest of our kayaks. I am in my 20’s, Female, and reasonable average in the athetic arena. When I got it I was in PT for a bad shoulder and I drive an Element, so I had to get a boat up 6 feet while only lifting 10# with my bum wing. I also invested in the Yakima Boat Loader which lets you tip one end of the boat up onto an extended bar and then slide the whole boat up before lifting the boat on top of the car. Confusing? It makes sense when you try it.
Hurricane boats are good, cheap, and light.
Now I can lift my Santee onto the roof without much problem, so I use the loader when I’m all worn out from a day of paddling.
Make sure you can handle your boat before you buy it. My club has a significant (and growing!!) number of women who show up and expect some of the big strong guys to unload their boat, carry it to the put-it, help them land and launch it at lunch stops, portage it around sections of rivers that the women can’t or won’t paddle, Help them land it at the take-out, and then carry it to their car and pack it up and strap it down at the end of the day. IMHO, I would rather not paddle than rely on others for all of my boat lifting and carrying needs. Not that I mind help, I just don’t require it.