Dog Friendly Inflatable Canoe/Kayak

I am asking for a friend, who is 78 yo, and no longer wants to hump her big Old Town up and down the muddy banks to the river. Another friend of hers uses an inflatable kayak.

Here are the general parameters. We would love your ideas or suggestions:

  • Light weight canoe or kayak, suitable for a little old lady to hump to the river by herself,
  • Hard shell or inflatable,
  • Ability to take an 80 lbs dog,
  • Tough enough to bounce off rocks and take beach landings,
  • Must be a real boat, for a skilled and experienced paddler–no “pool toys”,
  • Flat water/swift water, and/or up to class 2.

    What are you old farts paddling with your dogs?



tough meeting criteria
My wife who is 5’ 100lbs uses our Necky Manatou 2 when she wants to take our 90lb basset hound out. She can move it to the water easily with a cart, but forget unloading and loading it by herself, it is a heavy monster.

With our dog (claws like a badger) I would be a little shy about a dog in a inflatable or folding boat, but I have little experience with them so I cannot address their toughness.

It may be easier to figure out what your friend can load/unload, after that carts make moving even heavier boats pretty easy.

Pakboat canoe

– Last Updated: Mar-04-15 12:57 PM EST –

Pakboat PakCanoe 150, a 15' folding open canoe that only weighs 45 lbs. It's got a metal frame but inflatable sponsons along the side.

Even lighter are their Puffin folding/inflatable kayaks, which can be paddles without the optional top deck. The Puffin Saco is only 20 lbs and even the convertible tandem Saranac is only 29.

They have testimonials from two Puffin owners in their 80's about how much they love their boat. I'm approaching "little old lady-hood" myself which is one reason I keep my older Puffin solo, figure I will end up having that be my primary boat once I am too decrepit to want to haul my heavier kayaks.

There are even a couple of Puffins on Ebay at the moment, though Pakboat also has some previous year models on sale through their website, for less than $600.

Tough enough for 80 lb dog?

I folder that can handle a couple of 200 lb guys and navigate class III whitewater shouldn’t be much affected by a solo woman paddler and a dog the size of a child. An ensolite mat laid in the hull should protect against claws, not that the rubberized hull skins are all that fragile.

Innova Helios or Sunny
will work well…

pack canoes
There are many pack canoes under 30 lbs. However, they are costly. If she has a friend or relative who could build her one, Chesapeake Light Craft has a wooden pack canoe kit, their Nymph 12 , that is under 25 lbs and has a 250 lb load rating.

As an apartment dweller, I have always been intrigued by the folding pack boats.

A yoga mat is a really good idea to protect against paw-punctures.

I will forward your ideas over to my friend. How about the rest of you, what are your suggestions?



I recommend going to and looking at some really light “tandem” canoes that are stable for an elder and an 80 pound dog. In particular, the Souhegan is a 15+ footer that weighs about 40 pounds, is only 30 inches wide, and can be soloed by anyone who used to paddle an Old Town.

The Souhegan is easy to cartop, with a bit of help. It requires minimal prep and no blowing up to get on the water. Having been designed for poling competition, it is very stable and fast enough for easy cruising.

Millbrook boats are very reasonable in price, and very durable for their weight. Any repairs that do become necessary are easy to do. When the protagonist is finally ready to really give up paddling, the Souhegan should sell readily. Or give it to family members.

No blowing up, no assembly, light, stable, roomy, one or two paddlers.

It’s the claws with 80 lbs that I was
concerned about. Glad that it can handle it.

Folders can be left assembled indefinitely (the Pakboat site reports on an 80 year old lady who would bring her Puffin to the factory in New Hampshire in the Spring and again in the Fall so they could set it up and take it down for her). But you do need to deflate and re-inflate the 2 side sponsons and seat (the boats come with a simple hand pump for that and they have long flexible tubes that make inflation easy from a sitting position.) I usually leave mine set up all season and car top them.

Folding boats are a great option both for older folks who don’t want to struggle with heavy hard shells and for those with limited storage space. I latched onto them 13 years ago primarily for the convenience of being able to take my own boat anywhere via airlines. But I got hooked on the comfort, lightness, performance and the unique feel of skin on frame kayaks in the water.

A 90# bassett hound???
I had no idea they got that big! And people think my 30# dachshund is huge! (He’s the less common “standard”, most people are used to the miniatures)

foam mats
I actually lay closed cell foam mats (ensolite or yoga) inside the hull of all my skin on frames to pad my legs against the frames. I Even take small lengths of it when paddling my hard boats – can be rolled or folded to provide thigh or lower back support, also gives me something to sit on during shoreline lunch stops. Adds some insulation for the legs when the water is cold, too. A small piece helps pad my shoulder when solo carrying a hard shell too. My old camping mats never die, they get cut up and used for countless purposes.

Great suggestions, thanks everyone.
Great suggestions, thanks everyone.