Inflatable/Folding/Lightweight boat

I own an Old Town Loon 138 and I love it. The problem is, it weighs 60lbs. Because of back problems and general wimpyness, this leaves me beholden to my husband if I want to go paddling. My husband has less free time than me and is not as enthusiastic a paddler. I have yet to see the water this season and I am NOT HAPPY. I have come to the conclusion that I either need to get a new husband or get a new boat. And my husband is kind of cute. I have read lots of reviews and specs but I'd like to get the benefit of some folks' personal experience. I will list my requirements below. Please tell me what models you think I should consider. I don't care exactly what type of boat I get as long as it meets my needs.

Conditions: Flatwater, some light chop possible

Distance: Short distances, less than 2 hour paddles, this is just a recreational play boat (I am not traveling far alone!)

Boat weight/portability (the most important factor): Under 30 lbs, preferably under 20. I want something I can pull out of my car trunk and drop onto the ground by the water.

My weight: I am a big girl, I weigh just under 250lbs. So if a boat has a limit of 250lbs, it needs to mean it. I don't want to drown because I brought a sandwich with me. :)

Performance: Obviously the best possible but I am not expecting much. I just want something to explore the local shorelines with. Given the choice, I'd prefer good tracking.

Cockpit: I prefer a broad or open cockpit like my Loon, but not a SOT.

Price: As cheap as possible. Ideally under $500 but I am open to all ideas.

I had been thinking about the Skedaddle/Dragonfly but some reviews said they were a tight fit on people smaller than me. What do you suggest?

Look at the Tributary sawtooth, try for honest opinions.

I’m over 200 pounds as well
I haven’t found an inflatable that worked well for someone close to my weight. I’ve tried a few and they are all pretty bad for heavy people.

I’d recommend that you get a lighter boat or a cart. 60 pounds is not a lot of boat weight for a 250 pound person. Many boats that are lighter are designed to carry much less weight. The average kayaker weighs about 150 so the average boat is designed for them.

I’d also take a look at canoes. It seems that canoes are designed to carry more of a load. You could paddle one with a long kayak paddle.

The best boat I’ve tried for heavy people is the Pungo 140 and it is a very heavy boat too.

I’d definitely try an inflatable before I bought another one.

I’d go with the cart idea. Carts cost way less than new boats. If you get to paddle more, you’ll stay strong and with the cart you’ll be able to move your existing boat easier.

As for hubby, there’s always the “if you REALLY love me, you’ll go paddling with me” approach, but I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Poke boat?
A Poke boat is 18-28 lbs, depending on material, and carries up to 450 lbs. But unless you can find one used, it’s going to be a lot more than $500. I haven’t paddled one, but it sounds like it’s meant for what you want, plus or minus.

pie in the sky
You’re asking for too much, but something we all want: The boat that weighs nothing, costs nothing, will carry 250, and goes really fast. If you change the last parameter, a milk carton derby boat may fit your needs. Joking aside, it costs money (i.e. not going to come cheap), but Eddyline has a handful of light boats for big folk–the Equinox, etc. I also haven’t heard skin-on-frame boats mentioned yet. They’re light and robust.

Folbot Aleut

– Last Updated: Jun-19-10 11:57 AM EST –

The Folbot Aleut may fit the bill. It has a 250 pound capacity, but as Folbot owners point out, Folbots can carry at least 10 percent more than their manufacturer's rating.

It has a very large cockpit; so large that you should put on the seperate spray deck in rough weather or chop. It's a very easy boat to enter and exit.

The company says the boat weighs 39 pounds, which puts it above your weight requirement. Worse yet, the actual weight with spray deck and spray skirt is likely to be a few pounds even heavier. Folbot makes a collapsible boat cart which you could purchase if the weight is too much. It stows easily in any of their boats.

I have the "big brother" of the Aleut, the Yukon. I've never paddled a boat I like as much as my Yukon, and it is constructed along nearly identical lines as the Aleut. The Aleut would be EXCELLENT for the useage you described, and would even work for an overnight or weekender boat (folders have phenominal storage capacity). It's an incredibly smooth-feeling ride. It's as stable as a rock - I feel like I could ALMOST stand up in my Yukon without outriggers - and tracks well.

Manufacturer's website for Aleut:

Folding Kayak Website review (Aleut review is 2nd from top):

European Aleut travel stories:

Folbot Forum discussion for Aleut:

Read the review and talk to owners on the forum. People absolutely LOVE this boat, and they'll be happy to share their thoughts with you.


Thing is, the Folbots are in two bags - one for the skin, and another for the frame. So that divides the weight in half. A 62 pound boat like my Greenland II is only about 30 pounds in each bag. The singles much less, of course; but you have to be prepared to assemble and disassemble, which can be a little much for some.

light, strong boat
You might be able to find a used hand made Skin-on-Frame boat (nylon over wood) that would have sufficient capacity, though I doubt you would find one with an extremely open cockpit. I bought one a year ago for $800 and even though it’s 18’ long it only weighs 32 lbs. and is a breeze for me to load and carry (I’m a 5’ 5" woman.) Many of the guys (and gals) who build these themselves seem to be regularly refining and changing the designs they want to paddle and thus will sell their old boats as they upgrade. They are built for specific size paddlers so you would need to keep your eyes out for one for sale by someone near your size. Check the “for sales” over at – sometimes they turn up here for sale, too. Brian Schultz’ website is a great intro to skin on frame boats. Depending on where you live, there are classes to be had to make your own.

If you could scrape up a little more green, a used Feathercraft Big Kahuna folding kayak might be ideal for you for but would likely run $1200 to $2000. I started out kayaking with a regular Kahuna – the “Big” model just has a larger cockpit but runs under 35# . I never had trouble hauling it and they are very stable and pleasurable boats to paddle.

You are unlikely to find a kayak that would be comfortable and safe for you under 30 lbs. Only boat I ever had/used near that light was a 24 lb. handmade fiberglass 12’ whitewater boat with a maximum load of 180# and max hip diameter of 38".

Having a super light boat is definitely worth the investment – I guarantee you will use it more often. And a good quality boat holds it’s value – you can always sell it for a good percentage of what you paid for it so I see the initial cost as more like a “rental” since I will get at least half back when I sell.

Carts and stuff
Thanks to everyone for their input, I will definitely look at the brands suggested.

Re: carts - we have one, it’s awesome. The problem is I have back problems and the act of lifting the kayak off the rack onto the cart, onto the cart to the car, etc. will leave me in bed for 2 weeks doped up on muscle relaxers. Because we live in a townhouse a with the parking lot a good distance away, trailers or a system to drop the kayak right onto the car isn’t possible.

It’s my physical therpay goal to be able to lift my kayak without hurting myself but that’s years away.

Do hullavators actually work?

Fast not needed
Short distances, short times, just something to play with. Maybe I just need an innertube. :slight_smile:

do-it-yourself? :wink:

I just paddled our Sevylor Tahiti today for the first time. It sounds like it would fit your needs and you can find them for around $100.

We bought the optional skeg with ours and while the yak turns on a dime, it still tracks pretty decent. I did 5 or so miles in it today while my oldest son tried out my Tarpon. I was pretty comfortable the entire time.

The whole things blows up in less than 5 minutes and is very durable.

It is more like a sit on top though, and I have heard they weathercock pretty badly.

I am 6 foot tall and somewhere between 230 and 240 lbs.

Well it qualitifes…
It’s foldable and lightweight! :slight_smile:

Lots of choices for you if you go the inflatable route. When I started I was more like 275lbs, down to around 230 now…anyways:

Innova Sunny or Helios 1 - both great boats. The H1 is cheaper and you will be fine despite the 220lbs weight limit. I’ve had mine up to 290lbs with no issues. My preference are the Innova boats - mainly due to the ease of setup, take down and drying.

Advanced Elements - The Advanced Frame is a great little kayak. Only issue is weight and drying time.

Actually any of the nylon outer shell, inner bladder type construction will have same drying issue. If your goal is quick paddling trips then you should pay attention to how well an inflatable dries.

The Stearns spree and similar boats are cheaper and will float you fine as well. But if you can pay $500, an Innova, AE or even the Aire Sawtooth would be a much better choice.

Good luck!


the Advanced Elements Expedition, 13’, fits me well with plenty of room (6-2/210), and paddles/tracks very well. Also check out Saturn kayaks, very well made.

I am really surprised
no one mentioned Yost boats.

The Yarra is the boat that fits the requirements with the big cockpit option.

lightweight, strong, substitute ballistic nylon for the pvc coating to lighten it up a bit more.

use a foam pad instead of the long wooden seat.

Make it as heavy or as light as you want depending on the conditions you plan on taking it to.


I can second the Expedition with
some reservations. I’ve had mine now for about 2 1/2 years - time enough to learn the limitations. Just the kayak alone in it’s bag supposedly weighs 48#. It is a very awkward 48# though. I’ve taken to putting it on a rolling dolly to get it to and from the car and I think I’m going to devise a break-down two wheel cart to get it to and from the water. If you don’t have the space for a hardshell they’re great but they’re only slightly lighter weight than similar size kayaks. They do track well, even without the backbone accessory however I find it somewhat difficult to adjust my seating position regularly enough to prevent cramps in the back of my knees and thighs. They do only take about 10 minutes to set up so they’re less trouble than a folder in that respect. However, they’re wide and not especially fast. The drying issue was mentioned by some other posters. I would have to agree. If you have time after a paddle to let it sit out (partially inflated/deflated) you can get it dry in just a half hour probably. Most of the time though I pack it up and take it home wet after which it needs to sit laid out on my living room floor to dry before I can stow it without fear of it mildewing. Another poster mentioned building your own Yost folder. If you have the technical skills, great, however a folder based on his plans is likely to cost in excess of $500, not to mention the time to actually build the thing. For a few hundred more you could buy the new hybrid inflatable/folder called the AirFusion which is also made by Advanced Elements. I gather this new design sets up faster than a folder but is far sleeker and faster than a regular inflatable. I’d love one, but I can’t afford the $800 price tag. A Sevylor Tahiti was mentioned and while they’re inexpensive boats, I’ll tell you right now I owned one and it was such a bear to paddle comfortably that I got rid of it as soon as I could. It was extremely susceptible to the wind, didn’t track worth crap even with the skeg, and because it was so wide you skin your knuckles constantly rubbing them on the sides of the boat. Trying to paddle it with two adults was a joke. The thing wallows and is slower than molasses in January. The more expensive AE boats are nice but beware the drying issue and note that they have a kind of tight cockpit. If you’ve got wide hips it’d probably be best for you to sit in one if you can before you commit to buying it.