kayak weight

Hi everyone.

I’m new to kayaking, love it.

How important is boat weight??

Does it make much of a Difference having a boat ten pounds or so lighter, once in the water.

I am 6 foot tall, about 165 pounds.

My boating is on lakes and reservoirs.

Cost is not an issue.

Also, is it worth it to buy a light expensive paddle??

How does one know what type of paddle to use??

Thank all of you very much.


How does one know what type of paddle to use? You could be a loser like me and buy 3 or 4 euros just to wind up selling them. Or… you could save yourself time and money and just buy a Greenland paddle right from the start.

Lighter is easier on a long trip

– Last Updated: Nov-13-10 11:32 AM EST –

the less weight you are paddling, the easier it will be on you, plus you will be able to go faster than a heavier boat.
If you take the same paddler and put him in a plastic boat, and then in the same model composite boat, (which is lighter), he will be able to go farther and use less energy in the composite boat
It is basically the same with the paddle.
The lighter the paddle the more miles you will be able to go before you get fatigued.

Most people start with a euro style paddle.

If you want to go fast and get into racing you will need a wing paddle.

I won't comment on a greenland paddle, since I have tried them numerous times and don't like them.
Others, like brother Kudzu love them!

Before you buy any kayak, try to demo the one you want to get.
What is a good boat for one person might be a terrible boat for another.

Jack L

As I always say…
There are no light boats at the end of the day. They all feel heavy at the and of a long day on the water. But light boats are more of an advantage between the car and the water.

I have owned multiple copies of the same canoes in different layups with vastly different weights and on the water I havent really noticed any difference between them.

Paddles are another story altogether. Lighter is noticably better. I even have light and ultralight version of the same canoe paddle, with about a two ounce difference in weight and I can tell them apart when paddling thought that difference doesn’t really make a big difference.

I do far more canoeing these days, but back in the day when I switched from a fiberglass Werner San Juan to an all carbon San Juan, there was no turning back.

Depends -:wink:
Light does make your paddling experience more enjoyable. But a good design is just as important. Got to try them to figure out. Both paddles or boats.

I like Greenland style paddles and would use them on long distance trips or group paddling or rolling. For relaxed paddling, especially on a straight-tracking or ruddered kayak I sometimes use a short canoe paddle. For rough water days or white water, where I actually want to actively paddle as opposed to let the water carry me, I much prefer a mid blade euro paddle. For fittness paddling or racing - wing paddle.

You got to decide your primary use and get a paddle style and paddle brand that works best for that. Then go for the lightest you want to pay for and that is still strong enough for that use.

Boat weight, think …
Mostly about getting it on and off the car, to and from the water.

Paddle weight, think about how long you paddle: for a few hours, you don’t need the lightest, most expensive paddle. Long trips, ounces will matter.

Kayak and Paddle Weights
Hi Dave,

I design and build racing kayaks so I ponder the weight vs strength issue a bit. My opinion is that weight is of concerns in only two reference points.

  1. Is the kayak too heavy for the user to lift onto their vehicle. This is an issue with many women paddlers who struggle to find a suitable weight kayak that is not a dog to paddle.

  2. Is the kayak of sufficient weight to strength ratio to be suitable for the paddler’s intended use. A ultra light kayak is fine if you are only doing racing and you’re at the top of your class. A ultra light sea kayak may be nice to have, but if you’re not prepared to treat it with ultra care, expect to have some damage and repairs done as you crash into rocks etc.

    Also, don’t get hung up on a couple of pounds of weight difference, that’s about a bottle of sports water.

    If you expect to be paddling in rough water a lot, heavier layups often perform better, as inertia helps punch waves and resist excessive bouncing around. Ultra light layups tend to sit higher in the water, making them more “lively” and not in a good way, you feel every bump so to speak and keeping then upright distracts from making them go forward. I.E. you do more brace stroke compared to forward stroke, and you really need to maximize your forward strokes to get where you want to go efficiently.

    It’s not worth spending an extra $1000-$2000 to reduce the weight by a couple of lbs. Spend the money on a mid weight range lay up or full glass layup and put the savings towards a wing paddle and some lessons on how to use one.

    Now you ask, why a wing paddle, well it’s a no brainer if you want to be more efficient moving forward. My tests with wing paddles has shown to me, that even a complete novice when handed a wing paddle and uses it incorrectly, they still go up to 0.5 mph faster than they do when you hand them any other paddle. That’s worth having! If you get some training in the use of a wing, you will expend less energy, go faster, cover more distance with less effort, it’s a great win.

    One thing about wings, don’t let ANYONE no matter who, even you’re local shop expert, tell you because you are a tall guy, you need a long paddle or a big blade, that’s crap. A small wing blade and a paddle shaft that adjusts from say 208 to 216 cm is all you will ever need, and will be great for just about anyone over 5’8". Your speed will not suffer at all. Most racing people now realize this and are downsizing the blade size, especially for long distance races. My most popular blade is a small wing that is about 455mm long by 155mm at the widest.

    By default wing blades tend to be lighter layups, so again don’t get hung up on weight, try a few wings out, keep to the small size wings only. (Many makers say small but are in fact mid size.) Larger wings are too hard to use over long distances, you’re more like to get injury.

    Paddle shafts need to have some flex to as shock absorbers, so again avoid ultra stiff shafts, the increased “grab” of a wing really suits a shaft that is not ultra stiff.

    Hope this helps,


More Thoughts
1. If you are new to paddling you will want to try everything you can get your hands on. You will probably find things you like better over time and trade up. That’s good for everybody: manufacturer, dealer, seasoned paddler and new paddler.

2. Personally, I think the paddle is more important than the boat. I never owned a bottom of the line paddle, but started with a good quality carbon shaft with plastic blades. I now regularly paddle with a carbon foam core euro paddle, a carbon small wing paddle, and several Greenlandic sticks that I carved. I also use a fiberglass bladed, carbon shaft when rock gardening and in whitewater. For me, when using a euro style, I love the foam core. I have three. Not cheap at $400, but they are sweet. I also often use a small wing since I picked it up this summer. It is heavier that the foam core paddles, but is helping me to improve my forward stroke, which sucks. I’m not a racer, just an inland recreational paddler who likes to get to the ocean whenever possible. The GPs are great for a change of pace and look especially nice when I paddle my SOF. I chose different paddles for different boats/conditions. I still use a $150 carbon shaft, plastic blade paddle too. Especially when I’m messing around in rock gardens. So, bottom line is - get a decent paddle. Doesn’t have to be top of the line, but nothing wrong with that either. If you’re old like me be careful and give some thought about chosing a blade size that is too big. I prefer mid sized blades. Big blades beat me up, and at the end of a long paddling day I can really feel the difference. In Werner foarm core, that’s the Ikelos vs. the Cyprus.

3. Boats: Most of my boats are heavy (except for my 28lb. SOF). I very rarely paddle alone, so there is almost always help loading and unloading my boats at the launch. At home it’s different. I usually have to slog the boats on and off the car and into the garage by myself. Two kayaks are are over 60 lbs. One canoe is about 70 lbs., but everything else is lighter. Most non-whitewater kayak injuries are from lifting and carrying boats from the vehicle to the launch, and these are often back injuries, so give that some thought.

4. As others have said, performance of heavy vs. light on the water is of little significance, unless you are a competitive racer.You can get a good workout with a lightweight boat and paddle too, but you may have to paddle farther than if you have a heavy paddle.

5. Buy lots of gear frequently and sell the stuff you no longer use. That helps everybody out and will put a smile on your face.



Start with the paddle
If you’re hesitant to spend the money on weight-related upgrades, get the light paddle first. It will be easier on your body, no matter what boat you’re in, what conditions you paddle, or what fitness level you are. And a whole lot less pricey than switching to a lightweight boat. You can do that later if you really want to, but the paddle lets you start small, costwise.

The moral here: Try lots of boats and paddles.

The reality
Good advice above. But the reality is you are never at the end of choosing boats and paddles. Your tastes change, your skills change, you encounter new ideas, you learn new things. That is part of the fun. People talk about the journey being more important than the destination. But actually there is no destination, just a continuous, wandering around journey that is lots of fun. Get a good, light Euro style paddle and use it. Maybe get one that is adjustable so you can try different feathering. Beg, borrow, or buy a Greenland paddle and try that. But don’t get rid of anything. Same for boats. Get a decent, relatively cheap sea kayak in plastic. Borrow other boats. Go to symposiums and try boats. Etc. Enjoy the trip.

Some facts on boat weight.
Big difference in boat weight is as others have said. Loading and unloading. The older you are the more important that becomes. :slight_smile:

While I hate spending the money, a lightweight paddle is a good thing. Your going to lift, push and pull it a lot. That little bit of saved weight will add up after thousands of paddle strokes!

Back to boat weight. Here is something I did on the performance difference weight makes on a kayak. I need to do some editing but you will see there isn’t much difference performance wise.


Beg to differ
It seems “common wisdom” that 10-15# in boat weight is meaningless once on the water. Personally, I find that to be untrue. The difference in inertia can be quite evident. That may not mean much going in a straight line or in essentially flat water, but in more dynamic conditions and when asking the boat to do something NOW it does make a difference. Whether that is good or bad is a personal preference, but to say there is no evident difference is wrong based on my experience. When you get down to the weight of SOFs, the difference can be dramatic.

As an old, weak paddler, the importance of light weight when loading and unloading onto the car and handling it overall on solo trips like over 50’ of seaweed covered rocks to land and launch is big to me.

Lighter is better to me for both boats
and paddles, as long as the designs and size are also appropriate for me.

I’ve sold a couple ultra light solo canoes because they were either not the right size and style for me.

I’ve kept some 56 lb canoes because they area a good design and size for me, but I hate loading and unloading them, because I don’t lift weights to keep strong enough to manage them easily and safely off the water.

Paddle size and design is as important to me as weight. I definitely prefer lighter paddles, but also need them to be the right size (both overall length and blade length & width). I much prefer smaller blades on both my canoe and kayak paddles.

I enjoyed canoeing and kayaking much more after I got paddles that were better suited for me.

if you’re 125lbs
then ten lbs is a big difference, if you’re 225 it’s less significant. It’s mostly significant when carrying it to the car.

In your case I wouldn’t focus on weight as much as handling. If you don’t have a preference don’t focus on numbers but utility for the money. A cheap $115 Aquabound could be as good as a $265 Werner or $395 Epic if you haven’t any handling preferences. After you develop preferences you’ll have a good spare paddle.


– Last Updated: Nov-14-10 7:48 PM EST –

You may be right and one thing to consider is the more experience and skill you have the more noticeable small things will be. You may very well notice it. I still think the average person, once on the water isn't going to notice any difference.

I don't have any way to rate inertia's effect on a kayak. But resistance isn't to hard to look calculate and from a Touring Kayak perspective I don't think the difference is noticeable except at the start and end points for most people.

Kayak weight is probably most noticable

– Last Updated: Nov-15-10 6:46 PM EST –

When carrying the kayak. A lighter kayak is more responsive and easier on older joints when paddling. Heavier kayaks will usually be built stronger and take more abuse.

There are three basic types of paddles for kayaking, euro, wing and greenland. A lighter paddle for a wing or euro is more important to me than with a greenland because of the different paddle stroke involved. Each type of paddle has many variations that work differently. Kayak symposiums are a great place to try different equipment.

Kayaking is a very diverse activity with many different types of equipment. Your interest and equipment will change as your skill and knowledge grow so don't get too hung up any certain type of equipment. Follow your interest and try as many different types of equipment and see what suites your taste. If money is not a problem then you can purchase the latest technology which will probably be the lightest. Enjoy the journey.

That extra $1000 to $2000
would cover the cost of buying a new kayak trailer that negates the need to high-lift any boat. The trailer, once set up with bars and cradles or stackers, also negates the need to buy vehicle-specific rack hardware. You can switch it between different vehicles, as long as they have a common attachment fixture–usually a 2" ball but sometimes 1 7/8". Even if the vehicles used have different trailer balls, you can readily swap out the balls. They only cost $10 to $20 each.

my rule is…
never buy more boat than you can load on the roof of your car at the end of a long day of paddling.

IN the water, i’ve never seen enough differnce to worry.

Paddle weight
Better paddles are lighter, but that is not the only reason why they are better. Don’t skimp on some cheapo paddle, you will enjoy kayaking a lot more if you spring for at least a decent one. Don’t buy one that it too long.

For the boat, you notice the weight the most when you are off the water. Some of the light boats are fragile, only go that route if you are willing to deal with that. Lighter is not necessarily better with boats, there are some excellent boats that are pretty heavy and extremely durable.