Light weight Kayak

Hi…Looking for a kayak that I will be able to handle on my own putting it on the roof of my mini van. The new “lite” products which are quite expensive seem very inviting. Are they worth the money?

I am a female and am not the strongest human being in the world. Looking at a 12-14 ft kayak.

Thanks for any advice…

Build It Yourself - Yah, Really!
There’s a dozen really nice stitch and glue designs out there that are very simple to build, cost a fraction of the price of commercially produced kayaks and are very light by any standard. Many are deliberately designed to be built by folks with limited skills, tools, time and money. The VOLKSKAYAK design, which I build (about 60-80 hours from scratch, allow >$500 Cdn per boat) gives you a 17’, 25" beam sea kayak weighing less than 45 lbs. The Pygmy Arctic Tern 14 is one sweet-looking and handling kayak that would fit in your size range, and a quick Google for “stitch and glue kayaks” will yield dozens of other designs. If you do get intersted in DIY boats, you can also check out the Kayak Building Bulletin Board - very experienced and helpful home builders, sort of a for the DIY crowd. Other p.netters have also done stitch and glue boats - you might try a post asking for info on their designs.

Yes, worth it…
If it makes you independent to go anywhere anytime…

You will get much more use out of a light kayak and save more in medical bills by not having to lift as much weight.

Take your own scale when looking at boats, you can’t always depend on what’s advertised .

BTW, I second the Artic Tern 14, mine weighs 34lbs. (see my profile for a pic)

Current Designs makes a Kevlar Kestrel, a little over 12’ long and about 30 lbs. It’s a really attractive boat, two-tone.


I have a Folbot Cooper that weighs in at 31.5 lbs. I mainly car top this boat but it folds down into one carry bag and can be assembled comfortably in 30 minutes. The tracking, stability and speed of this boat is amazing. Go to their web site and check em out.

different alternatives
if you want OK performance there is always pokeboat proven and a fun way to get onto hte water. Got some serious bucks check out a solander from west side boat shop or one of their rec boats. Arctic ther 14 oh yeah a grat boat if you have the time and will, no performance compromise for any beginner and really lightweight if built right.

I got my wife a $900 used solander in kevlar she can paddle without me and I encourage her to do so so that she can learn to love paddling as much as I do!

There’s are alternatives
If you invest in a kayak cart and learn how to lift your boat onto the rack , in steps , resting the stern on the ground while you lift the bow, etc, so you are only lifting the portion of the weight of the kayak, you can manage a boat that weighs 50-60 lbs. Lots of boats like that can be had used for very little money. Very light boats are cool and fun but not really a necessity. On this board you will find lots of different kinds of paddlers and to get started you don’t need an ultra-light homebuilt or a kevlar boat. There is a good book I think Called Seakayaking for Women, that might be a good place to get started, and make sure you get advice from other women on what kind of boats to use.

where are you
i have a couple of light boats that are negotiable

Lincoln Canoes and Kayaks
I have not tried these but they are light. Check out the Quoddy Lite and Chebeague.

go lite!!
The new thermo-formed kayaks I think you are referring to (Trylon-Airlite) are very much worth it.

Now take this from a guy who has owned several composite boats. My Tracer is every bit as cool as my Seaward was at about 1/2 the cost! My wife loves her Tampico way more than her former boat: a Valley Skerry RM. Good luck cause there are a lot of great choices in the 12-14 foot range. It really depends on your size. You are wise though to think about the weight loading and carrying.

Consider a folding kayak
maybe from

Phoenix Isere: 14’ 9"L, 24.5" W, 29lbs

I have one of these that I bought used about a year and a half ago. Very light weight at 29lbs. Much faster than the Phoenix Poke Boat, but doesn’t track as well. Turns very nicely. Biggest problem for me has been making the seat comfortable. Expensive new, but you might get lucky and find a used one.

Hurricane Santee…
My wife and daughter-in law have Hurricane Santee’s. They weigh in at 32 lbs. and are a great kayak for women.

Theirs cost $745 ea. Don’t know what they might cost now.The Santee is 10’lg and the Santee XL is 11.5’ lg

I’ve lost their website but you can “google” Hurricane Aquasports for their website.

CD Kestrel
I just bought a plastic CD Kestrel 120, and love it. I am female, not strong at all and not an experienced paddler. Part of the reason for choosing this one was the weight, but it also handles wonderfully. I briefly considered the more expensive ultra-light model, but felt the slight difference in weight didn’t justify the great difference in expense. I can get mine in and out of the water by myself,and can carry it short distances alone. I can put it in the back of our pickup, but I think if I had a roof rack with the rollers at the back (know what I mean?) I am pretty sure I could get it up and down myself. A low stool to stand on would probably help. I don’t have heaps of experience, but that’s what I’ve found so far.

3rd suggestion for a folder
Check out the Atatl

I also really like the Feathercrafts. Expensive but great boats.

Check out these two…
If interested in Composite, check out the Lincoln Chabeaque. In all kevlar, it is 28 Lb. At 14’ long, and 24" wide, that is one light kayak, It is Strong, and and it handles well. The Kevlar/fiberglass layup is 33 Lb, and that is the one I had. It was a nice kayak!

if interested in Thermo formed plastic, check out the “Hurricane Aqua Sports”, Tampico. it is 13’6" long X 24" wide, and weighs 38 Lb. My wife has one, and she really likes it.

I think you will like either one!

Worth it
If wrestling with the boat on land is a royal PITA, you’re not going to use it as much. If the cartop struggle adds more stress than being on the water takes away, it’ll discourage you from doing those short after-work paddles that can be such a great way to unwind.

For my wife, getting a boat that she could carry by herself was a huge win.

Graphite canoe…
…I’m not a kayaker, but I just acquired a graphite We-no-nah Vagabond canoe, a 14.5’ solo. It weighs 22 lbs, about half as much as the Royalex version and about half what most kayaks seem to weigh. It was a big investment, but I have NO regrets. Far easier to

hoist onto the car top, although I usually carry in the back of a pickup. Also a cinch to carry to the water, and I think it’s faster than the Royalex. Like you, my body doesn’t like lifting heavy weights, so

I think the graphite will increase the number of outings and extend my years on the water. I’m not urging you to get a canoe, but do urge you to get a light boat ASAP.

Boat Specs

– Last Updated: Jun-20-05 12:26 PM EST –

I just do not trust the advertized weights. Not even a little bit.

I was extremely burned on a Seda Revnge that was supposed to be 50# and is more like 65#.

The weight of fiberglass and kevlar boats is going to vary greatly from one boat to the next.

If you are buying based on weight, try before you buy, or you might be very disappointed!

Fitted Kayak
I’m a 5’3" female who lifts as little as possible. I would buy a kayak that fits you, your pocketbook and serves your purpose first, then weight second (although fiberglass and kevlar are obviously easier).

Get rollers for your roof rack.

-Put a pad on the back edge of the roof to protect van.

-Lift bow of kayak to pad,

-Go to the stern side of kayak, lift the stern and push forward at the same time until the boat catches the rollers,

-Then push & let the rollers do the work.

I’ve self-loaded plastic, kevlar & fiberglass boats. They all load fine this way. I actually hurt my shoulders more when someone helps me “lift” the kayak to the roof, especially if I accidentally leave stuff in the hatches.