Lightweight kayaks - good ones

@CA139 said:
Remember that durability and cost are inversely proportional to weight. Heavy means inexpensive and indestructible. Light means wonderful handling characteristics but very fragile.

True-ish, but not completely true. Most SOF are light, only some are fragile, many are quite robust.

Even beyond SOFs, a well-constructed composite boat can be both very light and very durable. What it can’t be is inexpensive, as it requires more expensive materials (S-glass, Kevlar, Carbon fiber, foam core) and manufacturing processes (vacuum-bagging), plus tight quality control.

If one has the patience, some hand tools and a place to work, a skin on frame can be built for a couple hundred dollars. And they are incredibly tough. As demonstrated:

Remember that just about any wood or composite craft doesn’t like impacts with rocks very much and pretty much can never be launched or dragged on rocks. We live on the water with a very rocky beach, ergo anything but rotomolded would be highly inappropriate. I found out just how weak wood was in the face of these rocks and came running back to heavy plastic with my tail between my legs.

Of course weight for me is not an issue because the water is literally “at the end of our backyard”. That said you can get a dolley and you can even lift the kayak and load one end on the racks first, than the others. There are ways of getting plastic to work for you.

There you have it. The entire gamut of kayak types and materials. The looking is fun!
Please let us know what you get.

Thank you all very much. I’m on it. Will look into all these options and will let you know. Thanks for the advice

FWIW… Take a scale with you when shopping for kayaks to get an accurate weight and avoid all the hype…

@CA139 said:
Remember that just about any wood or composite craft doesn’t like impacts with rocks very much and pretty much can never be launched or dragged on rocks.

While I wouldn’t choose a cedar strip kayak for rock gardening, fiberglass boats are incredibly tough. I’ve launched and landed on numerous rocky beaches and dragged many a 'glass boat across them. Sure, they get scratched, but so do rotomolded boats. The difference is that you can repair gelcoat, but there’s nothing you can do for a shredded poly boat.

I don’t understand why you insist on portraying composite boats as delicate…they aren’t.

My downriver boat is a Ruahine Swallow from New Zealand, and is composite, and is incredibly tough. It is designed to bounce off the occasional rock at speed and stay intact. At 17’8" and 30 pounds. I would certainly consider it light, but as has been mentioned, the combination of lightweight and strong doesn’t come cheap, although I picked it up used for a great deal.

For some great examples of the durability of composite boats, check out John Kazimierczyk’s Millbrook Boats. While mostly canoes, they are designed for whitewater use and definitely aren’t delicate!

I have found fiberglass to be very durable. I have a 1972 Mohawk tandem fiberglass canoe that has come off a flatbed truck at 50 mph and is still ticking, but two heavy for me at my age to handle alone.

I have two Kevlar canoes a solo and a tandem. The solo is 15’ 6" long of S-glass and Kevlar and weights 35 pounds. The tandem is 16’ long and 52 pounds. With 60 pounds of gear and 2 men pushing it close to 450 pounds total in the boat. I have hit more than one rock running rapids with it. I have repaired only one minor ding in the bow. I have seen plastic boats with big dents in their bow doing the same thing. I don’t consider either type delicate. However, there is definitely a considerable weight and price difference. Though repairing composite boats is much easier.

My mother was avoiding a lot of great kayaking opportunities with her 50lb wilderness Systems because of the trouble she was having managing the kayak off the water due to having a tougher time with is weight as she got a bit older. Seemed to sneak up on her! That all changed after she bought her Eddyline Rio. At just over 11 feet, it doesn’t track as well as what she’s used to, but certainly good enough for her all day paddles with friends or even large organized paddles. And the weight, or “lack there of”, was a more than worthwhile trade off. At 35 pounds it has made the difference of simply kayaking or NOT. I have a Fathom myself along with a couple of other brand of kayaks and due to weight, often choose the thermoformed Eddyline for most conditions I find myself on day or long weekend adventures. This is not meant to try to promote a brand, just what I’ve tried. I certainly don’t have the valuable experience or knowledge that many of the regulars on this forum do. I just know what I saw work for my mom and thought to share. Cheers!

@Jimmy: The Rio is a sweet boat. Great decision by your mom since she still has the joy of paddling and more importantly, it’s a safe rec kayak with deck rigging and bulkheads fore and aft.

For that reason I will promote Eddyline when it comes to safety. Every kayak they produce has two sealed bulkheads, including their 10-footer. I think they’re the only ABS manufacturer who does that. Delta doesn’t. Hurricane’s entire Santee series (including their 14-footer) have only one bulkhead and lack deck rigging.

My experience in sit-in kayaking is limited to one boat, an Eddyline Equinox. 14 feet long, 45 pounds, no rudder, only paddled on large lakes, rivers, and it tracks great. The wind has to start pushing 1-2 foot quartering tailwind waves before I start getting annoyed with tracking. Bounced it off concrete and the occasional hidden tree stump with some scratches. The only major damage was catching the top of a submerged metal fence post (imagine nails on a chalk board) and it didn’t feel good and certainly didn’t sound good and, when I got it out of the water, it didn’t look good. Fixing that ugly scar is my only repair on the boat so far. My thought process when buying it was “If it ain’t easy to move, I probably won’t use it as much.” Moving it from storage rack to roof rack is not a problem nor is carrying it to the water.

Hornbeck ‘s New Tricks canoe series are very light (26.6 lbs), slender (16’ and 23.25") and should track well:
It costs $2200 though.

I paid $700 for a used Pakboats Quest 135 (Skin-on-frame folding kayalk, 29 lbs, 13.5’, 23"). It tracks well in my hands and is nimble and durable. In water, it presents a slight v hull shape (which helps tracking) and good secondary stability. It takes about 30 minutes to assemble. But loading, strapping and unloading a hardshell kayak from/onto a car wouldn’t take much less time either.

Most of the drop stitch inflatable kayaks have very flat bottoms, which may not make them track very well. But experienced paddlers can probably compensate that with good paddling techniques.

You can use a light folding kayak cart too, if you like:

Here’s your good light kayak at 40:30.

The Eddyline Rio (35 lbs.) and Equinox (45 lbs) have been mentioned and are both solid choices. The Rio is a much smaller volume boat. Someone mentioned Current Designs Vision 130. I have one of those in the carbon/kevlar layup and it’s wonderfully versatile and weighs less than 40 lbs. The more commonly available composite layup of the Vision 130 weights only 40 pounds. It’s responsive and tracks well. The Stellars are lightweight, fast and worth a look.

i have a Pungo Ultralite…2 things i have noticed so far …ultralights don’t like the wind and the material they are made from, do not like being dropped or rammed into things …I have had to have the stern plastic welded after dropping it and putting a 6 in.split in the transom end. As Far a tracking goes ,because they are lighter overall …the input from paddle strokes seems to have a bigger effect on them directionally than on the heavier plastic boats . PS : ultra light materials DO NOT like cold, frigid waters !!!

@trout said:
PS : ultra light materials DO NOT like cold, frigid waters !!!

Maybe some don’t, but some do. :slight_smile:

Hi all…tried out a few and picked the pakboat quest 150. Unfortunately when I went to order one I was told that they are not available. Pakboats warehouse suffered a fire in early April. Nearly 100 brand new boats were destroyed. The Quest and Saco models were entirely wiped out. Some Saranac kayaks are now available, since the new shipment of that model hadn’t arrived prior to the fire. It will be late Spring of 2020 before any of the destroyed boats will again be available. Thought you all might like to know.

@Rookie said:

@trout said:
PS : ultra light materials DO NOT like cold, frigid waters !!!

Maybe some don’t, but some do. :slight_smile:

I heard that line in a song, but it wasn’t about boats.