Lite kayak

I want the lightest 16’ kayak I can find. I am getting long in the tooth and have trouble hoisting any of my boats onto the roof of my car. I have given a very hard look at the Taser 16 by Hurricane. The weight is about right and I have not tried to demo one yet. Is there anything else out there I should look at? I managed to drop a boat this summer and banged up my car. I am not looking to repeat that again. Thanks in advance to our experts and good friends.

How High is the Roof?

– Last Updated: Aug-15-09 12:22 PM EST –

If your roof is low enough you can load and unload your kayak one end at a time. This is what I do. 16.5 foot boat. Cab height of a little Toyota truck.

If that's not feasible, SOFs are light light light.

And if you're interested in SOF I MIGHT know someone who would build you one.

I second an SOF – 28 lbs., how’s that?
If you can get someone to build you an SOF at a reasonable cost (materials are cheap and a quick builder can do one in 30 or so hours – this is NOT like wood strip building), then definitely try that. I have the same issue you do with boat weight. My 28-pound skin on frame is great for carrying.

G in NC

Warren Little Wing
If cost is not a problem, you could get a Warren Little Wing 15.5. The carbon fiber layup weighs 28 Lbs. I paddle a Warren 12.5; I like the way it paddles, and I love the light weight. If you want more information on the Little Wings, let me know.

There are a number of Stitch and Glue models that come in around 39 pounds.

I’ve got the Hurricane Tracer…
love the boat! It’s about the same weight as their Tampico 135L (have one of those too). Both boats weigh about 48lbs. and even at that, hoisting over your head after a long paddle can be a chore. I’m loading onto a Toyota 4Runner. Paddling with a partner solves the problem, and a really simple homemade PVC cart makes getting to and from the car a breeze. My cart stays on the boat when I’m solo, it’s flat and bungees on the rear boat deck. Skin on frame, looks like the lightest option out there if you have the time and skill and room to build. I was about to build one and decided all the options/bulkheads/deck hardware etc. made the Tracer a better use of time. The SOF I was considering, was half the Tracers weight.

Epic and likely others
have boats like this

in the 30 to 40lb range.

Hard to beat SOF and S&G designs for customization and light weight, but they aren’t cheap either. There is a serious premium when you start wanting to get under about 50 lbs for a 16 foot kayak.


The lightest of all would be a Yost SOF
I met the guy (he’s in Colorado) and he asked me to try two of his kayaks. One was wood, one was a 17’ long 18.5" beam SOF. If I remember correctly, the latter weighed only about 30 lbs (but it didn’t have a backband or seat or footrests, so add the weight of any outfitting you’d want). Mr. Yost told me that to build one would cost approx. $200 in materials (assuming you had all the tools). This was back in late 2003. At that time, he would make one for a customer if desired, but the price would go up a lot, for obvious reasons.

If you want a factory unit, Feathercraft’s Wisper SOF with the thinner skin weighs 33 lbs (38 with the heavier skin). Their slung seat is comfortable and light. Comes with a strap-on skeg, though I don’t know how useful such a device is. When I paddled it, I was getting weathercocked with very light winds–but that was without any load, and I only weigh 110 lbs. With camping gear or an average-weight person, it probably settles down more.

I doubt you can go lower in weight than a SOF, for comparable size kayaks.

What type of kayak?
What is the kayak used for? Does it need to be a sea kayak? What is your paddling ability?

Racing kayaks and some trainers which are more stable but still tippy are around 20 pounds. Flatwater touring kayaks tend to be lighter than sea kayaks.

I bought an old one of these for $200 and I haven’t weighed it but estimate it at around 30 pounds.

Lots of options but it depends on what you need from the boat.

while I appreciate wanting the lightest
boat, perhaps looking at how you would and could load a boat would increase your options. rollers on one end would allow you to roll the boat from the back or even one of those fancy hydraulic gizmos that allow you to put the boat on at waist level and it swings up effortlessly.

Having said that, I have two skin on frame boats, one very nice and light and another much heavier and built for real abuse.


Eddyline Nighthawk
For your money the Eddyline Nighthawk is a great value and at 16 ft. is 49 Lbs.

Huki surfski or va’a
Skis can be made in the 20-25 lb. range. Va’as a couple of pounds more for the ama.

SOFs, are air flotation bags a hassle?
I have a 29 lb Phoenix Isere, but I have to add air bags for flotaiton and that adds a few pounds to the weight. I find bags to be a hassle. I’d rather have hatches and bulkheads. I just leave the bags in my Isere most of the time.

What do SOF paddlers use for air bag inflating/deflating? Or do you leave the bags inflated during transport?

You looked at the Hurricane Taser 16 or
Tracer 165? I can’t find the Taser on their website.

Instead of buying a boat on weight alone, and the lightest will be a SOF (skin on frame), you might want to look at a trailer so you’re not having to hoist the boat onto the roof anymore.

Bill H.

Don’t forget about a sea sock (nm)

skeg for SOF
To follow up on the earlier comment on the Feathercraft Wisper’s windcocking problem: I’ve got a FC Kahuna (same length-weight as the Wisper but not the Greenland profile) and had trouble with windcocking and wandering off course until I bought the same strap-on skeg that FC offers with the Wisper. It makes a HUGE improvement.

I second the skin-on-frame suggestion. I’ve got 3 SOF’s, 2 of them Feathercraft folders and one classic wood and nylon Greenland 18’ x 22" made by Monkcraft (who isn’t building them at the moment.) I do often see the handbuilt SOF’s come up for sale in various places due to so many being built in classes and seminars that are offered by builders like Brian Schulz of Cape Falcon Kayak. In fact, there’s one built in one of his courses on Ebay this week for $1200 (just search on “Greenland kayak” and it is on the first page). The one thing you have to watch for is that each is built for specific body dimensions and that one posted is for someone around 130 to 150 lbs. It’s very similar to the model I have so it’s less than 35 lbs and probably has a slight skeg built into the hull (the owner didn’t post a shot of the profile.) Even if you find one with hull damage (rare, since the SOT’s are so tough) you can have them re-skinned for a few hundred dollars.

You definitely want to get a Greenland paddle too if you get a SOF – they work better with that style and tend to be lighter (my cedar one is only 2 lbs.)

I’m a 5’ 5", 150 lb female, and though I am relatively strong, i know having to wrestle with a heavier boat would keep me from paddling as often as I do. I have a 17’ Dagger Magellan rotomold I got to lend to friends and it is over 60 lbs – I can load it, just barely, but it just about kills me. I dd drive an older Volvo wagon – these cars are MUCH easier to load kayaks and canoes on than the taller SUV’s. One of my best friends bought a 12’ rec boat (Tsunami) last summer so she could join me paddling, but she has such difficulty getting it on her Honda Pilot that she can’t load it herself. Since she broke up with her boyfriend last winter she has not had the boat on the car – she lives almost an hour away and the only way we could paddle together is if I drive out there and help her load.

I don’t think enough people consider the hassles of loading and hauling their craft on land when they consider what to buy.

I second the thoughts of Willowleaf
"I don’t think enough people consider the hassles of loading and hauling their craft on land when they consider what to buy." My thoughts also for a number of years. I own two Folbot SOFs; the 16-ft weighs 38-Lbs and the 13-ft weighs 35-Lbs. My carbon Warren Little Wing weighs 24 Lbs. Each of these boats is very easy to load on the car and carry to the lake. The Little Wing is an absolute delight both on and off the water.

Flaot Bags
I never take mine out of my boats. Just leave them in place and check to make sure they are inflated once in a while. I don’t find them a hassle because I never do anything with them. I actually forget they are there.

I am working on an idea to use the float bags as dry storage.