Due to medical conditions I can no longer handle the lifting of my very heavy Impex Force 5 for loading/unloading, etc. and still be able to paddle without pain and regret. Looking for something light but most options I have found fall into the racing category and I do not want to go that route. I found a couple greenland kayaks but the knee and shoe size volume was just too small. I’m 5’8", weigh 200 lbs and would like something I can get out on open water with below 35 lbs. WSBS has the EFT which looks like a sweet ride at 30 lbs but appears to lean more toward the racing side and appears to not have the greatest stability. I’ve also considered building a wooden kayak to keep weight down but am not sure I have the time. Any recommendations?
While I love light kayaks, also consider a load assist such as a Thule Hullivator or Malone Telos Lift Assist. That and a good boat cart would handle most of the lifting strain.
Unless you are into racing I wouldn’t recommend an EFT. Epic 16x Ultra is 36 pounds but the Ultra layup is expensive (I have the 18x Ultra for long distance racing and enjoy it).
my first thought was a
skin-on-frame kayak. I’ve never built or bought one so I’ll leave it out there and see if anyone with more info can flesh it out.
…can yield a light, tough kayak. Lots of plans and kits out there - and construction is pretty straightforward. Takes me about 80-100 hours from plan and 4x8 sheets of ply to a finished 17’ LOA, 45 lbs. sea kayak.
SOF’s and folding kayaks
I am a big fan of light boats and have four touring kayaks, all under 44 pounds, A skin on frame (SOF) would be an excellent choice. I have an 18 foot Greenland style that only weighs 31 pounds. It is actually a model that fits most larger paddlers with a roomier bow deck. These kayaks are a joy to paddle and so easy to transport. People are always gawking at me, an average sized 60-something woman, carrying an 18' kayak with one hand at the put-in ramps.
Here's a link to probably the best informational site on skin on frame kayaks and how they are built, the blogs of master boat designer and builder, Brian Schulz of Oregon. Unfortunately, due to some serious health problems, Brian has had to suspend his usual classes in kayak building but he is still building some to order and also can be a resource for locating other builders. His F1 and LPB models have earned raves for their performance.
The kayak I have is the one he describes in his section in the older blog on traditional boats (the 1935 Sisimuit replica).
There are quite a few builders in the US of SOF's. And there are some who offer hands on classes where you build your own SOF.
There are also many builders and information on building your own on the traditional Greenland kayaking forum at:
Readily available on line is the book "Building the Greenland Kayak" which is a good intro to the boats.
Another type of very light kayak are the folding kayaks. I have a Feathercraft Wisper, a 15' touring kayak that weighs 34 lbs and has the added advantage of being able to be broken down into a duffel bag to take on the airlines or throw in the trunk of a car. This is my third Feathercraft and I really love these boats. You are about the same size as my ex boyfriend (who was 5' 8" 195, size 11 shoes) and he really liked paddling the Wisper. Since you like to fish, the Kahuna model might suit you better -- a bit wider and a little more stable for that purpose. Feathercraft also has a terrific new inflatable called the Aironaut that is incredibly light and inflates in around 8 minutes. That may be my next boat.
These are quite costly but very well made and durable, plus they perform as well as most hardshells -- there are used ones that can be had though the resale value remains high. Folding Kayak Adventures in Colorado has a free classified ad section for owners selling used models.
Less costly folding options are the unique "origami" folding kayaks from Orukayak. They are having a pre-order Kickstarter campaign now for their new longer touring boat, the Coast:
I have no personal experience with the Orus but admit to being very intrigued by them.
Another mid-range folding option are Pakboat kayaks. They are in the midst of some model changes and have had some good deals on kayaks lately. I had one of their XT-15's and currently have a 12' Puffin (older models than they now have but the same basic design). Most of their models are under 40 pounds and some are under 25. My Puffin is around 26 pounds. These are very easy to set up and their removeable decks make packing a breeze for overnight trips. The Puffin models can even be paddled without the decks, which is nice in hot weather and mild conditions.
Most folding kayaks have built in inflatable sponson tubes along the sides which aid in flotation and stability. They are very comfortable to paddle and excel in rough water because they absorb some of the force of waves instead of bouncing off them. You do have to outfit them with inflatable flotation bags below decks to prevent them from flooding in a capsize due to the lack of bulkheads. There are also what are called "sea socks", kind of like a waterproof bivy bag that you slip over the cockpit coaming and into the hull that you slide your feet and butt into -- this contains most flooding and keeps it out of the hull, but normally these would only be used in big open water.
Anyway, I hope the links are useful to you in a basic orientation to some ultralight options. If you want more info, let me know here or by private email. I see you are located in DC. If you are ever going to be in the Pittsburgh area, I would be glad to arrange for you to test paddle my SOf and folders -- I am only 10 minutes from a launch ramp for the Monongahela River.
Lincoln Isle au Haut
My review of it with pics and video (albeit it was colder when I did this)
38lbs at the lightest (not quite 35 I know), 44lbs at the heaviest.
If it's for touring purposes it would work well as I'm about the same weight as you but a bit taller, although the builder was being conservative on the weight specifications.
See you on the water,
The River Connection, Inc.
Hyde Park, NY
Swift, Stellar and Epic all have advanced layup methods - resin infusion, epoxy resins, that yield light boats in the 35lb range, for boats that work for normal size people, yet won't be really fragile. Maybe a Stellar S14/S16? Swift Saranac 14/15? Epic 16X?
How about a sit on the bottom pack type canoe? They paddle just like a kayak and ore real lite-14# and up. If you don’t go in big waves/water they work fine.
Yep, the sides are a little higher, but without the deck and bulkheads, canoes are about 1/3 lighter than kayaks of the same size and construction, and some of the small solo ones are made to be paddled with a double bladed paddle.
Thanks Slush - NM
BTW. Made in Mass
Not Made en masse
Ok French press coffe pun-y
See you on the water,
The RIver Connection, Inc.
Hyde Park, NY
This is Beautiful
Never paddled one. I’d like to.
I scored a nice Easy Ryder Dolphin
carbon fiber yak at 30# that I like, right here on p.net in exc shape for only $950. Plenty of room, and performance for this old dog and nice simple over-the-stern skeg. R
Second the 'Isle Au Haut’
light - and very comfortable boat.
If money is no object, check out one of Sterlings boats in the Ballastic-grade epoxy lay-up infused
Very sleek and traditional lines - nice. What I don't understand are those little notches in the outline of the hull that seem to divide it into segments?
The ‘notches’ are light-colored attachments for the perimeter lines on the boat. They’re blending with the white background and it makes them look like notches. Look at the pictures lower down on the page, you can see them there too.