Portability of large/heavy kayaks

Following your comments I’ve been tracking the local used kayak market, and a FeelFree Aventura 140 popped up for sale. It’s a longer and larger boat than what I’ve intended to buy but for the lower price it seems like a good deal (65% of retail price).

My biggest concern, however, is the huge weight of the kayak - it’s 29.1 kg (65lbs) heavy. Considering I’ll be using it solo, how the heck do I get the thing on top of my car? Also, do people really drag their plastic kayaks to the water all the time? I realize it has a skidplate but still…

What are your thoughts, should I consider this boat and grab the opportunity, or invest in something shorter and lighter?

Some people drag, but that does shore the life of the boat. Especially if you are dragging on something that acts like sandpaper, such as sharp rocks, concrete, etc. Soft sand, grass, and the like doesn’t do much damage.

Many full sized plastic sea kayaks are in this weight range. Carrying 2 people, carrying solo (for those that can), using a dolly, etc. are all options. Thule Hullavator or a set of rollers or sliding mounts from any of the major brands are ways people do to get boats up on roof. Or getting assistance from a second (or more) person.

There is a video showing how to load a boat like that. The guy used a cam strap tightly strung between the ends of his roof rack bars.
Lay the boat beside the vehicle. Pick up one end and lay it on the strap so the boat is Midway between the bars.
Then pick up the end that’s on the ground. Push up and turn to set it on the racks. That way you only deal with half the weight.
I have 2 carts for moving boats. One you strap on and one that has uprights that go through the scuppers of SOT.

My Cayman 124 (10’ 4") fishing kayak is 48 lbs, if I remember right. It easily rests right up on top of my Ford Escape with no problems all. I slide it up from the rear, onto the padded roof rack crossbars (made by Malone - bought at Cabela’s). I’ve heard many times that people simply use an old beach towel and very carefully slide the kayak up at a 45° angle up on the crossbars, so it won’t scratch the paint or do any damage to the roof or rear hatchback of the vehicle.

All set to go…

At the canoe/kayak launch parking lot. See the old beach towel on the roof and hatchback of my Ford Escape? No problems at all, mounting, unmounting, remounting, etc…

Now, if I go with my sister (we both help carry each others’ kayaks to the launch site/boat ramp), it is extremely easy and poses no concern at all. Now, if I go alone, then it becomes a bit of a problem: How do I get a 48 lb fishing kayak down to the launch site by myself? Well… I just do it. I somehow, grab one of the side handles, and grab the inside well near the center where my legs go, and just heave it up with muscle power, and awkwardly carry it to the launch. I set it down on the concrete right close by, and the run like an olympic sprinter back to my Ford Escape for my seat, PFD, paddle, etc… and run back with them, back to my kayak. Then, I carefully haul it down the wooden chute/stairwell, to the river, and hop in and away I go!

I’ve owned, solo-loaded and launched a number of heavy boats (a 62 pound vintage 17’ Dagger Magellan kayak and a 16’ Mad River Adventure canoe that was 84 lbs both come to mind). It’s a pain in the ass, especially when you are only 5’ 5" and of average build, though maybe a bit stronger and more accustomed to wrangling long heavy loads than most “little old ladies” (I was a construction electrician for many years and hauled an awful lot of heavy duty ladders and bundles of 10’ steel conduit). I started kayaking in earnest at 52 and am now 69 so I have been doing this for a while. Did I haul them to the launch? Yup, damned straight. Scratches be damned. Used a cart sometimes but it ended up being such a pain I just lugged them most times.

So I can honestly report that juggling ponderous boats on your lonesome can be done but it requires balance, strategy and fortitude. And patience and maybe more than a little masochism. If you think you might possess those traits, go ahead and buy a 65 pound kayak. Then dedicate yourself to practicing how to haul and load it without dislocating any major body parts. Hint: buy economy sized Arnica Gel because you will sustain bruises…

Five years ago I decided I was done huffing and puffing and got rid of any boat over 45 pounds. Most are under 40 lbs and 5 of them under 31 lbs.

Honestly, I would not buy a boat that heavy. And one that short should not be so heavy. My 15’ plastic sea kayak is nearly 20 pounds lighter than that thing. Ironic that it is named FeelFree.

@Peter-CA hullavator looks nice but is more expensive than the kayak itself… the Feelfrees do have a replacable skidplate in the stern, looks like they were designed to be dragged.

@“Butch A” not sure if that would work for a sedan. I’d have to push the boat up from the side, I guess, and then turn it around on the roofrack.

@willowleaf I agree it’s an absurdly heavy kayak but I suppose the extra material makes it sturdier. Also it’s a large volume boat, being 67cm wide. I may pass on this and get something around or below 25 kg heavy.

I have two carts, there are many available, to get the boat between car and water. Don’t see any need to drag a boat, though for short distances on something without rocks it is choice I have made. Like on seaweed. Some people make their own carts. I believe you are in the technical field…

I finally got a Hullivator but spent many years sliding sea kayaks coming in at 50 plus pounds onto the roof of a car. Still do for the guest boat. I am 5 ft 3.5 inches, weigh about 135 and started kayaking when I was about 50 years old. I have an Amagansett Roller Loader, but there are other assistive devices out there. I suspect you are taller etc than me.

However this is one reason I favor sit inside sea kayaks. They are easier to load than a solid mass of plastic like a SOT because they weigh less and, with the cockpit and deck rigging, give me a lot more to hold onto when sliding it up and down…

I strongly suggest that you sit down and read some of the useful information on this site under “Learn” and think thru the entire process of storing, transporting and paddling a kayak. I see little indication you have really done that.

@Celia I have actually read the Learn section and similar posts on this topic, and I’m not asking how to transport a kayak. I’m asking, because I cannot try it out, how difficult it is for an average male to get a 30kg kayak (opposed to a 25kg kayak for example) on top of a roofrack. I’m aware of carts and I can make one with a very small budget.

Considering the suggestions received here, I’ll pass on the offer and instead buy a smaller and lighter boat, at or under 25kg.

I myself would pass on a 65 pound boat unless it was a fishing kayak where that would be on the light side or if I lived on the water where I didn’t have to move it a lot.
My boats range from say…… 45 pounds to I believe my seeker is 58? I load them all onto the top of my canopy of my 4x4. I can lift them from the side and set them up there without too much trouble but to be honest I would probably paddle a time or two more every week if it were easier to load and unload the boats.
You can do it no problem but you will almost certainly take the boat out less than something easy to load and unload.

My 17ft boat weighs about that 65 or 70 pounds in normal carry mode. The key is I don’t carry it. use a dolly. When loading on the car load one end at a time. Use a bar extension on the rack. I’ve duct taped a broom handle to the car rack for this task once or twice. Here’s some pictures of the task on a truck. Note this is high up enough a step stool was required at the stern. Note the may be out of order.
The rack has round bars and a simple pipe was added for the extension.

I’d go for it. Looks like a better boat than a lot of short SOTs
https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images?p=FeelFree+Aventura+140&fr=mcafee&imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Ffeelfreeus.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2016%2F09%2F140bg.jpg#id=0&iurl=http%3A%2F%2Ffeelfreeus.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2016%2F09%2F140bg.jpg&action=click

Here is a shot where I loaded the same boat on a short car with the clothes pole from the back seat lashed to the factory bars.


A towel over the side of the car at the roof would protect from minor hits.

@SharpsRifle said:
I myself would pass on a 65 pound boat unless it was a fishing kayak where that would be on the light side or if I lived on the water where I didn’t have to move it a lot.
My boats range from say…… 45 pounds to I believe my seeker is 58? I load them all onto the top of my canopy of my 4x4. I can lift them from the side and set them up there without too much trouble but to be honest I would probably paddle a time or two more every week if it were easier to load and unload the boats.
You can do it no problem but you will almost certainly take the boat out less than something easy to load and unload.

Well I have two inflatables which I would use for shorter (few hours to half day) tours, and I’d like a plastic boat which I’d use for one or two day tours. The inflatable sets up in 7 mins and I estimate I might need 30 mins to load+unload the plastic boat.

@Overstreet brilliant tips, thank you! And that’s one beautiful wooden kayak - if I had the space, I’d build one myself (I love working with wood).

I still think this boat may be a bit too much for me (in length and weight). I’ll see if the seller offers a shorter model (125 or 110).

There are dollies; suspenz makes an amazing one.

I don’t cartop at all. I take my short 11’ packboat canoes and stick them in the back of my pickup with the tailgate closed and tie them to the tow hitch and spars/hooks of the bed cap.

My larger boats I use a trailex trailer. After seeing other people do it and the complexity of tying everything and the risk that goes something wrong I figured it was better to spent $1,200 for a kayak trailer and be done with it.

Yes I can get it into tight spots and I can even back it in places you didn’t think possible. I am so tired after paddling that I can’t even be bothered to disconnect the trailer to move it, but I could. So instead I learned to back it, but the beauty of these ultralight designs is they can be pushed, pulled and dragged with ease into any spot. This allows transport of big huge heavy plastic doubles no sweat.

There’s just something about cartopping that I don’t like. The heavier the boat the less it appeals. Different strokes for different folks.

Sincress (the OP) is located in Croatia, on the eastern arm of the coastal Mediterranean Sea (Adriatic) so he doesn’t have quite the range of shopping options that those of us on this side of the “pond” might. Bear that in mind when you make suggestions.

One of the things I have not liked about “Paddling.com 2.0” since the coverall a couple years ago is that the member profiles don’t have the location field in them any more. It’s a lot easier to be provide useful advice to folks when you have some idea of where they are in the world without having to ask for those details.

@willowleaf said:
Sincress (the OP) is located in Croatia, on the eastern arm of the coastal Mediterranean Sea (Adriatic) so he doesn’t have quite the range of shopping options that those of us on this side of the “pond” might. Bear that in mind when you make suggestions.

Valid observation, I see most people here are from NA and have much more choice and local dealers. Which may be a good thing for me because my choice is a bit easier to make.

Also, I notice that most people have several kayaks and have a place to store them easily. I live in an apartment building which is not easy to access by car and have enough room in the basement for ONE kayak. This is why I want to make the correct choice when buying a boat.

As for the prices, here kayaks and equipment are the same as in the US if not more expensive, and the average croatian salary is only about 1000 USD per month. So again, my budget and my living conditions permit me a limited investment in only one kayak. :slight_smile:

That is not a bad thing, as long as you have done your homework.

@string said:
That is not a bad thing, as long as you have done your homework.

I hope I have. My two current top choices are DAG Mezzo and Verso. About the same price and weight, Mezzo is wider and taller and Verso is longer and has two bulkheads.

I hope I have. My two current top choices are DAG Mezzo and Verso. About the same price and weight, Mezzo is wider and taller and Verso is longer and has two bulkheads.

From just a quick look, the Verso looks much nicer.

@DianeCetan said:
From just a quick look, the Verso looks much nicer.

Interestingly, the Verso is also lighter (despite being 40cm longer). 3 layer HDPE sandwich hull of some kind.

It’s 64cm wide and has a flat bottom, so my concern is whether I can easily get back into the kayak after a swim (I like to dive and swim when kayaking in the summer) or if I happen to flip. Primary stability should be better due to the flat hull bottom?

Also the “forecastle” of the Mezzo is higher than the Verso, so does this mean a dryer ride?