How Much Does a Kayak Weigh?

Q: How much does a kayak weigh?

A: It depends on the type of kayak. On average, recreational kayaks weigh between 35 and 60 pounds, but they can be much lighter or much heavier than that. 

Kayak weight can vary depending on construction materials, boat type, dimensions, and additional features.

Throughout this article, we’ll delve into the nitty-gritty details and find out how much different kayak models weigh. From touring kayaks to recreational models, sea kayaks to whitewater champions, we’ll explore the weight ranges, advantages, and considerations for each type.

Exploring How Much a Kayak Can Weigh

Several key factors contribute to a kayak’s weight. One of the primary considerations is the construction material.

Hardshell kayaks, often made of durable polyethylene or composite materials like fiberglass or carbon fiber, tend to be heavier but offer enhanced durability and performance, whereas inflatable kayaks are lighter and provide a remarkable balance between weight and performance.

Dimensions affect weight, too–in general, shorter kayaks usually weigh less, while longer kayaks offer increased stability but may add extra weight. It’s essential to consider your specific needs and preferences when deciding on the kayak size.

Recreational Kayaks: A Diversity of Options 

These come in two main configurations: sit-on-top and sit-inside. Let’s take a closer look at each type and their unique characteristics.

Sit-on-top kayaks have gained popularity for their user-friendly design and versatility. These kayaks feature an open deck, allowing paddlers to sit on top of the kayak rather than inside a cockpit.  

How much does a kayak weight?

This is a lightweight kayak, making them easier to portage.

Typically, a single sit-on-top kayak will weigh around 35 to 60 pounds. Tandem sit-on-top kayaks designed for two paddlers may weigh slightly more due to their increased size.

A single sit-inside recreational kayak can weigh anywhere from 35 to 50 pounds.  

Lightweight Marvels: The Rise of Inflatable Kayaks 

One of the key advantages of inflatable kayaks is that they weigh less than traditional hardshell kayaks.

A LOT less.

This makes them incredibly easy to transport, allowing you to embark on kayaking adventures without the need for a heavy-duty kayak trailer or specialized equipment.

When deflated, these boats can be rolled up and stored in compact bags, taking up minimal space in your car trunk, closet, or even a backpack, which makes it extremely easy to transport the kayak. 

With their designation as the lightest weight kayak, their transportability, and their storage convenience, inflatable kayaks have opened up new possibilities for kayakers of all levels.

Tandem Kayaks: Sharing the Adventure, Dividing the Load 

When it comes to kayaking, sometimes the best experiences are shared. That’s where tandem kayaks come into play.

I personally love tandem kayaks and have come to appreciate the unique benefits they offer.

One of the primary advantages of tandem kayaks is the opportunity to share the adventure with a partner. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or significant other, paddling together in a tandem kayak allows you to create lasting memories and enjoy the beauty of nature as a team. 

In terms of weight implications, paddling with a partner does add to the kayak’s weight. And in general, tandem kayaks weigh more.

They have a higher weight capacity compared to single kayaks, allowing you to bring along additional gear and supplies for longer trips. 

One tandem kayak weighs anywhere from 50 to 75 pounds on average, but as we know, when it comes to kayak weight, there are many variables and many things to keep in mind.

Casting a Line: The Allure of Fishing Kayaks 

Fishing kayaks can range in weight but tend to be heavier compared to recreational or touring kayaks. This is due to the additional features and equipment they often carry.

The added weight helps to enhance stability and ensure a steady platform for casting lines and reeling in catches.

One notable variation in fishing kayaks is the choice between pedal-driven and traditional paddle-powered models.

Pedal-driven fishing kayaks have gained popularity in recent years, offering hands-free propulsion using pedals similar to those of a bicycle. These are sometimes considered the heaviest kayak, but that’s not necessarily true.

They are definitely heavier than traditional paddle-powered fishing kayaks, though, due to the added weight of the pedal-drive system. 

How much a kayak weighs is an important factor to consider because keep in mind, you’ll be transporting your boat to different fishing spots. If you’re planning to carry your boat on a truck or kayak trailer, the weight of the kayak can impact ease of loading and unloading.

It’s also important to consider your own physical capabilities when it comes to loading and unloading the kayak. If you need assistance, ask someone to help you lift the kayak.

Fishing kayaks have different weights depending on their size, construction materials, and added features. While heavier fishing kayaks provide stability and durability, lighter models offer increased maneuverability and ease of transport. The choice ultimately depends on your fishing style.

Sea kayaks come in various weights depending on their construction materials and design. Traditional they are made of composite materials such as fiberglass or carbon fiber, which offer a balance between strength, stiffness, and weight.

These kayaks tend to be lighter, enhancing their maneuverability and responsiveness on the water. The weight of a sea kayak varies depending on its length and additional features (as well as how much gear you bring), but a single kayak can weigh from 35 to 60 pounds.

Another option for sea kayakers is rotomolded kayaks. These are made from a durable and affordable plastic material.

While they may be slightly heavier than composite sea kayaks, ranging from 50 to 70 pounds, if you need a kayak that offers excellent durability and resistance to impacts, rotomolded boats are an excellent pick.

When you’re on the market for a kayak, consider your skill level, paddling style, and the type of waters you’ll be exploring.

If you’re a seasoned sea kayaker seeking performance and speed, a lighter composite sea kayak might be ideal. However, if you prioritize durability and are planning to navigate challenging coastal environments, a heavier rotomolded sea kayak could be more suitable

Conquering Whitewater: The Thrills and Weight of Whitewater Kayaks

Whitewater kayaks are specially designed to withstand the rigors of challenging river environments. They feature a sturdier construction, which ensures that the boat can withstand the impacts of rocks and powerful currents.

How much the kayak weighs plays a crucial role in the performance of whitewater kayaks. Lighter kayaks offer increased maneuverability, allowing paddlers to quickly change direction and execute precise maneuvers in turbulent waters.

Heavier kayaks tend to offer more stability, which affects kayak weight, providing a solid platform for paddlers to brace against powerful current.

The weight of whitewater kayaks varies depending on their size, design, and construction materials. On average, they can weigh anywhere from 35 to 70 pounds. 

Decoding the Numbers: Why Capacities and Kayak Weight Limit Are Two of the Most Important Elements 

Weight limits and capacities refer to the maximum amount of weight a kayak can safely carry while maintaining stability and performance.

It’s important to adhere to these limits as exceeding them can compromise the kayak’s buoyancy. An overloaded kayak won’t paddle well and its maneuverability will suffer, leading to unsafe conditions.

Different types of kayaks weigh different amounts and have different limits based on their design, construction, and intended use.

Recreational kayaks have lower limits since they are designed for calm waters. Touring or sea kayaks, built for longer journeys and rougher conditions, often have higher capacities.

When shopping for a kayak, consider your own weight, the weight of any potential paddling partners, and the amount of gear you plan to bring along. 

Transportation Woes: Overcoming the Weight Challenge

Transporting a kayak you’re struggling with can pose a challenge, but with the right techniques and equipment, you can make the process easier. In this section, we’ll discuss practical tips for transportation, including the use of trailers, roof racks, and carts, while highlighting safety precautions and proper lifting techniques.

(For more information on portaging, see our article on “The Ultimate Guide To Canoe Portaging”.)

Kayak trailers are specifically designed to hold a kayak that’s heavy. They make it easier to load and unload and offer stability on the road. 

Roof racks are great if your kayak weighs 35 pounds or more. They allow you to carry your kayak on top of your vehicle.

Choose a roof rack system that is compatible with your car and capable of supporting the weight of your kayak.

(Check out our article on the Malone Downloader, an excellent universal rack system!)

For shorter distances, a kayak cart can be a convenient tool. These carts allow you to roll your kayak around from your vehicle to the water. They reduce the strain of carrying the kayak and make it easier to navigate uneven terrain or longer distances.

Regardless of the method you choose for transporting your kayak, it’s crucial to prioritize safety. Before lifting the kayak, ensure you have a proper grip and use your leg muscles to lift, rather than straining your back.

If the kayak is too heavy for you to lift alone, ask for assistance or use lifting aids such as straps or handles designed for kayak transportation.

Always check the weight capacity of your vehicle and equipment to ensure it can handle the load of your kayak. Securely fasten the kayak to your vehicle using appropriate straps or tie-downs, double-checking their tightness before hitting the road.

Maximum Weight: Something to Consider

When choosing a kayak, consider the maximum weight capacity of the kayak to ensure it can safely accommodate you and your gear. Here, we provide an overview of the average weight capacities for the different types of kayaks discussed in the previous sections.

For recreational kayaks, which are designed for calm waters and casual paddling, the answer to how much weight they can carry is 250 to 350 pounds (on average).

Touring kayaks have a higher capacity. On average, they can hold anywhere from 300 to 500 pounds. 

Inflatable kayaks, known for their portability and convenience, have weight capacities ranging from 250 to 400 pounds. 

Tandem kayaks have weight capacities that tend to be higher than single-person kayaks. The average weight capacity for tandem kayaks is around 450 to 600 pounds.

Fishing kayaks, on average, can hold between 350 and 600 pounds. 

The weight capacity of a kayak includes the combined weight of the paddler(s) and any additional gear or equipment. Exceeding the weight capacity is extremely dangerous–don’t do it!

When choosing an option, make sure the kayak can accommodate your weight and the weight of your gear.

Conclusion: Does Kayak Weight Matter?


As you embark on your kayak purchasing journey, make weight a central consideration. Assess your own physical abilities and transportation options, and intended use to determine the ideal weight range for your kayak.

Remember: the perfect kayak weight strikes a balance between portability, performance, and personal preferences.

Whether you opt for a lightweight inflatable kayak for easy transport, a sturdy fishing kayak with ample weight capacity, or a nimble touring kayak for long-distance expeditions, finding the right balance will enhance your paddling experience and ensure that your kayak is a faithful companion on your outdoor adventures.

Choose wisely, stay safe, and be sure to navigate the waters with a kayak that perfectly suits your needs. Happy boating!


What is the average weight of a kayak?

For recreational kayaks, the average weight is around 35 pounds for single kayaks and 65 pounds for tandem kayaks. Different types of kayaks, such as fishing kayaks, can weigh over 120 pounds. 

Why should I care how much a kayak weighs?

The weight of a kayak is an important consideration because it can affect your ability to transport and handle the kayak, as well as your overall kayaking experience. A kayak that is too heavy may be challenging to lift, load onto a vehicle, or carry to the water. 

Do the construction materials affect how much a kayak weighs?

Of course. Different materials have different weight characteristics. Hardshell kayaks tend to be heavier than inflatable kayaks. It’s important to consider the material used when evaluating the weight of a kayak. 

Does the average kayak weigh around 35 pounds?

Yes, the average weight of a recreational single kayak is around 35 pounds, but the weight can vary depending on factors such as the size, material, and design of the kayak. Other types of kayaks, such as fishing kayaks, may weigh more.

How can I transport a heavy kayak?

One option is to use a kayak trailer, which provides a stable platform for transporting kayaks and makes loading and unloading much easier. Another option is to install roof racks on a vehicle, ensuring they are specifically designed for carrying kayaks. Using a kayak cart is super helpful when moving the kayak to and from the water. 

Image Credits
Photo 1 by Rohith Goura
Photo 2 by Donal Caliz
Photo 3 by Bureau of Land Management Alaska
Photo 4 by Levi Stute
Photo 5 by Karl Hörnfeldt
Photo 6 by Eduard Labár on Unsplash

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