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Lightweight Kayaks - Reviews & Guides For 2020

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Lightweight Kayak Buyers Guide

So, you want to enjoy the serenity of water, but you don't know which kayak to buy? When buying a lightweight kayak, there are multiple things to consider so that you can buy the best one. Modern kayaks are available in a plethora of types and have different sizes.

Also, the choice of material is huge, so making a decision can be quite a task. Thus, to help you buy the best lightweight kayak, we are here with this definitive buyer's guide.

The guide contains a lot of factors that should be on your priority when you are looking for a perfect kayak. Read on the factors and the FAQs listed in this article, and you can invest your money in the right product.

Also, we have suggested some accessories that you should buy with the kayak to have a pleasant experience paddling on the water.

Factors to consider when buying a lightweight kayak

When you have the best lightweight kayak, you get better control, and portaging it becomes easy as a breeze. Note down all the factors listed below and compare different kayaks to shortlist the right one that is perfect for you.

Where do you want to use the kayak?

The choice of the lightweight kayak should depend on where you want to paddle with it. You can paddle with a kayak in rivers, coasts, and lakes, but every kayak has a different purpose. The kayak that is ideal for white water may not perform well in the lake, so you should make a choice depending on your requirements.

Lakes

If you want to paddle in a local lake to enjoy the fair weather, then you should go for a sit-in recreational or sit-on-top lightweight kayak. Using a recreational kayak will be a great idea because they are good for touring and slow paddling.

Rivers

When you want to paddle in rivers, you should go for a highly stable kayak and turn quickly. Sit-in or sit-on-top touring kayaks should be your choice. You will find a plethora of lightweight kayaks when looking for a touring kayak for paddling in the rivers.

Coasts

When paddling around coasts, the kayak has to fight against currents, waves, winds, and tides. The best lightweight kayak to go for is a sit-in kayak that has a rudder or a skeg. If you are planning to paddle in an area where you can go for a quick swim, go for a sit-on-top kayak as getting on the boat will be easier than sit-in kayaks.

Lakes and rivers

Some lightweight kayaks are good for rivers and lakes as well. Look for short recreational boats that are either sit-in or sit-on-top. Furthermore, check the availability of a skeg so that you get better control on the boat. If you need a bigger kayak such as a lightweight tandem kayak, then look for kayaks with a rudder.

Types of lightweight kayaks

Another factor that will impact the performance and weight is the types of kayaks. There are multiple types of lightweight kayaks available, and we have explained these types below:

Sit-in kayaks

Sit-in lightweight kayaks have a capsule-like compartment that is commonly termed as the cockpit. These boats are comfortable and keep you warm and dry as you sit in the cockpit that protects you from water splashes.

Further, the kayaks have a low center of gravity, so you get better control and the ability to make quick turns. If you want to paddle in rapids and sea. However, getting in and out of the cabin can be a task if you are using the kayak for the first time.

Sit-in kayaks are only available for solo paddlers, and you cannot paddle with your friends or kids because of the less availability of space.

Sit-on-top kayaks

Sit-on-top lightweight kayaks are wider and easy to get on. You don’t have to get into the cabin, so beginners will also find this boat comfortable for paddling. Furthermore, you will find some tandem kayaks when looking for sit-on-top kayaks so you can paddle with your partner.

The kayaks are fun to ride on a fair day and are good for touring. However, the kayaks aren’t good for paddling in rivers with rapids. Also, the water will splash on you, so you'll surely get wet when paddling.

Inflatable kayaks

Inflatable kayaks are extremely lightweight and easy to use. You can deflate the kayak when not using it, so it is easy to store and requires less space. The boats are good for touring or yoga purposes. If you need a kayak that's good for portaging, then go for inflatable kayaks.

However, there are some downsides to inflatable kayaks, such as they can get punctured, or it takes a lot of time to inflate and deflate the boat.

Materials

When purchasing a lightweight kayak, it is critical to check the material, as the kayak's weight depends on the material. You will find multiple materials when looking for these kayaks. Here are some materials that are used to manufacture kayaks.

Carbon fiber

If you want the kayak to last longer, then go for lightweight boats made using carbon fiber. These kayaks are lightweight, and the material is durable. You will find it easy to portage the kayak from one place to another even without help. However, lightweight kayaks made using carbon fiber are expensive and require maintenance as UV rays can also damage the kayak.

Plastic

Some cheap, lightweight kayaks are made using high-quality plastic that is tough and can withstand normal wear and tear. The plastic kayaks are good for beginners, and you can rest assured that the kayak will last longer.

However, plastic is heavier as compared to carbon fiber, so be prepared to carry some extra weight if you are planning to buy a kayak made using plastic.

Aluminum

Some lightweight kayaks are made using aluminum, and they are lighter as compared to plastic kayaks. Also, the material is durable, and the boat will not develop cracks easily, even if you ram it into the rocks.

Aluminum kayaks are pricier than plastic kayaks, and they are also good for beginners.

Fiberglass

For frequent paddlers, fiberglass kayaks are good because they are lightweight and durable. The kayak is available in a sit-in or sit-on-top option, so you can choose the required option as per your requirements.

The only thing about fiberglass boats that will let you down is the maintenance. The material requires maintenance, and if you are a recreational kayaker, they aren’t the right choice for you.

Inflatable materials

Inflatable kayaks are made using a plethora of materials such as PVC and the latest Kevlar. Inflatable kayaks are the lightest among all, and there are fewer chances of punctures because of the durable materials.

Hull type

After considering the material check the type of the hull so that you get control over the kayak. Also, the shape of the hull impacts stability and performance, so there is no chance you can compromise with it.

Here are some reasons why it is essential to check the hull type before choosing a lightweight kayak.

  • The shape of the kayak impacts primary stability. Primary stability is referred to how stable the kayak is when you are getting on it. If the kayak isn't stable, then it will move vigorously, and it will be hard for you to get on it. The kayak that has better primary stability will not flip over if you choose the right hull type.
  • Another factor that depends on the hull is the secondary stability. The secondary stability is referred to as how stable the kayak is when you are paddling it. Beginners need a kayak that is easy to handle, whereas experts need fast kayaks as they know how to balance it.

The common hull types to consider when buying a lightweight kayak:

Rounded hull

When compared to flat hulls, rounded hulls have lesser drag, so you will get better speed. The kayak will glide through the water with less resistance, and there is no need to paddle vigorously. If you need a lightweight kayak with more secondary stability, then consider rounded hulls.

You will fund rounded hulls in recreational, tandem, and touring kayaks so it will be easy to make the right choice.

V-shaped hull

The lightweight kayaks with a v-shaped hull will give you more speed as the boat cuts through the water with its pointed hull. You will find it easy to paddle the kayak in a straight line, so they are good for touring purposes.

At first, you will find it a bit challenging to control the kayak, and then you can take it for long distance trips without any issues. Furthermore, v-shaped hulls offer better secondary stability, so paddling the kayak will be easy for you.

Flat hull

If you have nothing to do with the speed, go for lightweight kayaks with flat hulls. The hull has flat edges so that the kayak will face resistance from water, and that is why you won't be able to achieve good speeds with these kayaks.

Beginners should consider kayaks with flat hulls as they are easy to maneuver, and you can paddle in flat water. Flat hulls are very popular in the recreational kayak category as they are cheap and easy to use.

Pontoon hull

Lightweight kayaks with a pontoon hull are highly stable as they offer excellent primary and secondary stability. The kayaks have a combination of rounder and flat hull, so the kayak will be slower as compared to the boats with other hull types.

Chine hull

The chine hulls are available in two categories: hard chines and soft chines. The lightweight kayaks with a hard chine hull have more angles, whereas kayaks with a soft chine hull have fewer angles and are rounded. You will even find some kayaks with a multi-chine hull that offers good speed and excellent secondary stability.

Durability

The durability of the lightweight kayak depends on the material and how you are using it. If you need a kayak for frequent use, you should not go for a recreational kayak as they aren’t fit for everyday use. Similarly, each type has distinct durability, so it is essential to make sure that the kayak you are planning to purchase is durable.

The best way to determine the durability of the kayaks is by checking the customer reviews. You should check what the customers have to say about the durability to ensure that the kayak you are buying will last longer without getting damaged.

Weight of the kayak

It is vital to check the weight of the kayak when you are buying a lightweight kayak. The kayak's weight depends on multiple factors, such as the kayak's material, type, and size. Check the weight to make sure that you can portage the kayak without any issues, and it is easy to mount on the car’s rack.

The lightest kayaks among all are inflatable kayaks as you can deflate the kayak for the ease of storage. Furthermore, boats made using carbon fiber, and fiberglass are lighter as compared to aluminum and plastic.

Weight capacity

Most excited folks forget to check the weight capacity of the boat, or some of them get confused between the weight capacity and weight of the kayak. The weight capacity is how much weight the kayak can bear.

Not every kayak is designed the same, so the weight capacity is also different. You should check the weight capacity depending on your usage; if you need a tandem kayak, then the weight capacity should be different.

On the other hand, if you need a sit-in kayak, then the weight capacity will be different. The weight capacity of the kayak depends on multiple factors, such as its width and length and the type of kayak.

Kayaks that are wider have more weight capacity, as the width increases the buoyancy of the boat. One thing to keep in mind is that when you get a kayak with better weight capacity, its overall weight also increases simultaneously because of the increased width and length.

So, check the weight capacity and the overall weight of the kayak before making any decision.

Storage space

Do you need storage space to carry some extra stuff? If yes, then you should check if the lightweight kayak has the storage space or not! Not every kayak comes with storage space, so you need to check it beforehand.

Usually, sit-in kayaks have storage where you keep your items such as water bottles or some other gear. Another thing to check is how much storage space the kayak has. Some kayaks have limited storage space, whereas some touring kayaks have good storage space.

Length and width of the kayak

The length and width of the kayak have a lot to do with its weight and performance. If you are buying a long and wide kayak, then it will be highly stable, but at the same time, the kayak will be heavy and hard to portage.

Lightweight kayaks are available in a myriad of lengths and widths. The shorter kayaks are usually 8 to 13 feet long, whereas the longer kayaks are 14 to 14 feet long. If you go for a longer kayak, then you will get better control over it. However, it would be hard to turn the kayak quickly.

On the other hand, if you choose a short kayak, then it will be a bit hard to maneuver, but you can take sharp turns, which are necessary for water with rapids.

Similarly, the width of the kayak should depend on your skill level and where you want to paddle with it. If you want to paddle the kayak on flat water with no rapids at all, then you can go with a narrow, lightweight kayak as it allows you to achieve good speeds.

Price

Lightweight kayaks are available at a range of prices, so you should make your budget before clicking the buy now button. You will find a plethora of kayaks at affordable as well as expensive kayaks. The price depends on the material you choose and the type of kayak you want to buy.

Accessories to buy with a lightweight kayak

After selecting the lightweight kayak, you should consider buying some accessories that you will need during paddling. Check these accessories recommendations that you should consider buying.

  • Life jacket

It is imperative to buy a life jacket when purchasing a lightweight kayak. The life jacket will keep you afloat if you fall down from the kayak. Even if you know how to swim, you should buy a good life jacket.

  • Paddles

Not all lightweight kayaks come with paddles, so you should purchase them separately. While choosing the paddles, check the height and weight so that you get the right paddles that let you glide on the water with your lightweight kayak.

  • Cover

Buy a kayak cover so that you can protect it during storage. If you have an expensive kayak, then it is crucial to protect it from scratches and damages. Therefore, get a good-quality cover to keep it safe in the storage.

  • Air pump

So, you are planning to buy an inflatable kayak? Well, you need an inflating pump so that you can inflate the kayak on the go. These pumps are available in motor and manual options, so you should choose accordingly.

  • Puncture kit

Another thing that you need with an inflatable kayak as it will help you in repairing the kayak if it gets punctured.

  • Anchor

Get an anchor to stop the kayak on a specific spot. If you need a lightweight kayak for fishing, then the anchor will be a great help.

FAQs: Best Lightweight Kayaks

Q: What should I buy a one-piece or a two-piece kayak paddle?

A: The one-piece paddle is made using a single rod, making it robust and powerful. If you need a paddle that is durable and allows you to paddle quickly and with great force, you should go for one-piece paddles.

The two-piece paddles transform into two pieces, so it will be easy to transport them. The choice is up to you. If you have enough space to transport a big paddle, go with a one-piece, else two-piece kayak paddles are there for you.

Q: How long does a kayak last?

A: The lifespan of the kayak depends on multiple factors, such as the material, type, and how you take care of it. On average, a lightweight kayak easily lasts for 2-3 years. However, the lifespan can be more or less depending on how you use the kayak.

Q: Why do kayaks have wheels?

A: Some lightweight kayaks have built-in wheels so that you can take it to water and back to your car. If you want to travel alone, then go for kayaks with built-in wheels so that you don’t have any issues portaging it.

Q: Are inflatable kayaks durable?

A: The durability of the inflatable kayak depends on the materials and where you use the kayak. Usually, these kayaks are made using polyester, and Kevlar, which are durable and are resistant to puncture. Always carry a puncture kit with you so that you can repair the puncture on the go.

Q: Which hull type is the best?

A: Every hull type is good, depending on where you will be using the kayak and what is your skill level. Also, the hull type will impact the speed of the kayak. Check the different kayak hulls that we have explained in the article to buy the right one.

Conclusion

Buying an inflatable kayak will be easy if you have this buyer’s guide by your side. The guide contains everything that you need to know before buying one. Make a list of kayaks that you like and are under your budget, and then compare them based on these factors.

You should buy a kayak according to your skill level so that you get better control over the kayak. Lastly, follow a proper maintenance regime and keep your kayak clean so that it lasts longer and looks like new for years.


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