Lots of people just jump in and buy a kayak without putting much thought into the practicalities of owning the kayak they end up buying. But you’re not going to be one of those people, because you’re reading this article!
The two biggest factors that come into play when it comes to the weight of a kayak are the size, and the material they’re made out of.
In general, the lighter you want your kayak to be the more money you’re going to have to spend. It seems counter-intuitive to be paying more, for less, but when it comes to kayaking less is more.
The less your kayak weighs, the less effort you need to put into paddling for a given speed.
The main three materials that kayaks are made out of are plastic, fiberglass, and composites.
Plastics are the heaviest and cheapest options as they’re extremely easy to manufacture, and are hard-wearing. If you’re not really that fussed about performance, then this is the material you want to get. The average 10-foot plastic kayak is around 45 to 50 pounds, with a bit of variation between sit in and sit on models.
Fibreglass is the medium-range material. You lose some resilience, and they tend to get damaged more easily, but you also get a lighter kayak. The average 10-foot fibreglass kayak will weigh around 35 to 45 pounds. You’ll be paying a fair bit more for this material, though.
Composite kayaks are the lightest of all, weighing in at around 30lb for an average 10-foot model. With an extremely rigid body, they cut through the water extremely well, but won’t take a bash as well as the previous two materials we talked about. If you’re going to be using your kayak in the rapids you definitely don’t want to go for this material.
Length is the other factor. Not really a huge amount to say about this other than the longer you go, the heavier it will be. If you want it to be light, then you need to go for a shorter kayak.
The lightest kayak of all
There are inflatable kayaks available, although you’re limited in selection with only sit on top varieties being available in inflatable form. These can weigh anywhere from 20-30 pounds, depending on the quality. Again, the more you pay the lighter it will be. But the lighter it is the less of a knock it’ll take.
At the end of the day, it’s very much a case of ‘how long is a piece of string’ and how much you kayak weighs will depend mostly on your kayaking needs and your budget.
If you have money to burn and aren’t going to be taking your kayak down any rapids, then a composite kayak is a great choice to save some weight.
But if you’re planning on bashing your kayak about, then you’ll probably have to put up with the added weight just to keep the resilience.