The 10 Best Kayak Carts
This wiki has been updated 30 times since it was first published in September of 2015. You're going to get enough exercise while paddling your kayak or canoe, so you might as well make it easy on yourself when transporting your vessel to the water by using one of these dollies. The carts we've selected can handle a variety of terrains, are designed for hassle-free pulling -- even after an exhausting day on the water, and should stand up to years of constant use. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 26, 2020:
Because kayaks come in many shapes and sizes, from touring to two-person to fishing models, it makes sense that the carts, too, come in many shapes and sizes, with different designs being better suited to certain types of terrain and vessels. So, with that in mind, we strove to include a variety of styles so there would be one to suit every need. It was also with this focus that we chose to eliminate some models that were too similar to one another. For example, other than the minimal difference in wheel type, the Best Choice Products SKY1251, TMS KY001, and Suspenz Smart DLX are all essentially identical. Since the TMS KY001 and Suspenz Smart DLX are of better quality, we decided to keep those and remove the SKY1251. In its place came the Suspenz Airless End, which is a style not previously represented here. We think many users will appreciate the lack of straps and easy loading it offers.
The Malone Clipper Deluxe is also practically identical to the models above, and that, combined with the fact that it was discontinued by the manufacturer and replaced with a new model that doesn't perform as well, lead to it being eliminated from our list. Taking its place is the Bonnlo Beach Ballon, which has a similar frame structure, but is equipped with oversized, low-pressure tires that are specifically designed to travel over soft sand with minimal effort.
Another new addition is the Wilderness Systems Heavy-Duty, which has the highest weight capacity of any options on our list, making it the best choice for anyone who needs to transport heavy vessels. Also boasting a high load capacity, but simultaneously being extremely compact, especially when disassembled, we have the C-Tug Trolley, which is a smart choice if you take the cart with you when out paddling.
Though we previously had the Malone Xpress representing our scupper-style carts, we decided to remove it in favor of the Bonnlo Scupper. The latter has adjustable posts, whereas the former didn't. Since we kept the Hobie Plug In due to its well-made construction, which also doesn't have adjustable posts, we didn't see the need to retain the Malone Xpress on the list.
April 22, 2019:
Kayak carts are a must for anybody who owns one of these watercraft. They allow a single person to easily transport these vessels to and from the water, so you don't have to enlist the aid of a friend every time you want to go out for a paddle. If you only have a sit-on-top style kayak and don't plan on buying any other watercraft, then you can purchase one of the carts that has two vertical posts, like the Malone Xpress and Hobie Heavy Duty. These two poles are designed to slip inside your scupper holes and will keep a vessel firmly in place no matter what kind of terrain you are traveling over. Those who have a sit-inside kayak or want to also be able to transport a canoe should look at one of the models with two horizontal surfaces, as they accommodate a wider range of watercraft types. It is also important to look at weight capacity when choosing your cart. If you have a heavy vessel, or want to be able to transport it when fully loaded with gear, the C-Tug Trolley, Apex KC-Dolly-Seat, Malone Clipper Deluxe are all smart choices, as they all have a 200-pound or more capacity. Uniquely, the Apex KC-Dolly-Seat doubles as a chair, offering you a comfortable place to sit and relax before or after paddling. If you have a lightweight kayak and want to save some cash, you may want to consider the budget-friendly Best Choice Products SKY1251.
Sea to Summit Sit On Top Cart Robust enough to handle most sit-on-top kayaks, this model from Sea to Summit should stand up to years of constant use. It is equipped with tapered cones on its scupper posts that help limit side-to-side movement and hold the cargo firmly in place, while its solid rubber wheels eliminate any chance of getting a flat. seatosummitusa.com
Finding The Right Kayak Cart
Fortunately, there are plenty of great kayak carts that are ready to roll, as it were.
Kayaks come in a surprisingly wide variety of shapes, lengths, and weights. You can get an inflatable kayak designed for use by one person that weighs less than 25 pounds or you can get a rigid one person sit-in style kayak that weighs more than fifty pounds. When it comes to tandem kayaks, their weight can leap up to more than eighty pounds or higher.
So while some kayaks can easily be carried across large swaths of rough terrain by a single person, some kayaks necessitate additional assistance just to make the trek from the top of your car down to the docks or beach from which you'll launch the craft. Fortunately, there are plenty of great kayak carts that are ready to roll, as it were.
When choosing a kayak cart, first and foremost you need to select a unit that can safely support your boat. If you have a large multiple person kayak, some of the smaller carts might not be up to the challenge of hauling it. Make sure to check the weight rating of any cart you are considering, and keep in mind that the base weight of your kayak is not the right weight to consider; you will almost definitely have other gear tucked into your kayak while hauling it, and this gear can add weight quickly.
After weight capacity, next consider the size and design of a kayak cart. If you just need a cart to help you get your kayak down from a parking lot or yard to its launch point and you can leave the cart there by the water or you can quickly return it to a vehicle or building before you get into the water, the cart's size is of little importance. If, however, you need to collapse the kayak cart and tuck it into your watercraft with you, your options become more limited. These collapsible kayak carts are also often more expensive than their less flexible counterparts, but the convenience they afford their owner compensates for the cost.
Finally consider the type of terrain over which you will likely have to haul your boat. Some kayak carts have large, thick pneumatic tires with heavy treads; these are great options for rough and rocky paths or for use on grass or even sand, but such wheels might add unnecessary weight if you tend to travel on sidewalks and roads.
Other Gear Kayakers Must Consider
Once you have a great kayak and a rugged and ready kayak cart with which to haul it, you are almost ready for adventures out there on the water. But there are still a few items of gear you must have before setting out, and there are a few accessories you're sure to want.
Even the experienced swimmer should wear a flotation device when kayaking, and the use of these devices is imperative if you are heading for whitewater.
Beyond the boat itself, your primary concern should be to select a great kayak paddle. They key to choosing the right kayak paddle comes in finding one that suits your height, but in this unique case, the overall height you stand off the ground is not of key concern: rather the "height" of your torso is the most important factor.
As a quick frame of reference, a paddler with a torso measuring two feet from belt to neck should look for a paddle measuring about 190 centimeters (kayak paddles are almost always measured using the Metric System), while a paddler with a toro measuring 30 inches needs a paddle that is about 220 CM in length.
The next piece of gear to get is a lifejacket. Even the experienced swimmer should wear a flotation device when kayaking, and the use of these devices is imperative if you are heading for whitewater. (Your swimming prowess won't help you much if you've been knocked dizzy by a rock or by the hull of your own boat.)
Once you have a paddle and a lifejacket, next consider whether or not you need a helmet. Again this is an absolute necessity for whitewater kayaking, but likely not needed if you are taking your kayak out on flat water or if you are kayaking in the ocean on calmer days.
A wetsuit is a great (if not necessary) choice for use in cold water and can keep you warmer and more comfortable during long paddling sessions. As for those accessories you might not need but are sure to enjoy, consider waterproof speakers for listening to tunes while you paddle and a waterproof camera for capturing memories.
A Brief Look At The Amazing Kayak
Humans have been making and using kayaks for thousands of years; the earliest examples of these versatile, durable boats may date back to the third millennium BCE, in fact. Traditional kayaks were made in much the same way for all the centuries leading up to the modern era: the natives of the frigid northern polar region would stretch the prepared skins of an animal over a frame made from bone or wood, creating a watertight craft that could quickly and numbly cut through the waters.
By the mid 19th Century, western interest in the canoes and kayaks of native peoples led to the experimentation with new craft building materials, though the basic design of the kayak would remain the same. Fabrics replaced animal skins as kayak coverings, and this approach remained the standard until the mid 20th Century.
In the 1950s, fiberglass kayaks emerged as the most popular type of boat, with the need for an internal frame largely negated thanks to the rigid material. Plastic supplanted fiberglass in the 1980s and remains the material of choice today. Kayak shape, however, and the way in which the nimble craft perform, has changed little in thousands of years.