kayak weight

How Much Does a Kayak Weigh?

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Kayaking has continued to gain immense fame in recent times due to its versatility. Whether it’s fishing, exploring or sporting, kayaks can provide you with a wide range of fun activities that can captivate you in multiple ways. Now, to enjoy the best out of your kayak, there are those factors you’ll need to consider one of which is the kayak weight.

Now, when shopping for a kayak, most people are blinded by the excitement and go-ahead to bypass some of the key factors that need to be considered. Most buyers usually concentrate on the dimensions, the measurements, and the model.

To those that are a bit technical with their search, they usually look for the kayak’s volume, the hull’s material and the rocker.

But, does the weight of a kayak really matter?


Yes it Does

Although most people, especially beginners, face a great deal of confusion when choosing a kayak, weight is one factor that plays a paramount role in your overall kayaking experience. When asked, most people may fail to find the big deal in considering the weight.

However, if you have gone kayaking before, or maybe you have a family member or a friend who owns one, then you’re aware of the hassle that comes in if you own a kayak with the wrong weight and size. When you’re kayaking, the first thing you do is to transport your kayak to the shore.

You first need to think of how you’ll lift the kayak to your car’s roof rack without scratching your car’s painting. When you get to your destination, you have to think of how you’ll offload the kayak from the roof rack without causing any damages.

Now, accomplishing all these will obviously be easy if you have a pair of hands helping through. But, imagine loading your kayak on the roof rack at home, offloading it while at the shore then loading it again after you’re done kayaking all by yourself?

It will definitely be an exhausting endeavor, especially if you consider lifting a kayak with a whopping 80 to 100 pounds worth of weight.

So, to avoid any of these issues, considering the weight of your kayak way before you buy one will really help you to shop on what you can handle. So, with that said, let’s now get to our main topic.


Kayak Weight Limit: Step-by-Step Guide


What Exactly is Kayak Weight Limit?


When you’re shopping for a kayak, it’s highly paramount that you understand how the kayak weight limit works. In a nutshell, the kayak weight limit is the maximum weight a kayak can handle while still staying afloat. It’s basically a kayak lateral weight limit beyond which it can definitely sink or get unstable leading to capsizing.

In most cases, manufacturers indicate the weight of their kayaks just to help paddlers understand the maximum weight they’re supposed to work within. It also helps them to choose a kayak based on their own weights and the amount of gear/accessories they can carry along, especially in the case of fishing kayaks.

Now, How Much Does a Kayak Weigh?

Kayaks vary greatly in weight depending on the size, shape, and brand. In addition to that, the weight of a kayak varies greatly depending on the type of kayak you’re planning to buy. That’s the main reason why a single/solo kayak won’t weigh the same as a tandem kayak, a fishing kayak, or an inflatable kayak.

With that said, the average weight of a kayak ranges anywhere from 20 pounds to around 80 pounds and more. Now, most people have been asking whether there’s an industry-standard weight for a kayak. The simple answer to this is no.

Instead, the weight of a kayak varies greatly depending on the type, use, construction, and, of course, the brand. This is the reason why a fishing kayak will have a significant weight difference between an inflatable kayak and a recreational kayak.

How Do You Determine the Weight Limit of a Kayak?

One area most paddlers have been facing a bit of a challenge in is determining the right weight limit of their kayaks. If you’re a beginner, this can not only be overwhelming but also confusing especially if you’re yet to decide on which type of kayak to buy.

So, when we mention weight limit, what exactly we’re talking about is the amount of weight it can handle and still float. If a kayak has a weight limit of, let’s say 300 pounds, the amount of weight it’s able to handle without causing any maneuverability issues should be 30% to 35% less.

If your kayak is for fishing purposes, then you might consider choosing a kayak with a higher weight limit to allow it to handle your weight and the weight of your fishing gear and the fish. So, to let you understand this concept quite well, we’ll do some simple calculations here.

Now, let’s assume your weight is 175 pounds and your gear weighs 25 pounds.

This will make your practical weight limit to be; 175 + 25 = 200 pounds.

So, to determine the maximum weight capacity of your kayak, you’ll have to divide the total load capacity (which is your weight and the weight of your fishing gear) by 70%.

Maximum capacity = total load ÷ 0.7 (70%)

200 pounds ÷ 0.7 = 285 pounds

So, rounding up this figure, you’ll have at least 300 pounds of kayak weight limit.

The reason why we used 70% is that paddlers should always stay below 70% of the overall weight limit of their kayaks to prevent overloading which can result in poor maneuverability.

Now, most paddlers have been asking whether sacrificing 30% of their kayaks total weight can lead to a dry boat. Well, the simple answer is no. In fact, even sacrificing 40% or 50% of the kayak’s weight will still not guarantee you a dry boat. You’ll still expect some water to penetrate through the scuppers.

However, the good thing about it is that you’ll manage to paddle effectively with more uniform paddle strokes without worrying about the kayak capsizing.


Factors Affecting the Weight of a Kayak


When shopping for a kayak, you need to be aware of those factors that affect your weight. Here, you can use the internet to search the seller or manufacturer’s site to see the model of your specific kayak.

This will help you find the right information regarding your kayak’s weight, construction, length, width, and the type of kayak you’re buying. So, with that said, let’s now discuss some of those factors that affect the weight of your kayak.

  • Material:

The first factor that affects the weight of a kayak is the material from which it’s constructed from. Some of the most popular materials used in their construction include; wood, polyethylene, plastic, fiberglass, composite, and wood among others.

    • Rotomolded Kayaks: These kayaks are constructed from one piece of plastic that has been melted and built in the shape of a kayak. They’re usually cheap but quite heavy to carry along.
    • Thermoform Kayaks: These kayaks are constructed from two separate pieces that are sandwiched on top of each other. These kayaks are usually inexpensive and are durable just like the one-piece kayaks. They’re lighter in weight making them the best for beginners.
    • Fiberglass Kayaks: These kayaks, alongside composite, Kevlar, and graphite kayaks are some of the lightest. They’re also the fastest and the smoothest when paddling in the water. Due to their construction, these kayaks tend to be expensive making them the best for professional kayakers.
    • Wood Kayaks: The weight of these kayaks vary greatly depending on the type of wood and the fiberglass resin used to coat them. Most of them are relatively lightweight though they’re expensive as compared to most other types of kayaks.
  • The Design:

This is the next factor that can really affect the weight of your kayak. Here, you have to think of how you’ll use the kayak. If the kayak is for fishing purposes, then you have to find one with a hull that offers immense storage space for some of your fishing gear.

This is also ideal for paddlers looking to do multi-day trips or those going for long expeditions. So, for these reasons, your intended kayak will definitely be heavier as compared to kayaks with limited storage space.

  • The Size:

Your kayak’s size is another factor that really affects its weight. Concisely, short kayaks tend to be lighter than their longer counterparts. However, regardless of whether the kayak is short or long, the material used to construct the hull can also make a huge difference in the weight.

For instance, an 8 ft. polyethylene-fishing kayak weighing 60 lbs. will definitely be heavier than a 10 ft. touring kayak made of one-piece PVC plastic weighing just 30-40 lbs. Although their lengths seem similar, the construction is what makes the ultimate difference.

  • Type of Kayak:

Last but not the least, there’s the type of kayak you’re looking to buy. Kayaks come in various types, which, of course, dictate their weights. For instance, a folding kayak is an example of a lightweight kayak and cannot be compared to an inflatable or a tandem kayak.


Popular Kayaks and Their Weight Limit

  • Recreational Kayaks

Recreational kayaks are some of the best types of kayaks to consider for casual or recreational purposes. They’re usually easy to paddle and have lengths that reach a maximum of 10 to 15 ft. long. These kayaks usually don’t have any special features and are best for beginners, intermediaries, and professional paddlers.

Since they’re not built with any special features, these kayaks thrive in flat waters such as lakes, slow-moving rivers, or still water. About the weight, these kayaks weigh anywhere from 30 to 50 pounds. They also have the lowest weight capacity that ranging from 250 to 300 lbs.

The reason for their low weight limit is because they’re only intended for lighter duties such as photography and normal recreational purposes.

  • Touring Kayaks

Also known as expedition kayaks, touring kayaks are quite the opposite of standard recreational kayaks in terms of structure. While recreational kayaks prove to be efficient in still waters, touring kayaks can navigate well on both large water bodies and windy/turbulent water where recreational kayaks will find it challenging.

Before we get to the weight, it’s good to understand that touring kayaks are longer and narrower with a length of about 12 ft. Since they’re intended for multiday tours, they have a lot of storage space enough to fit all your stuff such as your sleeping bag, cooking equipment, and other types of expedition gear.

Due to these reasons, touring kayaks have a higher weight limit that ranges from 300-350 lbs. Due to the heavyweight, they’re able to bear, these kayaks are quite tricky to control hence require professional paddlers.

  • Whitewater Kayaks

These types of kayaks are very different from the rest of the kayaks we’ve mentioned. Their sizes and design vary greatly and are intended to navigate in waters that are more aggressive. Whitewater kayaks are categorized into playboats, longboats, creek boats, and river runners.

Playboat kayaks are short with a length of 6 ft. while longboats are longer with a length of 12 ft. and over. Creek boats and river runners have a length of 7-9 ft.

As we mentioned earlier, whitewater kayaks are intended for aggressive kayaking and are designed to withstand the heavy knocks by rocks and other solid objects while in the river. About their weights, whitewater kayaks can weigh anywhere from 40-60 lbs. and have a weight limit of 200 lbs. to around 280 lbs.

  • Tandem Kayaks

Although kayaking is regarded as a solitary endeavor, there are those kayaks that have gone beyond this tradition to accommodate at least two people during kayaking. Tandem kayaks are exactly what we’re speaking of.

Since they’re intended for two people, these kayaks tend to be the best for beginners as they can easily take a trainer along to assist them. They’re also the best for couples, family gatherings and friends looking to explore nature together.

Due to their design, these kayaks tend to be longer with lengths ranging from 14 to 18 ft. long and a weight that ranges anywhere from 50 to 80 lbs. In addition to that, a tandem kayak weight limit can vary from 500 to 600 lbs. They’re among the heaviest kayaks in the kayaking business and for a good reason.

  • Fishing Kayaks

If you’re an avid fishing connoisseur, then you probably won’t miss considering a fishing kayak. Briefly, these kayaks are more recreational kayaks with major improvements that make them stable enough for fishing.

The size of these kayaks can range anywhere from 10-16 ft. long and 30-42 inches wide. Due to their extra-large sizes, anglers can add additional features such as extra storage space and motorized fishing equipment just to make fishing easier and more fun-filled.

Now, depending on your fishing requirements, these kayaks can weigh anywhere from 35 pounds to over 200 pounds. Their weight limit can also vary greatly (depending on the fishing gear you’re using) from 400-550 pounds.

  • Inflatable Kayaks

An inflatable kayak is another variation that has been designed to tackle the issue of portability. They work normally just like other kayaks and are best suited for people living in small urban apartments where space is an issue.

These kayaks are quite convenient and easy to use as you only have to inflate them when padding or deflate them for easy transportation and storage when not in use.

Now, depending on the quality of the construction, the materials used and the size, inflatable kayaks can weigh anywhere from 20 pounds to over 50 pounds (when inflated, of course). The weight limit of this lightweight kayak can range anywhere from 220 pounds to over 300 pounds.


How Do You Transport a Kayak?

Once you determine the type of kayak you’ll be buying, the next thing you’ll need to consider is how you’ll be transporting the kayak from your home to the shore. If the kayak is on the heavy side, for the case of fishing and expedition kayaks, you’ll definitely have to add a kayak trailer to make transportation a breeze.

This will not only save you the time of loading the kayak on the roof rack, but it will also reduce any possible wear and tear that might occur in case the kayak falls off.

On the other hand, if the kayak is a basic recreational or whitewater variation, then you won’t need to purchase a kayak trailer. Instead, you can load it on your car or SUV’s roof rack.




Most topics on kayaks only touch on their variations and factors to consider when buying one. Just a few of the topics touch on the kayak weight limit. Although they make our lives easier when it comes to sporting, fishing, and exploring the great waters, kayaks have their own weight limits which paddlers should really be keen on.

In addition to the weight limit, kayaks have their own weights too which you should be aware of when getting ready to kayak. At least with all these in mind, you will be able to plan ahead and shop for a kayak that will handle your weight and the weight of your gear without losing their balance, capsizing, or causing maneuverability issues.

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