The Top 8 Most Portable, Lightweight, and High-Quality Kayaks

The Top 8 Most Portable, Lightweight, And High-Quality Kayaks To Consider Buying

Best Lightweight Kayak

Abigail ScottByAbigail Scott
Updated on 6/23/2022

You need to have a kayak that you can carry by yourself if you're the sort of person who likes to drive about, look for exciting bodies of water, pull over, and launch your kayak. In addition, your weight might affect the amount of energy and power you need to put into each paddling stroke. It is more probable that you will utilize a kayak if it is simple to maneuver both in and out of the water. It can be summed up like that. But is weight the only factor that makes a difference? And maybe most significantly, what are some tips for selecting the ideal lightweight kayak? Everything you ever wanted to know about lightweight kayaks is right here!

Are You Late? The Answer That Came Out On Top After 41 Hours Of Research:

Pelican Maxim 100X

Pelican - Maxim 100X Recreational Kayak - 10ft
4.2/5
90%
Light weight
86%
Leg room
68%
Comfort
60%
Stability
56%
For beginners

Why is it an improvement?

  • It is an excellent choice for most novice and intermediate recreational paddlers.
  • The hull is impact-resistant and durable because of the RAM-X polyethylene structure while being lightweight at just 36 pounds.
  • The shallow V-chine hull shape ensures stability, manueverability, and overall performance on the water.
  • Comfort is ensured by the ERGOFORM backrest, seat cushion, and this chair's molded footrests.
  • Onboard storage choices include a front storage hatch with bungee rigging and a rear tank well with a mesh cover. These alternatives are located in the front and back of the vehicle, respectively.

What Makes A Kayak Light?

light weight kayak

How can you tell whether a specific kayak meets the criteria for being lightweight or not? Where is the cutoff point that distinguishes the heavy from the light in terms of weight? The term "lightweight kayak" does not have a universally accepted meaning; nonetheless, I believe the emphasis should be on models weighing fifty pounds or less. Questions such as "what sits on top kayak weigh the least" and "what kayak weighs the least" are among the most often that I am asked. Unfortunately, no answer is universally applicable since it depends on various conditions. In light of this, the following factors contribute to the kayak's overall portability.

Comparing Hard-Shell and Inflatable Boats

Inflatable Vs. Hard-Shell

A well-chosen hard-shell kayak may help you maintain the classic feel of kayaking while also allowing you to travel light. This is an important consideration. Continue reading, and you'll get an idea of what I mean when I say that some exceptional hard-shell kayaks are available in the lightweight class. However, this does not imply that inflatables should not be taken into consideration: Inflatable kayaks are difficult to beat when compared to other types of kayaks in terms of mobility, simplicity of storage, and compactness. Consider getting an inflatable version of your kayak if you want to take it with you when you travel and use it to explore the outdoors on and off the water.

Materials Used in Construction

Construction Materials

Before you can even begin to consider the many kinds of materials, you have to decide on the type of kayak you want to make: inflatable or hard-shell. For example, to give you an idea of what kind of plastic is used in the vast majority of lightweight kayaks, the following are the types of plastic used:

  • Kayaks with robust hulls are often made of high-density polyethylene, a form of plastic that is tough, long-lasting, and frequently resistant to the effects of ultraviolet light. Composite materials are another alternative, but a pricey one compared to the others.
  • A PVC material is used to make inflatable kayaks, which are meant to be lighter than traditional kayaks and are designed primarily to be used as a means of transport.

Dimensions (Length & Width)

Dimensions (Length & Width)

Regardless of the materials used in its construction, the kayak's weight will increase according to its size. It can be summed up like that. If you are shopping for lightweight kayaks, you may be tempted to get one that is as small as it gets. However, before making that decision, you should remember that the kayak's measurements, particularly its length and breadth, impact how it performs on the water. Shorter types are constructed for whitewater mobility; longer and narrower variants are better suited for long-distance paddling, while broader models often give the best stability.

In addition, you need to determine if the kayak's dimensions are suitable for your body type, even if this requires you to choose a slightly heavier model. A word of caution: it is not always the case that a smaller kayak is also a lighter kayak, and I've seen plenty of 12-foot inflatables that weigh less than an 8-foot hard-shell kayak. Nevertheless, if you are asked to discriminate between the two, as a general rule of thumb, the smaller item should be lighter if made from the same component!

A Buying Guide For The Best Lightweight Kayaks, Including Information On How To Select A Lightweight Kayak

Lightweight Kayak

If you came here intending to select the kayak that weighs the least and then call it a day, I wouldn't blame you if you did that. You will undeniably want to ensure you do not exceed a specific weight limit during your weight loss journey. For the majority of paddlers, I believe that weight of fifty pounds or less should be enough for their comfort.

Nevertheless, there is more to it than a straightforward: How much does it weigh?

You expect the most incredible lightweight kayaks to be light, don't you? I mean, yes, you do anticipate that. But putting aside the factors contributing to its overall mass, the kayak should offer a high level of convenience and performance. And what is the point of having a lightweight kayak shell if it reduces the kayak's performance when it is being used on the water? For this reason, the following considerations are essential while shopping for a lightweight kayak.

Let's Have A Conversation About Comfort: Always Search For Adjustability

Let’s Talk Comfort: Always Look For Adjustability

The primary goal is to reduce the overall weight of your kayak by as many pounds as possible, but this should not be done at the cost of any elements geared toward comfort. You want it to be comfy if you remain there for an extended period. If you intend on going on longer journeys, comfort becomes more of a question of increased body support and better control over the kayak; thus, it is even more necessary to have this gear. Adjustability is the most important quality to look for in this case:

Seats and footrests that can be adjusted, thigh braces, and anything else that might help you achieve a more personalized fit are all very much appreciated. If you're on the larger side like I am, you will want to ensure the cockpit has enough legroom to move about. It is a very aggravating experience to purchase a kayak that, due to your height, you cannot comfortably fit into. I mean this in the most literal sense possible.

Be Sure Not To Underestimate The Importance Of Having Storage On Board

Don’t Underestimate The Need For Onboard Storage

To a certain degree, the quantity of onboard storage is a question of personal taste; nonetheless, you must remember to consider how you typically use your kayak. Certainly, you want to ensure that everything is as light as possible. However, this does not allow you to disregard the safety gear requirement and paddle out into the water with nothing more than a life jacket or personal floatation device (PFD) and a paddle.

Your kayak should always have room for essentials like food, water, a first aid kit, extra clothing, sunscreen, and other items. And if the kayak doesn't have any storage choices, where do you intend to store those items if you plan to use them? On a lightweight kayak, you will likely not find any enormous tank wells or many hatches for storage. It should contain at least a dry-storage compartment, some tie-down points, bungee rigging, and maybe some more capacity behind or below the seat, but this is the minimum it should have. 

Can Only A Limited Amount Of Weight Be Carried In Lightweight Kayaks?

lightweight kayak

Consider the weight capacity of the kayak you want to purchase, regardless of whether it is a hard-shell kayak that weighs 100 pounds or an inflatable kayak that weighs 20 pounds. It is an element that determines how well the kayak can bear your weight and the items you carry on board. Even though this characteristic may vary relatively from one model to the next, selecting a lightweight kayak does not always indicate that the vessel's maximum load capacity will be reduced. If nothing else, it is not nearly as severe as you would think it would be given the lightweight build.

Consider kayaks that can be inflated, for instance:

They usually weigh between 25 and 30 pounds, yet they may still compete well with hard shells that are much heavier in terms of the amount of weight they can carry.

Mobility And Stability Are Two Concerns That Often Arise

Portability & Storage As Common Concerns

Even though it may be surprising to some, one of the most important concerns that many first-time kayakers have when deciding whether to purchase their kayak is the size and weight of the typical kayak. You need to consider the practicalities of carrying it to and from the water, which often involves roof racks and trailers for kayaks. In addition, keep in mind that there may be situations in which you will need to lift, carry, and portage the kayak to portage over obstacles like low-head dams.

Last but not least, you need a sufficient amount of storage space in your own house; a full-sized kayak is not something you can just tuck away in a closet and forget about it being there. Here is where a lightweight kayak shines; of course, inflatable kayaks completely outclass their hard-shell counterparts.

It is important to ensure that whichever kayak you buy has carrying handles, grab lines, T-handles, and a storage bag (in the case of inflatable kayaks) as standard equipment when you buy it.

Evaluations And Recommendations Of The Best Lightweight Kayaks

1. Pelican Maxim 100X

Pelican - Maxim 100X Recreational Kayak - 10ft
4.2/5
90%
Light weight
86%
Leg room
68%
Comfort
60%
Stability
56%
For beginners

  • The award for the best lightweight kayak overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars is our rating
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars for the price

To demonstrate that, yes, even hard-shell kayaks have strong competitors in the market for the best lightweight kayaks, I'd like to begin my roundup with one of the most fantastic all-around possibilities Pelican offers. This sit-inside has a RAM-X design that is resistant to impact, and despite its length of ten feet, it weighs just a comfortable thirty-six pounds. In addition to that, it can hold a respectable 275 pounds. Onboard storage is another feature that the Maxim 100X has going for it. This storage space is comprised of a tank well and a hatch. And however, the hatch is neither very spacious nor watertight. Although they contribute to the paddler's comfort, the cushioned seat, foot braces, and molded footrests may be difficult to adjust when the paddler is moving through the water.

Specifications And Data

  • RAM-X polyethylene structure of the hard-shell exterior
  • 10 feet long by 2.3 feet wide
  • Weight 36 pounds
  • a maximum load of 275 pounds

Pros:

  • Construction that is relatively lightweight yet long-lasting
  • Adaptable, elegant, and steady in its movements
  • Suitable for beginning and intermediate paddlers
  • A variety of convenient onboard storage solutions
  • A cushy ERGOFORM seat with padding

Cons:

  • The bow storage hatch is not watertight and slightly deeper than average.
  • Attempting to modify the footrests while the kayak is in motion might be difficult.

I haven't been able to find a lightweight, sit-inside hard-shell that's suitable for beginners that's better than the one I have. The Pelican Maxim 100X is the ideal choice for use in situations involving leisure activities.

2. Pelican Sentinel 100X

Pelican Sentinel 100x - Sit on Top Pelican Kayak
4.5/5
100%
Sturdiness
90%
For beginners
90%
Value for money
88%
Maneuverability
86%
Comfort

  • Winner of the Award for the Best Lightweight Fishing Kayak
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars is our rating.
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars for the price

This particular Pelican kayak is a 9.5-foot sit-on-top hard-shell model developed expressly with kayak anglers in mind. If you're considering getting one, you might want to give this kayak some severe thought. Pelican's distinctive RAM-X polyethylene, a specially formulated kind of high-density polyethylene, is used in constructing both the Sentinel 100X and the Maxim 100X. However, the Sentinel 100X clocks in at 44 pounds, somewhat heavier than the Maxim 100X. The difference in weight is due to the fully rigged design of the Sentinel 100X, which includes the following:

The cockpit of this fishing kayak is outfitted with a mesh bow storage, various rod holders, accessory eyelets, and an ExoPak detachable storage section that fits in the tank well. This kayak is designed to be used for fishing.

It still has the same capacity of 275 pounds, which, in my view, should have been raised to a more significant number given how much fishing gear anglers need.

When it comes to the question "whatsit on top kayak weighs the least," this one is definitely in the running for the answer.

Don't hold me to that statement, but this fishing kayak may be the lightest one currently available on the market. You get the idea, however; for a kayak designed for fishing, its portability is remarkable.

Specifications And Data

  • RAM-X polyethylene structure of the hard-shell exterior (high-density polyethylene)
  • It is 9.5 feet long and 2.5 feet wide.
  • Weighs 44 pounds
  • a maximum load of 275 pounds

Pros:

  • It has sufficient maneuverability and stability for casting.
  • The cockpit is well-appointed, and there are several onboard storage space choices, including a compartment that can be removed.
  • It contains a variety of rod holders in addition to two eyelets for securing accessories.

Cons:

  • The seat does not have nearly as much padding as other seats.
  • A paddle is not included and must be purchased separately.
  • When used for fishing, the weight capacity might be somewhat increased.

Pelican Sentinel 100X is a rigged but lightweight sit-on-top alternative worth considering if you're trying to elevate your kayak fishing experience to the next level. If this describes your goals, read on.

3. Kayak Of The Lifetime Youth Wave

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle, 6 Feet, Green
4.7/5
94%
Maneuverability
94%
Durability
92%
Light weight
90%
Comfort
80%
Stability

  • Award: Best Lightweight Kayak For Kids
  • Result: Four out of Five Stars
  • Cost: Five out of Five Stars

The Youth Wave from Lifetime weighs only 18 pounds, making it one of the lightest hard-shell kayaks available. It won't fit 95 percent of the people who are reading this, mainly when you take into account that it has a capacity of just 130 pounds, but that's not the point:

This is a sit-on-top that was made with children in mind!

However, despite its ergonomic design, which includes a swim-up deck to facilitate a smooth re-entry and several footrest settings, the cockpit has an unremarkable appearance and is devoid of any additional features. Even the seat itself is not cushioned in any way.

On the other hand, I don't believe there are that many children who would miss it anyhow. The fact that they get to enjoy themselves in this very stable and brilliantly colored kayak should be more than enough for children to have a good time spending the day on the water.

Specifications And Data

  • HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) structure for the hard shell.
  • 6 feet long by 2 feet wide
  • 18 kilograms in weight
  • 130 pounds of carrying capacity

Pros:

  • Suitable for kids aged five and older
  • It's so tiny that it can be easily carried around.
  • The swim-up deck and contoured cockpit make it simpler to re-enter the water.
  • Bright colors improve the visibility of the water.
  • Excellent stability
  • There is a paddle for children included.

Cons:

  • Neither a seat nor a backrest is included in the kayak purchase.
  • There is a maximum load of 130 pounds that can be supported.
  • Despite its stability, the traits it has are more suited to less turbulent circumstances.
  • The tracking may need some improvement.

The Youth Wave from Lifetime is a product that comes highly recommended if you are looking for the kayak that is the lightest for your children to use while having fun and learning how to kayak.

4. ADVANCED ELEMENTS Lagoon 1 Kayak

  • Award: Best Lightweight Kayak For Flat Waters
  • Result: Four out of Five Stars
  • Cost: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

The Advanced Elements Lagoon 1 is not an exception to the rule that inflatable kayaks are recognized for having a lightweight build and being portable. This sit-inside kayak is 8.3 feet in length and weighs just 23 pounds. Therefore, it is susceptible to strong winds and turbulent waves. However, it has a robust and well-made appearance, and the arrangement of its six chambers offers an additional layer of security.

Given that it can hold up to 250 pounds, the fact that the only alternatives for storage space are bungee rigging and a mesh pocket didn't come as much of a surprise to me at all. However, it ought to be sufficient for usage in leisure activities. While I believe it is worthwhile, a paddler who seldom goes out on the water would not be comfortable spending this much on an inflatable kayak.

Specifications And Data

  • Inflatable structure made of PVC-coated nylon construction
  • 8.3 feet long by 2.8 feet wide
  • Weighs 23 pounds
  • 250 pounds of carrying capacity

Pros:

  • Comfort is ensured by both the inflatable seat and the foam floor.
  • Tracking is improved by the use of the fin as well as the entire bow and stern panels.
  • Construction with six separate chambers
  • A duffel bag is supplied to make transportation more convenient.

Cons:

  • When it comes to tracking wise, it is only ideal for use on calm seas.
  • Winds have the potential to impact how stable it is.
  • confined space in the cockpit with few onboard storage choices
  • It's going to cost you quite a bit.
  • It does not include a paddle in the package.

If you want to take your afternoon fun on the water to the next level, the Lagoon 1 is a step up from the standard air-filled kayak, and it is pretty simple to suggest it.

5. ADVANCED ELEMENTS AirFusion Elite Kayak

  • Honorable Mention: Best Award for a Lightweight Hybrid Kayak
  • Rating: Five out of five stars
  • Cost: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

The Advanced Elements AirFusion is neither an inflatable nor a hard-shell backpack; instead, it is a hybrid that combines elements of both styles:

A high-pressure air chamber system is integrated into the polyurethane "skin" stretched over the metal frame that makes up the 13-foot shell. The design plays a significant role in how effectively this kayak tricks and maneuvers on the water kayaking one feels similar to paddling a hard-shell boat, albeit the performance gap is much more significant.

Even while the initial setup could take a little bit longer, you are getting the best of both worlds in a kayak that is as light as 32 pounds. If this kayak had a hard shell, it would be the most lightweight option on the market.

Bungee deck lacing, a rear roll-top hatch, and D-ring tie-downs are this vehicle's storage options. Be careful not to exceed the 235-pound weight limit since the item's capacity is just that much.

However, I am not very enthusiastic about the price tag; the AirFusion Elite is my choice for the most expensive product. However, when compared to the cost of comparable folding kayaks, this one is a bargain.

Specifications And Data

  • Construction made of a combination of polyurethane and metal
  • 13 feet long by 2 feet wide
  • 32 kilograms in weight.
  • 235 pounds of carrying capacity

Pros:

  • The aluminum frame and many air chambers make up the hybrid structure of this product.
  • Sleek and lightweight, yet still sturdy and long-lasting.
  • It moves and reacts just like a conventional hard shell.
  • Because it can be folded up, it is convenient to carry and move about.
  • A variety of choices for onboard storage

Cons:

  • This kayak is the priciest option available on the list.
  • The setup may take more time than a standard inflatable kayak.

Aside from the price tag, the AirFusion is the epitome of everything you should seek in a lightweight kayak. It offers a simple setup, a lightweight design, mobility, and good performance on the water.

6. Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak

Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak Blue, 8'7" x 3'
4.3/5
90%
Easy to inflate
82%
Stability
78%
Maneuverability

  • Winner of the Award for the Most Portable and Lightweight Kayak
  • Result: Four out of Five Stars
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars for the price

Imagine arriving at the shore of the lake with a backpack, and then suddenly, after only five minutes, the rucksack transforms into a full-fledged kayak. I'd like to use this opportunity to introduce you to the Sevylor Quikpak K1:

From a backpack weighing 18 pounds, the whole thing, which consists of a sit-on-top inflatable kayak that is 8.6 feet long, a folding paddle, and a pump, can be transformed into a practical watercraft. In addition, the bag may be used as a seat on its own. In addition, I am a great lover of the design that includes many chambers and a tremendous weight capacity of 400 pounds. Its speed and tracking skills are nothing to write about, yet, it is still a solid enough pick for a kayaking trip that will let you unwind and take it easy.

Specifications And Data

  • PVC inflatable structure with a 21-gauge gauge.
  • 8.6 feet long by 3 feet wide
  • 18 kilograms in weight
  • 400 pounds of carrying capacity

Pros:

  • System for transportable backpacks
  • a design with many chambers and a guarantee that there will be no leaks
  • Padded seat and adjustable footrests at many levels
  • It simply takes five minutes to get everything set up.
  • A pump and a paddle that may be folded up are supplied.

Cons:

  • There were a lot of motions from side to side, and the tracking was less than fantastic.
  • It's likely going to be necessary for you to switch to a more robust paddle.
  • It does not fare well in the presence of waves or winds.

If you are looking for a sit-on-top recreational kayak that is as portable and as light as possible, then the Sevylor Quikpak K1 is the kayak for you!

7. Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak

Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak , Gray
4.3/5
94%
Easy to inflate
88%
Leg room
86%
Maneuverability

  • The Award for the Best Lightweight Inflatable Kayak
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars is our rating.
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars for the price

Another backpack kayaking system, the Sevylor Quikpak K5, is designed for paddlers who are always on the go and want maximum mobility in their craft. The sit-inside inflatable kayak is 10 feet long and weighs 25.5 pounds. It comes with a relatively flimsy three-piece paddle and a pump that are all contained inside a backpack that unfolds into the seat and sprays coverings.

However, passengers will be seated inside the K5 model. If you like the effectiveness and ease of the K1 but have determined that sit-inside kayaks are more to your liking than sit-on-top models, the Quikpak K5 is the model for you.

The 24-gauge PVC structure and the increased cargo space are undeniable upgrades compared to the K1. The capacity has been reduced to 250 pounds. Larger paddlers should probably look elsewhere for their paddling needs.

Specifications And Data

  • 24-gauge PVC inflatable construction
  • 10 feet long by 2.8 feet wide
  • Weighs 25.5 pounds
  • 250 pounds of carrying capacity

Pros:

  • Construction that is both robust and multi-chambered
  • It converts into a pack that is easy to carry due to its lightweight and portable design.
  • Approximately 5 minutes are needed to set it up.
  • Includes both a paddle and a pump in the package

Cons:

  • The three-piece paddle has a little fragile feel about it.
  • It floats high and does not cut through the water very well.
  • It does not drain well at all.
  • For bigger paddlers, this is not the most incredible option.

I'd suggest the Sevylor Quikpak K5 to anybody who wishes to carry a kayak on a trekking trip into the backcountry, particularly if they like a sit-inside model. This is because the K5 is very lightweight and compact.

8. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

Intex Challenger Kayak Inflatable Set with Aluminum Oars
4.4/5
90%
Easy to inflate
86%
Maneuverability
80%
Leg room
78%
Stability

  • Award: Best Budget Lightweight Kayak
  • Result: Four out of Five Stars
  • Cost: Five out of Five Stars

Although the Challenger K1 inflatable kayak has a pretty low price tag, I feel obliged to point out that despite its low price, it has a pretty sweet design for an inflatable kayak. Additionally, the sporty-looking plans give it a more confident appearance while also improving its visibility. The sit-on-top kayak measures 9 feet in length and weighs a manageable 27.2 pounds, but it can only support a maximum of 220 pounds. Therefore, larger paddlers may not find it the most suitable option. And even though it comes with a cargo net, I doubt that you'll be able to bring many things aboard because of these restrictions. The Challenger K1 is sold as part of a comprehensive package that also includes a pump, a carry bag, a paddle, and a patch for damage is something that appeals to me.

Specifications And Data

  • Construction using vinyl inflatable material
  • 9 feet long by 2.5 feet wide
  • It weighs 27.2 pounds.
  • 220 pounds of carrying capacity

Pros:

  • Excellent for novices since it is low-cost and reliable.
  • vinyl shell with two chambers that is resistant to punctures
  • A front cargo net
  • Stylish decals to enhance visibility
  • Include a carrying bag to make transporting it easier and more convenient.
  • Included are a paddle, a repair patch, and a paddle.

Cons:

  • Due to its restricted capacity, this kayak is not ideal for bigger paddlers.
  • The cockpit has a propensity to heat up.
  • The provided carrying case and paddle have a somewhat fragile quality.

On my list, the Intex Challenger K1, which has an athletic appearance and is a lightweight kayak, is one of the more reasonably priced options. When it comes to value for money, Intext delivers the goods here!

Best Lightweight Kayak – Final Verdict

It is possible that you limited your search to lightweight kayaks due to constraints such as a lack of accessible space, difficulties associated with transportation, or an inability to handle a standard, full-sized kayak on your own. In any case, I hope I could demonstrate to you with my lightest and most maneuverable kayak that you still have a variety of alternatives available to you, including inflatable and hard-shell models. This time around, I'm going to cast my vote for the Pelican Maxim 100X:

It is strong and long-lasting but surprisingly lightweight – notably for a hard shell – and has good performance when used in the water. Additionally, it is designed to be comfortable enough to wear while paddling for extended periods. You are free to choose any of the models mentioned on my list if you believe that storage space constraints would make it more convenient for you to use an inflatable kayak. I do not doubt that whichever decision you choose will bring you nothing but joy!

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