Transporting a kayak requires the right tools. And while I mentioned kayak roof racks in one of my earlier reviews, you still need to get your vessel to the water from your car.
And trust me when I say it can be difficult, tiring and time consuming carrying kayaks yourself, especially over rough terrain. In step the kayak cart; the best option for transporting your boat to and from the water without any hassle – every kayaker should own one!
In this post, we are going to review some of the best kayak carts on the market right now – explain the different kayak cart types available – the features to look out for and those to avoid – all so that you find one that best fits your needs.
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In A Rush? The Winner After 35 Hours Of Research
TMS Kayak Cart
Why is it better?
- Universal Kayak Carrier with a large capacity (150 pounds)
- Suitable for both a kayak, canoe or John bot
- Fitted with secure tie-down straps
- Heavy-duty metal frame material
- Added foam padding for protection
- Quickly and easily folds down for transport
- Excellent for any kind of terrain
Your Comprehensive Guide to Kayak Carts
While kayak carts do not belong to the minimal required equipment, as stated by the U.S. Coast Guard (which is expected), I always joke that they are the minimum required gear, in my opinion.
They’re not only useful and energy-saving, but they’re also really handy. Every paddler should have one in their paddling arsenal.
But seriously, they are so useful and energy-saving that every paddler should own one.
Types of Kayak Carts
Formally, a kayak cart is “a transport device for wheeled carriage.” While the core of the definition remains true, kayak trolleys have developed a lot over the years. Now, you can find them in many shapes and sizes.
Based on the position of the loaded yak and the attachment method of the cart, we can differentiate between three types of kayak carts:
The Taildragger Cart
As the name suggests, you place these carts at the end of your kayak. Then you lift your yak at the other side and simply roll it down to the water.
Now, that position brings about the fact that it supports only a small portion of the yak’s weight, although the wheels do help you a lot in the transport.
For the obvious reasons (you use a significant amount of your strength), this isn’t my favorite type of cart but can come in handy if you’re transporting the vessel over short distances. Taildraggers are also the cheapest.
The second type, scupper cart, is only compatible with sit-on-top kayaks.
Why is that so?
Well, they use the scupper holes (sometimes known as scupper valves) for adjustment, which is pretty convenient and well-thought of.
To load a sit-on-top kayak on a scupper cart, you need to turn it sideways and simply put its poles through the scupper holes.
Of course, the position and number of these holes vary with different kayaks, so it’s of utmost importance that the cart’s width is adjustable.
The Platform Cart (aka the Standard Cart)
There are many versions of the final type, but they all have one thing in common. Namely, you can position them wherever you want on the boat. Then you use the straps and secure it.
I prefer to set it up somewhere near the center so that the weight is balanced nicely, but this is all really up to you.
Platform cart is my favorite type of cart.
Ultimately, I believe your energy should be directed towards the sport, and not transporting your kayak from and to the vehicle.
I tend to go to some really hard-to-reach places, so I have to wheel a lot before coming to the water, and the platform carts undoubtedly help in those situations a lot.
They might be on a more expensive side, but are well worth the price!
See different types of kayak carts for yourself:
To choose the appropriate wheel type for your kayak cart, you first need to ask yourself: Which terrain will you conquer?
For example, if you’re going to be carrying your kayak to the beach most frequently, some wheels are strictly adapted to the sand and gravel.
On the other hand, if you are dealing with all kinds of terrain, some well-rounded wheels can adapt to multiple surfaces.
This kind of wheel is constructed entirely with a form of rubber layer, and it isn’t filled with air.
The most prominent advantage of solid tires is that they cannot go flat. Therefore, they require less maintenance and generally last longer. That’s why kayak carts with this kind of wheel tend to be more expensive.
When to go with solid wheels?
In case you bring your kayak over asphalt or similar hard surfaces often, as well as some places where there’s the risk of puncture, the solid wheels are for you.
On the flip side, pneumatic wheels are filled with air, weigh less than the solid wheels, and, as a rule, are cheaper.
Besides the obvious disadvantage (they can get punctured), pneumatic wheels are a better choice if you are carrying your yak across uneven surfaces, offering better shock absorption.
How to Use a Kayak Cart?
This answer is inseparable from the question: Which type of kayak cart do you use?
I’ll answer briefly for each of the types I described above.
When dealing with the taildraggers, the whole process is straightforward – place it underneath the tail of your vessel, secure it, roll.
With the scupper carts, you need to put your yak on the side when loading and unloading (this is a bit inconvenient if you’re carrying some gear), and then just push it through the holes. Flip it back and voilà.
The platform carts are firstly positioned wherever you want, and then you ought to secure it with straps. While this takes a bit longer than with the former two, I’ve already explained why it is much better.
Check out a visual presentation of how to use the latter two types of kayak carts:
What Should I Do With My Kayak Cart When Kayaking?
In all honesty, I had my share of bad purchases, and I can tell you my mistakes so that you don’t repeat them.
A couple of times, I bought carts that weren’t foldable for transportation that took a lot of space and bothered me on the ride.
I also did not want to leave carts somewhere on the shore or walk to my car to bring them back (leaving the kayak on the coast is even worse).
That’s why all of my picks on the list are foldable and easy to store. Thus, you won’t have trouble fitting them in the kayak itself and taking them with you!
Best Kayak Carts: Detailed Reviews
Overall Best Kayak Cart
TMS Kayak Cart
The TMS Kayak Cart delivers everything that you need of a kayak trolley: reliability, ease of use, and durability.
It consists of a stainless steel frame that has foam bumpers on each side to protect your valuable canoe.
Besides, the top-notch all-terrain tires roll smoothly on anything you throw under them (I tried them out on sand, mud, gravel, grass, and road ), allowing you to get your kayak to the water trouble-free.
I also liked how this kayak cart breaks down very easily for convenient storage during transportation. And when you need to take it out and carry the kayak, you just attach the wheels, and it’s ready.
- Platform cart
- 150-pound weight capacity
- 12-feet long tie-down straps
- Additional padding for protection
- Aluminum anodized stainless steel pipe frame
- Tires 9-½ inches in diameter
- Foldable frame
- High-quality construction; durable stainless steel frame that can hold up to 150 pounds
- The lightweight, foldable frame with a detachable wheel makes it easy to store when not in use.
- Rust-resistant stainless steel hardware
- Quick to assemble and easy to simple to fold away
- Simple to load, and the included tie-down straps keep the kayak safe and steady when it’s being carried.
- Tires that are suitable for any terrain
- There is a distinct smell to the tires (will disappear after a couple of uses)
- Unnecessarily complicated instructions
The TMS Kayak Cart comes with many killer-features, all at the right price. That’s why it stands at the top of its class.
Best High Quality Kayak Dolly Cart
RAILBLAZA C-Tug Kayak or Canoe Trolley Cart
The RAILBLAZA CTug Kayak Cart scored high on my list because the whole C-Tug system is carefully designed and constructed for effortless transportation of your kayak or canoe.
It consists of two C-Tug hull pads that support the kayak and the C-Tug strap kit that feels secure.
Another useful thing is that the rubberized pads are adjustable and fit most of the hull shapes.
The wheels are a bit different than what we are used to seeing with a kayak cart. They are “rubber-tread,” which means they don’t have regular tires, but rather a rubber layer.
This feature can be seen both as a pro and a con. On the one hand, you cannot get a punctured tire, but on the other, there will be a bit of shaking when going over pebbles and similar surfaces.
- Platform cart
- A 4-feet and 5-feet tie-down strap with a buckle, two ladder locks
- 300-pound weight capacity
- Puncture-free rubber treaded, plastic wheels
- Thermos-bonded elastomeric hull pads
- Constructed of a high-quality, long-lasting composite that can withstand heavy use.
- Larger weight capacity than other kayak carts
- Easily dismantles and the compact design makes for simple transportation and storage.
- Airless wheels so you don’t have to worry about getting a flat tire
- Rust-resistant stainless steel axles
- A little unstable and shaky on uneven surfaces
- A bit pricey
The C-Tug technology specially designed by RAILBLAZA pumped up this kayak cart above many others. I highly recommend it.
Best Trolley Cart for Heavy Kayaks
Wilderness Systems Heavy Duty Kayak Cart
The Wilderness Systems Heavy Duty Kayak Cart won the Paddling magazine’s 2018 award in the best transport category, so naturally, I had to lay my hands on it and see what the fuss is all about.
After testing it out, I’m happy to report that it completed all the tasks with flying colors.
Firstly, the manufacturers constructed it to carry the heaviest kayaks (with added gear) with its load capacity of up to 450 pounds. Incredible!
The frame is constructed of heat-treated aluminum alloy tubing that not only makes it lightweight and robust but also resistant to rust.
Due to its versatile design, you can adjust both its width and height. There are two height options – higher, for oddly-shaped hulls, and the lower one for the regular shape.
The no-flat wheels make for an easy ride over most obstacles (I tested it on gravel and bumpy surfaces) and can handle all types of terrain – even snow! It’s also available with a pair of enormous balloon-style beach wheels – although these do reduce its carrying capacity by 150 pounds, so just be mindful of that!
It is also easy to assemble, simple to use, and it folds down quickly for easy storage when not in use or out of the water.
And, did I mention it comes with a set of cam straps system to help keep your kayak secure – No? Well, it does.
The only downside is that it is somewhat expensive, and I would have liked some of the hardware to be metal rather than plastic.
- Platform cart
- 450-pound load capacity
- No-flat wheels; 12 inches in diameter
- Adjustable width
- 18-inch & 16-inch height settings
- Excellent weight capacity of 450 pounds, making it perfect for fishing or tandem kayaks
- Features a variable-width locking control that allows it to be used with most sized kayaks
- Sturdy and stable even over rough or uneven terrain
- Collapses completely for easy storage.
- Adjustable height to fit a variety of irregular-shaped hulls
- Most expensive kayak trolleys on the list
- Some components are made from plastic which may be better made of metal
- If you add balloon wheels, the load capacity is reduced by 30%.
Do you need a kayak dolly that can carry the heaviest vessels? If so, then this is the one.
Best Sit-On-Top Kayak Cart
Bonnlo Scupper Hole Kayak Cart
Do you own a Sit-On-Top Kayak? Then the Bonnlo Scupper Hole Kayak Cart might be the best choice for you.
An essential factor In assessing carts for sit-on-top kayaks is the width, as the position of the scupper holes varies with different vessels.
So, the more space to adjust the width, the better – and with this one, you can modify it from 6.5 to 16.5 inches, which is perfect especially if you own a fishing kayak. Also means it can fit most sit-on-top kayaks on the market.
The Bonnlo Scupper Hole Kayak Cart is also made from heavy-duty aluminum, so it’s not only durable but also lightweight at just 6 pounds. This makes it easy for you to move your kayak effortlessly around, even when it’s fully loaded.
The rubber bumpers on the no-flat tires protect them from wearing, and they can withstand a lot of abuse (yeah, my durability tests are pretty harsh).
- Scupper holes cart
- Aluminum frame
- Rubber bumpers
- Puncture-free PU tires
- Adjustable width (6.5-16.5 inches)
- 165-pound load capacity
- The lightweight frame is both durable and rust-resistant.
- The wheels can be easily removed for convenient transportation and storage.
- Puncture-free airless wheels, so you won’t have to worry about getting a flat tire.
- Built-in rubber bumpers act as shock absorbers offer further protection for your kayak by cushioning the impact of bumps and jolts
- Great value for the price
- Only suitable for sit-on-top kayaks
- The picture that came with the instructions is confusing
- The cart can be a little difficult to adjust for width.
- A bit of difficulty moving on the sand because of the wide tires
- The wheel on our test model didn’t completely tighten, causing it to wobble and track erratically.
If you prefer dropping your kayak into the scupper holes to fastening it with straps, the Bonnlo Scupper Kayak Cart is for you. Just make sure that the yak is a sit-on-top type!
Best Kayak Cart for Sand
Bonnlo Big Beach Balloon Tires Kayak Cart
Here’s the second pick from the Bonnlo assortment of kayak carts, the Big Beach Balloon Tires Kayak Cart. This time around, Bonnlo has done away with the standard shape and tires, achieving a unique design – yeah, you guessed it – for the beach.
The manufacturers designed the 12-inch low-pressure balloon tires exclusively for this line of kayak carts, built for handling sand and pebbles – making it the ideal product for transporting sea kayaks to the shore edge
And what about other terrains?
Well, it is okay, as it fulfills the crucial requirement of platform carts – secure ratchet straps will hold your kayak into place.
Still, if getting your yak over the sand is not your primary focus, I recommend you search elsewhere.
- Platform cart
- Lightweight Aluminum frame
- Foam bumpers on each side
- 165-pound load capacity
- Two 7.75-feet ratchet straps
- Big beach balloon wheels, 12 inches in diameter
- A lightweight, sturdy frame that is simple to move around.
- The oversized, air-filled tires are perfect for loose terrains such as pebbles, soft sand, or grit
- It’s easy to put up and takedown, and it doesn’t take up much room when stored or stowed onboard
- Additional bumper pads to help to protect your yak whilst on the move
- For the price, it is a great bargain.
- Low ground clearance
- Not the greatest for asphalt, or other hard surfaces
- Modest maximum load capacity
Are you paddling somewhere where there are a lot of beaches? The Big Beach Balloon Tires Kayak Cart is a must if you do!
Best Budget Kayak or Canoe Trolley
Seattle Sports Paddleboy Peanut Kayak Cart
It might be cheap but the Seattle Sports Paddleboy Peanut Kayak Cart made it to my list because of its functionality. This is the perfected and upgraded version of their taildragger cart that made its debut in 2017 and remained an incredibly popular choice since then.
At such a low price, you can hardly find a kayak cart with such a quality set of flat-free wheels. There is no vibration, regardless of the surface, and the Minicell foam allows the cart to float over uneven terrain
Securing your yak with the bungee cord instead of a tie-down strap takes some time and patience.
Also, as I explained, the taildraggers do not support the whole kayak. If you’re going to be carrying it over long distances, it might be a problem.
- Taildragger cart
- 150-pound load capacity
- Rubber tread
- Thermal-molded wheels
- Minicell foam
- Folds down for storage
- Elegantly simple design. Super easy to put together, too.
- A lightweight and durable frame that resists corrosion
- The low-profile, compact design is both simple to store and transport.
- Cart completely breaks down for stowing whilst out paddling
- Stable and easy to maneuver
- High-quality tire construction that is puncture-proof and free of vibration
- It offers excellent value for the money
- As a taildragger cart, you’ll still need plenty of strength to support the kayak.
- No padding or protection for the sidewalls and top of the kayak
The Peanut is a functional kayak cart that doesn’t aspire too high but can be a valuable accessory if you need to transport your yak every now and then.
Best Trolley Cart for Lightweight Kayaks
Suspenz Smart Airless DLX Beach Cart
My next pick is perfect for transporting smaller kayaks – but we’ll get to that in a second. First, I’d like to talk about the Suspenz Smart Airless DLX Cart’s frame and features:
The kayak cart is made from powder-coated aluminum, complete with stainless steel hardware, and comes fitted with 10-inch airless tires with quick-release locking pins, designed never to go flat. What’s more, it features an arched axle to ensure better ground clearance.
Furthermore, it’s equipped with rubber bumpers that should protect the hull of your kayak from any dents and scratches during transportation. You’re also getting a dual-arm kickstand, which adds to the cart’s stability when loading and unloading.
The cart’s frame is foldable, but that’s not even the best part. The cart comes with a mesh bag for storage, which is super convenient.
I do have to warn you that it has the lowest weight limit of all kayak carts on my list and can only support loads of up to 125 pounds. That’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, but as I said, it works best for lighter kayaks.
- Platform cart
- Powder-coated aluminum frame
- Stainless steel hardware
- Foldable frame design
- 10-inch airless tires
- 125-pound load capacity
- Rubber pads
- The foldable frame, which comes in a mesh carrying case, is small enough to to fit in any kayak
- The cart’s daul-arm kickstand provides additional balance while loading your kayak
- The arched axle offers improved ground clearance over other models
- Rubber bumpers keep the kayak from getting dented or scratched.
- The quick-release locking pins on the airless wheels are extremely fast and easy to use.
- This kayak dolly has a relatively low capacity compared to my other picks
- The included rubber pads could be a bit bigger
Sure, it doesn’t have the most impressive capacity, but the Suspenz Smart Airless DLX Cart is an excellent solution for transporting smaller kayaks.
Best Kayak Trolley For V-Shaped Hulls
Malone Clipper TRX Deluxe Kayak Trolley
Last but not least, you have the ClipperTRX – Malone’s kayak cart with proven performance and a design that works perfectly for transporting kayaks with traditionally designed V-style hulls or tunnel hulls.
This cart is constructed out of marine-grade aluminum, boasts a foldable design and a relatively high load capacity of 200 pounds. Additionally, it comes with dual cam-style load straps and two kickstands for improved stability when loading and unloading your kayak.
The airless Never-Go-Flat tires are among this cart’s strongest suits. I find them incredibly tough and durable, with the push-button wheel release further adding to the convenience. What I don’t like about it is the not-so-stellar performance on sandy beaches:
The high-grip rubber treads work fantastic on rough and rocky terrain but could do better on the sand.
The ClipperTRX Deluxe may not be the cheapest cart available, but it’s far from overpriced. So, I wouldn’t necessarily count that as a downside, but keep in mind that cheaper alternatives are available.
- Platform cart
- Marine-grade aluminum frame
- 200-pound load capacity
- TRX Never-Go-Flat tires with rubber tread
- 10-inch diameter tires
- Push-button wheel release
- Outfitted with dual cam-style load straps
- Kickstands for stability during loading and unloading
- All terrain tire with high-grip rubber treads
- Push-button wheel release for maximum convenience
- Quick assembly and easy-to-understand instructions
- The cart’s performance on sand isn’t that great
- Larger than most kayak carts
- The cart’s a bit hard to store due to its size
If you’ve got yourself a kayak with a V-shape hull, Malone’s ClipperTRX Deluxe might be one of your best bets. The cart’s designed with your type of kayak in mind!
Final Verdict – What Is The Best Kayak Cart?
The easy solution to transporting your kayak to the water across long trails in the woods, a huge parking lot, or a field, is to wheel it.
The eight best kayak carts I’ve listed above are the most useful piece of gear that you can get for that matter.
After carefully considering all the kayak carts I’ve reviewed, the TMS Kayak Cart is my recommendation for best kayak cart.
It is affordable without skimping on the quality and can handle even the most challenging terrains that may cross your path to the water.
Until the next time, may you have a pleasant paddling journey!