Kayak Weight – How Much Does A Kayak Weigh? (And Why You Should Care)

Kayak weight matters more than most paddlers realize - it impacts everything from loading on your roof rack to carrying over land. But what's the average weight by material and type? We break down weight ranges for plastic, composite, inflatable, tandem, fishing and touring kayaks. Learn what capabilities expect at each class so you find the ideal balance of portability and performance!
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Sam OBrien

Founder, Kayaking & Paddle Boarding Expert

Sam is the founder and editor of WaterSportsWhiz. With over 20 years of experience across various water sports, he provides trusted reviews and expert advice to help others pursue their passion for getting out on the water. When not working, you can find him kayaking, paddle boarding, or planning his next water-based adventure with family and friends.

First, you bring it out of storage and load it on your roof rack or trailer. You then drive to your destination, where you unload the kayak and carry it to the water. 

By the time you launch, you’re already winded. 

Then, you go kayaking – which can be a killer workout – and when you’re done, you repeat the whole process, only in reverse.

Eventually, you have to wonder: 

How much does a kayak weigh

You’ll be surprised by how complicated the answer is – so keep reading!

Are Kayaks Heavy Or Light & How Much Do Kayaks Weigh On Average 

Kayak weight - calibration weights on a white background.

Welcome to a long list of questions that, no matter how you cut it, won’t lead to one-line answers, starting with: 

Are kayaks heavy or light? 

It depends entirely on how you define “heavy” and “light.” It’s a highly subjective thing. What’s lightweight for me might feel cumbersome and unmanageable to someone else, and vice versa. 

Then, there’s the matter of some kayaks being light – and others heavy – depending on the model you choose. 

Either way, you shouldn’t expect a definite answer here. When it comes to kayak weight, all we can talk about are average values: 

Modern-day kayaks come in a wide range of designs that differ from one another in many ways and are engineered to tackle specific conditions. I’ll get to that in a second. 

You could say that, on average, kayaks weigh somewhere between 20 and 80 pounds, with some getting close to – or going beyond – the 100-pound mark. 

That didn’t help much, huh? 

That’s as close of an estimate as you can expect, though, considering the many factors at play. 

But before we dive any further into this question I have to clear up a common misunderstanding; kayak weight and kayak weight limit are two distinctly different measurements . Kayak weight is the physical measure of a kayaks mass in pounds or kilograms. Whereby, kayak weight limit is the load amount a kayak can hold and still float.

Does Kayak Weight Matter?

Kayak weight - how much does a kayak weigh.
Men carrying a kayak on wooden deck.

I’ll admit that, whenever I’m buying something, the product’s weight is the last thing on my mind – if I even get around to thinking about it, that is. 

I made that mistake when buying my first kayak, too: 

I picked a suitable design for my paddling destination and looked at the dimensions, capacity, and onboard storage for equipment – things like that. I also took the price tag into account. 

But weight somehow slipped my mind because I figured 5 to 10 pounds wouldn’t make much of a difference. And they didn’t – not in the performance department, anyway. 

Transporting the kayak to and from the shore, and then carrying it down to the launch spot, was a different story, though. My back felt every single pound. 

If heavy-lifting isn’t your thing, then yes, weight does matter. Unless you’re all about tandem kayaking, your kayak’s weight should be manageable enough for you to handle on your own. 

How to lift your yak

Also, weight doesn’t magically stop being a factor once you’re in the water. Your kayak’s buoyancy, stability, and onboard space still depend on the vessel’s weight. 

It’s all about finding the golden middle where the weight isn’t so high that it becomes impossible to bear – but not so light that it compromises stability, either. There’s many a scenario where a few extra pounds can be a good thing. 

What Affects Kayak Weight: Dimensions, Construction & More

How much does a kayak weigh” sounds like such a straightforward question – and yet it’s pretty much impossible to give a one-line answer to it. 


Well, there are way too many variables at play, and each one affects the weight of a kayak in its own way. 

Materials Make A Real Impact 

Kayak weight - Collection of coloured kayaks

The factor that arguably plays the most crucial role in how much a kayak weighs is the hull’s construction material

Kayak hulls are most commonly made from the following materials: 

  • Polyethylene is a material which is generally durable and affordable, but makes for the heaviest kayaks around. 
  • Composite materials, like Carbon fiber and Kevlar, can be ultra-light but more expensive than other options. 
  • PVC, which is a material lighter than polyethylene but heavier than a composite.  Commonly used for making lightweight kayaks, such as inflatable kayaks. 

Different Types Of Kayaks, Different Weight Ranges

Picture of different type of kayaks and canoes

Kayaks can be classified based on different factors, such as how and where you use them, where you sit in them, and, as you saw previously, their construction. 

And with every type of kayak comes a different weight range

  • Touring kayaks are made to take on calmer, less unpredictable waters, so they can stand to be a bit heavier. 
  • Recreational kayaks are made for relaxed paddling and flat water fun, not long trips, waves, or rapids, hitting the sweet spot of around 40 pounds weight-wise. 
  • Fishing kayaks tend to land in the heavy kayak weight class due to the broader beam and fully-rigged designs. 
  • Tandem kayaks are generally heavier than single-person ones, as they’re meant to accommodate two people.. 
  • Whitewater kayaks are made for rapid streams and rough waters, which calls for shorter kayaks with a durable but manageable hull that falls on the lighter side. 
  • Inflatable kayaks, the lightest weight kayak of the bunch, are often compact enough to fit in a backpack or duffel bag. 

Which type of kayaks is the heaviest, then? 

The heavy-weight champions can weigh as much as 150 pounds. Feature-rich, fully rigged fishing kayaks and tandem kayaks tend to venture into this territory. 

Kayak’s Dimensions Matter, Too 

Cheap Kayaks laid on side

I’m yet to come across a kayak where the hull’s actual size didn’t play into how heavy it was. 

Kayak size, in relation to its physical dimensions, plays a key factor in its overall mass. The larger the kayak, the higher the weight – I’d say that’s pretty obvious – but you also have to consider how construction and kayak’s dimensions affect one another

There’s very little chance that two same-sized boats made from different materials will weigh the same. 

Considering that width and length impact the kayak’s weight, opting for a shorter hull is usually an excellent way to shed some pounds. But while shorter kayaks are lighter, you often have to sacrifice onboard storage space, stability, and tracking performance. 

Pick your battles wisely. 

Quick Comparison Of Recreational Paddle Boats: Which Is Heavier? 

Let’s play a made-up game called “Guess Which Is Heavier” and see how the average kayak’s weight stacks up against other recreational paddle-propelled boats. 

Inflatable Kayaks or Hard-Shell Kayaks?

kayak weight - orange sit-inside kayaks

There are many differences between inflatable and hard kayaks, weight being one. Inflatable kayaks were introduced as a solution that primarily tackles portability and storage. So, yes, hard-shells are more massive than their inflatable counterparts

Otherwise, what would be the point of inventing inflatable kayaks, anyway? 

Generally speaking, inflatable kayaks tend to clock in at around 25 to 30 pounds. The true kayak lightweight king.

If you were to compare two similarly-sized kayaks, one hard-shell and the other inflatable, the latter would weigh at least 10 to 20 pounds less. 

So, if you are looking for a lightweight kayak then inflatables are an excellent option to consider – especially  if your budget doesn’t stretch to a composite material such as Carbon Fiber. Or, if you are in need of a low weight tandem kayak. 

Kayaks or Canoes? 

Kayak weight - Canoe on lake

At a glance, the answer seems obvious – canoes are larger, bulkier, and, ultimately, heavier than kayaks. 

But are they? 

Canoes are more cumbersome and appear massive compared to the more slender kayaks. But for the most part, the weight difference between canoes and kayaks won’t be as significant as you expect. 

Portaging 101: How to Solo Lift a Canoe

A kayak’s deck – primarily enclosed cockpits – often adds pounds to the weight of a kayak. On the other hand, a canoe may have a longer hull and an extensive profile, but the open deck shaves off some of that excess weight. 

Canoes do beat kayaks in the weight-to-load-capacity department, though. 

How To Transport A Heavy Kayak? 

Four red and green colored full size kayaks loaded on top of an SUV car using a combination of tie down straps and roof mounted cross bars.

If you drive a pickup with a spacious truck bed, you don’t have much to worry about weight-wise when transporting a kayak. Your main concern will be loading and unloading the kayak off the truck bed, but at least you don’t have to bother lifting it on the roof rack. 

Aside from using an actual kayak trailer, this is the easiest method of transportation. Plus, you can get a truck bed extender to accommodate and support your kayak’s full length. 

Loading a Kayak on a Truck - Heavy Kayak Loading Tips

But if you drive a car or an SUV, you’ll have to think twice before investing in a heavy boat. Loading a kayak on the roof rack isn’t exactly a walk in the park – and you have to factor in the roof rack’s weight capacity, too. It’s often lower than you think.

What about reaching your destination and still having to carry the boat to your launch spot, though? 

That’s where a kayak cart comes in handy

The two-wheeled attachment slides under your boat and allows you to tow the kayak manually. It’s the go-to solution for covering longer distances between your car and the launch area, when carrying – or dragging – the kayak isn’t an option. 

Final Weigh-In: How Much Does a Kayak Weigh?  

It’s time to wrap things up – but before I do, let’s go over some of the key points, starting with: 

So, how much does a kayak weigh

I know that “the average weight of a kayak is anywhere from 20 to 80 pounds ” isn’t the answer you were hoping for, but it’s the best anyone can give you. At least now you know what factors play a role in it – and why weight is something to consider in the first place. 

Before you buy your next kayak, remember to check the specified hull weight. It only takes a second, but it makes a world of difference on and off the water! 

Happy kayaking people! 

Photo of author

Sam OBrien

Sam is the founder and editor of WaterSportsWhiz. With over 20 years of experience across various water sports, he provides trusted reviews and expert advice to help others pursue their passion for getting out on the water. When not working, you can find him kayaking, paddle boarding, or planning his next water-based adventure with family and friends.

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