If you’re looking for a kayak to take with you camping or fishing, this post is for you. We’ve looked at several models in order to find the best lightweight kayak and we’re excited to present our top 6.
We’ve looked at many lightweight kayaks in order to evaluate which brands and models are the most lightweight and most suitable for camping and fishing. We were able to narrow it down to 6 of the best lightweight kayaks that you can get for your next adventure on the water.
Kayaking is a great way to observe birds, marine animals and to get to good fishing spots in shallower waters not accessible by boat. It’s also a great low-impact activity that can improve your fitness, strength and flexibility.
We’ve put together a buying guide and we’ve also covered some frequently asked questions so make sure you scroll down to find the information you need!
However, taking a kayak on a camping trip can be challenging because of its size and weight, and that’s why you need a small lightweight kayak.
Depending on your needs and how much you want to spend, there are different types of kayaks you can choose from, each with its own unique features. There are inflatable kayaks, hard-shell kayaks, and even folding kayaks.
In this article, we’re reviewing the following lightweight kayaks:
Our Recommendations: Best Lightweight Kayaks
- Our Top Pick: Pelican Maxim 100X Sit-in Lightweight Kayak
- Our premium pick: Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Kayak
- Best option for 2 people: Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
- Best option for 3 people: Sea Eagle SE370 Pro Inflatable Sports Kayak
- Best sit-in option: SUNDOLPHIN Aruba Sit-in Kayak
- Best value: Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle
Quick Answers: Best Lightweight Kayaks
1. Pelican Maxim 100X Sit-in Lightweight Kayak
We gave the Pelican Maxim 100X Sit-in lightweight Kayak 4.8 stars out of 5! It’s lightweight, affordable and super easy to carry with the front and rear T-Handles. Plus, it’s suitable for people of all skill levels and the whole family can have fun with this kayak.
The Pelican Maxim 100X 10-Foot Sit-in Kayak is perfect if you want to have fun in the water with the family. It has a shallow V Chine Hull which makes this kayak stable and easy to maneuver. It’s made from lightweight materials which make it easy to carry.
It offers good storage space which comes in handy to store your gear, especially if you plan on going out for a long paddle. The front storage compartment comes fitted with a bungee cord to hold your items into place. The rear tank features a mesh deck cover as well as a cockpit table with a bottle holder and more storage compartments.
It has one seat that’s adjustable with a padded backrest cushion to offer extra comfort. It measures 128 inches in length, 28 inches wide, and 14 inches in height. With these measurements, it can accommodate a weight capacity of up to 275 pounds. It is also really light at just 36 pounds.
You can use the Pelican Maxim 100X on lakes and rivers and it’s perfect for intermediate paddlers. If you’re a beginner you may find the Sundolphin Aruba more stable and easier to maneuver.
Overall, if you’re looking for a super lightweight and easy-to-carry kayak that comes at a reasonable price, then this might be the best lightweight kayak for you.
- Length: 10ft
- Dimensions: 128 x 28 x 14 in.
- Weight Capacity: 275 lbs (125 kg)
- Weight: 36 lbs (16 kg)
What we like
- Lightweight and easy to pick up
- Comfortable padded and adjustable seat
- Storage compartments and two drink holders
- Easy to maneuver and very stable
What we don’t like
- None that we found
2. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Lightweight Kayak
We gave the Advanced Elements Kayak 4.5 stars out of 5! It looks and handles just like a rigid hard-shell kayak but with the portability of an inflatable kayak.
This is a hybrid of a folding frame kayak and an inflatable kayak that features built-in aluminum ribs in the bow and stern for stability. The stern works as a skeg to improve the tracking performance of the kayak.
The bow, on the other hand, ensures easy sliding through the water while tracking like any hard shell kayak.
Unlike various other inflatable kayaks, this model comes with a three-layer construction of long-lasting materials. It also comes with several high-quality components that make the kayak very durable.
Moreover, the hull material is a polyester fabric that is sandwiched by layers of vinyl to make a long-lasting and sturdy outer cover.
It features multiple air chambers that are uniquely designed to divide the main inflation chamber into two. This is intended to offer maximum safety when out on the waters. It comes with high support and an adjustable and comfortable padded seat.
This kayak weighs 36 pounds, which makes it easy to carry around. It has a weight capacity of 300 pounds. Even though it doesn’t offer much storage capacity, it can accommodate a duffel bag and a repair kit.
Since it comes pre-assembled from the manufacturer, you can simply unfold it, inflate it, and attach the seat. Just as simple as that, you will be good to go!
- Length: 10 ft. 5 in.
- Width: 32 in.
- Weight: 36 Lbs. (16 Kg).
- Weight Capacity: 300 Lbs. (136 Kg).
- Folded Size: 30 in. X 17 in. X 10 in.
What we like
- Easy to inflate
- Comes with carry bag and repair kit
- Durable and sturdy construction
- Great tracking performance
What we don’t like
- A bit expensive
3. SUNDOLPHIN Aruba Lightweight Kayak
The Sundolphin Aruba is lightweight and super easy to carry. It’s suitable for people of all ages and we think it deserves 4.5 out of 5 stars!
The Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit-in Kayak is perfect for family fun in the water. It comes fitted with tracks and paddles that are not only easy to use but also offer maximum stability in the water.
It’s constructed to offer great paddling on both rivers and lakes. As a result, you stand to benefit from its quality performance whether you are near a lake or river.
It features a storage compartment that comes in handy to store your gear, especially if you are going for a longer paddling adventure. The compartment comes fitted with traps to hold your items into place.
Besides the storage compartment is a recessed drink holder and a paddle holder. It features one seat that is adjustable and also padded to offer extra comfort.
It measures 96 inches in length, 28 inches wide, and 16 inches in height. With these measurements, it can accommodate a weight capacity of up to 260 pounds. This kayak has the least weight capacity as compared to the other models reviewed here. It is also the lightest at just 27 pounds.
If you’re looking for a super lightweight and easy to carry kayak that comes at a reasonable price, then this might be the best lightweight kayak for you.
- Length: 10ft
- Dimensions: 120 x 30 x 13 in.
- Weight Capacity: 250 lbs (118 kg)
- Weight: 40 lbs (18 kg)
What we like
- Very Lightweight and easy to carry
- Comfortable padded and adjustable seat
- Has a storage compartment with a drink holder
- Easy to maneuver and very stable in river and lake
What we don’t like
- Scartches easily
4. Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Lighweight Kayak
We gave the Intex Explorer 4.4 stars out of 5! It’s really lightweight and doesn’t take much room to store when you’re not using it. This is a convenient option when you’re concerned about storage space.
The Intex Explorer K2 may be an inflatable kayak but does look somewhat sporty with its bright yellow color. This Sporty Series from Intex is designed for two people. It only weighs 35 pounds and it’s definitely lightweight and compact.
The bright yellow color makes it highly visible in water and people can see you come from a fair way out. This type of kayak is ideal for lakes and mild rivers.
The kayak measures 20 x 36 x 123 inches with a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds. Inside the kayak are two adjustable inflatable seats with a backrest so they’re pretty comfy.
We liked how sturdy the Intex Explorer feel for an inflatable kayak. It’s made from heavy-duty vinyl material that’s puncture-resistant. It also features a removable skeg which you don’t see often on inflatable kayaks.
The Intex Explorer is quick and easy to inflate with the Boston valves on each side. The I-beam floor also feels rigid and sturdy once it’s inflated.
It also features a grab line on both ends to help when you hop into the boat. This kayak comes with two 86-inch aluminum oars and an Intex high-output pump for easy inflation.
- Length: 8 feet
- Width: 30″
- Inflated size: 10’3″ X 3′ X 1’8″
- Weight: 30.6 lb (13.9 kg)
- Weight Capacity: 400 lb (180kg)
What we like
- Easy to inflate and deflate
- Provides easy re-entering with grab line on both ends
- Comes with two comfortable adjustable inflatable seats
What we don’t like
- Inflatable seats a bit low
5. Sea Eagle SE370 Pro Inflatable Lightweight Kayak
The Sea Eagle SE370 kayak is designed to carry three people and their gear of up to 650 pounds. Despite its impressive capacity, it weighs just 32 pounds. Even though it comes with a capacity of three people, one adult can use it comfortably. Thus, we gave it 4.7 out of 5 stars!
The Sea Eagle Inflatable Kayak features an I-beam construction floor that feels quite rigid with an extra thick 38-millimeter polykrylar hull. It also comes with lashed-down inflatable spray skirts and detachable inflatable seats that are comfortable to sit on.
It also comes with a self-bailing drain valve, front and rear rope handles, and a bow and stern grab line for support when paddling on rough water.
The two-skegs on the bottom help provide better tracking and speed performance. We liked that the Polykrylar hull can withstand dog paws and claws which is a great thing if you want to ride with your dog onboard.
This inflatable Kayak is easy to turn and paddle because it requires less effort. Besides, there is no hassle when it comes to maintenance.
Most importantly, it comes with a reasonable price tag that makes it a good choice if you’re on a tight budget. Overall, the Sea Eagle is very affordable, easy to assemble and inflate. It doesn’t take more than ten minutes before you can throw it in the water and enjoy the day.
- Size: 12 feet, 6 inches x 2 feet, 10 inches
- Deflated: 31 x 19 x 8 inches
- Weight: 32 lbs
- Weight Capacity: 650 lbs
What we like
- Comes with a three-person capacity plus fishing gear
- Features comfortable padded seats
- Easy to maneuver
- The inflatable I-beam construction makes it durable
Not so much
- A bit unstable in moving water
6. Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Lightweight Kayak with Paddle
We gave the Lifetime Lotus Sit On Top lightweight kayak 4.5 stars out of 5! It’s really light, super easy to carry and maneuver. This makes it the best lightweight kayak for introducing your children to kayak sports.
The Lifetime Lotus Sit-on-Top Kayak it perfect for people of all ages. It’s designed in a way that it can accommodate both children and adults.
This is a lightweight model that comes with a molded paddle cradle and a carry handle. The cockpit area features scupper holes that effectively drain the whole front area. The hull is designed to provide good stability in the water and enhance its tracking performance.
It’s well-constructed with a quality high-density Polyethylene that feels durable. Besides, it’s UV-protected and will not fade, crack, or peel due to frequent exposure to direct sunlight.
This kayak features a sloped end that allows you to get in and out of it with ease. It’s designed wide to provide a stable platform where the kiddos can play safely. This makes it the best lightweight kayak for the whole family and a great way to introduce the little ones to kayaking and fishing.
It also comes with a comfortable seat that has multiple footrest positions. It’s also designed to fit different size paddlers and comes fitted with a hard but adjustable backrest.
If you plan on paddling with some gear, you are in luck with this sit-on-top model because it features tank storage that comes fitted with a bungee cord lacing to secure your items.
- Lenght: 8ft
- Width: 30 in. (76.2 cm)
- Weight Capacity: 250 lbs (100kg)
- Weight: 38 lbs (17.2 kg)
What we like
- Durable with UV protection
- Comes with adjustable backrest
- Ergonomically designed cockpit
- Fitted with a twin fin for easy tracking and surfing
Not so much
- Might be uncomfortable for people with long legs
Buying Guide: Best Lightweight Kayaks
Why use a kayak for camping or fishing?
- Kayaking is quiet and peaceful
- A great outdoor sport to stay fit
- You can kayak on pretty much any body of water
- Possibility to approach shallow fishing spots inaccessible by boat
- Kayaking remains cheap compared to the price of a boat
Main Types of Lightweight Kayaks
Sit-on-Top and Sit-inside Kayaks
The two main types of kayaks are sit-in (where the paddler’s sitting inside the hull with the legs inside a cockpit) or sit-on-top (with a sealed hull). Both kayaks have pros and cons, depending on what conditions you are paddling in.
When paddling in a sit-in kayak, your legs are enclosed within the cockpit which keeps your legs dry and out of the wind. This makes a sit-in kayak a good choice if you plan on using it in colder weather.
The downside of a sit-in kayak is that exiting and re-entering your kayak is much more of a challenge than it is with a sit-on design. Learning how to exit and re-enter a sit-in kayak underwater requires a few lessons with an instructor.
The benefit of a sit-on design is that it is straightforward to get on and off your kayak, like when you’re boarding or just feeling like going for a swim. It probably won’t be the most graceful thing you’ve ever done, but you can re-enter a sit-on kayak from the water fairly easily.
Recreational kayaks are designed for casual paddlers interested in activities on a lake or flatwater stream. Recreational kayaks are characterized by having a larger cockpit opening which makes them easy to sit in and get out of.
They are generally less than twelve feet long which makes them slower than longer boats but because they are wider, they’re more stable on the water. They are generally lighter, easier to handle in and out of the water, and less expensive.
Recreational kayaks are best used on lakes, flatwater rivers, or calm ocean water protected from wind and waves.
Touring kayaks or sea kayaks are more robust and longer than recreational kayaks by a couple of feet. Most designs come with more room to store your gear for an overnight kayak camping trip or kayaking adventure.
Most touring kayaks have 2 sealed storage compartments that allow you to keep your equipment dry. These storage areas also act as flotation which limits the amount of water the kayak will take on if it capsizes. Touring kayaks are often fitted with a rudder or skeg to aid in maneuvering.
Whitewater kayaks are specifically designed to move quickly down fast-flowing courses ranging from moving water to extreme whitewater. With a few sit-on-top exceptions, these kayaks have a cockpit that is enclosed which allows the legs and hips to provide lots of control over the boat.
Whitewater kayaks range from 4 to 10 feet long, are relatively short, and fat with plenty of rocker. This makes them maneuverable but not that easy to paddle in a straight line without some level of practice.
Most inflatable kayaks are designed to be recreational. There are some suitable for whitewater but they are mostly better for calm water. You can inflate them with a foot or electric pump.
They can be folded down and some models can even be worn as a backpack. Inflatable kayaks come in both sit-on and sit-in styles.
Folding kayaks have been designed based on the original Inuit kayak which was made of animal skins stretched over wood and bone frames. Modern folding kayaks have a collapsible frame made of a combination of wood, aluminum, and plastic. The skin is made of tough fabric with a waterproof coating.
They can be packed away into a suitcase and are easy to carry. This makes them the perfect solution for camping and for anyone who doesn’t have much storage space.
This chart shows you what each type of kayak is ideal for.
Source: American Kayak
Things to Consider to Buy The Best Lightweight Kayaks
The best lightweight kayaks all come with different features suitable for various types of users. You need to consider how you plan on using the kayak. Will you be using it in calm water, ocean water, or white water? Will you be using it for fishing? Do you need one that packs away easily?
Since buying a kayak is often a lifetime investment for most people, it’s important to understand what you are buying and define its purpose.
Your Height and Weight
First, you need to take your height and weight into account. If you’re tall or heavier you will need to look at bigger models offering a higher weight capacity and more legroom.
If you plan on using it for camping or fishing, you will also need to consider the equipment you’ll bring with you. Look at kayaks that will allow enough room for you and your fishing gear.
What is motivating you to purchase a Kayak? Are you going to use it for short paddles, for fishing activities, or for paddling through rough water? Moreover, are you going to use it to spend a good time offshore?
Essentially, how you intend to use the Kayak will very much influence the kind of kayak you purchase.
Design and Structure
Kayaks come with different unique designs that are suitable for various users and anglers. The kayaks, therefore, feature length, hull, and width that vary.
Some Kayaks are designed thin and long. These long models require less paddling effort while the slim shape allows the kayak to attain the desired speed and flexibility.
The broader models, on the other hand, come with higher stability but need a lot of paddling energy and effort. Moreover, the wider models are likely to be slower and inflexible.
Kayaks also come as either sit-on-top or with a cockpit design. Sit-on-top models are better when it comes to paddling flexibility, while the cockpit models don’t provide as much flexibility.
The cockpit models are ideal for fishing, especially in cold water because your lower body and legs are protected. They also boast of greater stability.
A lightweight kayak has many benefits such as allowing you to carry more gear and making it easier for you to speed up. However, the tradeoff is that these materials significantly increase the cost of the kayak.
Lightweight fiberglass and ultra-light carbon-fiber material provide greater performance at a higher price. They are also not degraded by UV rays although they experience a major impact on the rocks.
ABS plastic, such as polyethylene plastic that is abrasion-resistant and cheap, offers durability. However, polyethylene is heavier as compared to ABS plastic. As such, pick the right material that is not too expensive but durable and lightweight.
When it comes to durability, you can choose between a hard shell and an inflatable model. While the hard shell models tend to be more durable, some of the inflatable ones are made from heavy-duty materials which also makes them quite durable.
Most importantly, get a lightweight kayak that has the capacity to withstand the weather and conditions you plan on using it in.
Ease of use
One of the main reasons for purchasing lightweight kayaks is to enjoy a smooth kayaking or fishing experience. A heavy kayak requires a lot of effort to move and control.
If you intend to use the least effort when kayaking, make sure that you pick a lightweight kayak that offers you the best maneuvering options.
Even though this can stand to be counted as an aesthetic feature in some sports, the color of your kayak plays a great role. In fact, it can serve as a safety standard.
Since lightweight kayaks don’t come with much material, you should consider buying a brightly colored model for safety.
The Coast Guard recommends “bright yellow, lime green or bright red. However, if you choose to purchase a color that’s easier on your eyes, you can get a bright, highly visible shirt, hat, and paddle blades to make yourself more visible.
With the information we have provided here, we hope you can find the right lightweight kayak for your personal needs. However, we advise that you pay attention to all the features and look at the specs to make sure that you pick the very best lightweight kayak for you.
While we think all the lightweight kayaks we featured in this review are great, our winner today is the Pelican Maxim 100X Lightweight Kayak. Unlike other products, this one features extremely durable construction materials with a really comfortable padded seat. Most importantly, it is easy to carry and control in the water.
If you like the idea of inflatable lightweight kayaks better, we also liked the Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Kayak because it packs small enough to throw in the trunk of the car which makes it perfect for camping. It looks and paddles just like a rigid hard-shell kayak but with the portability of an inflatable kayak. That’s the best of both worlds, really!