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BEST LIGHTWEIGHT KAYAK: INTRO
Kayak fishing is the best hobby on the planet – but its not without potential drawbacks. One of those can be the heavy and bulky nature of the majority of the kayaks on the market. Yes, there are some solutions (like using a Kayak Cart – Check out our Ultimate Guide here). But what if there was something even more simple? what is the kayak didn’t have to be so heavy and bulky? Well, you are in luck. We have found the best lightweight kayak on the market and we have dedicated this post to educating you all about it! Ready to dig in?
Best Lightweight Kayak: Guide
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The writers at KFC have written this article with a focus towards including all of the important details about what is undisputedly the best lightweight kayak on the market – with an eye towards kayak fishing, of course. To make sure everything is easy to follow, we have organized this post into a number of different sections. We start by going over some of the basic information about lightweight kayaks so you can develop your knowledge of this particular subcategory of fishing kayaks.
After that, we’ve included a short “how to” section that will serve as a quick guide for you to reference when learning how to properly use a lightweight kayak. Next, we’ve highlighted what our experience has revealed are the top 3 most critical features to look for in any type of lightweight kayak. This will help you determine whether the particular lightweight kayak that you are interested in contains the features necessary to make it truly one of the best of the best!
We’ve also included a link to the product page for what we are certain is the best lightweight kayak available on the market today – a conclusion based upon through market research and even personal experience. Then, speaking of personal experience, we have included a short section detailing our own encounters with this particular lightweight kayak – hopefully you can learn from our mistakes and pick up a few pointers where we experienced our successes! Lastly, we’ve included a Comments section that serves as a free resource for open and constructive dialogue among the kayak fishing community. Let’s dive in!
Best Lightweight Kayak: The Basics
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One of the biggest drawbacks about traditional kayaks is their size, irregular share, and general incompatibility with ease of transportation or storage. Depending on the size of the kayak (solo or tandem) a traditional kayak will weigh between 30 and 80 pounds. Now, while certainly heavy, it is actually the combination of the weight and the irregular distribution of the weight that causes most kayak fishermen their problems. Simply put, there are only a handful of ways to “carry” a kayak, and very few of them are “by hand”.
A lightweight kayak, however, weighs in at approximately 25 pounds (pretty remarkable when you consider that these types of kayaks can support loads of 300 pounds in size)! Typically, a lightweight kayak will be associated with another very convenient feature – foldability! That’s right, most lightweight kayaks can actually folded down into a storing size thats roughly 25% of the size of the kayak when fully deployed. That’s an extreme reduction in size and one that makes carrying the kayak (not to mention storing it) one heck of a lot easier!
Instead of fiberglass (or similar material), lightweight kayaks are traditionally built of double-layered polypropylene . Polypropylene is a type of plastic known as a “thermoplastic” and is extremely popular in a number of different industries (second in popularity only to polyethylene). This is an exceptionally strong material – one that allows the lightweight kayak to be folded and unfolded literally thousands and thousands of times without breaking down or even forming “wear” spots!
How to Use Properly
As mentioned above, one of the features shared by many lightweight kayaks is a “foldability” feature. Check out the image above. Looks kind of like a small bag or suitcase, right? Well, thats actually a folded up 12′ kayak! Pretty impressive! Of course, learning how to take the kayak from folded up in its bag to fully deployed is going to take a bit of education!
We’ve folded and unfolded our kayak enough times, at this point, to be confident that we’ve discovered the tips and tricks needed to make doing so a breeze. Mastering this process is a necessity. After all, you are buying a lightweight and foldable kayak for the purpose of convenience, and a complicated unfolding process isn’t exactly convenient, is it?! The short checklist below will walk you through the steps so that you can reduce your overall time down to approximately 5 minutes (granted, it will take you a handful of practices before you get that good, but you’ll get there)!
- The top of your package will likely contain two pieces of helpful information, a user’s manual and an assembly guide. Make sure to reference these, as they will acquaint you with features of the lightweight kayak that you otherwise might miss!
- Open the box. Loosen the shoulder strap off of the box (it is not needed for kayaking, but is needed to repack the kayak).
- Find the stern, seat back rest, seat pad, and some spare parts, all contained within the package.
- Unfold the box and unclip the side straps.
- Push the ends apart to extend the kayak to its full length.
- Attach the footrest (this will be located towards the front, use the bungee cord).
- Close the front of the kayak. Make sure to tighten the front strap.
- Place bulkhead into the bulkhead channels.
- Close the back of the kayak. Make sure that the back of the kayak is inverted. Place bulkhead into the bulkhead channels. Tighten straps.
- Insert the floorboard. Bend it upward and place ends into the channels, then press down, don’t worry if it doesn’t stay totally flat just yet, it will flatten over time!
- Install the seat by putting the seat column into floorboard.
- Attach the seat back straps.
- Adjust the footrest by using the buckles on the straps. Your legs should be comfortably bent.
- You can change the seat’s angle by adjusting the backrest straps.
- OK! You’re ready to hit the water! Remember, when you are done kayaking, you’ll follow a reversal of the process above.
- If you get stuck in the unfolding or re-folding process, make sure to reference the lightweight kayak’s user’s manual and installation guide, as we found these sources to be very user friendly!
Best Lightweight Kayak: Important Features
As the sport of kayak fishing has boomed in popularity, more and more high quality options of kayak are coming onto the market. This includes foldable and other lightweight kayaks as well. Historically, the quality of the lightweight kayaks simply was not “there”. They would end up forming “wear patterns” at the folding lines and these would eventually form cracks and then leaks. Not any more!
There are many great lightweight kayaks on the market today. That said, some are of more quality and have better kayak fishing features than do others. There are 3 features which we feel (from personal experience) are the most critical. Yes, some lightweight kayaks will have 1 or 2 of the features, but it is the combination of each of them that will set one kayak apart from the next! Let’s take a look at each of these top 3 features below so we can understand why they are so important! Ready?
Easy to Store Design. The storability of the lightweight kayak is a critical feature. While some models are technically able to reduce in size, the reduction doesn’t do much for you in terms of convenience, because you are left with a folded up or folded over kayak that is still a pain in the rear to carry! You’ll want a light weight kayak that folds up along logical folding points, creating a unit that is easily storable!
Also, we were surprised just how many lightweight kayaks didn’t come with their own bags. What is the point of lightweight or foldable kayak if you don’t have a bag in which to carry it! Make sure your model comes with a bag (preferably with a shoulder strap) so that you can neatly store your kayak and carry it to and from the water with ease!
Quality Shell and Materials. Do not be tempted to “save a few bucks” by purchasing a lightweight kayak that is made of low quality (read: easily punctured or non-durable) materials. You’ll want your kayak to feature at least 3mm double-layered polypropylene (preferably 5mm) to ensure that it doesn’t wear, rip or tear.
The double-layered polypropylene ensures durability in all weather conditions, but it also provides for a tremendous amount of strength and buoyancy relative to its weight. In fact, most lightweight kayaks will weigh only ~25 pounds and can support load sizes up to 300 pounds. The wide weight to capacity variance is made possible only by the high strength and ultra reliable double-layered polypropylene!
Ergonomics. Ok, this one is critical. What good is a lightweight kayak if it is not comfortable, is poorly laid out, has too narrow of a cockpit, and doesn’t allow for storage of your kayak fishing gear? Not very much good! There are a number of kayaks on the market that flaunt their foldability features and lightweight nature, but they are seriously lacking in the ergonomics department!
You want your lightweight kayak to have a wide beam (at least 26 inches) so that the cock pit is not crowded. You’ll need a padded seat to ensure that you stay comfortable for long fishing outings. You’ll need for your kayak’s seat to be adjustable so that you can alter the angle of the seat for periods of paddling, resting and casting. You’ll need even weight distribution so that carrying the kayak from the car to the water is a breeze!
Buy the Best Lightweight Kayak
We mentioned it previously, but we want to reiterate that there are a number of good lightweight kayaks on the market today. The one we’ve linked to above, however, has proven to be one of our favorites. We have used this model for two kayak fishing seasons at this point and it has held up wonderfully for us. Plus, it is so easily broken down and stored that it really is a no brainer and doesn’t come at the expense of having to get rid of some of my other kayak fishing gear!
The kayak is built of 5mm double-layered polypropylene, perfect for standing up to the rigors of kayak fishing. It measures 12 feet in length, a great size for solo kayak fishing. It weighs only 26 pounds, making it truly “lightweight”, while measuring in at only 33″ x 29″ x 12″ when folded up. It can support loads of 300 pounds, more than enough for your average kayak fisherman, his or her gear, and maybe even a cooler or two!
The 28 inch beam allows for a nice, wide cockpit, ensuring the comfort of the kayak fisherman. Finally, its padded seat (with adjustable seat straps) creates an environment where the fisherman doesn’t quickly become uncomfortable – the padded foot rests help with that as well! Finally, it comes with its own carrying case, complete with shoulder strap, making transportation and carrying a breeze!
I will admit that I traditionally use hard sided kayaks when I am kayak fishing. This is predominantly because I am able to affix kayak fishing accessories (like the Best Kayak Trolling Motor) to these types of kayaks, and a lightweight kayak simply doesn’t have that ability. However, it is very difficult for a traditional kayak to afford you with all of the same benefits that a lightweight kayak will afford you!
I immediately fell in love with the ability to move my lightweight kayak from location to location with ease. If I had a last minute invite to go out in the waning sunlight hours, I would simply grab my lightweight kayak, throw it in the car (if it wasn’t already in there) and head out to the water! There was no messing with a Kayak Trailer, or any other headache! These type of kayaks are certainly better for “lighter” kayak fishing outings (like day trips) where not much gear is required. Also, if you are anticipating rougher water, you might be better off with a rigid kayak. However, the lightweight kayak certainly has a part in any serious kayak fisherman’s collection of kayak fishing gear – I know it does in mine!
BEST LIGHTWEIGHT KAYAK: CONCLUSION
You made it! I hope this KFC post has served as a useful guide for helping you learn all about the Best Lightweight Kayak on the market! Lightweight kayaks are truly awesome pieces of kayak fishing gear. Their portability is tough to beat and their quality has vastly improved in the last several years. Plus, when you aren’t using it, you can simply fold it up and store it in a convenient location. No more messing with storing your kayak in the corner of the garage or taking up extra room on your dock!
If you’ve made it to this point in our post and find that you still have questions about lightweight kayaks, we want to encourage you to post in the Comments section below. The Comments section of KFC is a free sounding board for kayak fishing addicts all across the planet! It serves as a great free resource and is truly a great mechanism for Q&A!
Oh, and while you are here, another innovative kayak fishing product is known as a kayak outrigger – these products are perfect for balancing rigid kayaks (assuming you decide not to buy a lightweight kayak)! If you like the idea of an outrigger, but are interested in maintaining the whole “lightweight” theory, they make inflatable outriggers as well (remember, these outrigger products are built for use with rigid kayaks, not lightweight or portable kayaks)!
Ready to put your kayak fishing skills to the test? Think about signing up for a kayak fishing tournament.
Did you know that lightweight kayaks are becoming more and more prominent in the market place? Had you even heard of this type of kayak before you read this post? Have you tried using a lightweight kayak for kayak fishing purposes? What was your experience? Did you find that it performed well on the water? Did you enjoy the ease of transportation down to the water’s edge and then up and out of the water at the end of your fishing session? Any tips or tricks that you’d like to share with this kayak fishing community? We’d love to hear from you! Please share your story with us by posting below! See you on the water!