Best Lightweight Kayaks

11 Best Lightweight Kayaks: The Ultimate Guide in 2019

What the best lightweight kayak is for you comes down to what you want to use it for.

There are lots of great kayaks out there, but some of them are so heavy and cumbersome that even the strongest guys will struggle transporting them and forget about hoisting them on top of your car.

In this article, we’re going to cover 12 of the best lightweight kayaks out there and why you should consider getting one.

But first, let’s introduce our top picks:

editor's choice

Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90

Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90 | 9 Foot | Angler and Recreational Sit On Top Light Weight Fishing Kayak with Paddle and Seat (Caribbean Blue)
  • Light
  • Compact
  • High Performance Angler

best value

Intex Explorer K2

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
  • So much kayak
  • So little money
  • Probably weighs less than your dog

How to Find the Best Kayak For You

Like I said, it comes down to what you’re going to use it for.

There are:

  • Family kayaks
  • Fishing kayaks
  • Ocean kayaks
  • Touring kayaks
  • Whitewater kayaks
  • Inflatable kayaks

The list goes on.

Identifying the what and where of your kayak is key to getting the perfect one for your individual needs -- for that reason, we are going to cover a wide variety of kayaks.

However, they will all have one thing in common:

Lightweight.

We’re going to shoot for less than 50 pounds for every kayak on the list but we may go over that on a few of them for specific purposes.

With that in mind, here are a few things to look for:

Sit-inside vs. Sit-on-top

Sit-inside

Site inside kayaks are generally superior boats: They’re more maneuverable, made for colder waters, and are more efficient to paddle. That said, you can still get amazing performance from sit-on-top kayaks -- especially with regard to fishing kayaks -- they’re some of the most high tech kayaks out there.

Sit-on-top

Sit-on-tops are a great first boat because they are easy to get in and out of (even in deep water), you don’t have to learn how to perform a wet exit if you capsize, and they’re best for warm weather since you’re not inside the kayak.

Types of Kayaks

Recreational Kayaks

  • For flat and calm waters
  • Easy entering/exiting the kayak
  • Simple design & simple to use

Sea Kayaks

  • Long and sturdily built for multi-day trips
  • Track well in the water
  • Ample storage space

Fishing Kayaks

  • Generally sit-on-top for casting purposes
  • Bells and whistles like paddle holders
  • Sturdy enough to stand up for scouting and longer casting

Inflatable Kayaks

  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Incredibly affordable

12 Best Lightweight Kayaks

Maybe you already know the type of kayak that you want but maybe you don’t.

Take a spin through our list and see if anything catches your fancy, then pull the trigger and run with it.

The sooner you get on the water the better as far as I’m concerned!

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 10’3
  • Weight: 30 lbs
  • Material: Rip Stop Vinyl
  • Maximum Capacity: 400 lbs
  • Accessories: removable skeg, bright yellow for high visibility, boston valves
  • Price: $

The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is sporty and fun with a streamlined design for easy paddling. The bright yellow color and sporty graphics makes the kayak highly visible in the water. Great for experiencing lakes and mild rivers with a friend, this Sports Series kayak is perfect for two adults. Lightweight and compact, this kayak is a snap to assemble, and allows you to take the fun of kayaking wherever you go.

Why Choose This Model?

Weighing in at 30 pounds the Intex Explorer K2 is definitely a lightweight kayak, especially considering it fits 2 people.


AIRHEAD MONTANA Kayak, 1 person

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 9’
  • Weight: 27 lbs
  • Material: Heavy Gauge PVC
  • Maximum Capacity: 300 lbs
  • Accessories: Adjustable seat, spray covers, 4 bottom fins
  • Price: $$

Out of all the inflatable kayaks on the market, this is one of the absolute best. It’s designed to handle everything from calm waters to moderate whitewater, which is more aggressive than most inflatable kayaks.

It’s also got 3 air chambers so you aren’t totally sunk if any one of them pops.

Why Choose This Model?

The AIRHEAD Montana is an adventure ready kayak for an adventure ready person.

Pick up this lightweight bright orange kayak and get yourself on the water!


Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak Paddle

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 6’
  • Weight: 18 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 130 lbs
  • Accessories: Ergonomic cockpit design, Swim up deck, Paddle included
  • Price: $

At 18 pounds, the Lifetime Youth Wave is the lightest kayak on the list. Granted, it won’t fit 95% of adults but it’s the perfect kayak for youngsters. It comes with a basic design that you’ll notice doesn’t have a seat -- this enhances a child’s balance and motor skills so they’ll be having fun and and getting better at kayaking at the same time!

Why Choose This Model?

The lifetime Youth Wave is light and compact so it’s easy to keep around the house and it’s perfect for a birthday or christmas gift.


Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Sport Kayak Pro Package

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 10’8
  • Weight: 32 lbs
  • Material: K80 PVC
  • Maximum Capacity: 650 lbs
  • Accessories: Self bailing drain valve, dual bottom skegs, 3 air chambers
  • Price: $$

Race down the river or cruise a mirror-smooth lake at dawn in the Sea Eagle Sport kayak. It holds up to 650 pounds, but weighs only 32. Easily portable, it carries upto three people and gear, but can be transported and used by one adult alone. You can even bring your dog out on the water--the rugged PolyKrylar hull is tough enough to withstand dog paws and claws.

Why Choose This Model?

This is an amazing kayak.

Point. Blank. Period.

You won’t find anything on the market with this much capacity and durability for the price point.

You can’t go wrong with the Sea Eagle.


SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Bali SS Sit-on top Kayak (Blue, 10-Feet)

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 10’
  • Weight: 44 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 350 lbs
  • Accessories: Rear hatch storage, paddle holder, protective thigh pads
  • Price: $$

This is both a light and versatile kayak and the price is exceedingly low. This could be an ocean kayak to paddle around in the surf, a river kayak to zip through tight spots, you can even fish out of this kayak which is impressive for the price.

Why Choose This Model?

Versatility.

No other kayak on the market offers so much variety for at such a low price.


Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak, Envy, 12 Feet

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 12’
  • Weight: 57 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 425 lbs
  • Accessories: Dual adjustable seats, bow and stern carry handles, 2 dry storage options
  • Price: $$$

Yes, I went over 50 pounds for this model but I had to because you won’t find a lighter tandem kayak of this quality than the Malibu-Two.

It’s the most popular compact, lightweight tandem sit-on-top kayak in the world. Stable and versatile, it can be paddled solo or tandem. Fits two adults plus a small child or pet.

Why Choose This Model?

Pioneers of the sit-on-top kayak, Ocean Kayak's tandem models feature a safe, simple, easy-to-board design that gets you out on the water and into the action.

It’s the best affordable kayak for family fun for two plus a child or dog.


SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Sit-in Kayak (Ocean, 8-Feet)

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 8’
  • Weight: 27 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 260 lbs
  • Accessories: Rear covered storage, bungee system, adjustable padded seat
  • Price: $$

This kayak is 27 pounds! That’s lighter than every kayak on this list except for the AIRHEAD Montana.

This is a great kayak for paddling around in calm waters and just generally having a nice time on the water.

Why Choose This Model?

The Sundolphin Aruba 8 ss is compact, maneuverable, and yes, VERY LIGHTWEIGHT.


Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90 | 9 Foot | Angler and Recreational Sit On Top Light Weight Fishing Kayak with Paddle and Seat (Caribbean Blue)

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 9’
  • Weight: 46 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 300 lbs
  • Accessories: 2 paddle parks, 2 covered storage compartments, 5 rod holders
  • Price: $$$

The lightest fishing on the market is the Vibe Skipjack 90. It might be too short for those of you well over 6ft but for everyone else it has plenty of legroom and weight capacity.

Why Choose This Model?

You simply will not find a kayak with as many features for this price point -- it can’t be beaten on those metrics. Although Vibe does make some kayaks that are even more badass than the Skipjack you will pay for it. This is the absolute best fishing boat in the middle price range.


Airhead Montana Kayak Two Person Inflatable Kayak

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 12’
  • Weight: 36 lbs
  • Material: Heavy gauge PVC
  • Maximum Capacity: 500 lbs
  • Accessories: Adjustable seats, 6 D-rings, front and back spray covers
  • Price: $$

Inflatable kayaks like the AIRHEAD Montana TK-2 are perfect for camping and exploring remote areas.

They're also great for paddling enthusiasts that don't want to drive around with a kayak on their roof. The TK-2 fits easily into the trunk of your car, duffel bag or suitcase so when you feel the itch to paddle, your boat is with you. Tubular I-beam floor supports the boat for superior comfort, buoyancy, and tracking and is made of high-visibility orange PVC for extra safety on motor boat infested waters.

Why Choose This Model?

Like the AIRHEAD TK-1, the TK-2 is another extremely capable inflatable kayak that weighs next to nothing and is sturdy and durable enough for any water-borne adventure you can come up with.


Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 100 | 10 Foot | Angler Recreational Sit On Top Light Weight Fishing Kayak with Paddle + Adjustable Hero Comfort Seat (Caribbean Blue - Caribbean Blue Evolve Paddle)

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 10’
  • Weight: 57 lbs
  • Material: Rotomolded Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 375 lbs
  • Accessories: Hero stadium seat, 4 capped mount rod holders, mounting point, 2 covered storage hatches
  • Price: $$$

The Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 100 comes in at 7 pounds more than the 50 pound limit we set for the lightweight kayak category… But it’s hands down the best lightweight fishing kayak out there. It doesn’t sacrifice any performance metrics like sturdiness while standing or tracking to get that weight either. It’s also got one of the best seats available.

Why Choose This Model?

Looking for a lightweight kayak that is still dedicated to kayak anglers?

Look no further than the Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 100.


Lifetime 90806 Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak - 2 Pack (Paddles Included)

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 10’
  • Weight: 57 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 275 lbs
  • Accessories: 3 rod holders, 2 storage hatches, bungee system
  • Price: $$

The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is a popular kayak for a couple of reasons:

It tracks well, is stand up capable, and has just enough accessories to make it a good fishing kayak at a price well below the norm.

Why Choose This Model?

If you want to pay more for a cool paint job, a heavier boat and a stadium adjustable seat go right ahead. Or get the no bells and whistles Lifetime Angler and upgrade it according to your personal needs.

We highly recommend the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100.


Benefits of Owning an Amazing Kayak

“Dang this kayak is light,” you think as you hoist it on top of your car (or maybe you’re just really strong!)

One of the benefits of having a lightweight kayak is that you don’t dread having to transport it -- which, in turn, means you’re going to use it more often.

And that, my friends, is the name of the game.

That is, getting out on the water!

11 Best Lightweight Kayaks: The Ultimate Guide in 2019

It feels good to slide your kayak into the water right as you’re about to get in it (even better if it’s a lightweight kayak).

It moves from the realm of land where it’s useless to the realm of the water where it’s invaluable.

Sliding the kayak into the water also indicates that you’re about to use it -- which makes you excited and makes me envious.

Don’t forget to enjoy yourself!

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