Buying Guide for Kayak Carts
Why buy a kayak cart?
Anyone who enjoys kayaking knows how difficult it can be to lug your kayak to the water while ensuring it does not suffer any unnecessary damage. After all, kayaks aren’t exactly inexpensive, and too much damage can make them unsafe or even unable to operate. Even if you have a nice lightweight kayak, a kayak cart is worth investing in. Unless you live right on the shores of a lake or river and can stash your boat right on the shore or dock, you’ll almost certainly have to transport your kayak over a decently long distance to reach the water. And you’ll have other gear to carry, too, even if it’s just your paddle and life vest. A kayak cart makes this process that much easier, especially if you’re going kayaking by yourself and don’t have an extra set of hands to help out.
What should you look for in a kayak cart?
- Weight Capacity: Before you buy a kayak cart, always check and see how much weight it can support. Weight capacity is vital, as you will want to ensure that your kayak can be transported without damaging the kayak cart you purchase. Kayaks can weigh anywhere between 20 and 100 pounds, depending on the type, model, and how many people they can seat. If you’re not sure how much your kayak weighs, opt for a cart with a higher rather than lower weight capacity. And don’t forget to take any extra kayaking equipment and its weight into consideration, too, if you plan on storing them in the kayak during transportation.
- Wheels: The kayak cart’s wheels are also a factor worth considering when choosing a kayak cart. You’ll want to ensure that any model you buy has wheels in the first place so that it can transport your kayak and equipment over grass, dirt, concrete, or any other surface you’ll need to cross to access a river or lake. The wheels should also be large and strong enough to effortlessly roll on bumpy, uneven terrain. After all, you’ll be taking it out into nature and the elements. The odds are good that you won’t have a smooth, perfectly paved path out to your destination every time you go kayaking. Puncture-free wheels are always an excellent option.
- Durability: Finally, durability should be considered as well. Since you’ll be transporting your kayak across all kinds of terrains, many of them rough and uneven, your kayak cart will be on the receiving end of a lot of jostling, bustling, bumping, and thumping. Be sure that both the body and straps are made of solid and durable materials that can hold up to impact. A heavy-duty kayak cart may cost a little extra but can save you money in the long run, as they will be less likely to become damaged or unusable. Keep an eye out for anti-rust and anti-corrosion models since your kayak cart will regularly be exposed to water and moisture.
What are the different types of kayak carts?
There are several different kayak carts, each with its benefits and drawbacks. Sit-on-top (SOT) scupper hole carts feature two wheels and two upright bars. These are simple yet effective, but they’re only compatible with SOT kayaks. Cradle karts are most common, featuring metal bars or tubing (usually aluminum) with a strap or straps that wrap around and cradle the kayak to hold it in place, hence the name. These are lightweight and almost always foldable for a convenient story, but they’re not as heavy-duty as some other types. Double rail carts are virtually identical to cradle karts except that they will have extra support rails or horizontal posts, which allow them to support more weight than cradle karts. And there are end cars which are small moving dollys made for kayaks. Slender and usually featuring a hexagon-shaped opening on two wheels, you slip it onto the stern end of the kayak and then pull the kayak by its handle on the bow. They’re incredibly simple to use and don’t require any straps, but they come with a higher risk of popping off the kayak during transit. End kayak carts may also be too narrow for extra-wide kayaks.
Our Picks for the Best Kayak Carts
ABN Universal Kayak Carrier
Practical and compatible with pretty much all kayaks, this kayak cart has just about every feature you could want.
Pros: Finding the right kayak cart to fit your kayak can be tricky. Fortunately, this particular model is widely compatible with most kayaks and even some other types of smaller boats. It has a 200-pound weight capacity and comes with a long 12-foot strap to secure your kayak, and the arms are coated with bumper foam to protect your kayak cart from scratches and dents during transportation. This cart can also be folded down and the wheels removed to be stored in your kayak’s hull or backpack, making it an excellent option for those seeking a super convenient and portable kayak cart.
Cons: While the included strap is nice and convenient, it’s slightly on the flimsy side.
Bottom Line: If you’re out on the water often, you’ll get good mileage out of this steel-framed kayak cart and its large, textured, inflatable tires that are smooth on gravel and sand and grass. It is suitable for most kayaks, but you can use it to transport similar items like paddleboards, float mats, and canoes.
TMS Kayak Tote Trolley
This affordable, solid metal kayak cart works great for canoes as well.
Pros: This low-priced kayak cart is made of aluminum and stainless steel, with a 12-foot strap to wrap fully around your boat. Despite the tough, hard frame, this cart will be gentle on your kayak thanks to the foam bumpers on each arm to prevent accidental damage to your boat. The large tires are designed not to become flat and roll smoothly across the most uneven and loose terrains, including sand and gravel. They’re securely attached to the cart by stainless steel fasteners and chrome lynchpins, so you won’t worry about them popping off unexpectedly. The support stand is spring-loaded for better stability onshore while you’re loading or unloading your kayak out of the water. The cart folds up for more compact storage and can be easily broken down and assembled as needed.
Cons: This is another kayak cart that requires its tires to be inflated with a bicycle pump before use, and they tend to burst, possibly breaking the tire rim as well if they become overinflated.
Bottom Line: The solid metal is a great option for kayaks and canoes alike and certain other small boats. And it’s much more budget-friendly than many similar models, so you get all the convenience and durability of a kayak cart without spending a ton of extra money.
RAILBLAZA Ctug Kayak Trolley Cart
This kayak cart can be disassembled in mere seconds to tuck away into your kayak hull or to easily store at home.
Pros: The most compact and portable your kayak cart, the better, and this model certainly fits the bill. It’s designed to be dismantled as quickly and efficiently as possible, in less than a minute, without requiring any tools. This allows you to tuck the entire cart away in your kayak hatch and bring it along for the ride or make it more compact to store. Made of reinforced composite material and stainless-steel reinforced axles, it’s plenty strong and durable with a loading limit of 300 pounds. The adjustable rubberized pads will fit most kayak hulls, and the high grip, rubber treaded wheels are puncture-free to prevent flat and torn tires; unlike some other kayak carts, they don’t require inflating. An adjustable kickstand comes included as well. It also works great with surfboards and paddleboards.
Cons: Even though the wheels have an excellent high grip, they aren’t as thick and wide as others. As a result, there are some terrains where this cart won’t be as effective, namely on sand or rough, bumpy terrains.
Bottom Line: A kayak cat should be a convenience that makes your day on the lake or river easier, not another hassle you have to spend a long time setting up and putting together before you can use it. This trolley-like, flat-topped model may be your best bet if you want some extra portability and space efficiency from your kayak cart.
Wilderness Systems Heavy-Duty Kayak Cart
This heavy-duty kayak cart sports a 450-pound weight limit in two height options to ensure it works well with most kayaks.
Pros: This heavy-duty kayak cart can transport extremely heavy kayaks with its impressive 450-pound weight capacity and an easy-to-load design that does not require a kickstand. It is also collapsible for storage and features a durable bunker bar frame, making it a fantastic option for those with heavy-duty needs. Those aren’t the only benefits this high-end kayak cart offers, either. It features two height options, and the width of the bunker bar frame can also be adjusted, ensuring you can transport a wide variety of uniquely shaped kayaks and other boats without risking damage.
Cons: Useful and heavy-duty as it is, it’s pretty pricey. And while it doesn’t require a kickstand for loading and unloading, you may notice that the cart rolls back and forth slightly during these processes due to the lack of a kickstand.
Bottom Line: If you’re a serious kayaker or spend a lot of time on the water with various boats and other aquatic sport products, you’ll want to invest in a high-quality, heavy-duty kayak cart that can transport even the heaviest kayaks and holds up to regular use.
Bonnlo Kayak Cart with Airless Tires
This foldable, portable kayak cart features large airless tires that roll smoothly on rough terrains.
Pros: It offers universal use, able to transport items like canoes, paddleboards, and Jon boats in addition to kayaks. It’s durably constructed out of high-strength but lightweight aluminum. The 12-inch spring-loaded ensures the cart stays propped upright for easy loading and unloading, while the included pair of ratchet straps (7.75 feet in length for over 15 feet of straps in total) easily wrap around your kayak to keep it securely in place during transportation. The solid, knobbly, airless tires allow for smooth movement across rough surfaces like sand or gravel without worrying . This universal kayak cart also sports foam pads to protect your kayak from getting scratched or dented while being moved. It’s also easy to break down for storage and reassemble as needed, with no extra tools required. And unlike a lot of other models, there are three different models to choose from with three differently shaped kickstands.
Cons: It can support 165 pounds maximum, so you might not be able to use it for bigger, heavier kayaks or larger boats like canoes.
Bottom Line: This kayak cart offers useful features and equipment at a lower price than many comparable models, and comes in several different styles, allowing you to select whichever one best suits your needs or you find the most stable.
Though not a strict necessity, kayak carts were made specifically to make your kayaking adventure as smooth and simple a process as possible. Even if you have a loved one to help you out with your kayak(s), you’ll be amazed at how much easier they make the process of unloading your kayak and transporting it to the river, lake, or ocean.