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Don’t get me wrong; I love to kayak. What I’m not a huge fan of? Lugging a 100-pound mammoth hard shell across the uneven pavement, wet sand, suctioning tides… and then doing it all over again on the way back.

And don’t even get me started on how hard it is to hoist it up on my roof rack. Can you say slipped lumbar disc?

Enter my new obsession: lightweight kayaks. These lighter hard shells and inflatable kayaks make for a more convenient trip while providing an edgier ride that’s more agile, faster, and just plain fun.

Though they can be pricier than your average kayak, a lightweight has better performance and the best value.  

In this article, I’m diving deep into the best lightweight kayaks on the market right now. Let’s get into it! 



Super Plush

Pelican Maxim 100X

  • item weight: 36 pounds
  • material: plastic

Great for Beginners

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak 

  • item weight: 25 pounds
  • material: plastic

Easily Accessible

Sun Dolphin Aruba 10

  • item weight: 40 pounds
  • material: polyethylene

The Lightest Option

AdvancedFrame Ultralite

  • item weight: 17.5 pounds
  • material: polyester/polyurethane

Perfect for Women

Ocean Kayak Venus 10

  • item weight: 44 pounds
  • material: polyethylene

Best for Travel

Sevylor Quikpak k1

  • item weight: 20.28 pounds
  • material: polyester

Hybrid Origami

Oru Kayak Beach LT

  • item weight: 25 pounds
  • material: polypropylene

Premium Choice

Eddyline Sky 10

  • item weight: 32 pounds
  • material: polypropylene

Our Top Picks of the Best Lightweight Kayak

Of course, the type of lightweight kayak you should buy drastically depends on what your intended use will be. Consider how you plan to use your new kayak before cracking open that wallet. 

Check out our list of the best options available on the market right now.

1. Pelican Maxim 100X

lightweight kayak

Speedy, light, and nimble, the Pelican Maxim 100x is a traditional sit-in kayak constructed with durable plastics to deliver a superior crafted vessel. 

If you like speed, this model is for you. Its cutting-edge aerodynamics allow this Pelican sit-in recreational kayak to cut through the water with grace and agility. Furthermore, the Pelican Maxim 100X utilizes a shallow V Chine hull design for optimal tracking and increased secondary stability and performance. 

This 10-foot hardshell kayak achieves its lightness by using high molecular density polyethylene. Even though the boat itself weighs 36 pounds, the maximum capacity for this one-person kayak is 275 pounds.

The Pelican Maxim 100X kayak is as comfortable as it is effective. That’s due to a couple of reasons; the padded backrest and cushion paired with its molded footrests.

The Pelican Maxim 100x backrest is built with renowned ERGOFORM technology, and the molded footrests help you gain better footing leverage throughout your excursion. 

best lightweight kayaks

But the comfort doesn’t stop there. Pelican also built a front storage hatch, cup holders, and deck storage for towels, gear, and other items you want to bring along during your trip. 

Bear in mind the Maxim 100X is an advanced model. If you’re new to the sport (in which case, welcome!), you might be better off in the lightweight model Argo 100X as some paddlers I’ve spoken to have difficulty staying upright in these Maxim 100X recreational kayaks.


  • Kayak Weight: 36 pounds
  • Max Weight: 275 pounds
  • Length: 12 ft 
  • Width: 28 in


  • Its padded seats and boosted comfort make for a luxurious ride
  • Ample storage makes this one-seat boat great for on-the-water travel and water sports 
  • Its fast and nimble nature makes it suited for the adrenaline-junkie


  • The boat can be unstable and presents a steep learning curve  

Pelican Maxim 100X

The Price of “Pelican Maxim 100X ” varies, so check the latest price at

2. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

best light weight kayaks

There’s a reason why so many new kayakers choose the inflatable Intex Challenger K1 as their first boat. 

Weighing just under 30 pounds, the K1 remains lightweight while leveraging its dimensions for boosted stability. If you’re anything like how I was when I first started kayaking, the more stability, the better. 

Just because it’s inflatable doesn’t mean it compromises durability. Rugged vinyl and welded plastic seams allow this model to bounce right off those jagged rocks, resist rogue fishing gear punctures, and protect itself against sharp Loch Ness Monster claws.

And because it’s inflatable, this recreational kayak remains lightweight for effortless transportation. 

best kayaks for beginners

The Intext Challenger also has ample storage space. Intex rigged the K1 with sprawling bungee deck lacing to stow away extra gear, dry shoes, water bottles, sunscreen, paddling gear, and more. 

Additionally, the paddle breaks down for easy storage, and the boat deflates quickly for faster breakdown time and fewer headaches. Plus, the K1 presents users with inflatable seats for maximum comfort during long excursions. 

But if you’re an intermediate kayaker, you may want to paddle in a different direction; the Challenger K1 isn’t great for developed kayakers. Like many inflatables, the K1 can be sluggish, clumsy, and difficult to navigate. 

Because of this, I don’t recommend using the K1 on narrow pathways or small cutouts. Instead, stick to calm, open lake waters – especially during peak travel and boating times. 


  • Kayak Weight: 2​9 pounds
  • Max Weight: 220 pounds 
  • Length: 9 ft
  • Width: 30 in


  • This boat presents sufficient deck storage areas for easy accessibility. 
  • It has an easy setup and breakdown process for more time on the water and less time wrangling pumps, cords, and plastic.
  • The Intex is affordable, making it a great choice for newer kayakers. 


  • The boat can be challenging to control and navigate. 

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak 

The Price of “Intex Challenger K1 Kayak ” varies, so check the latest price at

3. Sun Dolphin Aruba 10

light kayaks

The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 is one of my list’s heavier hard shell models. Still, it weighs 40 pounds, which is considerably lighter than other hard shell models (looking at you, 95-pound Vibe Sea Ghost). 

Because it’s on the heavier end, the Aruba 10 walks a line between stability and easy portability. Its unique middle ground is all thanks to its Polyethylene blend.

And because it’s a more stable vessel, the recreational Aruba 10 is an excellent pick for rougher waters. After all, not all of us have access to calm lakes and placid low-flow rivers. 

The Aruba 10 boasts unique features, like an easily accessible opening. While straddling a kayak entrance on the floor of REI may be no big deal, that easy entry comes in handy when your kayak is atop choppy, unforgiving waves. 

lightweight kayak for sale

This kayak also has exceptional tracking, making it maneuverable in the water while you dodge in and out of waves. Because it weighs more, it glides smoothly in the water and is a breeze to steer. 

But, while this recreational kayak does come with a storage compartment with shock cord deck rigging, the storage isn’t as ample as some other models. If you’re bringing along hefty gear to shoot mind-bending nature pictures, steer toward other heavier kayaks.


  • Kayak Weight: 40 pounds 
  • Max Weight: 250 pounds
  • Length: 9.5 ft
  • Width: 29 in


  • The opening is easy to enter and exit. 
  • The boat has handles, which makes transportation easy. 
  • This model can tackle rougher, more aggressive waters. 


  • There’s simply not enough storage 

Sun Dolphin Aruba 10

The Price of “Sun Dolphin Aruba 10” varies, so check the latest price at

4. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Ultralite

light weight kayaks

Hold your jaw because it’s about to hit the floor; the AdvancedFrame Ultralite weighs 17 pounds

Yes, you read that right. This super light inflatable kayak weighs less than your 7-year-old while still punching high on comfort, durability, stability, and tracking. 

Just because it’s light doesn’t mean it’s not hearty; this inflatable vessel cuts and glides through water so nicely that it rivals hard shells. Advanced Elements pulled that off due to the high-quality 3-layer, Polyurethane materials used in its construction. The boat also has rigid plastics embedded in both ends of the boat. 

To make this vessel as luxurious as possible, the Ultralite has an ultra (pun intended) supportive high-back seat that provides extra comfort while never compromising lightness. It’s thoughtful details like these that make long trips a breeze. 

Meanwhile, the AdvancedFrame Ultralite employs perhaps one of my all-time favorite design features: embedded aluminum ribs. 

light weight kayak

These ribs provide kayakers with excellent tracking to better stay on course. Because of this, the Ultralite kayak is perfect for those who struggle with steering. It’s also a helpful feature for newer kayakers still getting the hang of the sport. The Ultralite is, therefore, the perfect kayak for beginners.

Other key features like deck lacing on the stern and bow increase storage space without compromising total boat weight or size, making it a great inflatable option. But its small size has drawbacks — beware of the weight capacity, as this recreational kayak can only handle under 225 lbs. 


  • ‎Kayak Weight: 17.5 pounds
  • Max Weight: 225 pounds
  • Length: 10.5 ft
  • Width: 13 in


  • Embedded aluminum ribs make it easier to steer and keep on track. 
  • These touring kayaks are fast and responsive, which is better for faster water. 


  • The air bladders that fit inside the inflated boat can’t take too much pressure. As a result, this isn’t the most durable option.  

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Ultralite

The Price of “Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Ultralite” varies, so check the latest price at

5. Ocean Kayak Venus 10

light kayak

Ladies, if you’re looking for a model made specifically for you, listen up. The Ocean Kayak Venus 10 constructs a comfortable seat designed with the female center of gravity in mind. What does that mean? You no longer have to struggle in those awkward vessels that are so clearly built for men. 

Similarly, the Venus 10 recreational kayak presents boaters with a low deck profile, which is ideal for women or for those with smaller frames and bodies.

Sick of riding on flat water? Because it’s so small, this lightweight kayak is fantastic at maneuvering in fast-paced water and presents users with exceptional, hair-blowing speeds.

The Venus 10 doesn’t judge and knows that you might make some missteps (or should I say, mis-paddles). The kayak has a screw-in drain to counteract unforgiving water or too-sharp turns. 

Because it’s so lightweight, it’s easy to carry and hoist on the top of your car. Not only can you lift it, but the boat also has a car-topping handle system, making rigging as easy as gliding through the water. 

And seats that use cutting-edge comfort hybrid designs to give your back generous lumbar support for long or harsh rides. 

Ultimately, this compact package has excellent on-water performance. It’s a speedy, slim model that will let you rip and dart in and out of waves, all while looking great. Still, the Venus 10 isn’t great for larger bodies. If you weigh more than 150 pounds, I’d choose a different model on this list. 


  • Kayak Weight:40 pounds
  • ‎Max Weight: 175 pounds
  • Length: 9 ft
  • Width: 28 in


  • This boat is slim, fast, and can rip down waterways. 
  • This Kayak is specifically made for women and smaller bodies for a better, targeted fit.
  • Its screw-in drains protect against flooding. 


  • The scupper bungs can make the seat wet. 

Ocean Kayak Venus 10

The Price of “Ocean Kayak Venus 10” varies, so check the latest price at

6. Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak

best lightweight kayak

What if I told you your backpack could transform into a kayak? That’s the idea behind the Sevylor Quikpak K1. 

This unique backpack system unfolds, inflates, and transforms into a portable kayak – all within a five-minute setup time (okay, with a little practice). 

As you might imagine, its compact size makes this light kayak perfect for backpackers and adventurers on a summer camping trip or kayaking adventure abroad. 

Sevylor’s priority is safety; that’s why they use fail-safe multiple-air chambers. Should one air chamber get a puncture, the other air chambers will keep the vessel afloat until you can stop for repairs. 

Still, the likelihood that the K1 would pop is low: Sevylor utilizes a hefty 21-gauge PVC construction for rugged, aggressive waters. Additionally, a Tarpaulin base makes this even more protected from those pesky, pointed rocks floating in shallow water. 

lightweight kayak sit on top

Additionally, this kayak has a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds. You can pack all the gear you want and then some, which makes it an ideal candidate for a fishing kayak. This option can also serve as the best kayak for big guys without compromising on stability and space.

The downside? Sometimes this traditional kayak can be challenging to inflate. 


  • Kayak Weight:20 pounds
  • ‎Max Weight: 400 pounds
  • Length: 8.6 ft
  • Width: 36 in


  • The boat comes with ample gear and equipment. 
  • Its plentiful storage space makes it an ideal fishing kayak.
  • The multiple air chambers add security and boost safety. 


  • This boat can be tough to inflate.  

Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak

The Price of “Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak” varies, so check the latest price at

7. Oru Kayak Beach LT

light weight sit on top kayak

This sleek, 25-pound beach LT kayak by Oru is lightweight despite being crafted from custom-extruded Polypropylene materials. The hard shell Beach LT can fold and unfold, empowering boaters to bring it on the spur of moment paddling trips. 

The Kayak Beach LT is unique in that it’s foldable. In doing so, this kayak presents the best of both worlds: its hybrid design allows users to enjoy the convenience of an inflatable with the durability of a hard shell. Plus, the setup features intuitive unfolding and paddling, which means more time out on the water. 

But its foldability never compromises its durability and safety. That’s because Oru tests and runs the model 20,000 folds (which exceeds that of the U.S. Coast Guard). 

ultra light kayaks

The boat is also protected from 10 years of UV degradation. That UV protection keeps the color and finish looking great and keeps your boat in proper structural shape, as too much UV exposure can weaken your boat’s structure. 

The materials used are also rust-resistant, meaning that this vessel will last a long time without breaking down or blooming ugly, dangerous rust patches. 

The downside of these foldable kayaks is in the company itself. Some kayakers I’ve spoken with have complained of slow response times, ghosting, and failed promises of warranties. 


  • Kayak Weight: 25 pounds max
  • Weight: 300 pounds
  • Length: 12 ft
  • Width: 29 in


  • The boats folded, intuitive design makes for a fast and easy setup.  
  • The finish is UV and rust-protected, increasing product longevity and safety. 
  • The boat is easy to handle and transport due to how well it folds and how lightweight it is. 


  • The company has a bad reputation for poor customer service.  

Oru Kayak Beach LT

The Price of “Oru Kayak Beach LT” varies, so check the latest price at

8. Eddyline Sky 10

lightweight kayaks for sale

The best lightweight kayak is the Eddyline Sky 10. These models are agile hard shell kayaks that cut and bite through the water with incredible ease.

If you’re hunting for a paddling yak that can take a beating, the Eddyline Sky 10 has got you covered. Composed of a mix of proprietary composite ABS, acrylics, and carbon lite, the Eddyline Sky 10 shell can scrape against rocky riverbeds, resist snags and snares, and stand up to tumbles and falls without a hitch.  

Not only do its materials boost durability, but the seams are welded and fused together for optimal strength. Additionally, the kayak edges are hand sanded for lightweight construction.

In addition, the Sky 10 kayak prioritizes comfort with its thick backrest and back bands. Furthermore, the footrests provide riders with ample leverage, and the cockpit is very roomy, which allows you to stow plenty of gear. 

But, in case the kayak cockpit isn’t enough, the boat is also fitted with bungees to strap in more equipment. 

lightest kayaks

Thanks to thoughtful dimensions and proportions, this hard shell kayak blends stability and maneuverability to produce an excellent ride. Additionally, it’s light enough to easily drag, lift, and handle by yourself with no extra help. 

Honestly? There’s not much negative I can say about this crafty little kayak. The only downsides are that this model may not be as fast as you want it to be. Additionally, the Sky 10 is only intended for lakes and ponds. 

If you’re willing to shell out some money for a high-quality, fun, lightweight kayak, the Sky 10 may be the boat for you. 


  • Kayak Weight: 32 pounds
  • Max Weight: 250 pounds
  • Length: 10 ft
  • Width: 26 in


  • Eddyline produces these boats with high-quality manufacturing standards and exceptional materials. 
  • All the seams are welded for further safety. 
  • The boat is easy to handle, especially on your own. 


  • It could be faster in the water. 

Eddyline Sky 10

The Price of “ Eddyline Sky 10” varies, so check the latest price at

Buying Guide for Best Lightweight Kayaks

Let’s face it: buying the best lightweight kayak can be daunting

Should you buy a kayak with rod holders? A paddle holder? Should you go for short kayaks or longer kayaks? Then there’s the case of sit-inside vs. sit-on kayaks… and what exactly is a foldable kayak, anyway?

Let’s start with the basics: what is a lightweight kayak? It’s a boat that’s, well, lighter than your standard kayak. Buying a lightweight kayak brings many benefits. 

For starters, they’re much easier to transport not only from your car to the water, but they’re also much easier to store. (For those adventurers living in city studio apartments, that one’s for you). 

Lightweight kayaks also tend to be much more aerodynamic and maneuverable, which means they’re more responsive and have higher speeds and efficiency than their heavier kayak counterparts. Ultimately, if you prioritize speed, a lighter kayak has much higher performance. 

Okay, so what’s the catch? Besides paddling inflatable kayaks (which have their own pros and cons), lightweight hard-shell kayaks are usually much more expensive than standard weighted yaks. 

But depending on what you intend to use your lightweight hard shell kayaks for, you may find the price well worth it. 

There are other features to prioritize, too. Some of the best kayaks aren’t due to their construction but because of their vast storage options and extra features like providing a carry bag, rod holder, adjustable footrests, and an inflatable seat. 

Intended Use

When you browse for a new kayak, it’s easy to become inundated by an excess of opinions. Don’t just take some Youtuber’s word on the best kayak. Why? Their advice is too broad.  

Some rando on TikTok or Instagram don’t know what type of boater you are and what you intend to use your kayak for. Therefore, take everyone’s advice (yes, including mine) with a grain of salt. 

Rather, the best way to choose the best lightweight kayak is to understand your intended use. If you plan to use your kayak on calm waters for photography, snorkeling, or stationary activities, you’ll want to buy a bigger kayak with lots of storage for your gear. 

best lightweight kayak 2020

If you’re older or struggle with chronic pain, you’ll want to prioritize comfort by buying a kayak with added features like multiple footrest positions or a padded, adjustable seat. 

Lots of people choose to buy a kayak for fishing escapades. These lightweight fishing kayaks differ greatly from the boat you buy for white water rafting. Instead, you’ll need a stable platform that will allow you to stay steady for long periods. 

You’ll also want to prioritize kayaks with a roomier cockpit, as you will be packed in there for multiple hours. Additionally, sit-on kayaks are generally better for fishing. Lastly, ensure you’re visible to passing motorboats to avoid a collision. 

If you’re in the mood to race through waves and pump some adrenaline into your adventures, consider buying a durable, agile, hard-shell kayak. And, if you’re a beginner, find features that help you gain better skills (like yaks with superior tracking and stability). 

Lastly, if you’re new to the game, you’ll probably want to buy a budget-friendly kayak to learn how to kayak as beginner and to make sure you actually like the sport before draining your entire savings. 

Strength vs. Weight

When made with the correct materials, a kayak’s weight should bear no impact on how strong and durable the kayak is. Just because you’re looking at lightweight models doesn’t mean you can’t find a safe, puncture-resistant option. This is true even of inflatable boats. 

Weight Capacity

Time and time again, weight capacity is the feature that shoppers spend the least time researching. But this is a mistake: how much you weigh (and how much your gear weighs) drastically impacts the level of comfort you’ll experience. 

It’s important to be well under the weight limit and consider what activities you’ll use the kayak for. Why? If you plan to scuba dive or snorkel, you must factor in how much your gear weighs; this is true for all other activities like fishing or photography. 

kayak lightweight

You’ll also want to consider who else you’ll bring along for a ride. Many paddling kayakers bring along a family member or dog. Learning how to kayak with a dog adds an extra layer of adventure and companionship to your paddling experience, making it truly wholesome and enjoyable.

How much will your additional furry friend contribute to the weight load on your kayak? 

And if you cut the weight capacity too close, you risk being too uncomfortable for long treks. I’ve heard countless stories of kayakers being right under the maximum capacity number, only to be dismayed when their lower back aches only a few hours into their journey. 

Kayak Type

If you’re in the market for a lightweight kayak simply because of its portability, go with an inflatable kayak. 

Not only are they typically much less expensive, but they also tend to weigh less than even a lightweight hard-shell kayak. 

lightest sit on top kayak

However, if you’re looking for a lighter kayak because you’re looking for speed, then you should veer toward a hard shell. 

While inflatables have gained many strides in the past few decades, they still need to catch up in the speed and agility department. They tend to be bulky, awkward, sluggish and have poor tracking. 

Kayak manufacturers & brands also design different boats for different levels of paddling experience. As discussed, a fishing kayak differs much from a recreational or sea kayak. 


Without question, the most crucial feature of inflatable kayaks is their durability. 

Whether you buy an inflatable or a hard shell, you don’t want to spring a leak in the middle of your excursion. Nor do you want to take it out on the lake or a joyride once only to have it crap out. 

If you’re buying an inflatable lightweight kayak, make sure it uses a powerful, durable plastic blend. Welded seams, high-density Polyethylene, and hand-sanded edges spin plastic sheets from thin and wavy to puncture-proof titans. 

Another way to identify how durable your boat is is to ensure the vessel is up to code. If you buy from a trustworthy brand like an Eddyline or a Pelican, you can be sure that it is indeed up to code, but it’s still important to check. 

This goes for hard shell lightweights, too. Just because you buy a durable hard shell doesn’t make it immune from punctures, cracks, rips, and busted seams. Check for the certifications to ensure its adequately durable. 

Construction Materials 

A​ significant element in ensuring your new kayak is up to handle all the sunny days and cruising, you want to take a hard look at the construction materials. 

Typically, the best lightweight kayaks are constructed with high-quality materials like carbon fiber or fiberglass

Don’t know why that’s important. Carbon fiber is five times as strong as steel and twice as stiff while still weighing less. It also stands up to excessive heat (important as you’ll be in direct sunlight for many hours) and has a low thermal expansion, increasing its durability.

Fiberglass, too, is a strong material that aids durability, as does high-density Polyethylene.  

It’s also vital to choose materials that are good for inflatable kayaks. PVC (a type of plastic) is a durable plastic that allows manufacturers to weld the seams together (as opposed to simply gluing seams). 

When shopping for a lightweight kayak, opt for one that uses high-quality materials like fiberglass, carbon fiber, high-density Polyethylene, or Kevlar. 


A perfect lightweight kayak is all about physics. The length, width, bottoms, and tops are all carefully designed to deliver optimal performance. 

Shorter boats are much better for maneuverability. Generally, most lightweight kayaks have better maneuverability because, well, they weigh less.

Longer boats (and heavier boats) are better suited for calm waters and long journey durations. They’re also better for multi-day trips as you can bring more gear and equipment along for the kayak ride. 

When considering which dimensions to look for, also consider your experience, water type (calm water versus sea water), journey duration, and so forth. All these components will indicate what depths and widths to pursue. 

Stop Scrolling and Start Paddling! 

Purchasing a lightweight kayak is one of the most liberating experiences a solo kayaker can have. The reduced weight will allow you to embark on more solo adventures — not to mention the perk of bringing your kayak with you anywhere, anytime. 

You can also learn how to make your kayak more stable for a comfortable journey. The right paddling technique is one of the most important aspects that play a role in the kayak’s stability.

What are you waiting for? Grab your kayak and hit that lake, river, or ocean to have the time of your life! 

Are you looking to learn more? Sign up for our email newsletter for tips, tricks, and insights for your next grand kayak adventure! 

Categories: Kayaking

Colleen Glennon

Colleen is a writer and explorer based in Los Angeles CA. As a former East Coaster, Colleen grew up snowboarding, skiing, snow shoeing, and ice skating. Once she packed up her gear and moved to the West Coast, she fit right into Los Angeles surf and skate culture. She's particularly excited about trying out new extreme sports and telling her friends, family, or anyone on the Internet how fun it was - and how you can have fun with it, too. When Colleen's not at home writing, you'll find her in shredding Malibu waves, hiking with her fiance and Belgian Malinois, planning her next adventure abroad, or trying out her new snorkeling gear.


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