Best Kayak Carts
Have you ever gone kayaking and found yourself absolutely exhausted before you even get the kayak into the water?
Dragging a heavy kayak from the car can be a highly physical activity, but what if there was a device that did most of the work for you?
Enter the kayak cart...
Kayak Carts: At A Glance
(these links take you to Amazon. More on the carts further below)
A kayak cart is a small frame, which attaches to wheels, that makes the transition from car to water (and vice-versa) far less troublesome. Generally, these are two wheeled devices to help you transport your kayak.
Of course, like most other kayaking accessories there are multiple types and brands to choose from. So we’ve written this article to help you find the best kayak cart for a kayak.
Why Would I Want A Kayak Cart?
Kayaking is a physical activity and can make for good exercise. But who wants to feel like they’ve been to the gym before they even get to the kayak? A kayak cart or canoe cart can eliminate the heavy lifting from carrying kayaks, particularly if you have tandem kayaks or larger kayaks. You don't really want to be spending time struggling to get it to the water.
A kayak cart can also come in handy if you’re kayaking with your family as your children can learn to transport their own kayaks without injury or overexertion. And, importantly can keep the kayak safe during long hauls.
This method of carrying kayaks is convenient and easy and allows you to transport your kayak along with the rest of your gear with minimal fuss (or sweat loss).
The bottom line is that kayak carts make for an easier and quicker transition from car to kayak so you can spend less time carrying your paraphernalia back and forth and more time enjoying your time on the water.
What Are The Different Kayak Cart Types?
Sit-In or Sit-On-Top Trolleys
Much like the kayaks themselves, kayak carts come in two major types: sit-in and sit-on-top.
A sit-in kayak trolley or cart is (you guessed it) made specifically for sit-in kayaks (along with sea kayaks and canoes) which don’t have scupper or self-draining holes built in. Although, you can also use these for sit-on-top kayaks too.
Most carts usually come with a strap which attaches to your kayak. This comes in handy if you’re looking to carry multiple items at once as you can ensure that your cargo is strapped in and secured for the journey.
A sit-on-top (SOT) kayak trolley (also known as a plug-in kayak cart or kayak dolly) attaches to the kayak via rods that fit directly in the scupper holes. This type of kayak carrier has fixed wheels and is often viewed as the most convenient type of kayak cart due to their stability.
SOT trolleys or plug-in kayak carts are designed to fit most recreational sit-on-top kayaks but of course, not all scuppers are the same size so this must be taken into account when picking a sit-on-top trolley or kayak cart. The downside to these kayak carts is that you need to turn the kayak on its side when detaching, so any gear loaded on the kayak will fall off.
Folding Cart (AKA Taildraggers)
Once again, the clue is in the name. These types of kayak carts are usually used on either the bow or stern of the kayak and can disassemble, pack down or fold away so that they are easy to transport and store at home (or even in the kayak as you paddle.)
These can be popular with campers and families as they are easy to pack (which can be a real challenge with all the other equipment required for a weekend trip or multiple types of outdoor recreation.)
What Features Should I Be Looking Out For?
There are several elements to consider when selecting a kayak cart or kayak carrier. As with any piece of kayaking equipment, your first port of call should be to consider the circumstances in which you intend to use the kayak cart or kayak dolly.
Questions to ask yourself:
Once you have thought about your intended use of the kayak cart, there are various factors and features to consider in order to find the best kayak cart for you. There are also some options that can be suitable for carrying both a kayak and canoe.
How are you planning to attach the kayak cart to your yak?
If you have a sit-in kayak or canoe without drain plugs, you will want to find a kayak carrier with cinch straps or other attachment method.
If you have a sit-on top kayak, you will still be able to use ratchet straps or similar attachment method, but you may also want to consider a plug-in trolley or plug in cart. The best kayak cart will be the one that works best for your kayak and canoe and can can keep your kayak safe and secure while you move it.
The wheels will determine how smoothly and effectively your kayak carrier or cart transports your kayak. When selecting your wheels, you should consider what kind of terrain you’re likely to encounter (tarmac, sand, grass, rocky trails etc.) as this can help you choose the best kayak cart for your environment, helping you to move your kayak effortlessly on your intended terrain.
The main two types of wheels you will encounter are plastic or balloon / inflatable wheels. In most circumstances, you are better off opting for inflatable / balloon wheels as they are more robust. They perform better on multiple surfaces because their width allows them to roll over bumps more successfully and glide over soft surfaces like sand with less trouble than thinner, plastic wheels which can sometimes be low quality. An inflatable one can be a better all terrain tire in general.
Plastic wheels are adequate however if you are primarily using your kayak cart on solid, smooth surfaces like tarmac in a parking lot. These can also be known as airless tires, which means they're puncture resistant and you won't need a tire pump.
It goes without saying that your frame needs to be robust. You’ll need to consider what type of material you’ll need for your frame based on your intended use.
If you’re likely to use your kayak cart for carrying kayaks with very heavy loads, you should consider stainless steel or aluminum. These materials are also resistant to corrosion which is very important as you’re likely to be using the cart in all sorts of weather.
You should also remember that you’re likely to expose your kayak cart to saltwater or ocean air, so once again, rust-resistant material is essential.
If you’re likely to be using your kayak cart for more than one type or brand of kayak, you’ll need to consider one with an adjustable width. If you’re only ever going to be using a kayak carrier for one type or kayak (your own) then you just need to make sure that the width is appropriate for your kayak.
Kayak & Cart Width
Of course, you don’t know what the future holds for you or your favorite kayak so a kayak cart with an adjustable width would be a safe choice in case you buy or need to transport a different kayak in the future.
Storage & Transportability
Some kayak carts can pack or fold down so that they can be stowed away whilst others don’t. Depending on the space you have in your car and home, you may want to prioritize ease of storage.
The weight of your kayak, along with the equipment you’re likely to be transporting, must also be taken into account. Some heavy duty kayak carts are capable of carrying more weight than others so it’s important to consider this factor when making your selection.
What About Cost?
Cost is always a factor to consider when purchasing any kind of equipment. If you’re not a frequent kayaker, you may be tempted to go for a cheaper kayak carrier rather than splash out on something that is top of the range.
When considering this factor, the term “buy cheap, buy twice” comes to mind. You don't want to have to deal with a heavy kayak if your cart breaks.
However, you don’t need to spend megabucks to get something that is robust, corrosion-resistant and effective. As long as you consider the other factors above, you should be able to find a kayak dolly that is in your price range.
Top Kayaking Carts
1: Railblaza C-TUG Kayak or Canoe Trolley Cart
This great kayak cart dismantles and assembles without any tools (it takes less than 1 minute) which is great for easy and quick storage within your kayak while you paddle. But this lightweight cart may be too big to fit in smaller hatches.
The wheels are puncture-free with airless tires and high grip rubber tread so you needn’t worry about using them on rough terrain.
The strong frame with its quality materials and reinforced axles has a 264lbs weight limit, ideal for large kayaks and larger craft. And it's non-corroding. The cart is designed to keep your kayak secure on rubberized pads during transportation ensuring that your kayak stays in place on the flexible saddle and does not slip.
This kayak cart provides a smooth journey for all types of kayaks, including tandem kayaks, as well as any equipment you are taking along for the ride.
2: Malone Auto Racks Malone Deluxe Universal Kayak Cart
Suitable for a sit-in kayak, canoe or sit-on-top kayak, this kayak cart comes with a tie down strap to secure your goods. It comes complete with a foam filled padded frame and stabilizing locking kickstand so that your boat is protected on the move and when stationary.
The airless “never-go-flat” durable tires are removable so the cart transports smoothly packs away nicely. This heavy duty cart has a 198lbs weight limit and the frame (made of anodized aluminum) is foldable for even more convenient storage.
It comes with a strap but you might find you need to use an additional accessories and ratchet straps or a more durable strap (all sold separately).
3: Suspenz Smart Airless DLX Cart
The Suspenz Smart Airless DLX is a heavy duty kayak cart that comes with a handy mesh bag that you can fold the frame into for easy transportability. The frame itself is made of aluminum with steel hardware and airless tires, so you’re covered for all weather and waters.
This one comes with cinch straps and buckles so you can attach your kayak and any other equipment securely. This also means that it’s suitable for both a sit-in and sit-on-top kayak. It also comes complete with rubber bumpers to protect the hull of your kayak from getting bashed around mid-transit and a kickstand for extra stability when you’re loading your kayak.
The airless wheels are made from molded plastic to avoid any rust and the cart has a weight limit of 123lbs.
4: Salamander Balloon Tire Bruneau Cart
As you may have guessed from the name, this particular kayak cart features balloon tires that are air filled. This means that it is great for rolling over soft sand or mud as the width of the tire allows it to glide easily over these kinds of soft surfaces rather than getting stuck.
The taller wheels (12 inches) are also detachable and the frame is foldable which allows the kayak cart to fold away for compact storage. The frame itself is made of aluminum tubing, for light weight, with stainless steel fasteners so once again you’re covered for all weather.
This cart has a weight limit of 150lbs.
5: Paddleboy Original Large Boat Cart
Suitable for most types of kayaks and canoes, this heavy duty kayak cart has a weight limit of 200lbs and can also be ideal for carrying John boats or larger kayaks.
The wheels on this particular cart are non-removable so the cart is easier to assemble and ready to go at all times. The frame however is able to fold so you can still store this cart relatively easily.
A handy feature on this particular model is the “snap buttons” designed so that you can extend the length of the frame from 10” to 17” at the click of a button. This is a handy feature for someone looking to use this trolley as an easy transport tool for multiple purposes.
6: Wike Kayak & Surf Sailboard Trailer
This kayak cart is particularly useful if you’re an avid cyclist. It’s designed to attach to the rear of your mountain bike so you can securely drag the kayak behind you as you cycle.
This is a fantastic feature for someone who doesn’t have access to a car but still wants to transport their kayak over a certain distance. (Of course, we don’t recommend that you drag your kayak around on busy highways, but in the right circumstances, this is a very handy feature.)
The frame and aluminum wheels can be removed and folded flat for easy storage and the two folding padded supports are designed for carrying kayaks, canoes, surfboards or sailboards with a 70lbs weight limit. So it might not be great for the heaviest kayaks.
The feature of a “Smart Stick” towing assembly is designed to attach to the seat post of your bike. The hitch will fit a post of 1” to 1.5” in diameter but your boat or board must have a bow ring, bow handle or bowline in order to be able to use this.
7: TMS Boat Kayak Canoe Carrier Tote Trolley (Budget Option)
Made of aluminum piping and anodized steel, this kayak cart comes in at a good price and has a weight limit of 150lbs. With a long tie-down strap for attachment, it works for all kinds of kayaks and canoes. However, the strap might not be sufficient to secure larger kayaks or on bumpy terrain.
It features foam bumpers on each side to protect the hull of your kayak and comes complete with a spring-loaded stand to keep the kayak cart propped up whilst you load your gear.
Another handy feature on this kayak cart is the wide pneumatic tires. These are specifically designed to provide stable support and glide smoothly over uneven terrain.
8: Malone Xpress Scupper-Style Kayak Cart
Designed to fit all standard kayaks with scupper holes, this kayak cart has a 198lbs weight limit. The frame is made of non-corrosion aluminum so needn’t worry about it rusting away in adverse weather or salt-water. The plug in cart also comes complete with a removable foam pad designed to protect your kayak from getting knocked around in transit.
This kayak cart comes with variable width locking control which is able to adjust between 6.5” to 16.5”. This is ideal for someone who’s looking to transport various recreational kayaks of different shapes and sizes.
And finally, the “Never-Go-Flat” wheels are measured at 10” and are suitable for multiple types of terrain and great on rougher surfaces.
9: Go2buy Boat Kayak Canoe Carrier Tote Trolley Cart
This is another kayak cart specifically made for kayaks with drain holes. If you’re looking to buy this kayak cart, you need to make sure that your scuppers are at least 3/4” in diameter, otherwise the rods will not fit.
The durable aluminum frame and the powder coated surface means that it is stable, robust and able to endure all weather. Able to carry up to 120lbs of cargo, it comes with a rubber bumper to ensure the kayak doesn’t get scratched or bumped in transit.
The wheels, at 9.4” are designed for easy mobility and the lightweight design ensures that it is easy to carry and transport. It is simple to assemble and easy to plug in to the kayak for a quick getaway.
Kayak carts are designed to make your life easier. They eliminate the heavy lifting and allow you to spend more time enjoying a paddle out on the water.
There are plenty of options on the market. Some are more expensive than others but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t find what you’re looking for at a reasonable price.
When selecting the best kayak cart, remember to consider the following:
• Attachment method - this will largely be determined by whether or not your kayak is self-bailing.
• Wheels - consider the terrain you’ll encounter.
• Frame - make sure the material is strong and corrosion-resistant.
• Width - in general we would recommend something with an adjustable width.
• Storage & Transportability - if you don’t have much space in your car or home, consider a kayak cart that can fold away.
If you keep these key factors at the forefront of your mind, you can’t go wrong.
Do you use a kayak cart, or are you thinking about getting one? Tell us about it below...