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.
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 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 can eliminate the heavy lifting out of transporting your kayak.
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
This method of kayak transportation is convenient and easy and allows you to move your kayak along with the rest of your gear with minimal fuss (or sweat loss).
The bottom line is that 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 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.
They 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) trolley (also known as a plug-in kayak cart) attaches to the kayak via rods that fit directly in the scupper holes. These carts have fixed wheels and are often viewed as the most convenient types of 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 scupper holes are the same size so this must be taken into account when picking a sit-on-top trolley or cart. The downside to these 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 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. 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 cart.
Questions to ask yourself:
Once you have thought about your intended use of the cart, there are various factors and features to consider in order to find the best cart for you.
How are you planning to attach the cart to your yak?
If you have a sit-in kayak or canoe without scupper holes, you will want to find something with a strap or other attachment method.
If you have a sit-on top kayak, you will still be able to use strap or similar attachment method, but you may also want to consider a plug-in trolley or cart.
The wheels will determine how smoothly and effectively your 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.)
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.
Plastic wheels are adequate however if you are primarily using your cart on solid, smooth surfaces like tarmac.
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 cart to transport very heavy loads, you should consider stainless steel or aluminum. These materials are also corrosion-resistant 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 cart to salt-water so once again, corrosion-resistant material is essential.
If you’re likely to be using your 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 it 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 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 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 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 the cheaper options 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.
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 model that is in your price range.
Top Kayaking Carts
1: C-TUG Kayak or Canoe Trolley Cart
This cart dissembles 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.
The wheels are puncture-free with high grip rubber tread so you needn’t worry about using them on rough terrain.
The strong frame with its stainless steel reinforced axles can hold up to 264lbs and is non-corroding. The cart is designed to rest your kayak on rubberized pads during transportation ensuring that your kayak (regardless of whether or not it has scupper holes) stays in place and does not slip.
This cart provides a smooth journey for your vessel 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 cart comes with a tie down strap to secure your goods. It comes complete with a padded frame and stabilising locking kickstand so that your boat is protected on the move and when stationary.
The airless “never-go-flat” tires are removable so the cart transports smoothly packs away nicely. The cart can carry up to 198lbs of cargo and the frame (made of anodized aluminum) is foldable for even more convenient storage.
3: Suspenz Smart Airless DLX Cart
The Suspenz Smart Airless DLX Cart comes with a handy mesh bag that you can fold the frame into for easy transportability. The frame itself is made of aluminum with stainless steel hardware so you’re covered for all weather and waters.
This one comes with 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 wheels are made from plastic to avoid any rust and the cart can hold up to 123lbs.
4: Salamander Balloon Tire Bruneau Cart
As you may have guessed from the name, this particular cart features balloon tires. This means that it is great for rolling over 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 wheels are also detachable and the frame is foldable which allows the cart to fold away for compact storage. The frame itself is made of aluminum tubing with stainless steel fasteners so once again you’re covered for all weather.
This cart holds up to 150lbs.
5: Paddleboy Original Large Boat Cart
Suitable for most types of kayaks and canoes, this cart can hold up to 200lbs of cargo. 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 for multiple purposes.
6: Wike Kayak & Surf Sailboard Trailer
This cart is particularly useful if you’re an avid cyclist. It’s designed to attach to the rear of your 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 to be able to hold kayaks, canoes, surfboards or sailboards up to 70lbs.
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 stainless steel, this cart can hold up to 150lbs. With a long tie-down strap for attachment, it works for all kinds of kayaks and canoes.
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 cart propped up whilst you load your gear.
Another handy feature on this 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 cart can carry up to 198lbs of cargo. The frame is made of non-corrosion aluminum so needn’t worry about it rusting away in adverse weather or salt-water. It also comes complete with a removable foam pad designed to protect your kayak from getting knocked around in transit.
This 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 kayaks of different shapes and sizes (providing they have scupper holes of course).
And finally, the “Never-Go-Flat” wheels are measured at 10” and are suitable for multiple types of terrain.
9: Go2buy Boat Kayak Canoe Carrier Tote Trolley Cart
This is another cart specifically made for kayaks with scupper holes. If you’re looking to buy this cart, you need to make sure that your scupper holes are at least 3/4” in diameter, otherwise the rods will not fit.
The frame is made from durable aluminum and the spraying 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 your cart, remember to consider the following:
• Attachment method - this will largely be determined by whether or not your kayak has scupper holes.
• 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 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...