The 6 Best Lightweight Kayaks in 2020 [Ultimate Guide]

Transporting a kayak is one of the issues every kayaker faces. It can be a burden, especially with the heavy kayaks that they require so much energy to get into the water. 

Wasting so much effort on transporting your vessel can make you lose your interest in touring and exploring new rivers. This is why having a lightweight, hence; a more portable option is crucial for having the best adventures. 

Do you want to pick out a lightweight kayak? Just leave it all to us. We did our research and ended up with some exceptional options. Make sure to check the help section so that you can make an informed decision, but before you do, let’s sneak a peek at the six best lightweight kayaks on the market. 

Comparison Table:

KayakTypeMaterial  DimensionsMaximum Capacity Weight 
Oru Foldable KayakSit-in  UV-resistant High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) 33 x 12 x 29 in. (folded)400 lbs.34 lbs.
Intex Challenger K1Sit-in 30-Gauge Vinyl108 x 30 x 13 in.220 Ibs.25 lbs.
ADVANCED ELEMENTS AdvancedFrame SportSit-in  PVC-Coated Polyester with Aluminum Ribs125 x 30 x 10 in. 
250 lbs.26 lbs.
Sevylor Quikpak K1 Sit-on-top21-Gauge PVC with Tarpaulin Bottom103 x 36 x 30 in.400 lbs.18 lbs.
SUN DOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Sit-inUV-Stabilized High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)120 x 30 x 13 in.250 lbs.40 lbs.
Sevylor Coleman ColoradoSit-in18-Gauge PVC with  Tarpaulin Bottom120 x 36 x 19 in.470 lbs.41 lbs.

The 6 Best Lightweight Kayaks in 2020 

1. Oru Foldable Kayak – Best Overall 

 Oru Foldable Kayak

Oru is becoming one of the leading Kayak manufacturers owing to its high-quality, affordable, and portable products. This model is only 34 pounds, which is less than half the weight of a traditional kayak, yet it offers ample storage and good stability. 

Oru claims that the kayak can handle up to 20,000 folds in its lifetime. This means that you don’t have to worry about the abrasions that usually occur with foldable kayaks. In other words, it’s durable enough to last for years even with consistent folding. 

The polypropylene that’s used to build up the vessel is of high quality with UV-protection. It’s resistant to abrasion and puncture and it’s ideal for intermediate and advanced kayakers who can make use of the high maneuverability. 

The design of the kayak makes it comfortable for most average size anglers. It features a decent cockpit for entering and existing. The seat is well-constructed and can withstand bumps and scrapes. You can adjust it to find the most comfortable position during your trip. 

Despite the compact design, the Oru Foldable kayak features a 300-pound weight capacity. This is more than what a single kayaker needs to bring their essential fishing gear and personal gadgets like phones, wallets, and cameras. 

The kayak is fast and  performs well under different environmental conditions. Although it’s designed for calm water, you can use it for some advanced edging. It comes with its own carrying case and a convenient handle.  

Pros: 

  • Excellent design 
  • Resistant to puncture and abrasion 
  • UV-protected 
  • Easy assembly 
  • Ample storage 
  • Comes with a carrying case 
  • No roof rack needed 

Cons: 

  • Inconvenient for large bodies
  • Expensive

Our Verdict 

The Oru Foldable kayak has a sleek design. It’s a durable and reliable vessel for anyone looking for a worthy lightweight kayak. It comes with a 1-year limited warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can be sure you’ll be putting your money in the right place. 


2.  Intex Challenger K1- Most Affordable

Intex Challenger K1

The Intex Challenger K1 is another excellent option to opt for when you’re looking for a high-quality lightweight kayak. Unlike the previous model, the challenger K1 comes at a tempting price, and it’s one of the top featured kayaks at less than $500.

It has a robust construction with a rigid body that’s made from 30-gauge vinyl and weighs only 25 pounds. Also, it has an l-beam floor that’s designed to enhance stability. The overall design of the kayak makes it capable of handling some tough turns. However, it’s not the best option for rough waters. 

The kayak doesn’t offer much in terms of storage, but the available space is sufficient to bring all the necessary fishing tools. There’s a cargo net in front of the seat. The overall weight capacity shouldn’t exceed 220 pounds. 

In terms of comfort, the padded seat will guarantee you a backache-free trip as it’s adjustable with an inflatable backrest. The cockpit is wide enough to handle large bodies. 

The value of the Intex Challenger K1 doesn’t stop at its performance. Being an inflatable kayak, Intex made sure to include a high-pressure pump in the package. You can get the kayak ready for getting into the water in less than 5 minutes. Moreover, there’s an included paddle that’s good enough to get you through a couple of months. 

The warranty includes the first 90 days from the day of purchase. Although this isn’t as long as that provided by other manufacturers, you can extend it.

Pros: 

  • Sturdy construction 
  • UV-resistant 
  • Comes with a cargo net to keep your tools safe 
  • Included pump and a paddle 

Cons: 

  • The included paddle is of poor quality 
  • 90-day warranty only 

Our Verdict 

The Intex Challenger K1 is an excellent lightweight kayak, especially for beginners who need an affordable option. You don’t have to go through the hassle of finding a good pump to prepare the kayak before your trips.


3. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame – Best for Rivers 

Advanced Elements Convertible Inflatable Kayak

The Advanced Elements is a user-friendly kayak. It has a compact design, and it’s easy to inflate and deflate. Unlike most of the inflatable kayaks on the market that feature six inflation chambers, this kayak only features 4, which facilitates the process of getting it ready for the water.

Another thing that makes the Advanced Elements one of the best lightweight kayaks is the incorporated additional rib-frame. Although it makes the vessel a little bulkier than other models in its 26-pound weight range, it adds a great value to its stability. It has a sturdy outline with a rigid hull that can withstand some abuse. 

Moreover, the small size of the kayak boosts maneuverability. You can do some advanced tracking and turning. Besides, the supportive seat allows anglers to put more power into their strokes. The performance of the kayak is outstanding even when compared to its hardshell counterparts. 

A weight capacity of 250 pounds isn’t the best, yet it’s more than that provided with the Intex Challenger K1. The model is more of a recreational option for occasional anglers who are looking for convenient kayaks that are easy to use. Tall anglers and those who have large bodies can find it a little cramped. 

Although the kayak is listed as one of the options suitable for “universal water conditions,” it will be hard to manage in whitewater. Because it lacks a spray cover, it meets more requirements of calm water -like Class-I rivers or lakes- than waters of strong currents. 

Pros: 

  • Compact design that’s easily stored 
  • Enhances tracking and turning 
  • Supportive seats for powerful strokes 
  • Excellent performance 

Cons: 

  • No spray cover 
  • The cockpit is a little too confined for some anglers 

Our Verdict 

The Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame is a reasonably priced, recreational kayak. You can keep it in the trunk of your car without taking much space, and you definitely don’t need a roof rack to transport it. 


4. Sevylor Quikpak K1 – Best Storage Capacity

Sevylor Quikpak K1

The Sevylor Quikpak K1 is another strong vessel on our list. It weighs 18 pounds and features a PVC body with a tarpaulin bottom, which makes the kayak resistant to puncture. 

For this reason, it’ll be able to handle some rough rocks without affecting the durability of your unit. Moreover, it features multiple air chambers to ensure the user’s safety, even if one of the air champers was damaged on the trip.

The performance of the kayak is much better in calm water. You shouldn’t put the kayak to the test with high turbulences or bad environmental conditions. As mentioned, it can withstand a little abuse, but nothing extreme.  

One of the greatest advantages of this kayak is that it features a sit-on-top seat that can handle even the largest bodies. The seat can be adjusted to allow a more comfortable position. There’s a backrest to support your back and avoid backaches. The footrests are adjustable as well, so you can have a relaxed posture on your trip. 

Moreover, the weight capacity is another astonishing aspect that we should point out. At 400 pounds, you can even bring your dog if you want to. Although some anglers think that the higher weight capacity would come at the expense of maneuverability, this will never be the case here. 

Thanks to the decent arrangement and efficient use of the available space, you’ll always have control over the vessel, and it’s designed in a way that allows the user to bring as many gears as needed without jeopardizing the directionality or the speed. 

The packaging of the kayak adds more value to the money you pay. There’s an included high-pressure pump to help you inflate it in a couple of minutes. Also, Selvylor included double lock valves to facilitate both the inflation and deflation processes. 

Pros: 

  • Sturdy bottom to avoid puncture 
  • Ample storage 
  • Multiple air chambers 
  • Double lock valve system to enhance inflation and deflation 
  • Comes with its own high-pressure pump 
  • Affordable 

Cons: 

Not suitable for strong water currents 

Our Verdict 

The Sevylor Quikpak K1 is an excellent alternative for the Oru Foldable kayak we talked about earlier. It’s more affordable and has a different seating design that makes it a better option for anyone who doesn’t like sitting in a cockpit. 


5. SUN DOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 – Best Hardshell Kayak

Sun Dolphin Aruba

SUN Dolphin is a popular kayak manufacturer, and the Aruba 10 is one of their lightest models. The kayak has a decent construction. It’s made from UV-resistant polyethylene, which gives it its strength and durability. 

Although this kayak has a compact design, it doesn’t compromise comfortability. The seat can be adjusted to find an easy pose on your trip while the footpeg has multiple positions to maximize your comfort. 

The kayak features a carrying handle that will allow you to get it into and out of the water. It’s the longest vessel on the list (10 feet), which adds a lot to its speed. Even though this kayak is one of the largest on the list, it can be easily car-racked on even the smallest cars without any issues when it comes to transportation. 

It should be mentioned that this kayak isn’t the best when it comes to maneuverability. It won’t bother any beginner, but experienced anglers will be disappointed with the directionality and the turning ability.

It has a decent overall performance at a reasonable speed. The hull is wide with a spacious cockpit. The weight of the kayak is only 40 lbs., and it offers a maximum capacity of 250 lbs. This capacity is enough for you to take your necessary tools. 

One thing that you might struggle with if you want this kayak for fishing is the lack of a portable accessory carrier and a rod holder. On the other hand, it’s a better option for occasional kayakers. 

Pros: 

  • Easily stored 
  • fast
  • Can be car-racked on even the smallest cars 
  • High stability 
  • Adjustable footrests and seats 

Cons: 

  • Lacks a rod holder and an accessory carrier 
  • The seat isn’t padded 
  • The storage compartment is hard-to-reach 

Our Verdict 

The SUN DOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 is a decent lightweight kayak. It doesn’t offer much for those who want a kayak for fishing, yet it’s a convenient option for beginners or those who like to enjoy kayaking every now and then. 


6. Sevylor Coleman Colorado – Best for Fishing 

Sevylor Coleman Colorado

The Coleman Colorado is another excellent Sevylor kayak that has a relatively lightweight, at least considering its features. 

Just like the previous Sevylor model, this one features a PVC body with a dense tarpaulin base. This indicates that it’s capable of withstanding sharp rocks as well. Surprisingly, this kayak has such a robust construction that it’s stronger than many average quality hardshell kayaks. 

The performance of the Sevylor Coleman is brilliant with coastline conditions that it was NMMA-certified as one of the safest fishing kayaks. Yet, it’s not a good option for ocean fishing. 

Another thing that makes this kayak a good option for fishing is that it comes with adjustable Berkley Quick Set fishing rod holders to support hands-free fishing. Also, the 470-pound capacity will ensure that you can take all your necessities and fishing gear with you while the 41-pound weight doesn’t make it such a burden to move around.

The kayak features multiple airtight systems to avoid leakage. It comes with many extras, including paddle holders and trolling motor fittings. Also, the necessary carrying handles are included in the package. 

With a 1-year limited warranty, you don’t have to worry about replacing any damaged parts, and at less than $500, this kayak offers a great value for your money. 

Pros: 

  • Excellent construction 
  • Ample storage 
  • Comes with Berkley Quick Set fishing rod holders 
  • High stability 
  • 1-year limited warranty 

Cons: 

  • Doesn’t come with an inflation pump 
  • Not good for ocean fishing 

Our Verdict 

The Sevylor Coleman Colorado is one of the lightest kayaks for fishing. It’s slightly heavier than the other kayaks on the list, but it’s still way lighter than the standard fishing kayaks. 


What to Look for Before Buying a Kayak  

Kayak Type 

Kayaks come in two types: sit-on-top and sit-in kayaks.

Sit-On-Top Kayaks 

Sit-on-top kayaks offer a more comfortable seating option because you won’t be confined to the boundaries of the cockpit. They’re easier to get into and out from. Moreover, they offer a larger space in terms of storage. The chance of flooding is minimal with these kayaks because they’re self-bailing. 

Also, since you’ll be sitting at a higher level than that of the water, you’ll have a better chance when it comes to stroking and tracking. Another advantage of these kayaks is that they usually allow more accessories and attachments. 

Sit-In Kayaks

Sit-in kayaks are more secure than their sit-on-top counterparts. This makes them more suitable for challenging water streams. Yet, you should know that they’re not self-bailing, so they’re more prone to flooding. 

Furthermore, the seat is restricted to the area of the cockpit, so adjusting the seat might not be sufficient to make the user feel comfortable, especially for tall people. Ideally, these kayaks are used by occasional kayakers and those who face more challenging waters. 

Material 

The majority of hardshell kayaks are made from UV-protected polyethylene. It’s a rugged plastic that can withstand bumps and scrapes. Regardless, it has a significant impact on the weight of the unit. 

Contrarily, inflatable kayaks are much lighter, and they’re more portable. You can easily find options that are almost as hard-wearing as the hardshell ones. 

Additionally, Kevlar and fiberglass kayaks can offer an ultra-lightweight design. Unfortunately, they’re way more expensive than other materials that are alternatively used in kayak manufacturing. 

Size and Dimensions 

The size is one of the most crucial factors that affect the weight of the kayak. It’s simple math, the bigger the size, the heavier you should expect the kayak to be. 

If you have a body that’s larger than average, you’ll have to settle for some extra weight. This is the only way to ensure a comfortable trip in a spacious cockpit. If you desperately need a lightweight kayak despite the body size, then an inflatable, sit-on-top option will be your best shot. 

Average bodies, on the other hand, can fit into sit-in kayaks effortlessly. However, choosing the right size or dimension doesn’t only depend on your body size. You have to consider the performance of the kayak as well. 

If your priority is speed, then you should opt for a long vessel with a narrow keel. These models are ideal for excursion and touring. Meanwhile, the shorter kayaks that feature a V-shaped hull offer superior maneuverability, so they’re more appropriate for whitewater. It should be noted that the shorter models tend to tip easily because of the higher acceleration.

Lastly, you should consider a wide model if you’re looking for stability. These kayaks are designed for fishing or hunting. Go for a flat or catamaran-style hull for the maximum possible stability, but be ready to compromise for a slower speed as a trade-off.   

Weight Capacity

Usually, the more weight capacity the kayak supports, the better. Yet, that’s not the case when you’re looking for a lightweight kayak. If you think about it, the more weight you carry, the heavier your unit will be. In addition, the included tank wells and storage hatches will remarkably increase the weight of your unit. 

With that being said, it’s better to stick to the average weight capacity needed without settling for less or more than your actual requirements. Most of the kayaks on the list are designed for touring and long-distance trekking, so they don’t offer massive weight capacities. You should only consider a larger storage space if you’re willing to use the kayak for fishing.     

Price 

Most of the lightweight kayaks are inflatable units, which cost less than the hardshell ones. If you’re not serious about kayaking, then don’t invest too much in this, especially if you’re just starting out, and you’ll put your kayak through some harsh treatment until you gain enough experience. 

As for professional kayakers, a high-quality, yet lightweight option can cost you more than $1000. Whether it’s worth it or not depends on the kayak itself in terms of performance and durability. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I Need to Wear a PFD in a Lightweight Kayak?

Of course, yes! You need to wear a PFD in any kayak you use. It’s the only way to ensure your safety while exploring different rivers.

Are Lightweight Kayaks Stable?

Some kayaks are more stable than others. It depends on their size and design. A wider option with a flat hull will be more stable than its narrow counterparts.

How Long Do Foldable Kayaks Last?

If you treat a foldable kayak well, it can last for a lifetime. However, with regular use and the frequent minor accidents, it can last for up to 10 to 12 years before you need to replace it.  

Final Thoughts 

Whereas the choice is yours, we believe that the Oru Foldable Kayak is the best option for serious kayakers. It’s a little too pricey, but the high performance and durability make it worthy. 

The Intex Challenger K1 and Sevylor Quikpak K1 offer an outstanding experience, and they have many features in common with the Oru Foldable Kayak. They’re designed for beginners and occasional kayakers who are looking for affordable options. 

Whichever way you go, we’re sure that these kayaks will do a great job if they’re put in the right place. After having learned all about the best lightweight kayaks on the market, we hope  you can make an informed decision. 

Categories Kayaks