Are you the type who’s always wanted to get out on the water for some fun and a little bit of exercise but have always been put off by the thought of transporting a big, heavy kayak all over the place? Are you looking for a short or lightweight kayak to fit your lifestyle?
Time to put away the excuses!
We’ve compiled a list of the best short and lightweight kayaks to get you on the water with minimal hassle.
Click on the Table of Contents to paddle straight for the review that interests you the most.
Table of contents
- A brief look at the best short, lightweight kayaks
- Short kayaks vs. long kayaks
- The best short and/or lightweight kayaks
- ✅Best Short Fishing Kayak: BKC FK 184 9′ Sit On Top Kayak
- ✅Best Lightweight Kayak: Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak with Deluxe Package
- ✅Best Short, Lightweight Recreational Kayak: Pelican Maxim 100x Sit-In Recreational Kayak
- ✅ Most Innovative Short, Lightweight Kayak: Oru Inlet Foldable Kayak
- ✅ Most Affordable Lightweight Kayak: Intex Explorer K2
A brief look at the best short, lightweight kayaks
There are obvious benefits to short and light weight kayaks, most of which have to do with portability and storage.
It’s easier to haul and carry a light weight kayak, especially if you mostly plan on kayaking solo. Some of us don’t have huge SUVs that can fit all the gear we please but rather a Toyota Prius instead.
Not to mention that we don’t all have single family homes with 2 car garages and a large backyard where we can store all of our outdoor gear. Some people live in apartment buildings with stairs and street parking.
The thought of trying to lug a 14 foot, 65-pound kayak up and down a stairwell every time we want to use it is about as appealing as going skinny dipping in the Arctic Ocean!
With that being said, I know people are short on time as well as space so here’s a brief overview of the best short and/or lightweight kayaks for the money:
- BKC FK 184 9′ Sit On Top Fishing Kayak – One of the shortest fishing kayaks on the market. Comparatively lightweight versus other SOT fishing kayaks. Fully loaded, great for solo paddlers.
- Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak, 26 pounds – Lightweight but still durable with a 500 pound capacity. Compact, transportable, and easy to use.
- Pelican Maxim 100X Sit-In Recreational Kayak – Lightweight and easy to carry, this kayak is perfect for advanced beginner or intermediate recreational paddlers.
- Oru Inlet Foldable Kayak – You’ll turn heads with this unique, one-of-a-kind origami kayak. Light as a feather, stiff as a board. The Oru Inlet clocks in at 9’8″ and a barely there 20 pounds!
- Intex Explorer K2 – Big fun in an affordable, little, and lightweight package. Double your fun with a second paddler in this surprisingly spacious 10 foot long kayak.
Short kayaks vs. long kayaks
There are some downsides, however, to shorter kayaks.
Overall, they are not as fast as a longer kayak.
You’re not going to get anywhere in a hurry with most small kayaks for numerous reasons related to physics that I won’t go into here but you can read more about here.
The other big drawback to small, lightweight kayaks is tracking. They are less aerodynamic and tend to wag from side to side more than a longer kayak that will paddle straighter.
That being said, they do turn better than most longer kayaks so they are easier to maneuver in smaller waterways and channels if need be.
Like all kayaks, it will ultimately come down to personal choice based on what your storage situation is, your height/weight, the bodies of water you’ll be using it on, and what your ultimate purpose is for kayaking.
Here’s a handy chart of the basic differences between short kayaks vs. long kayaks. This is intended for general purposes only and can vary depending on many factors.
Now that we’ve established the important differences between short kayaks vs. long kayaks, let’s figure out which small lightweight kayak will suit you best.
The best short and/or lightweight kayaks
✅Best Short Fishing Kayak: BKC FK 184 9′ Sit On Top Kayak
With the FK 184, paddlers get a 9′ long kayak that tips the scales at approximately 44 lbs. The boat can accommodate up to 330 lbs in weight and it has a 32” width for added stability as you paddle. All things considered, this kayak offers a great mix of weight savings and portability both on and off the water.
BKC crafted the FK 184 out of their proprietary single-piece roto-molded HDPE plastic. That might sound like a bunch of technical jargon, but this means that the boat offers some of the best durability in its class.
Additionally, BKC engineered this kayak with anglers in mind. It comes with a spacious sit-on-top design with plenty of space for casting lines and storing gear. In fact, the boat has 4 flush-mounted rod holders, 1 articulating rod holder, and multiple large water-resistant hatches for stashing your tackle box and other gear.
Another benefit of the BKC 184 is its wide, mostly flat hull. Thanks to this design, the boat offers exceptional stability in flat water. The company advertises it as a boat that you can even stand up on if you want a better angle for casting lines.
Other advantages of this kayak include its memory foam seat for all-day comfort. The boat also has a set of carry handles for easy transport and a built-in paddle keeper system for extra convenience on the water.
That being said, while the BKC FK 184 is a pretty solid kayak, some taller paddlers may find that its molded foot pedals are too short for their needs. This is especially important for paddlers over 6’ tall to take note of, but it’s worth paying attention to if you have particularly long legs.
Despite its shortcomings, however, the BKC FK 184 9’ Kayak is still a top performer for paddlers that want a versatile and reliable boat for any flatwater adventure.
- Kayak will NOW ship to your home for FREE! contact 212-960-8428 with any questions.
- The Kayak Weighs about 45 Pounds and can Hold up to 250 Pounds
- Includes 2 piece lightweight aluminum paddle and deluxe kayak seat
- 2 sealed hatches for extra gear and tackle storage, 4 flush mount fishing rod holders with caps
- Bungee paddle park for paddle storage, 4 carrying handles (bow, stern port and starboard)
✅Best Lightweight Kayak: Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak with Deluxe Package
Naturally, the most lightweight kayak is going to be an inflatable kayak. Inflatables have been taking the world by storm in recent years due to advancements in technology that make inflatable watercraft like iSUPs, rafts, canoes, and even catamarans just as durable and seaworthy as their hard construction brethren.
It used to be that inflatables were little more than pool toys, not serious recreational vessels, but not anymore! Inflatables are fast becoming the go-to model for all sorts of water crafts due to their lightweight but durable nature and supreme transportability.
The Sea Eagle SE-330 Inflatable Kayak is certainly no different. While this kayak is lightweight, weighing in at a mere 26 pounds, it inflates up to a length of just over 11 feet long. With a weight capacity of 500lbs, the Sea Eagle is billed as big enough for two people to kayak in.
That being said, due to the inflatable chambers taking up interior space when they are inflated, the actual seating area is only nine and a half feet long and 13 inches wide.
Most people agreed that despite its length and weight capacity, it’s too cramped to comfortably seat two people for long stretches of time. Many recommended that if you are looking for a roomier inflatable tandem kayak to upgrade to the SE-370 version of the same kayak.
Otherwise, most people were very impressed with the sturdiness and ruggedness of this kayak.
Many reviewers even commented after having owned the kayak for 5 years or more just as satisfied as the day they bought it. It’s able to handle up to Class III rapids as well as tracks well in flat water and is super easy all around, including being easy on the wallet.
Not to mention, Sea Eagle offers a fantastic 3-year warranty and superb customer service that left customers very satisfied even if there were some problems with their gear.
The only negative that was oft repeated was that this kayak tends to get blown around a bit by a gusty wind or strong current. Being that it is a lightweight, inflatable kayak, this shouldn’t be surprising. Most said you can overcome this with some stronger strokes, but it’s worth noting if you frequently encounter windy conditions where you paddle.
If kayak weight is the biggest consideration for you when purchasing a yak, then the Sea Eagle SE-330 Inflatable Kayak should be at the top of your list. Lightweight but still able to perform well under various conditions, this kayak will withstand the test of time and give you great bang for the buck.
✅Best Short, Lightweight Recreational Kayak: Pelican Maxim 100x Sit-In Recreational Kayak
Designed to help you make the most of your time on the water without breaking the bank, the Pelican Maxim 100X Sit-In Recreational Kayak is a superb option for the budget-conscious paddler.
The Maxim 100x features Pelican’s proprietary twin-arched multi-chine hull for improved stability as you paddle. At the same time, the slightly V-shaped nature of the bow and stern on this kayak allows it to track better than most boats in its class.
Tipping the scales at just 38 lbs and measuring 10’ in length, the Maxim 100x is a decidedly light and portable boat. Despite its light weight, this kayak doesn’t skimp where durability is a concern. In fact, it’s made with a high molecular weight polyethylene and impact-resistant RAM-X materials, which provide it with extra ruggedness without adding extra weight.
As far as comfort is concerned, the Maxim 100x brings its A-game. This kayak has a fully adjustable ERGOFORM padded backrest and seat cushion for lumbar support as you paddle. It also has adjustable footrests to provide you with a more ergonomic paddling position.
Plus, while many sit-in kayaks can feel a little constraining to sit in, the Maxim 100x is built with a particularly large cockpit. It also comes with a nifty cockpit table that includes a bottle holder and a handful of useful compartments for gear storage.
Gear storage isn’t much of an issue with this kayak, either. It comes with a large rear tank well and a front hatch to provide you with plenty of space to stash your gear during your adventures. There’s also a rear flush-mounted rod holder and a front articulated rod holder so you can maximize the number of lines you have in the water.
The Maxim 100X generally gets rave reviews from paddlers, we should note that it has a relatively low maximum weight limit of 275 lbs. Since it’s best not to load a kayak beyond about 80% of its stated capacity for maximum performance, this boat is better for paddlers under 220 lbs.
However, if you’re looking for a fun sit-in kayak that’s short, portable, and affordable, it’s hard to imagine a more suitable choice than the Pelican Maxim 100x Sit-In Recreational Kayak
- Lightweight and easy to carry with Front and Rear T-Handles for Easy Transport this Sit-In kayak has a maximum capacity of 275 lb. / 125 KG
- Includes a Storage hatch with bungee cord and a Storage Platform with a Mesh Deck Cover to store all your gear for your trip on the water
- The Shallow V Chine hull Design provides good stability and maneuverability while providing very good performance.Do not use chemical products or abrasives
- Includes a Cockpit Table with bottle holder, Molded Footrests for Comfort and Secure Foot Bracing and a drain plug preventing water infiltration
- The ERGOFORM Seating System includes a padded seat cushion and an adjustable padded backrest cushion providing better support
✅ Most Innovative Short, Lightweight Kayak: Oru Inlet Foldable Kayak
Undoubtedly the most unique boat in our review, the Oru Inlet is a foldable kayak that makes transporting your paddle craft to and from the put-in as easy as can be.
As is the case with all Oru kayaks, the Inlet is crafted out of the company’s 5 mm thick double-layered polypropylene material. This material is UV treated and it’s highly puncture-resistant. It’s actually been tested to hold up to at least 20,000 uses, so it’s just as rugged as a classic plastic kayak.
In addition to being 9’8” long, the Inlet is one of the lightest kayaks on the market. It weighs just 20 lbs, so it’s easy enough to bring on any adventure. Plus, this kayak is designed to fold down into its own carry case, so you can pack it into the trunk of your car or even into your duffle bag.
When it comes to the boat’s performance on the water, the Inlet doesn’t disappoint. This kayak is crafted for flat water use and, as such, it comes with a wide, mostly flat hull that provides ample stability as you paddle.
Furthermore, the Inlet features a huge open cockpit design. While it’s technically a sit-in kayak, this boat’s huge cockpit provides more than enough space for comfort on the water. It actually has enough space to fit a handful of drybags or even your dog, so you can make the most of your time outside.
If that wasn’t enough, the Inlet is also one of the easiest Oru kayaks to assemble. This boat has been specifically designed to cut your assembly time down to about 5 minutes, so you can spend less time prepping your kayak and more time paddling it.
Even though the Oru Inlet is revolutionary, we should mention that this is a fairly pricey kayak. It also has a maximum weight capacity of only 275 lbs and it’s not suitable for paddlers that are taller than 6’2”. Also note that this kayak has no fishing rod holders, so it’s not ideal for anglers.
Nevertheless, if you’re okay with spending a little more to get one of the most portable kayaks available, it’s hard to go wrong with the Oru Inlet.
✅ Most Affordable Lightweight Kayak: Intex Explorer K2
Blending portability and affordability into one great package, the Intex Explorer K-2 is a fan-favorite inflatable kayak that’s ready for any flatwater outing.
The Explorer K-2 weighs in at a miniscule 37 lbs, despite its 10’ length and 2 paddler capacity. It can also support an impressive 400 lbs of weight, making it a nice choice for tandem paddlers and a decent amount of gear.
Intext designed this boat with fun and recreation in mind, so they gave it a streamlined construction and a mostly flat hull for stability. The boat also comes with a removable skeg for improved tracking as you paddle from place to place.
If durability is a concern, the Explorer K-2 has you covered. It’s made from an extra-thick vinyl that’s decidedly puncture-resistant. The boat also has an inflatable I-beam floor that gives it additional rigidity and performance on the water.
Even though it’s only 10’ long, this kayak has enough room for up to 2 paddlers. Its tandem inflatable seats provide critical lumbar support while its wide, open cockpit ensures that everyone feels comfortable during their travels.
Intex also engineered the Explorer K-2 with a set of nifty Boston valves. When combined with the boat’s included high output pump, most paddlers find that they can get the Explorer out on the water in just a few minutes. After you paddle, the whole kayak also packs down into a small carry case for easy storage and transport.
While the Explorer K-2 overall gets good reviews from paddlers, many note that the included skeg needs a better adhesive to stick to the hull. Some also mention that the included paddles are a bit short for a kayak of this width.
All things considered, though, the Intex Explorer K-2 is a comfy and budget-friendly inflatable kayak that’s super fun to have out on the water.
- Comfortable for anyone: Kayak includes an adjustable inflatable seat with backrest; Cockpit designed for comfort and space
- Dimensions: Inflated size 10 feet 3 x 3 feet x 1 feet 8 inch; Maximum weight capacity: 400 pounds
- Directional stability: Removable SKEG for directional stability
- Increased visibility: In case of emergency, bright yellow color helps visibility
- Made for smaller bodies of water: Explorer k2 is made for smaller bodies of water including lakes and mild rivers
If kayak length or size is a deciding factor for you when purchasing a kayak, then consider this the ultimate guide for you. Never stare longingly at another kayak again wishing you could find one that suits your downsized space or wonder how you would ever transport such a big heavy thing.
There are several small, lightweight kayaks on the market today that are suitable for beginners, kids, adults, and even paddlers with disabilities who need something easy to manage.
Put this handy guide to use and put those excuses away!
Last update on 2021-07-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API