Lugging your kayak over the last stretch before the waterfront can be a pain, can’t it?
Maybe you live walking distance from the beach but that doesn’t always mean you get to walk.
Most probably, you just end up traveling in your car because you can’t physically carry your ‘yak all the way.
And that’s why I wrote this article.
To help you decide on the best kayak cart that can make your entire journey effortless.
Before I get to the product recommendations though, I have something for you that’s even better:
An exhaustive checklist of stuff to watch out for.
I want to help you guys make an informed choice, which is why I suggest you pay close attention to the checklist and remember it when you’re choosing a cart.
Ready? Let’s get started.
#1 Get A Cart That Can Go Over As Many Surfaces As Possible
Think about all the surfaces you will have to carry your kayak over before you reach the water.
Concrete? Grass? Sand? Rocks?
Ideally, you should get a kayak cart that can go over all of these without much wear and tear.
This is why the tires on your cart are so important.
There are three types of tires that you’ll generally find in a kayak cart:
- Airless rubber tires
- Air filled tires
- Plastic tires
The sturdiest out of the three options, these tires are made up of closed cell foam- a material used for generally used for soundproofing.
Closed cell foam is used to make tires for low weight carriers as well because it’s thick and spongy enough to act as a substitute to a normal air filled rubber tire.
These last longer than other types of tires, and most importantly, do not puncture like the air filled variety. Roll them over rocks as much as you want!
Air Filled Tires:
Your standard air pumped rubber tires- the good thing about them, compared to the airless ones is that they are easier to push the cart with. This is because they offer less resistance against the ground than the airless tires.
The bad part, of course, is that they are prone to puncturing and need some maintenance from time to time.
These are the cheapest and least durable of the lot. Only get a cart with plastic tires if you know you are not going to go over rough or uneven terrain.
There’s one question I didn’t address earlier:
How to ensure your tires don’t get stuck in sand?
Well, the most important thing here is that you’ll need as much surface area on the wheels as possible, which is why it’s best to get a cart with wide tires.
This evenly distributes the weight of the cart and allows for greater traction over a loose surface.
Cart manufacturers keep this in mind though, so it’s not likely you’ll have an issue with moving your cart over sand.
However, if you have to choose between two carts, choosing the one with wider tires would make sense in most cases.
#2 How Much Does Your Kayak Weigh?
Generally speaking, a single man kayak can be anywhere between 30 to 60 lbs, depending on the material used. Tandem kayaks (that hold two people or more) can weigh up to 100 pounds.
The reason I elaborated on this is that manufacturers detail how much weight a kayak cart can carry, so you want to ensure you don’t exceed the limit there.
In fact, I like to leave a little margin to ensure I don’t load the cart more than 75% of it’s maximum weight limit.
Mind you- this includes gear weight, which will easily be about 20-30 pounds, or even more depending on how much stuff you usually carry.
So, if a cart is rated to carry a maximum weight of 100 pounds, don’t load it with a kayak that weighs more than 70-75 pounds, along with gear.
Last point here:
If you have Kayak that’s a bit bigger than most, you might want to consider getting two carts- just so that the weight is more evenly distributed and it’s easier to move. This’ll be especially helpful over sand, where that extra surface area is going to come in handy.
#3 The Cart Material Is Important So That It Doesn’t Rust
Ensure the frame of your cart is made up of aluminium or steel so that it does not rust. It’s going to be near water a lot of the times and you really need it to be rust free.
A lot of manufacturers do say that their products are completely rust proof, but one does hear complaints pop up here and there from consumers online.
Which is why, to be extra safe, I recommend you put an anti rust spray on the cart frame, such as this one.
Is The Cart Portable?
You should also think about where you’ll keep the cart while kayaking.
A lot of models can be fully broken down such that they can be stowed inside your kayak while on the water and then reassembled before you come back to shore.
This is where price comes in though, because most of the cheaper models only have the functionality of removing the tires- with the rest of the frame remaining intact.
The 3 Main Types Of Kayak Carts And How To Use Them
Platform Carts: Best Kayak Cart Overall
Overall, these are the most rugged and will be useful for almost everyone.
They’re called platform carts because they have literally a little platform on which the Kayak is supposed to rest when it’s fully mounted.
Here’s how you use them:
- Put the kickstand in place so that the cart doesn’t move while you’re putting the kayak on top of it.
- Next, grab the kayak from one end and place it on top of the cart such that the centre part of the kayak rests on the platform.
- Grab the other end and align the Kayak so that its sits right in the middle of the platform.
- Next, you need to grab the strap and secure the kayak against the frame of the cart.
In case you didn’t get that, here’s a short demo:
- Universal use with any kayak.
- Usually have the highest weight capacities when compared to the other two cart types.
- Where the other two cart types barely take half a minute, attaching and detaching a platform cart is a slightly time consuming process.
Tail Drag Carts: For Towing Around
These don’t seem to be the most popular carts, but if you plan on towing your kayak behind a bicycle say, a tail drag cart might just be for you.
Unlike the platform cart, these are even easier to use and they don’t require any straps.
Instead, they can easily be pressure fitted on to the end of your Kayak. Of course if you buy a platform cart, you could simply choose to install it at the end of your Kayak and use it as a tail drag cart.
That’s probably why the tail drag cart isn’t the most popular- they cost roughly the same as platform carts and can be easily replaced by them.
Scupper Style Cart: For Sit On Top Kayaks
Basically, every sit on top kayak has holes called scuppers that drain water from the kayak.
The cart simply has two small poles which can be inserted inside the scupper holes to secure the cart with the kayak.
You’re all done after that!
Really, that’s all it takes.
One major drawback of these type of carts is that you have to turn your kayak over to the side in order to attach the poles to the scupper holes. This means you can’t place any gear inside your kayak as it might fall off while attaching and detaching the cart.
Also, I suggest you buy a scupper cart that comes with padded poles- just to be extra sure that it doesn’t damage the scupper holes over time
- Takes barely any time to attach it onto the kayak.
- Kayaks can’t carry gear as they have to be turned over.
My Recommendations For The Best Kayak Carts In The Market Right Now
- C Tug: The Sturdiest Kayak Cart
This one is a platform type cart, and has excellent reviews online. Many of which mention just how heavy duty it is.
It can be completely dis-assembled and unless you have a low volume kayak, you should be able to easily carry it on board.
If you’re skeptical, take a look at this video tutorial that shows how to assemble as well as carry it inside the kayak
- Lightweight body: 10 lbs
- Amazing weight carrying capacity of 300 lbs- can even be used for some canoes
- Airless, long lasting tires.
- Heavy duty.
- Fully portable.
- Can carry any kayak with full gear. Even going by my 25% tolerance rule, you can safely carry 225 pounds on the cart!
- Premium product- not affordable for everyone.
- TMS Cart: Best Value For Money
This one by TMS is on the lower end of the average price range for a cart- which can be anywhere from $50 to $150.
- Max. weight carrying capacity: 120 lbs
- 9.5” diameter and 3.5” wide tires
- Designed to hold kayak in a v-shaped cradle with 3.5" foam bumpers on each arm
- Cradle arms connected with 13" nylon strap to prevent the cradle from opening too far
- Wildly popular product online.
- Airless tires.
- Lot of user complaints of a pungent smell from the tires that takes a week or so to dissipate.
- Only suited for small or average sized kayaks.
- Bonlo Kayak Cart
A great budget buy, if your Kayak is average sized(less than 90 lbs), then this product would be perfect for you.
- Weight carrying capacity: 165 lbs
- Airless tires: 10” diameter and 3” wide
- Airless tires don’t smell.
- Great reviews of Bonlo customer support online. Very prompt service with the few complaints of faulty products being shipped.
- Unsuitable for the bigger kayaks. Wouldn’t recommend this if you have a tandem kayak, say.
- Malone Clipper
Simply the most popular brand that manufactures kayak carts and trailers- you really can’t go wrong with a Malone product. It has an amazing weight capacity that ensures it can pretty much carry any size kayak, really.
- Weight carrying capacity: 200 LB
- Tyre diameter: 10"
- Tyre width: 3”
- Frame build: Anodized aluminum folding frame(rust-proof)
- Completely portable. Tires are removable and the rest of the frame can be fully disassembled.
- Airless tires.
- Multiple user complaints of it being a bit harder to tow than other brands.
- Malone Scupper Kayak Cart
If you have a sit-on-top kayak that’s bigger and/or wider than average, buying this product would make a lot of sense.
That’s because the one major drawback with platform style carts is that their widths aren’t adjustable- so if you have a kayak that’s wider than most, it won’t fit properly.
Luckily, scupper carts have an adjustable axle so that you can fit the poles properly inside the scupper holes, regardless of where they are placed, and however much wide apart.
- Variable axle width adjusts from 6.5" to 16.5"
- Non-corrosive aluminum frame
- 6" x 4" removable foam pad protects kayak
- Maximum weight load capacity: 200 lbs
- Tyre Diameter: 10”
- Tyre Width: 3”
- Easy to attach and detach.
- Can be brought along on water- simply invert the cart such that the poles go inside any two scupper holes. While you’ll block them from draining water, I’m sure it won’t be a big issue as long as the other scupper holes are functioning well.
- Multiple complaints around product quality.
- Few users even mentioned that the foam padding on the poles drops off easily which left their kayak scupper holes damaged.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
While your personal experience with a ‘budget’ cart that comes in the 50$ range might be good, there’s also a chance that you’ll find the product lacking.
Just spending 50 bucks extra upfront can ensure you don’t have to face the frustration of a poorly functioning cart.
The C-tug is the most well built kayak cart that I could find AND it has the highest weight carrying capacity- 300 lbs.
And even though the average kayak with all it’s gear won’t even come close to 150 lbs- with this sort of a product, you just KNOW that it won’t give up on you after a tiring couple of hours on water.