Kayaks seem to be getting lighter and lighter these days – and these models are not just for women or children, as they were in the past. These lightweight kayaks are very easy to transport singlehandedly, are much more comfortable than rigid models, are less prone to hull “wows” (small irregularities on the hull mainly caused by incorrect storage) and therefore there is less turbulence, making for a smoother paddle.
These new versions are good on ponds, lakes, rivers and the ocean. They are now generally designed in carbon, Kevlar or fiberglass. Boats constructed in these materials for those in the know rave about them because the hull is more rigid, making the boat ultra-responsive.
In the good old days, lightweight canoes were made from wood, and these are still available today – in kit form to build yourself or have made up for you. Skin-on-frame kayaks are also still being made and, while generally not too stable, there are options available to make them steadier. Both of these versions are the cheapest lightweights around.
In terms of weight savings, a regular 17’ polyethylene kayak weighs around 62 pounds, whereas a fiberglass version is only 55 pounds and a Kevlar unit is even less at 44 pounds. This equates to a difference of 43% between the plastic canoe and its Kevlar relative. A wood version would weigh in at around 38 pounds. This is clearly the best reason to go for the lighter boat, as it is easily transportable, which means that you will get out on the water much more often because you do not have to rely on somebody to help you get it on your car and lift it off at the water’s edge.
There are two cons associated with Kevlar, carbon and fiberglass boats. Firstly, they are much more costly than the ordinary and more common plastic rotomolded boats, but paying for these new materials to create a much lighter canoe will give you endless pleasure and many more hours on the water. The second fact to bear in mind is that these kayaks are quite brittle and need to be treated with the utmost care as they are easily damaged.
In conclusion, it has to be said that the new lightweight kayaks are the answer to many an oarsman’s dreams, and the additional expense will soon be repaid by your total enjoyment and extra use of your yak. Be sure to check stores for sales on these boats too, as well as all the accessories you may need.