Kayak Carts 101 E-mail
Monday, 24 January 2011 19:46

  Wheeling a kayak via kayak

 
 
Whether you transport your kayak only a few feet to a launch or portage your kayak through the woods to get to your favorite fishing hole, a kayak cart can not only make your life easier but save a potential injury from lifting and carrying your fishing kayak, which when rigged up and can be in excess of a 100 pounds.  Lets explore the different options for wheeling your kayak to and from the water.

 

My first set of wheels was a homemade job made from an old Big-Wheel, those old plastic wheels actually worked pretty well - even on sand, total cost was around $10 bucks but eventually it fell apart and I decided that buying a kayak cart was a better way to go for me. The Internet has many how-to’s on building a kayak cart using everything from PVC to pool noodles and you might like to tackle a project like this and save a few bucks.

 

Whether you are going to build or purchase (cost from $75 to $200 for a new kayak cart), the first thing you will have to decide on what kinds environments the cart will be used for and what wheels will benefit you the most. There are many different sizes and materials used and each has different applications. 

 

 

Plastic Tires

plastic wheel for kayak carts 

Advantages

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to stow
  • Price
  • Works well on paved surfaces
  • Wont go flat

 

Disadvantages

  • Narrow ones wont work on the sand.

 

Pneumatic Tires (air filled)

air wheel for kayak carts 

Advantages

  • Can be used on any surface
  • Air pressure can regulated for different terrains

Disadvantages

  • Tires can go flat
  • Pressure seal can fail (tire will not be able to aired up)

 

Foam Filled

 wheel for kayak carts 

Advantages

  • Can be used on any surface
  • Never goes flat

Disadvantages

  • Cannot regulate air pressure
  • More expensive

 

Balloon Tires

 Balloon tire for kayak carts

Advantages

·         Nothing competes with them on sand

 

Disadvantages

·         Expensive

·         Can go flat

·         Tires can puncture on rocky or jagged surfaces 

 

Once you’ve decided on what tires you want, you’ll have to make the choice on cart style.  Some considerations are – do you want to be able to stow your cart in the kayak hatch after use? If so, then you will have to look a style that breaks down easily and fits in your front hatch, this is especially important to somebody who plans on portaging their kayak long distances and doesn’t want to have to track back to the vehicle to store the cart. An option if the cart does not fit into the front hatch is to carry it on your kayak while on the water. 

KayakJohn has a big wheel cart strapped to the front of his kayak

It is also important when buying a cart to consider the frame width and the wheel clearance.  A narrow frame can flip if on uneven ground (it has happened to me and its not fun) and a low frame can make it hard to get through softer surfaces.


Balloon kayak wheels

 

Kayak carts basically come in 3 different styles and each has its advantages and disadvantages. 

 

End kayak carts

End Carts: As the name implies, these carts are placed over the end of the kayak and work with no strapping or attaching to kayak. These are usually very easy to go on and off and can be a good choice for some kayaks. Some wider kayaks will not work with this style so make sure you pay attention to the specs before you buy one. This design usually does not break down as easy as other style carts.

center kayak carts 

Strapped Carts: These are kayak carts that function by placing the kayak on the cart and strapping the kayak to it. You do so the same way you'd strap your kayak to the vehicle roof rack. I have used many different versions of this style and it works very well with many kayak design. Getting the kayak on top of cart can sometimes be challenging and getting one that has a “kick stand” can be very helpful because it'll hold the cart upright while putting the kayak on.  Remember you are going to have to lift the kayak onto the cart.  One disadvantage to this cart type is that the straps can come loose and some carts style even requires 2 straps to hold the kayak in place during transport. Some carts have the straps built into the frame of the cart while others just have separate straps that attach to the cart while fastening.  These carts do give you the advantage of positioning the kayak anywhere on the cart.  This allows you to move the cart toward the center for better balance.  You can position it in such a way that there isn't very much weight on the front and this will make it much easier to roll the kayak.


 scupper kayak carts

Plug In Carts: These carts plug into the scupper holes of your sit-on-top kayak – usually in the tankwell or seat area scupper holes.  There was a time when this style was frowned on because it was believed that putting stress on the scupper holes of kayak was a bad idea and could damage this fragile area, I never had an issue in my use with this cart style and never heard a kayak company warn against it.  A plug-in style can also be easily installed alone by just turning the kayak on its side and inserting the frame and rolling the kayak back over. Some kayaks have very small scupper holes so you have to make sure the cart will fit in.  Some kayak manufactures make plug in carts for their respective line but remember that these are usually not adjustable and cant be used on other kayaks.

 

A kayak cart is must have in your kayak fishing arsenal and can enable you to launch in places that a not accessible to you without wheels. Whether you decide to build your own or purchase one it's a very good investment.

 

 

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