Best Kayak Cart of 2018 & Buying Guide
Kayaking takes a lot more than just a kayak: you have to consider safety gear, paddles, car mounts, and other accessories that help your experience run as smoothly as possible. One of these accessories is a wheeled kayak cart, which lets you roll your kayak from your tent, home, or car down to the water’s edge.
It’s much easier than carrying the boat yourself, and better for the kayak, too: accidentally dropping your kayak could result in scuffs, dents, or other damage.Some kayakers choose to make their carts themselves, but most purchase them online.
Because carts look very similar in photos and often share identical specs—such as materials, tires, and weight capacities—it’s hard to tell which ones are high-quality, and which would be best left in a scrap heap somewhere. In this buyer’s guide, we’ll analyze four popular and durable cart options, and answer common questions that will help shoppers make their decision.
What kind of tires do I need? Do some have advantages over the other?
Tires are one of the most important aspects of a kayak cart—after all, that’s what helps you move your craft from the car or house to the water.
There are a few tire types you’ll come across when searching for a kayak cart, each with its own pros and cons:
- Pros: Lightweight and easy to carry or store on board the kayak; cheaper; never go flat.
- Cons: Usually wear out faster; suitable for use on paved surfaces, but not good on sand or other terrain types.
- Pros: Air-filled tires with tread; air can be added or let out to suit the terrain type; lighter than foam or balloon tires.
- Cons: Can sustain flats or punctures; if pressure seal malfunctions, tire needs to be replaced.
- Pros: Similar to pneumatic tires in appearance and tread, but filled with foam instead of air; can’t go flat.
- Cons: Heavier; more expensive; can’t regulate tire pressure as needed.
- Pros: Large, round tires can navigate sandy areas with ease.
- Cons: More expensive; not ideal for rocky/rough terrains, where punctures are likely; tires are larger and harder to store on the kayak.
Can I attach my cart to my bike and use it as a kayak trailer?
In most cases, yes, if your bike has a towing arm and carabiner clip to attach to your kayak’s bow. Of course, not all carts are suitable for use with a bike; the type of tires it has should be taken into consideration, too.
For paved roads, anything but balloon tires should be a good fit. If you plan on biking over bumpy/gravelly areas, consider foam-filled ones.
Can I store the cart on board the kayak and take it with me?
While some people leave their kayak carts on the shore until it’s time to unload the boat, others prefer to take their carts with them.
Models can be bungee-corded to the hull in a pinch for most kayaks, but the majority of kayak carts break down and/or fold to fit into your hull’s pre-existing tankwell storage.
I think I want to build my own kayak cart, instead. Is this possible?
DIY-ing your own kayak cart is definitely possible, but does require some skill and know-how to do so properly. Most people who build their own cart use PVC pipe, then outfit the frame with an axle, tires of their choice, and segments of foam pool noodles to protect the hull.
One bonus of PVC pipe—besides its low price—is how easily it can be taken apart and stored on board your kayak or in your car. It’s lightweight, but durable, as well.
The largest motivation to build your own kayak cart would be money: some can be built for as low as $20 to $30, while purchasing one can cost anywhere between $20 and $150, depending on the materials.
There are downsides to doing it yourself, however. If you aren’t particularly handy, you may not have the tools or abilities to get the job done properly.
For beginner kayakers, it can be hard to understand how your craft is supposed to fit on the frame. If your kayak is heavy or large, a home version could have trouble maintaining too much bulk. Lastly, there’s the issue of your time.
For some shoppers, the extra cost of purchasing a cart from a manufacturer is worth not having to build one themselves.If you like the idea of building your own cart and are pretty handy, however, doing so can be a quick, easy way to save yourself some money.
Top 5 Best Kayak Cart
1. Seattle Sports Original End Cart Review
This option from Seattle Sports can fit most kayaks, with an adjustable design and higher weight capacity than you’ll find from most carts (typically, kayak carts can handle 100-150 lbs.; this model carries up to 200 lbs.).
It’s low maintenance, with air-free tires you’ll never need to inflate or worry about popping, which comes off to store the cart on your kayak once you hit the water.
If there’s any downside to the Seattle Sports end cart, it’s the fact the wheels aren’t bigger and thicker—but that element is key in the cart’s lightweight, easily transportable nature, too. We especially recommend this to campers and hikers, who have to travel light and, sometimes, take all their gear with them when they paddle out.
2. TMS Kayak Cart Trolley Review
For a cart that’s both lightweight and able to navigate uneven terrain, consider this model from TMS. It has a strong aluminum frame and large, rugged tires, yet manages to be pretty compact and easy to carry at the same time. Its price is perfect for very low budgets, or kayakers just looking for the best possible deal on a quality cart.
Our favorite feature of the TMS cart is its spring-loaded stand. This lets it stand upright on the shore, which means unloading your kayak from the water to the cart is easier than ever. The tires are large enough to cover sand, dirt, and even gravel without a problem, but don’t stick out too far or weigh the cart down. Depending on the kayak, this model could fold up and store on board, too.
3. Bonnlo Boat Kayak Cart Carrier Review
The Bonnlo cart shares quite a few similarities with the TMS model: a spring-loaded stand, folding design, bumper arms, and durable rubber tires. It comes at a higher price, but includes bungee and tie-down straps that should perform much better.
In terms of weight capacity, it’s able to haul just a tiny bit more—which might make all the difference, to some shoppers.
We recommend the Bonnlo to kayakers who need to roll their kayak over paved or sandy surfaces, but not much else; reviews consistently rate the tires as underperforming on gravel or uneven landscapes. Other than that, this cart is a good contender. The spring-loaded stand, similar to that found on the TMS, will help when unloading your kayak from the water, and its included straps should do a much better job of securing your watercraft.
4. C-Tug Kayak or Canoe Trolley Cart Review
The C-Tug is a surprise from first to final glance. Its design is a sporty black and green that immediately catches your eye, followed by the strange shape: instead of metal arms with bumper pads, like most kayak carts have, the C-Tug has rubberized pads that cradle the hull, and can be adjusted to fit almost any kayak or canoe.
Finally, there’s the surprise you’ll only notice when you pick this cart up for the first time: it’s made almost entirely of plastic.
If you’re surprised to hear a mostly-plastic cart can be one of the most durable models on the market, you’re not the only one. We were initially skeptical, as well, but C-Tug has clearly put the best into their design. The engineering-grade polymer is definitely not your typical plastic, and should resist sun, wind, water, and impact damage just as well as aluminum or steel models. We especially love the rubberized pads that give your kayak a broader resting spot, and can be adjusted within seconds for multiple watercrafts. The only downside is its price: at two to four times the cost of most carts, the C-Tug won’t fit every budget—but does seem to be worth every cent.
5. Paddleboy Molly Kayak Cart Review
The Molly cart is one of the lightest and most compact carts you’ll find, with a simple plastic body, rubberized tires, and a narrow design that can be stowed on your kayak without breaking down the cart or folding it first.
Of course, this convenience comes with a price: not in dollars—in fact, the Molly comes at a standard cost for carts of this nature—but in versatility. According to consumer reviews, most sit-on kayaks won’t stay attached to the Molly.
We recommend the Molly to kayakers with a sit-in style watercraft that’s on the small side. Besides the fact many sit-on kayaks won’t be compatible with this model, we do think it’s got a smart design for the right boat, since it’s lightweight and easy to store without folding the frame or removing its wheels—a feature most cart manufacturer’s can’t claim.
Kayak carts make transporting your watercraft much easier, saving your arms from cramping—and your boat from accidental drops and scuffs. Buyers should consider the type of terrain they’ll need to roll their kayak over, the weight and size of their boat, and whether the frame can be folded or broken down for storage (both in the car, and on the boat, if needed).