If you’ve ever had to carry a kayak more than 50 feet—especially by yourself—the idea of a kayak cart has probably already come to your mind. What is a kayak cart? Basically it involves putting wheels on your kayak so you can roll it around. Kind of like a wheeled caddy for a golf bag.
Hopefully you don’t have to lift your kayak very often, but if you do, say from the car to the put-in, or perhaps your house to the put-in, the idea of a kayak cart is pretty darn appealing.
Types of kayak carts
Kayak cart, kayak trolley, kayak dolly. It doesn’t matter what you call it, they all do the same thing—they get your boat to the water more easily. There are a few different styles of kayak carts, so choosing one can be a tricky prospect. Once you start looking for one, the number of options becomes overwhelming.
Trolleys are generally composed of an aluminum or plastic frame that supports the hull of your kayak and is affixed to two wheels.
A popular type of kayak trolley is the C-Tug. These carts generally feature 7- to 10-inch wheels affixed to a platform that hugs the bottom of your kayak and is held in place by a strap around the body. They’re great for uneven or sandy terrain. Because they strap to the middle of your boat, they take the majority of the weight, making it easy to wheel it around.
Some other great kayak trolley options:
- All-Terrain Super Duty Cart, by Suspenz
- KC7, by The Kayak Cart
- KC10, by The Kayak Cart
- KC11, by The Kayak Cart
- Heavy Kayak Cart, by Wilderness Systems
- Solid Wheel Cart, by Sea to Summit
- WideTrak ATB Large Kayak/Canoe Cart, by Malone Auto Racks
Kayak dollies are usually designed like a boat trailer. They are wider than a trolley and can sometimes be longer, extending the full hull of your kayak. These are great options for tandem kayaks, larger kayaks or kayaks that are loaded up with gear.
Some great kayak dolly options:
- Hobie Dolly, by Hobie
- Dolly with STD Wheels, by Trailex
- Small Aluminum Dolly, by Trailex
- Tandem Axle Universal Dolly, by Trailex
- Universal Dolly, by Trailex
While you could use your C-Tug for both your kayak and canoe, scupper carts are kayak-specific and only work on boats that have scuppers. Scuppers are holes usually found in the deck of a sit-on-top kayak to allow for water drainage. Kayak scupper carts have two arms that fit in these holes from underneath. This is a great option if you have scuppers on your boat.
Some great kayak scupper carts:
- Sit-on-top carts, by Sea to Summit
- Trax 2-30 Plug-in Cart, by Hobie
- Trax 2 Plug-in Cart, by Hobie
- Original Plug-in Cart, by Hobie
Of course, once you’ve thought of and/or used a kayak cart the next question is, does anyone make a motorized kayak cart? So far there aren’t any on the market. If you delve into the world of angling forums and beyond, you’ll find some people have made these themselves. If you’re a tinkerer, feel free to send us a video of your creation!
How to choose a kayak cart
Like buying any sporting equipment, a kayak cart needs careful consideration. What’s your budget? What’s the weight of your kayak? How often are you going to use it?
Kayak carts range from around $50 to over $1,000, so budget is a major factor. If you’re using it all the time and lifting a heavy, fully-loaded tandem kayak, perhaps you need to spend a bit more. If you’ll only use the cart three times over a summer, you can probably get away with a cheaper, smaller solution.
Storing the cart can also be an issue. You don’t want a six-foot-long kayak trolley in the middle of your condo living room all winter long, do you? Speaking with your local paddling outfitter is always a great way to get an idea of what product is best for you.
How to use a kayak cart
The kind of kayak cart you choose to go with will determine exactly how your kayak cart works. But they basically all work the same.
It’s best to place the cart close to where your boat is. If you’re lifting the boat off a vehicle, be sure the cart is somewhere close by (but not so close it gets in the way of lifting the boat off). Lift the boat off the vehicle (or the ground) and onto the kayak cart. Use the attachment devices supplied by the manufacturer to secure the cart to the kayak. Then you either grab the kayak cart handle, or the bow handle of the boat, lift and pull the boat in the direction you’re headed.
Voila! Easy peasy.
DIY kayak cart
As always, anything you can buy, you can also build yourself. A quick Google search will send you down the rabbit hole of how to build one yourself, and YouTube can supply you with videos on how to do the same. The key to any DIY project in the internet age is to pick and choose from all the available options to get what you want.
Wheels are the most difficult thing to come by, but sourcing online is easier than ever. Many people use PVC plumbing pipe to build the frame of their kayak cart. Good luck with it and please send us a photo of your completed project!