Every kayaker will tell you that the journey from the car or campsite to the water’s edge is often more tedious and tiring than the hours of blissful paddling on the ocean, lake, or river that drives and inspire us to venture out in the first place. If you’re smart (and we know you are!) then one of the first pieces of gear you’ll invest in after you buy that kayak and paddle will be a kayak cart.
These simple two wheels will take one of the most grating edges off the entire kayaking experience; the dreaded portage! The good news is that because this is such a commonly shared challenge, quite a few manufacturers have stepped up to bring us a selection of kayak dollies tailored to every specific portage challenge you may face with your kayak. In this article, we’ll look at some of the best kayak carts available today.
Best Cart Overall
The Bonnlo Kayak Cart with NO-Flat Airless Tires gets out nod for the best overall kayak cart. This versatile kayak cart will happily haul up to 165 lbs and ticks all the necessary boxes for a high-quality kayak transporter.
Best Value for Money
The Bonnlo Kayak Cart with NO-Flat Airless Tires is a versatile kayak dolly that ticks all the necessary boxes for a high-quality kayak transporter. It’s easy to see why this cart is one of the best selling items in the kayak cart category on Amazon.com. At under $70 it’s hard to beat this cart for value.
Best All-Terrain Cart
The CAMBA Universal Kayak, Canoe, and Paddleboard Carrier with its innovative wheel design and floating axel suspension is our pick for the best all-terrain kayak carrier. The focus on weight distribution and portage comfort makes the British designed cart a very desirable option if you’re a kayaker who explores and never knows what the portage to your launch point may look like.
Best For Soft Sand
Like its sibling above the Bonnlo Kayak Cart with Beach Balloon Tires can carry up to 165 lbs of weight. It is essentially the same frame but Bonnlo manufactures this model with large balloon tires. The large surface contact areas on these tires make this the ideal dolly to cart your kayak over dunes, over sand, or on the beach.
Best Lightweight Cart
The Hobie Fold And Stow Kayak Cart is a small lightweight kayak cart well suited to act as a pair of emergency wheels, ready to help you get your kayak to the water’s edge at an unsuspectingly tough launch point. It doesn’t fit all kayaks, but with its own proprietary bag, it’s a great little kayak cart to fold up and keep in the back of your vehicle.
Best Heavy Duty Cart
If you’re looking for a kayak cart that can haul some serious weight, then you’re going to be hard-pressed to beat the Wilderness Systems Heavy Duty Kayak Cart. With a 450 lb loading capacity, this is the cart for the big boats! The Wilderness Kayak Cart was the Paddling magazine 2018 winner in the “best transport/storage/launching’ category.
Kayaks are bulky and by the virtue of that fact, they present a challenge when it comes to transporting and storing them. There are of course kayak racks available that will help you store your kayak securely in your garage against a wall or even hoist it to the ceiling. Some of the well-known bike rack brands like Swagman and Thule manufacturer kayak roof racks and that’s the staple for most recreational kayakers when buying a solution to transport their kayak by car. An alternative option is to buy a kayak trailer or multi-sport trailer, but needless to say, these are more expensive and again, you’ll now need room to store the trailer as well.
With advances in design and materials has made it easier than ever to get your kayak to your destination, but once you get there, chances are you’re not going to be able to drive all the way up to the water’s edge. This is where your kayak cart comes in. Either you have one, or you start dragging and plowing your new kayak through the dirt to the launch-spot. You should get one.
Things That Matter When You Buy a Kayak Cart
Kayak carts or trolleys are not complicated pieces of gear. They are intended to help overcome a handful of specific challenges, and therefore only need to do a few things very well.
To that end, here are what we think are the 4 main things to look for or consider when you set out to pick a kayak cart for you.
1. Weight Capacity – A kayak cart is intended to carry weight, and it needs to be able to do so securely. You know the weight of your kayak (bearing in mind any possible future upgrades). Make sure the cart you pick can carry your kayak, and leave some redundancy in your calculations so you’re not constantly concerned about operating at the edge of the operational design of your kayak cart.
2. The Wheels – Giving consideration to the wheels of your kayak cart is important for several reasons, but one stands out. Are the wheels made from a solid composite (or air-free design) as supposed to a wheel that needs to be inflated? Solid wheels are lower maintenance and great for all-terrain en especially rough-terrain carting, while the larger contact surface of a balloon inflated tire will make it easier to portage over dunes, loose sand, or on the beach.
3. The Frame Structure – Most kayak carts are made from aluminum nowadays, but there are some strong composite materials on the market with their own design benefits that are more and more being used to create trolleys. Some heavy-duty kayak carts are still being made from powder-coated steel but that’s becoming rarer.
Being able to disassemble the cart without tools at the water’s edge and fit it into your hatches means you don’t have to run back to your car or campsite or leave your cart unattended on the beach while you’re out on the water.
4. The Accessories – Most kayak carts come with a convenient spring-loaded stand that will keep your dolly upright while loading or unloading. It’s also pretty common to get at least a couple of ratchet straps to help secure your kayak to the cart. In some cases, your kayak carrier will come with its own proprietary storage bag and some manufacturers will even include a complementary pump if your kayak cart has inflatable wheels.
Attention – Beware!
– Do not tow your kayak cart behind a vehicle. Get a kayak trailer if you need to do that.
– Do not haul your kayak on the cart with people inside. You may exceed the weight capacity and there’s a risk of injury should it tip over.
– Always check wheels, hardware, and load straps for proper and secure attachment before transport.
The Bonnlo Kayak Cart is a versatile kayak dolly that ticks all the necessary boxes for a high-quality kayak transporter. It’s easy to see why this cart is one of the best selling items in the kayak cart category on Amazon.com. The lightweight 2mm pipe aluminum frame and solid 10” x 3” wide PU tires have a carrying capacity of 165 lbs.
While we like the solid tires for its hassle-free low-maintenance, you have to remember that solid tires are more likely to cut into soft sand when transporting heavy kayaks over the beach to the water’s edge. The 3” width on the Bonnlo tires gives you ample surface area for a standard kayak though.
The Bonnlo can easily be folded, and the tires slipped off by removing a single lynch-pin of each side, allowing you to conveniently store this kayak dolly in the hull of your canoe or back of your car or kayak trailer.
The Bonnlo Kayak Cart comes fully fitted with foam pads to protect your kayak or canoe and two 12ft Tie-down straps, long enough to securely fit any kayak or even a small boat. The Bonnlo is a well-designed kayak carrier that will serve you for many years.
If there was a price for the best-looking kayak cart, the C-Tug Kayak and Canoe Cart by Railblaza would win hands down! But don’t let its good looks fool you, this is a top-quality, rugged and durable kayak dolly made from non-corroding engineering polymers that will happily haul up to 300 lbs of weight. The C-Tug sport puncture-free solid wheels with a high grip rubber thread design, making it the ideal all-terrain kayak trolley. No more flat tires!
We absolutely love the modern contemporary look of the cart. The C-Tug comes with a nice selection of accessories which includes a kickstand with an instant lock to help keep your kayak kart standing and in position when you slide your kayak off. The adjustable hull pads kan be tilted to fit almost any kayak or canoe hull profile and is cleverly designed with holes for the accompanying straps to pass through to secure your kayak to the cart.
And finally, the Railblaza kayak trolley requires no tools to assemble or disassemble and kan be take apart in seconds and stored in your kayak hull when you’re out on the water. It weighs only 10 lbs and you won’t even know it’s there. We think this is the best kayak cart available on the market.
CAMBA Universal Kayak Cart is different from all other kayak carriers and it’s safe to say it is all in the wheels. The British engineered patented all-terrain wheels are hemispherical and mounted on unique floating axles. CAMBA claims this floating-axle configuration creates a suspension that distributes the weight of the kayak to whichever wheel has the most, ensuring stable load-bearing and traction making it possible to navigate the most uneven and challenging terrain with your kayak in tow.
Again, while the 110 lbs capacity is not exceptionally high, it is more than sufficient for most kayaks and the focus of this product is obviously not on carrying the heaviest canoe but creating the best kayak cart system that can easily and comfortably negotiate rough terrain.
The 10” wheels cannot be punctured and sealed stainless steel bearings in Polypropylene hubs makes it obvious that this is a high-quality product engineered from quality materials. The entire cart can be easily disassembled and stored either in your kayak hull or vehicle.
The distributed weight system, innovative wheel designed, floating axle suspension and high clearance make this the best kayak cart for rough terrain.
The Bonnlo Kayak Cart with Beach Balloon Tires is essentially the same frame as the model with solid tires discussed above, except for well, this one has balloon tires! This kayak cart has a 165 lbs capacity and is made from 2mm aluminum piping just like the previous model but at 13.87 lbs it weighs roughly 5 lbs more than the solid wheel version as these ballon wheels are larger and heavier.
The Bonnlo Balloon Wheel Kayak Dolly can be disassembled without old for easy storage, but the tires will be too large to fit into your kayak hull, so make sure you can safely leave them at your launch point or take the trolley back to your car and store it there while you’re on the water.
This kayak trolley comes with two 7.75 ft ratchet straps to attach your kayak to the cart bed, and they were kind enough to include a tire pump! Bless their souls.
The obvious purpose and advantages of balloon wheels are that their large surface contact area prevents them from cutting into loose soft sand, making them the ideal solution to easily haul your kayak over a swift beach or dunes. If this specific feature is important to you, then we think this is the best kayak cart you can buy.
Attwood Marine has been manufacturing quality marine products for over 150 years so it’s not surprising that the Attwood Kayak and Canoe Cart is a solid well-designed piece of gear well worth considering when you’re looking to find the best kayak cart.
This kayak dolly can carry up to 100 lbs, which is a little less than most kayak carts do nowadays but still more than sufficient for most sport and recreational kayaks. The large wheels are solid and cannot deflate, making it a good all-terrain carting option.
The Attwood kayak cart is easy to disassemble and will fit into most standard kayak hitches so you can take it with you on the water and not worry about getting it back to the car after launch.
What we like about this kayak cart is the unpretentious design and marketing. With very few bells-and-whistles, it just works and does what it promises to do really well. What more can you ask from any product?
The Hobie Fold And Stow Kayak Cart is a light-weight kayak karting solution that is designed specifically to serve as a quick solution to get your kayak from the car or campsite down to the water. While we would not recommend using this on the beach, rough terrain, or to cover large distances they do have a very specific utility that we think they serve well.
If you need a pair of “emergency wheels’ to get your kayak to the water across the parking lot and not drag and damage it or to just quickly assist you in from the campsite to the river-bank, this is a very lightweight solution to that problem
This dolly will not fit all kayaks though, so make sure you check your specific kayak model for compatibility before buying.
It sports solid wheels that cannot puncture. Weighing in at just over 5 lbs it disassembles in seconds to be stored in your kayak hull and comes with a proprietary bag that will keep it nicely tugged away in your car or kayak trailer for when you need it. This is the best light-weight kayak cart if that’s what you’re after.
Wilderness Systems designed their kayak cart with the specific intention of creating a means to haul the heaviest kayaks to the water. Witha capacity of 450 lbs,m we have not been able to find another kayak cart that comes close, especially if you take into consideration that the entire cart weighs in at only 13 lbs! It’s not hard to understand why it was Paddling magazine’s 2018 winner in the “best transport/storage/launching’ category.
Wilderness Systems created a heat-treated aluminum bunker bar frame and set it on two non-puncture airless 12” wheels to create a stable and strong platform capable of safely carrying heavy loads. The width of the frame can be adjusted as well as the height (from 16” to 18”) to shift the center of gravity on different boat designs and help prevent tip-overs.
The solid wheels can be swapped for balloon beach wheels, which are sold separately. We appreciate this option. One of the drawbacks of heavy-duty kayak carts ais that by the virtue of the fact that they carry heavy loads, they are often very hard to pull over sand or on the beach. The Wilderness Systems Heavy Duty Kayak cart is in our opinion the best kayak cart for large kayaks, boats, or any water-craft portage where load capacity and weight is a real factor.
The TMS Kayak Dolly is a capable and affordable kayak cart. It is constructed of aluminum tubing and hauls a maximum of 150 lbs but most users recommend it for kayaks around 100 lbs. The frame is sturdy and sport foam bumpers that will protect your kayak or canoe from unnecessary scratches and bumps when moving it or sliding it on or off the trolley.
TMS promotes the tires as 9 ½ “ “flat-free” tires. Note though that these are not solid tires, they still need to be pumped (30psi recommended) but are just hard to puncture, not impossible. The tires are 3 ½ “ wide, which is sufficient to support a kayak over a beach without too much traction.
As with all of the best kayak dollys this one can be disassembled and folded for convenient storage and easy transport in your SUV or vehicle. The one issue that seems to be recurring feedback from people who purchased this kayak cart is that the wheels have a pretty strong “toxic smell”. This is not uncommon and brands like Bonnlo actually specifically call out the fact that their solid tire carts have “no chemical smell”. If this is the kind of thing that bothers or concerns you, take a look at the Bonnlo Kayak Cart with NO-Flat Airless Tires above.
The Seattle Sports Paddleboy All-Terrain Kayak Cart is a heavy-duty kayak trolley that is focussed on being able to haul heavier loads to the water. With a load capacity of 300 lbs, this Dolley is suitable for kayaks, canoes, Lasers, john boats, and other larger craft.
The solid urethane tires are intended to reduce vibration but are pretty narrow. Hatt, coupled with the weight of the cart, plus the fact that you will probably use this for heavier watercraft means this is not the ideal solution for portage across loose sand or the beach.
The Seattle Sports Paddleboy comes with a convenient spring-loaded kickstand to keep it stable and standing while loading or unloading. A cinch strap to fasten your boat is also included.
While the Paddleboy folds to a convenient size to fit int the back of your car, you’re unlikely to be able to fit it into your kayak hitch and take with you on the water. At 15 lbs you probably wouldn’t want to either! This is very much a heavyweight solution intended for hauling heavy kayaks. If you look at it through that lens and those are your specific needs, then this is a well-designed kayak cart worth considering.