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12 Best Lightweight Kayaks (Inflatable, Foldable, & Portable)

Kayaking on the Colorado River in Moab, Utah. Best portable kayaks for vanlife

A lightweight kayak is the perfect item to create kayaking adventures on the go. There are many different styles all offering unique portability.

When choosing the ideal lightweight kayak, a paddler must choose the style they prefer, such as hard shell kayaks, inflatable kayaks, and plastic foldable models. Additionally, you can pick between the two common styles of sit-in kayaks or sit-on-top models.

And you may choose a style based on your needs. For example kayaking rivers and oceans requires a kayak with superior stability in choppy conditions.

If you have a small sedan, you might choose a lightweight kayak that can also pack down small. Or if you have a truck bed, you might choose a hard-shell kayak, that is also light enough to carry but also prioritizes durability.

There are tons of great lightweight kayak options that are inflatable, portable, and/or foldable. So if weight is of concern, there are tons of great options for a getting you out exploring lakes, rivers, and oceans. There is even a great lightweight option for backpacking.

In this guide, we will go over 12 of the best lightweight kayaks that will get you out enjoying the water in no time.

This post may contain affiliate links. Disclosure policy.

Sevylor Quikpak K 

Sevylor QuickPak K1 1-Person Inflatable Kayak, Kayak Folds into Backpack with 5-Minute Setup, 21-Gauge PVC Construction; Hand Pump & Paddle Included

Weight: 20.28 Pounds

Max Weight Capacity: 400 lbs

Material: Polyester

Length: 8’7″

With the Sevylor Quickpak K weighing in at just under 21 lbs, nearly anyone can carry this to and from their car. It even comes in an easy backpack carrying case, for super easy transport. Plus the backpack doubles as a seat.

This lightweight kayak offers a sit-on-top design and multiple foot rests positions to keep you comfortable. The Sevylor Quickpak K also has a high weight capacity maximum (400lbs).

While the kayak is inflatable, which makes it more vulnerable to popping, the design is reasonably durable. The bottom of the kayak is layered with Tarpaulin providing a durable protection from punctures. There are multiple air chambers, therefore, one puncture won’t deflate the whole raft.

With a pump and paddle included, this package is a super affordable lightweight kayak.

The biggest drawback is stability. Being a sit-on-top inflatable style, it’s not as stable as other kayaks on the list.

Pros Of Sevylor Quikpak K 

  • Inexpensive
  • Comes in an easy to carry backpack
  • Pump and paddle included
  • 2-year warranty
  • High weight capacity
  • Quick set-up time

Cons Of Sevylor Quikpak K 

  • Inflatable (vulnerable to popping)
  • No two person model
  • Not the most stable

Check Price on the Sevylor Quikpak K: |

Oru Kayak Lake

The Oru Kayak which is a lightweight kayak in Nordegg Lake
Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

Weight: 17 lbs

Max Weight Capacity: 250 lbs

Material: Polypropylene

Length: 9′

The Oru Kayak Lake is the most compact and lightest kayak on the market. It’s an origami kayak that can be set up in as little as 5 minutes.

Weighing in at just 17 lbs and packs down to 42″ x 10″ x 18″ (107 x 25 x 46 cm). You can throw this kayak in the trunk with so much extra space or even on the plane for endless adventures.

The material is made from 5 mm double-layered, custom-extruded polypropylene so it’s puncture and abrasion resistant. So no problem scraping against some rocks upon landing (although it’s still suggested to keep it to a minimum). 

The lightweight kayak designs do not end there, because Oru Kayak prioritizes portability, pack ability, and weight in all their models.

the oru lightweight kayak on open water aerial view
Photo by Kimon Maritz on Unsplash

If you are looking for an ocean kayak that is still lightweight, the Coast XT is the best option. Weighing 32 lbs and still can pack down to the size of a large suitcase makes this ocean kayaking option the best on the market.

If you are looking for a lightweight tandem kayak (two-person), then the Haven TT is a great option, weighing in at 41 lbs.

Do note you will need to purchase the paddles and seat wedge separately. 

Pros Of Oru Kayak Lake

  • Most compact lightweight kayak
  • Won’t deflate
  • Quick set-up time
  • 3-Year Warranty
  • Many different lightweight makes and models

Cons Of Oru Kayak Lake

  • Expensive
  • Paddle & seat wedge not included

Check Price on the Oru Kayak Lake: | |

Eddyline Sky

Weight: 32 lbs

Max Weight Capacity: 250 lbs

Material: Carbonlite composite ABS/acrylic

Length: 10′

The Eddyline Sky is the best lightweight kayak that mimics a traditional kayak design. The hard-shell case makes the exterior sturdy and much more rigged. This is a great beginner kayak that can be used in lakes, easygoing rivers and along sheltered shores.

Plus there is no additional set-up time. Because of it’s an easy 32 lbs weight, it can be easily carried and plopped right into the water and ready to go.

This sit-inside kayak has two storage compartments at the bow and stern, so you can pack everything you need for a successful day trip.

But because of its rigid shell, it won’t easily fit inside a small sedan, and rather better suited for someone with a large SUV, roof rack or truck bed.

Paddle is not included and will be an extra cost.

Pros Of Eddyline Sky

  • Rigid exterior
  • No set-up time
  • Won’t deflate

Cons Of Eddyline Sky

  • Expensive
  • Doesn’t fold-up or deflate, therefore not a great option for small car transport
  • Paddle not included
  • No two person model

Check Price on the Eddyline Sky:

Intex Challenger K

 INTEX Challenger Inflatable Kayak Series: Includes Deluxe 86in Aluminum Oar and High-Output Pump – SuperStrong PVC – Adjustable Seat with Backrest – Removable Skeg – Cargo Storage Net

Weight: 24 lbs

Max Weight Capacity: 220 lbs

Material: Rugged vinyl construction

Length: 9’2″

The Challenger K is a great recreational kayak option that is best used in calm waters. Intex makes some of the most affordable inflatable products, including this kayak.

The material is made out of rugged vinyl construction, so you don’t need to worry about brushing up on a couple rocks (but it’s still suggested to limit the amount of contact with sharp objects). 

There are two different air chambers and an I-beam inflatable floor. Therefore, if something were to pop, the whole raft wouldn’t go down. There is also a Boston valve for quick inflation and deflation.

Jake & Emily in a lightweight kayak at an alpine lake in Nevada
Jake & Emily in The Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak

Intex also makes a 2-person version of this model. Or our favorite Intex inflatable kayak is the Explorer K2 weighing just 30.6 lbs. And both tandem models can handle weight up to 400lbs.

The paddle and pump are included.

Pros Of Intex Challenger K

  • Inexpensive
  • Comfortable
  • Quick set-up time
  • Compact
  • Paddle & pump included
  • 2-person model available

Cons Of Intex Challenger K

  • Inflatable (vulnerable to popping)
  • No warranty

Check Price on the Intex Challenger K: |


 Tucktec Foldable Kayak - Super Stable, Lightweight & Maneuverable | 2023 8' Foldable Kayak | Ideal for Youth & Small Adults - Beginners and Experts | 3-Year Warranty

Weight: 21 lbs

Max Weight Capacity: 200 lbs

Material: high-density polyethylene thermoplastic

Length: 8′

The Tucktek lightweight kayak can be set up quickly with 6 easy clamps. It’s fold-able design is meant to handle more than 1000’s of uses. It’s built to take a beating and not fall apart as soon as you hit some rough parts on the water.

TuckTec comes in an 8-foot and 10-foot design. The 8′ design is meant for children and small adults. And the 10′ design is for adults up to 250 lbs. The 10′ folding kayak weighs 4 more lbs and can actually handle up to 300 lbs if the weight is distributed. Which can be great for adding a small child or pet.

The Tucktek kayak folds down to 48 x 15 inches so it can easily be thrown into your car and ready in just minutes to tackle the open water.

Paddle is not included.

Pros Of TuckTek

  • Mid-range Price
  • Won’t deflate
  • Compact
  • Quick set-up time
  • Different colors to choose from
  • 3-year warranty

Cons Of TuckTek

  • No two person model
  • Paddle not included

Check Price on the TuckTek:

Aquaglide Deschutes

Weight: 19 lbs

Max Weight Capacity: 300 lbs

Material: Duratex-reinforced PVC

Length: 11′

Just as the name states, due to the 11 foot length, this lightweight kayak glides through the aqua. Plus it comes in an easy to carry backpack so you can take this kayak out on the trail with ease.

The single-layer tubes make the structure light, stiff, and durable. Plus the Duratex™ material is welded and airtight for added durability. The FeatherFrame crosspiece support is an added feature that really amps this inflatable raft to resemble a hard-shell kayak at a fraction of the weight.

the aquaglide deschutes lightweight kayak on a grassy shore of a lake
Photo by Brenda Christiansen on Unsplash

The low design provides a lower center of gravity for added stability making it easy for anyone to glide through the water without falling.

If you are looking for one of the lightest kayaks beyond beginner level, this Aquaglide Deschutes raft is a great option.

Aquaglide Deschutes also comes in a 2-person model. Weighing only 27 lbs and a total weight capacity of 600 lbs. The length extends to 14′ 6″.

Paddle and pump are not included.

Pros Of Aquaglide Deschutes

  • Quick set-up time
  • Compact
  • 2-person model available
  • 2-year warranty

Cons Of Aquaglide Deschutes

  • Expensive
  • Inflatable (vulnerable to popping)
  • Paddle and pump not included

Check Price on the Aquaglide Deschutes: | | |

Advanced Elements Advancedframe Inflatable Kayak (Sport)

Weight: 26 lbs

Max Weight Capacity: 250

Material: Ripstop Polyester/PVC tarpaulin

Length: 10 ft. 5 in.

The Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Sport Inflatable Kayak takes durability up a notch for an inflatable kayak. The double-coated ripstop fabric with welded seams adds an extra layer if you are to bump into a sharp rock, tree, etc.

Plus, the bow and stern have built-in aluminum ribs. This frame technology increases paddling performance and helps keep the kayak in a straight line. This kayak replicates a hard-shell kayak but only weighs 26lbs and can pack down relatively small.

Advanced Elements has been designing lightweight kayaks for over 20 years. They have many different makes and models to accommodate nearly any adventure.

Other great Advanced Elements Lightweight Kayaks:

If you’re looking for a 2-person version of this raft, consider the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Tandem Inflatable Kayak.

The Advanced Elements Lagoon is another popular lightweight kayak. It’s built similarly, but weighs 23 lbs and it’s length is shorter at 8’4″. The best uses for this kayak are lakes and mild rivers, to bays and estuaries.

If you are looking for lightweight kayak to handle whitewater rafting, the Attack Pro Whitewater Kayak weighs only 25.5 lbs and can handle rougher terrain. It can handle nearly any class of white water, as long as the paddler can handle the class! PFD and helmet should be worn on whitewater.

Additionally, the Advanced Elements Advancedframe Ultralite is made with light-weight materials with a simple inflation chamber design. Weighing in at just 17.5 lbs. But ultimately, with the lightweight material, it becomes slightly more vulnerable to puncture.

Lastly, Advanced Elements nailed the lightweight kayak at just 4 lbs with the Packlite Kayak. This kayak is made with lightweight PVC free materials. There is no aluminum-rib frame technology, but there are 3 different air chambers.

Essentially, I feel like the Advanced Elements Packlite Kayak is a glorified pool raft, so I wouldn’t exactly trust it much farther than 10-20 feet off the shoreline. Or it can be a great option for backpacking and being able to get out on the water with only an added 4 lbs.

All Advanced Elements Kayaks come with the appropriate hand pump, but the paddle must be purchased separately.

Pros Of Advanced Elements Advancedframe (Sport)

  • Many protective layers for added durability
  • Quick set-up time
  • Compact
  • Pump included
  • Many different lightweight makes and models
  • 3-year warranty

Cons Of Advanced Elements Advancedframe (Sport)

  • Expensive
  • Inflatable (vulnerable to popping)
  • Paddle not included

Check Price on the Advanced Elements Advancedframe (Sport): |

Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak

 Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle

Weight: 38 lbs

Max Weight Capacity: 250 lbs

Material: High-density polyethylene

Length: 8′

The Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak is one of the best hard-shell lightweight kayaks on the market.

This lightweight sit on top kayak offers multiple footrest positions for different sized riders. It sits low to the water offering great stability. There is also twin skegs offering ultimate tracking. Meaning this kayak will stay in line and not wiggle back and forth as you paddle.

a girl in a lightweight kayak on a lake
Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash

Additionally there are built in self-bailing scupper holes to drain water that comes overboard.

Lifetime does make a tandem kayak called the Lifetime Manta 10 ft Tandem Kayak. But it weighs in at 60 lbs, so you will likely want two people to carry this comfortably.

Paddle is included.

Pros Of Lifetime Lotus

  • 5-year warranty
  • Paddle included
  • Hard-shell (won’t pop)
  • No set-up time
  • Won’t deflate

Cons Of Lifetime Lotus

  • Expensive
  • Not as compact
  • On the heavier side
  • Hard-shell seat ultimately making it rather uncomfortable
  • Doesn’t fold-up or deflate, therefore not a great option for small car transport

Check Price on the Lifetime Lotus: |

Sun Dolphin Aruba

a girl on the Sundolphin Aruba lightweight kayak
Photo by Viktor Jakovlev on Unsplash

Weight: 27 lbs

Max Weight Capacity: 260 lbs

Material: Rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex® high density polyethylene

Length: 8′

The Sun Dolphin is a sit-inside kayak offering ultimate durability that can withstand wear and tear. The smallest and lightest version is the 8′, but it also comes in 10′ and 12′. But ultimately, it’s one of the best short kayaks on the market.

The sun dolphin is great for lakes and easy flowing rivers. But with the wide open cockpit, it might fill with water on rough waters.

The wide open cockpit makes it easy to get in and out of. Plus a large storage compartment to hold all your belongings.

With it’s short length of 8′, it can fit in large SUVs or truck beds, but because of it’s rigidity, it might not fit in a small sedan. Or it can fit nicely on a roof rack.

If you are looking for a fishing kayak, SunDolphin also offers a wide selection of both sit in and sit on top lightweight fishing kayaks.

Paddle is not included.

Pros Of Sun Dolphin Aruba

  • Mid-range price
  • Hard-shell (won’t pop)
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • No set-up time
  • Won’t deflate

Cons Of Sun Dolphin Aruba

  • Paddle not included
  • Not as compact
  • Doesn’t fold-up or deflate, therefore not a great option for small car transport

Check Price on the Sun Dolphin Aruba: |

Sea Eagle RazorLite Inflatable Kayak

Sea Eagle RazorLite Inflatable Kayak

Weight: 35 lbs

Max Capacity Weight: 500 lbs

Materials: 1000 Denier Reinforced Drop Stitch

Length: 12 ft. 10 in.

The Sea Eagle Razorlite Inflatable Kayak is one of the best performing lightweight kayaks on the market. It’s one of the first all drop stitch inflatable kayaks making it ultra-lite and glide through the water with ease. The construction materials make it stand apart for any of the other best inflatable kayaks.

The chine at the waterline and secondary increase the buoyancy and stability of the kayak. It also has very narrow walls allowing tons of room inside the kayak and ample storage space.

Additionally, the bow and stern lead into a double concave which ultimately allows pockets of air to enter in between the hull and the water creating lift while reducing friction and drag. It’s simply one of the fastest lightweight kayaks on the market.

Plus it has the highest weight capacity of any of these other lightweight kayaks on the list.

This kayak design comes with a unique adjustable foot brace and high-pressure pump with an inline gauge. This kayak is ready to tackle any type of weather and terrain.

Additionally, it comes with a backpack for storage and easy transport.

Sea Eagle also carries a 2 person model called the 473RL Pro Kayak. It weights 45 lbs and has a high weight capacity of 750 lbs.

The biggest downfall to this lightweight kayak is the price point. It is nearly double the price of many of these other lightweight

Paddle and pump are included.

Pros of Sea Eagle RazorLite

  • Paddle and pump included
  • 3-year warranty
  • 2-person model available
  • High weight capacity
  • Quick set-up time

Cons of Sea Eagle RazorLite

  • Very Expensive
  • Inflatable (vulnerable to popping)

Check Price on the Sea Eagle RazorLite:

Pelican Argo

 Pelican - Argo 100X - Sit-in Kayak - Lightweight one Person Kayak - 10 ft

Weight: 36 lbs

Max Weight Capacity: 275 lbs

Material: patented RAM-X (durable high molecular weight polyethylene)

Length: 10′

The Pelican Argo is a great option if you are looking for a combo between a super durable hard-shell kayak, but still being light enough to carry. It’s twin-arched multi-chine hull makes it a very smooth and stable ride.

The large cockpit allows for an easy entry and exit.

There are added foam block built into the kayak body, so you known you are extra safe out on the open water. The patented RAM-X™ material makes the external material both lightweight and super durable.

If you are looking for light kayaks that also double in safety, the Pelican Argo is a great option. But do note, this is not super pack-able, especially with it being 10′ wide.

Pelican does not have a 2-person version of the Argo, but the Alliance 136T tandem kayak might be a decent option. It weighs 66 lbs, so you will likely want two people to carry the kayak.

Pros Of Pelican Argo

  • Mid-range price
  • Hard-shell (won’t pop)
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • No set-up time
  • Won’t deflate

Cons Of Pelican Argo

  • One of the larger and heavier options on the list
  • Doesn’t fold-up or deflate, therefore not a great option for small car transport

Check Price on the Pelican Argo: |

Driftsun Rover Inflatable Kayak

 Driftsun Rover Inflatable Kayak - Inflatable White Water Kayak - Inflatable 1 and 2 Person Kayaks for Adults with High Pressure Floor, Padded Seats, Action Cam Mount, Aluminum Paddles, and Pump

Weight: 22 lbs

Max Weight Capacity: 300 lbs

Materials: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) & drop stitch

Length: 8′ 6″

If you are looking for an inflatable raft that can tackle the rough white water but still be lightweight, then the Driftsun Rover is one of the best lightweight kayaks on the market. Weighing in at just 22 lbs for the single and 28 lbs for their tandem model, it’s one of the best inflatable options.

The floor is made of high-pressure drop stitch material which boosts stability & make it extremely sturdy. The kayak features a front & rear rocker profile making it super nimble in the water.

It’s rated to handle up to class III and IV whitewater rapids.

There are 3 separate chambers and 8 self-bailing ports if it were to take on water and/or pop.

Driftsun also has a 2-person version of this model if you enjoy kayaking with a partner. This is one of the best lightweight tandem kayaks without sacrificing performance.

This kayak comes with paddle and pump.

Pros of Driftsun Rover

  • Best inflatable option for whitewater
  • Paddle & pump included
  • 2-person model available
  • 1-year warranty
  • Quick set-up time

Cons of Driftsun Rover

  • Expensive
  • Inflatable (vulnerable to popping)

Check Price on the Driftsun Rover:

Lightweight Kayak Extras

the extras that go with a lightweight kayak such as PFD, dry bag, paddle, etc
Photo by Autumn Kuney on Unsplash

Now that you found your perfect lightweight kayak, don’t forget the extras. A PFD (personal floatation device) is a must when traveling on open water. While you might only be kayaking around the shore, wind and storms can roll in quick and put you in danger.

Or as mentioned, many of these lightweight rafts are inflatable, and they are vulnerable to popping. So it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

There are a few nifty belt PFD’s, that you can wear around your waist. But the PFD will need to be manually inflated.

Do note, these are really only designed for emergencies and when kayaking not too far from shore. If you are paddling far from shore or in whitewater terrain, you should have a certified life vest.

And of course, a few of these lightweight kayaks don’t come with a paddle, so that must be purchased separately. You can always just order the paddle from the same brand so you know they are a good pair. Or purchase a separate paddle.

But since many of these kayaks on the list are portable, you will likely want a paddle that’s lightweight and folds down so it’s easy to carry along.

Also, a dry bag is always a good idea to keep valuables dry. It can be great for putting your car keys, cell phone, towel, and or clothes.

Jake and I always like to pack a cooler with some cold beverages and some snacks to enjoy out on the water. Our personal favorite cooler is the RTIC Soft Cooler.

Don’t forget the sunscreen and SPF chapstick!

Kayak Roof Rack

a lightweight kayak on the roof of a car with mountains in the background
Photo by Avery Evans on Unsplash

While most of these lightweight kayaks can fit in the trunk of a small sedan, there are a few hard-shell kayaks on the list. Which ultimately means you might need a roof rack to carry the kayak. Here are a few great roof-rack options.

Takeaway | Best Lightweight Kayaks

a lightweight kayak paddling through a canal
Photo by Taryn Manning on Unsplash

In conclusion, there are tons of great lightweight kayak options. Each one of these great options weighs under 40 lbs, ultimately making each kayak easy to transport to and from the water.

Most lightweight kayaks compromise in one aspect, whether it be durability, price, storage size, or ease-of-use. But depending on your budget and use, you can find a perfect fit to get you out on the water and enjoying the great outdoors.

For a quick roundup of the best lightweight kayaks by category:

The Lightest Kayak: Advanced Elements Packlite Kayak

Best Lightweight Hard-Shell Kayak: Eddyline Sky

Best Lightweight Fold-able Kayak: Oru Kayak Lake

Cheapest Lightweight Kayak: Intex Challenger K1

Best Lightweight Tandem Kayak: Intex Explorer K2

Best Lightweight Whitewater Kayak: Driftsun Rover Inflatable Kayak

Most Durable Lightweight Kayak: Pelican Argo

Best Lightweight Ocean Kayak: Oru Kayak Coast XT

Best High-performing Lightweight Kayak: Sea Eagle RazorLite Inflatable Kayak

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Best Lightweight Kayaks On The Market Pin