Welcome friend! In this post, you will learn about the best lightweight kayaks for seniors and why they are a great option for regular kayaks.
Kayaking is a great physical activity for seniors as I talked about in the article Best Kayaks For Seniors.
It combines enjoying the outdoors and nature with a form of exercise that’s good for your heart and muscles. It also improves your balance (which is great for fall prevention) and can be a great way to strengthen your core, hand grip, and flexibility.
The downside to kayaking for seniors is that there is a learning period to get started. To be able to kayak comfortably you will need to have good enough flexibility. Especially in your lower body and hamstrings.
Then there is the question of moving the equipment. Especially the kayaks. Even if you are kayaking with a partner seniors can have trouble lifting the kayaks safely from a trailer to the water and back.
Not to mention transporting a kayak on the roof of your truck or SUV. Regular kayaks generally weigh around 35 to 50 lbs. That’s not too much for two people to carry in a good position.
But if you have to lift it overhead or move the weight in an awkward position it can become very heavy very fast.
This is where lightweight kayaks come in. There are many options on the market that allow you to enjoy recreational kayaking without breaking your back as a senior.
So if you want to learn what is the best kayak for older adults I recommend you read on!
What Are Lightweight Kayaks
There is no set definition for a lightweight kayak. I personally think that any kayak under 35 lbs or even 40 lbs can be considered a lightweight kayak. But for seniors typically the lighter the better.
The regular plastic and composite kayaks typically weigh between 35 to 50 lbs for singles and over 65 lbs for doubles. Some sea kayaks and fishing kayaks can weigh over 100 lbs.
35 lbs is generally a weight that most adults and physically fit seniors can lift and carry relatively safely.
But when you consider that typically people take kayaks with them to different locations you have to also consider the ease of transport.
A 35 lbs kayak can be relatively easy to carry for a short distance, especially by two people. But when you have to lift it over obstacles, load it onto a trailer, or on the roof of your car it can be very cumbersome.
So a lightweight kayak is a kayak that is light enough for seniors to transport, carry and load without a major risk of injury or discomfort.
Why Weight Matters
Before choosing a lightweight kayak it’s important to understand that there is a reason why regular kayaks generally have a certain weight.
The number one reason for weight in kayaks is structural stability. Kayaks are typically long and hollow with several holes in the hull.
They also need to support your weight even in rough waters without flexing too much to lose structural integrity. The buoyancy of the water helps to support to structure but it also has to be strong enough to not deform when carried.
This requires quite a bit of structural strength from the material used for the shell of the kayak. The easiest way to improve the rigidity of a kayak is by adding more material. This naturally adds weight.
The weight of the kayak makes also more stable to steer and also helps to keep momentum. A heavy and long but sleek kayak will go steadily like a train in the water.
The only way to make a kayak lighter is by making it smaller (usually shorter), using lighter but more expensive materials, or using a completely different design like inflatable air pockets.
The biggest downside of lightweight kayaks is that they aren’t typically very good for speed or long distance.
This is because they are typically shorter and wider as well as lighter. A short kayak is worse at maintaining course, loses momentum faster, and is affected more by wind and waves than a longer, more narrow, and heavier kayak.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t be used to enjoying the water and outdoors to do short day trips and explorations. It’s all about choosing the right tool for the purpose.
Other Considerations For Seniors
Besides weight, there are a few other considerations for seniors when choosing a kayak.
The most important ones are stability and comfort. The truth is that in kayaks performance comes with the price of stability and many nimble kayaks aren’t very comfortable if you have any flexibility issues.
Sleek travel or performance kayaks often require both skill and physical fitness to be used effectively.
The worst-case scenario is that you pay a lot for a premium kayak that isn’t suited for your use and end up never using it.
So if you are looking for a recreational kayak for short day trips or paddling at the lake it’s much more important to have an easy to use and enjoyable kayak.
This way you will actually end up using the kayak. Once you gain experience and confidence, you can invest in a more robust kayak suited for your needs.
So a good kayak for inexperienced seniors is likely a lightweight easy to transport kayak that is stable and easy to get in and out of.
Especially kayak exit for seniors can be difficult if there are no special kayak platforms or piers. This is why sit-on-top kayaks are the best option for most inexperienced senior kayakers.
Types Of Lightweight Kayaks
There are a few types of lightweight kayaks on the market. Generally speaking, they can be split into three categories: Inflatable kayaks, folding kayaks, and kayaks build with ultra-lightweight materials like carbon fiber.
Inflatable kayaks are typically the most affordable ones, folding kayaks the second most affordable and carbon fiber kayaks the most expensive ones.
All of these kayaks have their own pros and cons. Another consideration is the form of the kayak. Classic or sit on top.
In a classic kayak, you will sit inside the shell of the kayak. Your legs will be covered by the shell and you can cover the hole around your waist with a special tarp that prevents water from getting inside the kayak.
With a sit-on-top kayak, you will sit on top of the kayak just like the name suggests. Sit-on-top kayaks are the easiest kayak to get in and out of which makes them a great option for seniors.
Inflatable kayaks are virtually always sit-on-top kayaks as the inflatable air pockets aren’t really suitable for a classic kayak design.
Best Lightweight Kayak For Seniors
The most interesting lightweight kayaks on the market right now in my opinion are Oru Kayaks. They are ultra-lightweight foldable kayaks that are not sit-on-top.
They have several models and the lightest ones weigh less than 20 lbs. Because they are foldable, they take very little space and can be carried by a one person.
What makes Oru kayaks especially interesting is that they are based on origami design. They are simply folded open in a matter of minutes and you are good to go. No need for pumps or inflation.
You can read more about their models on their website and you can find their most popular models on Amazon as well (affiliate link, I will earn a small commission if you buy through it with no expense to you. Helps to keep the site running.).
If you are looking for something cheaper, there are many high-quality inflatable kayaks on the market currently. They are a bit heavier and take a bit more work than the foldable Oru but they are usually a lot cheaper as well.
One of the most interesting ones in my opinion is the Intex tandem (affiliate link). I know you are mainly looking at kayaks under 40 pounds and it’s over 40 lbs. But you have to consider it’s made for two people.
It’s actually the lightest tandem kayak you can get at this price point. It’s an ultralight sit-on-top kayak as well so it’s easy to transport and use. It has great reviews so customers have generally been very happy with it.
Where To Buy A Lightweight Kayak For Seniors
When buying a real kayak I always recommend you use a local sports goods store or kayaking store. This is because a kayak is a significant investment and you want to choose the right model with professionals.
When you buy a kayak from a physical store you can usually test the models and it’s much easier to deal with any guarantee reclamations.
The problem with lightweight kayaks is that they are often not available in smaller stores so you might have to resort to buying them from online stores.
When buying from online stores it’s important to make sure the store is reliable and the kayak has a good guarantee and returns policy in case you have manufacturing defects or find out the model is not suitable for your use.
Amazon is usually a safe place to buy because their return policies are generally very good. It’s still important to always check them before making the buy.
The website stores of reputable brands like Oru kayaks are generally safe as well.
How To Get Started With Kayaking
Kayaking is a fun and exciting form of exercise that is very good for your health. But it is also an activity that requires skill and knowledge and can be dangerous due to being on the water.
The greatest risk with kayaking is of course drowning. The risk is minimal when you have the correct safety equipment, training, and precautions. But it’s important to realize the risk is very real if you are not prepared.
The other major risks are hypothermia, dehydration, and sun exposure which can sneak up on you if you are not aware of them. All these risks are higher for seniors as the physical tolerance to exposure tends to decline with age.
For these reasons I always recommend you get started with kayaking by taking a certification course with experienced instructors.
You can usually find kayaking associations and clubs in most areas that offer affordable courses. A good place to start is American kayaking association.
You also use search engines to look for local associations in your own area.
I hope you found this post about lightweight kayaks for seniors useful. If any questions popped into your mind you can leave them in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to help you out.
As a recap, lightweight kayaks are a great option for seniors for recreational kayaking. They are generally not that good for long trips or sports however because the lightweight and portability come with compromises.
A lightweight kayak, especially an inflatable or foldable one, will be easy to transport and carry even if you have reduced strength or back problems.
With kayaking, it’s always important to remember safety first. So before buying a kayak you should participate in a certification course that teaches the basic techniques and safety precautions.
A course will also give you some insight into what kind of kayak you actually need. Many organizations also rent and borrow kayaks for very affordable prices.
So try around before investing in a kayak. This way you will save money as you will have a better idea of your need.
If on the other hand, you are looking for a summer toy for the summer cottage or something to take with you on day trips a lightweight portable kayak might just do the trick.
Thanks for reading and see you next time!