If you’re the proud new kayak owner and have never been out on one before, you’re in for a surprise. While there’s a lot of fun to be had, transporting a kayak isn’t as easy as you think. The last thing you want to do is drag it along over a rough surface. That’s where a handy kayak cart comes in.
Kayak carts are little dollies that strap onto the underside of the kayak’s hull. The wheels are of different sizes and designed in different formats—including hard ground, mud, or beach sand. It’s simple enough to load your kayak on top, strap it down, and walk it to the shoreline.
It’s not an essential device, but it will make your life a lot easier, and it won’t take you long to learn how to use a kayak cart. Even small kayaks can be burdensome, especially for seniors and those who are suffering from back, knee, hips, or other joint problems.
How to Use a Kayak Cart
How to attach a kayak to the cart
There are two types of kayak carts—plug-style and strap-style. Strap-style carts have a platform that holds the center weight of your kayak. While the kayak is in place, you run the cart’s straps through various straps or anchors on your kayak and tie it down.
Plug-style carts are only for kayaks designed with scupper holes. The plugs on the cart are designed to plug into the scupper holes on the kayak. Hence the name, plug-style. If your kayak lacks scupper holes for drainage, it’s a waste of money to purchase a plug-style cart.
Both carts are designed to carry a centered kayak with the weight properly distributed. However, strap-style carts are more versatile since you can throw a canoe, john boat, or other small, lightweight watercraft on them.
What do you do with the kayak cart while on the water
Depending on the style of the kayak cart, there are several things you can do with it once your kayak is in the water. Some kayak carts are foldable, and some are not. Some are designed for specific kayaks.
Foldable kayak carts will often fold down far enough that you can strap them to your kayak or even store it in the dry storage compartment (if your kayak has one). Those are the most convenient, and even if you don’t have room for it, the folding capability gives you other options.
You can store it in your car or padlock it to the dock if you feel safe enough doing that. The non-folding variety will still strap to your kayak, so long as you don’t mind that added bulk. Often enough, however, people will just store it away in their vehicles or their truck beds—locked up, of course. The last kind, the carts made for specific kayaks, are designed to fit on your kayak, whether you strap it down or store it within the dry storage compartment.
Types of kayak carts
There are two types of attachment kayak carts, as we covered above, but there’s a little more to it. There are also differences in the cradle options that various kayak carts offer.
- Scupper Hole Carts are designed for kayaks that have scupper holes, and those are usually sit-on-top kayaks
- End Carts slip on the stern of the kayak and strap down, so you pull the kayak behind you like a child’s wagon
- Double Rail Carts feature two parallel rails, with the bottom hull resting parallel and in between
- Adaptive kayak carts are designed to fold into different positions for different weights and in situations where the paddler stays in the kayak during transport
- C-Tug kayak carts use platform pads that adjust to the hull when the kayak’s weight settles in.
While all of the above conform to either plug-style or strap-style, they each have their advantages. It just depends on the style of kayak you own.
Benefits of using one
Even lightweight kayaks are not very ergonomic when carrying them. Some kayaks are huge, especially the giant rigs with support for fishing rods, accessories, fish finders, paddles, and all your gear for a day out on the lake.
Plus, if you are out on your own, paddling all day, you’ll be tired. Now imagine picking up and carrying the kayak back to the vehicle. You don’t want to drag the kayak anyway. It will cause abrasions on the whole and reduce the lifespan of your kayak.
Kayak carts are a matter of convenience and, when the kayak is way too heavy, a matter of necessity. They come in all shapes and sizes, including tires. Kayak carts offer flat-free tires, inner tube tires, and hard plastic tires—whatever you need to suit your travels.
Learning how to use one is relatively simple. Once you unfold it or lay it out, it’s pretty common sense. The only drawback you might have is loading the kayak on the cart from the vehicle, especially if the kayak is overly heavy.
After a long day out on the water, especially if you’ve had to row upriver, you will be forever thankful for a little kayak cart. If you recently purchased a kayak, it’s more than worth the extra expense.
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