Lifting a fishing kayak to and from the water can be a hassle – especially if you’re of advancing years, or a younger paddler.
Many of these new pedal kayaks with lawn-chair seating weigh a considerable amount, requiring either two people, or a kayak cart to transport.
And even then, it can still be a struggle to get them unloaded and loaded from your vehicle, and down to the water’s edge.
With that in mind, I’ve put together this article on the best lightweight kayaks for fishing in 2023 – so you can find the easiest craft to carry on the market.
Table of Contents
- The Lightest Fishing Kayaks in 2023 – The Top Choice
- TOP 11 Best Lightweight Fishing Kayaks in 2023
- Vibe Skipjack 90 Fishing Kayak
- Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130 Kayak
- Intex Excursion Pro Tandem Fishing Kayak
- STAR Challenger Fishing Kayak
- Pelican Mustang 100X Sit In Kayak
- Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Fishing Kayak
- Sevylor Coleman Colorado Tandem Fishing Kayak
- Perception Flash 9.5 Fishing Kayak
- Sun Dolphin Journey 10 Fishing Kayak
- Pelican Sentinel 100X Fishing Kayak
- Brooklyn Kayak Company PK11 Fishing Kayak
- How to Choose a Lightweight Kayak for Fishing
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The Lightest Fishing Kayaks in 2023 – The Top Choice
Before we get stuck into the reviews, here’s a brief summary of the criteria for inclusion in this article, what you should be looking out for, and just some of the things to bear in mind.
- The best fishing kayak should actually come with fishing features.
- You’ll be choosing between inflatables and hardshells, sit-inside, and sit-on-top kayaks.
- The kayaks in this article fall between 27-75 lbs in weight.
- Weight specifications have been included.*
*A word of caution here, as the advertised/package/carrying weight might not be that accurate, and can fail to include seating, pedals, or any other features that might increase this figure.
Personally, if I was shopping for a lightweight fishing kayak, my first choice would be the Vibe Skipjack for a hardshell, and the Aquaglide Blackfoot for an inflatable kayak.
As a runner-up, the Intex Excursion Pro is the best budget fishing kayak out there.
TOP 11 Best Lightweight Fishing Kayaks in 2023
Vibe Skipjack 90 Fishing Kayak
Carrying weight: 42 lbs
When it comes to fishing kayaks, designing and building a marriage of features, performance, comfort and affordability – all in a lightweight vessel – is a challenging task.
That’s why I think Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90 is one of the best sit-on-top fishing kayaks on the market.
Designed to be the ultimate hardshell pack-up-and-go kayak, it’s super compact, and easy to lift onto a car or into the back of a truck.
It has four molded in rod holders, a waterproof cargo hatch, fish finder mount, and paddle rests for hands-free fishing; and is perfect for leisurely recreation and angling alike.
- Great price for what you get.
- Bow and stern tank wells.
- Durable, sturdy build.
- Excellent all-round performance.
- Bungee storage.
- Paddle holder.
- Molded footbraces.
- A few complaints about the seating – but you could always upgrade.
I’m clutching at straws to find fault with the Vibe Kayaks Skipjack, one of the best lightweight, all-round, sit-on-top boats on the market. All things considered, this is probably the best fishing kayak in this review.
Aquaglide Blackfoot Angler 130 Kayak
Carrying weight: 41 lbs
At 13 feet, this new Aquaglide Blackfoot fishing kayak is one of the longest craft featured, designed for full-on fishing trips and expeditions in all kinds of waters.
The super-stable, Duratex reinforced PVC construction offers a lofty maximum weight capacity of 650 lbs – so you’ve got plenty of leeway with lots of gear and supplies.
It’s also the only inflatable fishing kayak in the review that comes with lawn-chair style seating – which is a huge boon for a craft in this class.
Packed with features, this is one of the best sit-on-top fishing kayaks out there – period. And it even comes with a fishing cooler on board.
- Premium quality, sit-on-top inflatable kayak.
- Drop stitch flooring.
- Cockpit splash guards.
- High weight capacity.
- Deck cargo bungee storage.
- Adjustable footrests.
- Cooler with rod holders.
- Not a cheap fishing kayak.
A stable fishing kayak for long angling adventures, and suitable for fly-fishing, the Blackfoot is for anyone who is serious about the sport. If you’re looking for lightweight touring kayaks you can fish from – this is a solid choice.
Intex Excursion Pro Tandem Fishing Kayak
Advertised weight: 43.64 lbs
Surprise, surprise, it’s the Intex Excursion Pro. I think this sit-on-top fishing kayak probably holds the record for the most fishing kayak reviews it makes it onto – not least because it’s affordable, very highly rated, and packed with genuine fishing-friendly features.
It’s also super lightweight – which is why it yet again justifies its inclusion on these pages.
Made from a tough, durable PVC, it’s fully resistant to sunlight, impact damage, and abrasion, with a removable mounting bracket to add fish finders, extra rod holders, and more.
And one of the best things about tandem fishing kayaks like this one, is that you can pilot them solo, giving you more room for extra stuff.
- Unbeatable price point.
- Removable tracking skegs.
- Paddles, pump, and bag included.
- Bow and stern storage space.
- Multiple D-rings for lashing gear.
- Two integrated fishing rod holders.
- Tandem kayak.
- Seating isn’t the most comfortable.
Possibly the best cheap fishing kayak ever made, the Intex Excursion Pro is also one of the lightest, with more genuine fishing-friendly features than most inflatable kayaks out there.
STAR Challenger Fishing Kayak
Advertised weight: 27 lbs
Is it a fishing kayak? Is it a paddleboard? I’m not sure.
But what I do know is that the flat fishing platform that is the STAR Challenger is the lightest craft in this review – but that’s just without the lawn-chair seating added. And even if that was 10 lbs, it would still be the lightest kayak here!
Made from a rigid, high-pressure, drop stitch PVC, it has no less than nine internal float tubes for the ultimate in rock-solid stability.
Standing casts and reels are a breeze, and you have a super-comfortable mesh seat when you’re ready to sit back down.
Whether you class it as an inflatable kayak or not – it’s all kinds of awesome.
- Ultralight fishing kayak/SUP hybrid.
- Five YakAttack mounting points.
- Repair kit and pump included.
- Tracking skeg.
- Bungee tie-downs.
- Self-bailing deck.
- The fishing platform/SUP style won’t be for everyone.
A truly ultralight fishing kayak that offers space, comfort, and stability. For similar designs, check out this article on the best fishing SUPs on the market.
Pelican Mustang 100X Sit In Kayak
Carrying weight: 39 lbs
At 39 lbs, the Pelican Mustang takes the crown as the lightest hardshell fishing kayak around.
Sure, there might be lighter recreational kayaks out there, but this has been designed as a hybrid, made for an all-round fishing and paddling experience.
I’ve recently had the chance to try one, and for the money, it’s a terrific kayak for those drop-of-the-hat fishing trips.
It’s a sit-inside design, with a twin-arched, multi-chine hull to improve tracking and stability, with a durable, dual-layer polyethylene construction.
Two flush mount rod holders are situated just behind the cockpit, which has a padded seat, and dashboard with smartphone storage.
For the money, the weight (or lack of it), and the features – this is a great fishing kayak.
- Great price point.
- Dual position bottle holder.
- Molded footrests.
- Shock cord deck rigging.
- Removable 17L hardshell storage.
- Choice of striking color schemes.
- Not the most comfortable for larger/heavier humans.
While it might be a bit too lightweight for some, this is nonetheless a terrific little craft for kayak fishing and recreational paddling.
Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Fishing Kayak
Advertised weight: 44 lbs
The Steelhead is another inflatable kayak that always seems to make it onto the best fishing kayak reviews. And for good reason – it’s a super solid craft that can accommodate standing casts and reels, thanks to its durable, drop-stitch floor.
At just under 11 feet long, it’s compact and portable, while still offering excellent maneuverability and performance on the water.
Featuring five hard mounting points, there’s plenty of scope for adding a fish finder, swivel fishing rod holders, sports cameras, and more.
And you certainly might want to add a camera or two, as this thing is rated for up to class III whitewater.
- Highly portable and stable fishing kayak.
- Bow and stern storage.
- Spray shield.
- Removable tracking skeg.
- Adjustable footrest.
- Carry bag, pump, and paddle included.
- Rod holders sold separately.
Probably one of the best inflatable fishing kayaks on the market, the Steelhead is an awesome craft for adrenaline-fueled fishing adventures on-the-go.
Sevylor Coleman Colorado Tandem Fishing Kayak
Package weight: 38 lbs
The Sevylor Coleman Colorado is a stalwart of lightweight inflatable fishing kayaks. A two-person craft (or one person and a furry companion), this is as solid and durable a yak as you’ll find – considering it’s an inflatable.
Built like a tank, it packs in loads of mounting points for all your fishing accessories, including Berkley Quick Set rod holders for hands-free fishing.
Made with a super-durable 1000 Denier tarpaulin bottom and 840 Denier nylon cover, you have durable protection from punctures, and an airtight system that’s guaranteed not to leak.
Along with cockroaches, this kayak will still be around after a nuclear winter.
- Rugged, durable construction.
- Tandem fishing kayak.
- Rod holders.
- Paddle parks.
- Multiple air chambers.
- D-rings for accessories.
- Trolling motor compatible.
- Mounting hardware can be a hindrance.
- Not the most comfortable seating.
- Not suitable for standing casts.
A decent option if you’re looking for a lightweight, portable tandem kayak suitable for all water conditions. Don’t expect hardshell performance, but it’s still rated to class IV whitewater – so you’ll have a great time with a partner on a peppy river.
Perception Flash 9.5 Fishing Kayak
Advertised weight: 41 lbs
This is a stable, compact, and lightweight hardshell kayak that is highly versatile, and ideal for beginners, or anyone who wants to enjoy a variety of activities on calm rivers.
Molded carry handles at the bow and stern make transportation easy, and adjustable foot braces inside can accommodate paddlers of all sizes.
Comfort seating with a high backrest is included, as are two, flush mount rod holders for your convenience.
A dashboard with cup holder makes it easy to keep a beverage or a pair of quality fishing pliers to hand, and a 10-inch rear storage hatch can stash any extra gear you might bring along down the river.
- Excellent price point.
- Compact design.
- Dual tracking channels.
- Drain plug.
- Highly maneuverable.
- Molded cup holder.
- Rod holders.
- Limited storage.
A great sit-in kayak that offers good versatility as a recreational play-boat that can go just about anywhere. It makes for an affordable, entry-level river fishing kayak for anyone who wants to try their hand at the hobby – while keeping things super light in the process.
Sun Dolphin Journey 10 Fishing Kayak
Advertised weight: 44 lbs
I’ll bet my bottom dollar that anyone new to kayaking or fishing kayaks will have heard about Sun Dolphin. They seem to be the go-to choice for stocking in big box stores, but they’re as basic as they come.
Still, the Sun Dolphin Journey is a lightweight, compact kayak that actually manages to pack in some decent features.
You’ll find a swivel rod holder in the center, two flush mounted rod holders behind the seat, and a removable, portable accessory carrier set into the stern.
If you’re looking for one of the best budget fishing kayaks out there – then this isn’t a bad place to start.
- Great price.
- Adjustable foot braces.
- Retractable carry handles.
- Protective leg pads.
- Bow and stern shock cord.
- Center storage hatch.
- Rod holders.
- Paddle included.
- As basic as they come.
- Not the best performance.
- The paddle is terrible.
- Low weight capacity.
Truth be told, the Sun Dolphin isn’t a bad fishing kayak – it’s just not the best. But as a lightweight option in a pinch – it deserves a place here. Just do yourself a favor and replace that paddle.
Pelican Sentinel 100X Fishing Kayak
Advertised weight: 44 lbs
Like the Sun Dolphin, the Sentinel 100X is a no-frills fishing kayak that offers a super-simple setup, but will still get the job done.
You’re not going to find six fishing rod holders and multiple accessory tracks here, but you do get a lightweight kayak that’s very affordable.
The multi-chine hull offers excellent stability for casts and reels, and it has a handy EXOPAK removable storage compartment at the stern.
Two accessory eyelets allow you to attach extra gear, and a molded drinks’ holder in the center console can keep a cold beverage to hand.
- Great price point.
- Ideal for beginners.
- Rod holder tie-downs.
- Paddle holders.
- Bungee cord webbing.
- Adjustable foot braces.
- Probably best for smaller paddlers only.
- Low weight capacity.
One of the smallest fishing kayaks out there, the Pelican isn’t going to light up the fishing kayak world with its smart aesthetics, but it’s a great choice for a new kayak angler to dip their toe into the water.
Brooklyn Kayak Company PK11 Fishing Kayak
Dry weight: 60 lbs
You might be wondering why I’ve included the PK11 from the Brooklyn Kayak Company, given that it’s 60 lbs before even adding the seat and pedal drive.
But that’s significant for one main reason – I believe this to be the lightest pedal fishing kayak on the market.
Now, I will happily stand corrected if someone were to do so, but this 10.5 foot craft comes in around 75 lbs fully rigged – which is pretty impressive for a sit-on-top fishing kayak with pedal power.
Let me know if you find a lighter kayak in its class, and I’ll beg your forgiveness.
- Affordable pedal drive kayak.
- Compact and durable.
- Accessory tracks.
- Three rod holders.
- Comfort frame seating.
- Large bow storage hatch.
- Choice of colors.
- It’s still on the heavy side.
- Very basic for a pedal craft – as you might expect.
Until someone invents an inflatable pedal kayak, the sit-on-top PK11 from the BKC looks like your best bet for the lightest option out there. Native’s Slayer Propel 10 might say otherwise – but I’ve crunched the numbers, so you don’t have to.
How to Choose a Lightweight Kayak for Fishing
We’ve written plenty of kayak buying guides at BonfireBob, and if you want to start at the beginning, then check out this general article on how to choose a fishing kayak.
But keep reading if you’d like tips and tricks on what to look for – specifically related to lightweight kayak fishing.
Fishing Kayak Performance – Does Weight Matter?
Why would you buy a lightweight kayak in the first place?
None of us are getting any younger, and we all like things that help make life a little easier.
Many kayak anglers like to concentrate on spending as much time as possible on fishing, rather than struggling to get to the water.
And there’s no doubt that lightweight kayaks can help us do that – especially if you prefer to fish alone.
But what about performance? How much does a kayak’s weight contribute to how it handles on the water?
The answer is – it varies.
Lighter kayaks will typically be faster than heavier models – but once you’ve loaded all your fishing gear (and yourself) onto the boat, I very much doubt you’ll notice much of a difference.
And it can be pretty subjective. One kayak angler might struggle with piloting a lightweight craft over a heavier model, and vice versa.
I’m sure there are complicated math equations that can provide accurate data on the correlations between kayak weight, paddler weight, load capacity, conditions, and performance.
But for the average kayak angler – it’s not going to matter.
In short, the massive advantage lightweight craft hold over heavier pedal or motorized kayaks is how much easier they are to carry and actually paddle.
And if this is a concern for you – then you’re in the right place to find the best fishing kayaks that won’t break your back!
Inflatable vs Hardshell
One of the main advantages that inflatables have over hardshells is that they’re typically lighter than rotomolded polyethylene.
Although with some advanced framed inflatables – there’s not much in it.
Some inflatable kayaks can be as light as 20-25 lbs – but they tend to be recreational play boats rather than the best fishing kayaks.
Regardless, a dedicated inflatable fishing kayak isn’t going to be much more than 40-45lbs.
Inflatables also have the advantage of portability, as it’s a one-person job to throw it in the trunk of your vehicle and set off for the water’s edge.
But hardshells take the crown when it comes to performance, comfort, and on-board storage – and for fishing kayaks, and kayak anglers, this is usually non-negotiable.
You can follow this link for more of the best inflatable fishing kayaks, or go here for the best inflatable fishing boats if you prefer.
Sit Inside vs Sit-on-Top
Another decision you’ll have to make in the fishing kayak selection process is between sit-inside or sit-on-top models.
When it comes to weight, I would say that sit-on-top kayaks are generally the heavier of the two.
But sit-on-top kayaks are more popular and practical for fishing than sit-in kayaks. To see the top options currently on the market, take a look at this review of the best sit-on-top fishing kayaks in 2023.
Sit-inside kayaks tend to be more of a challenge for fishing, given the nature of their hull design.
But they do offer excellent secondary stability, which means they can handle rough water and chop better than a sit-on-top fishing kayak.
Regardless, most sit-inside kayaks suitable for fishing have a more hybrid design, anyway – offering a nice balance of stability and performance.
You’re not going to be able to stand up in them, though – that’s for sure! If you’re looking to try fly-fishing from your kayak, this review of the best kayaks to stand in will be more up your street.
And this article further discusses the merits of sit-inside fishing kayaks, and why you should still consider giving them a go.
Size and Weight
It’s an interesting experience to research, review, and write about fishing kayak weights.
The problem is, like most products when it comes to comparing figures, companies tend to fudge the numbers.
Either that, or it can be challenging to find genuine weight specifications, short of weighing the kayak yourself!
Does it include the seat (if applicable)? Does it include the pedal drive (if applicable)?
As such, there is often a great difference between a hull weight, a fitted weight, and a fully rigged weight.
- Hull weight is how much the kayak weighs, stripped down to its bare bones – either a rotomolded polyethylene hardshell, or a fully inflated inflatable.
- Fitted weight includes the kayak’s lawn chair style seating – if it has one.
- Fully rigged weight is the hull, the seating, and the pedal drive combined – if it has one.
It’s the latter figure that can sometimes be difficult to locate, as what you initially thought was a light fishing kayak suddenly becomes a weighty beast!
Where possible, I’ve included as much weight information as I could find from hours of researching the manufacturers’ specification of dozens of fishing kayaks.
That, added to my own kayaking experience, has helped me choose this selection. Sure, you might find lighter kayaks, but I’m confident this review contains the best fishing kayaks in this class.
When it comes to size, you’ll naturally find that lightweight kayaks generally tend to fall into the more compact variety – with one or two exceptions. After all, more kayak means more weight.
While you’re not going to win any races or travel great distances with these fishing machines, they are suitable for quick fishing trips, and for negotiating hazards and obstacles on more peppy waterways.
Take a look at this article for more of the best compact fishing kayaks on or under 10 feet.
Pedals vs Paddles vs Power
As soon as you start adding all the bells and whistles, a kayak’s weight is going to shoot right up.
That’s why pedal or motorized kayak options are largely absent from this review.
If you don’t mind the significant increase in weight, price, (and luxury), you can check out the best pedal fishing kayaks at that link, and go here for the best motorized fishing kayaks.
At the end of the day, you’re still going to need a paddle, and this article has the best fishing paddles available today.
Of course, an equally important figure (if not more so) when it comes to fishing kayak specifications – is its weight capacity.
You need to understand how much the kayak can hold when out on the water, so you don’t experience difficulty, a drop in performance, or – in the worst case scenario – capsizing or even sinking.
On average, for lightweight, hardshell, sit on top/sit in kayaks, the weight capacity is around 300-350 lbs. A good inflatable is often double that.*
*Again, both figures depend on the type and quality of the particular kayak.
Never overload your fishing kayak, or allow the onboard weight to come close to this limit.
Remember – a kayak’s total weight capacity includes yourself, your fishing gear and equipment, fishing cooler, and anyone or anything you also happen to bring along with you for the ride.
Fishing Friendly Features/Storage Space
Lightweight kayaks don’t necessarily need to be light on features and storage space – although smaller craft tend to have less room for extra gear.
Look out for some or all of the following additions when shopping for your new fishing kayak:
- Flush mount rod holders.
- Articulated/swivel rod holder.
- Mounting points/gear tracks.
- Scupper holes.
- Bow and stern tank wells.
- Dry hatches.
- Paddle holder.
- Shock cord deck rigging.
- Portable accessory carrier/removable storage boxes.
- A high weight capacity if you have a lot of gear.
- Anchor trolley (although not common on lighter kayaks).
- Trolling motor compatible.
This list is not exhaustive, but so long as you have plenty of storage space for your fishing rods, a fish finder, and any additional tackle and gear you might need – you should be good to go.
Fully adjustable, lawn-chair style seating offers the most comfortable experience on your fishing trip – but there’s a double whammy when it comes to the trade-off.
Yup, cost and weight.
The better the seating, the more expensive and the heavier the fishing kayak will be (when we’re talking about fitted weight).
However, most sit-on-top kayaks with this kind of seating allow for the chair to be removed, and then installed at the water’s edge before you put in.
This makes transporting the kayak a lot lighter and less cumbersome.
For the most part, though, fishing kayaks in this class tend to come with a simple padded seat instead.
Another advantage of lighter fishing kayaks is that they tend to be cheaper than other models, as they don’t have as many bells and whistles.
You can also check out this general review for more of the best budget fishing kayaks, or go here if you want to narrow down your filters by checking out the best fishing kayaks under $1000.
What is the lightest pedal drive fishing kayak?
Great question! Pedal drives add a significant amount of weight to compatible kayaks – many of which are already heavy enough.
In my extensive research for this article, I think that the lightest, fully rigged (seating and pedals) pedal kayak is the PK11 from the Brooklyn Kayak Company.
It has a dry weight of 60 lbs, the pedal drive adds 8-9 lbs, and the seat is around 6 lbs.
Even if you inflate those numbers a little, that’s still coming in under 80 lbs – which is not at all bad for a fully-loaded pedal fishing kayak, and lighter than the claims made by other kayak companies.
What is the lightest sit-on-top fishing kayak?
Now, this question can easily cause debate, as it depends on your definition of “fishing kayak!”
I class a kayak to be a fishing craft if it contains at least one or two features that allow it to be used for fishing.
For example, for recreational, inflatable kayaks, you might well be able to fish out of the Sevylor Quikpak K1 (link to Amazon.com) (18 lbs), but a fishing kayak it is not!
With that in mind, the lightest fishing kayak that I found is the Star Challenger, which is advertised as being 27 lbs, although whether that’s with or without the seating is unclear.
How much does a lightweight kayak weigh?
I would class a kayak to be lightweight if it’s anything under 60 lbs, but your ballpark figure for the best fishing kayaks in this category is typically going to be around 40-50 lbs.
I hope this article on the best lightweight fishing kayaks has helped point you in the right direction when it comes to choosing a highly portable craft for your next fishing trip.
Let me know which option you’ve gone for and why – or if you’ve found an even lighter fishing kayak than the ones I’ve included here. Doubtful – but the gauntlet has been thrown down!
Stay safe out there, tight lines, and happy kayak fishing!