(Images on the Paddle To Work pages may be used freely if kayakcam.com is credited as the source.)
How To Build A Kayak Cart
At the far shore the kayak still needs to get the rest of the way to work. I've heard of keeping a car at each shore which would be useful if your work is farther than walking distance from the beach. You could also find a safe tie-up, leave the kayak and take the bus. But I enjoy the funny looks I get when I put the kayak on a collapsible cart and roll it up the trail and down the road to work.
How To Build A Homemade Kayak Cart
Chesapeake Light Crafthas plans for making a kayak cart so I started with those. Not finding good brackets I used wood, screws, fiberglass cloth, epoxy and bits of pipe to improvise. (If you recently built a Chesapeake kit you'll have some of those supplies left over and the uncontrollable desire to use them.) I used the fiberglass cloth and the bits of pipe to reinforce the axle holes drilled into the vertical wooden supports. I notched the wooden rails and threaded the straps between the wooden rails and the pipe insulation that was used for padding. The wheels are 10-inch no-flat cart wheels and the axles are hitch pins that fit the bore of the wheels .
The kayak cart I built is pretty ugly but seems to be strong and relatively light. Since the padded wooden rails pivot it fits easily in the back hatch of the CLC LT 17 when disassembled.
Here I have hauled the kayak, the cart and the gear up from the beach onto the trail. (The wheels roll well enough on the rocky beach but since the winter storms I can no longer maneuver around the layers of driftwood logs.) To load the kayak onto the cart, I set the cart next to the cockpit of the kayak, support the cart with the paddle float, point the cart toward the stern of the kayak, then lift the bow and rest the kayak on the cart. I taped a little neoprene to the stern keel with electrical tape so the kayak can pivot safely on the rocky beach or path.
The wheels are large enough to roll up the beach through the mix of sand and rock found at Little Squalicum. As I think about it, the whole kayak cart is built around the wheels. You want something big and wide enough to roll through the sand and over the rocks while supporting about 40 pounds per wheel. After maneuvering around the driftwood (often enlisting the help of a passing beachcomber) or hauling the kayak, cart and gear up to the path, I roll the kayak up the gravel trail and down the road to my home away from home, Bellingham Technical College.
Update: After hauling my kayak up the beach on my cart for a couple of years the wood-epoxy-fiberglass structure is still holding up! I do worry about snapping something when it jams against a rock on the beach so I am slow and gentle. Friends have used kayak carts they like from PaddleCart and Paddleboy and recommend them. I'm building a Pax 18 which has very limited storage and small hatches so I'm planning to build or buy something small and simple like the Kayak Kaddy end cart by Hardy. It is pretty much an axle with a v-shaped support. The whole thing gets strapped to the kayak instead of lowering the kayak onto the cart. I'll post more when I get that far.
Kayak Cart Reviews
Below are a few first-hand and second-hand reviews of purchased kayak carts.
Best Tiny Kayak Cart
Reviewing the use of Bow Wheels At The Bowron Lakes
I wanted to take my fast CLC Pax 18 racer/day boat on the Bowron Lakes circuit. It has one small hatch in back and one tiny hatch in front so I thought I would apply ultra-light hiking techniques to the trip. I needed to find some way to portage the boat that was small enough and light enough to pack around the 72 miles of lakes and trails yet strong enough to survive the 7 miles of portages. I tried buliding something and shopped around a lot and ended up buying a simple and strong bow wheel design. The Bowron Park rangers had not seen the circuit portaged this way since most paddlers opt for heavy duty carts that support the entire weight of the boat and cargo. (See bottom photo this column showing the rented portage cart on a canoe.) The wheels and axles proved to be strong though I did need to add a long retaining strap that maintained tension between the top wheel strap and the cowling to hold the wheels in place.
7 miles was a long way to carry the aft end of the boat but I had a light racing kayak and packed most of my gear (hammock, stove, etc.) on my back. To help support the weight of the kayak I slipped a sling around my shoulders and the stern, like a side satchel. The comparatively narrow width between the wheels allowed me to weave around the ruts and rocky outcrops in the trail, avoiding the problems that break larger, sturdier carts on the circuit. It took a lot of effort and I had to pay close attention to the track of the wheels but the trails are beautiful and my arms got stronger. Besides, the longest single portage was only a couple of miles. Beauty, eh? I bought mine at West Marine but I've only been able to find them at L.L.Bean since. If you take this approach, be sure to test it with all your gear as it takes some effort.
Best Design and Best Medium-Weight Kayak Cart
Reviewing the PaddleCart's Performance At The Bowron Lakes
My friend portaged the Bowron Lake circuit using the PaddleCart from PaddleCart.com . He shopped long and hard before settling on this cart and on the rugged Bowron Circuit trails it proved to be a rock solid design with strong welds and wheels. It is relatively light and compact for a cart that supports the entire weight of the boat. I love this design. As I struggled with lifting half the weight of my boat for miles at a time my friend was able to balance his on the cart and with a light tug could walk it along the trail like a dog. I frequently huffed and puffed over a hill to find my friend waiting for me, leisurely eating snacks and gloating. It also needed an extra strap or two to keep it in place when the wheels encountered ruts or rocky outcrops in the trail, but the wheels were large enough to roll easily most of the time.
Best Heavy-Weight Kayak Cart and Best Cart Under $100
Review of the Malone Clipper Deluxe
The Malone Clipper with its 200 lb weight rating and lifetime warranty is my choice for portaging anything bigger than my CLC Pax 18. They have a smaller version, the Nomad, rated at 150 lbs which is plenty for most applications and fits in a hatch easier, but if I'm going to "go small" I'll stick with my little bow wheels. If I'm going to "go big", hauling my double or having some gear in the boat during a long portage, I would rather have the higher weight rating. While I like the design of the PaddleCart better, the PaddleCart is only rated at 150 lbs and the manufacturer recommends 100 lbs on rough trails. The 10 inch wheels are smaller diameter than the PaddleCart but they are a full 3 inches wide and work well on trails and packed, rocky beaches. I haven't tried sandy beaches with any of these and might perfer one of the baloon wheel styles if I was paddling along sandy beaches. Overall, the Malone Clipper is the best kayak cart I've found for under $100.
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