Carrying your kayak over any long distance is a lot of work and can put you at additional risk of injury. That is why you see many older and more experienced kayakers relying on the best kayaks for rough terrain.
Some kayak carts are great for pulling your kayak down a boat ramp or a paved launch ramp. These carts really come up short, however, when you need to transport your kayak down a soft dirt path laden with roots and branches.
If you always use a tandem kayak for your adventures, you will probably have a paddle partner at the ready to help you carry your kayak. If not, a kayak cart will help you get your watercraft down to the water without wearing yourself out before you even pick up your paddle.
In our eyes, a quality kayak cart is a must-have accessory for traveling paddlers as well. You simply cannot predict when the place you want to launch will require an unrealistically long carry that would otherwise be unmanageable without a cart.
If you are particularly adept at crafting and you have some extra time on your hands, you can also consider building your own PVC kayak cart. If not, check out our selections for the 10 best kayak carts for rough terrain.
Photo by Alex Linch via Shutterstock
- Best Kayak Carts For Rough Terrain
- Kayak Cart Buying Guide
Reviews of Kayak Carts For Rough Terrain
- 1. ABN Universal Kayak Carrier
- 2. Bonnlo Kayak Cart
- 3. TMS Kayak Trolley
- 4. FIERYRED Kayak Cart
- 5. MorTime Heavy Duty Kayak Cart
- 6. Suspenz Smart Airless Deluxe Cart
- 7. Hobie Trax 2 Plug In Kayak Cart
- 8. Seattle Sports Paddleboy All-Terrain Kayak Dolly
- 9. Codinter Kayak Cart
- 10. Bonnlo Kayak Beach Cart
- Our Pick – Suspenz Smart Airless Deluxe Cart
- Enjoyed 10 Best Kayak Carts For Rough Terrain? Share it with your friends so they too can follow the Kayakhelp journey.
- ABN Universal Kayak Carrier
- Bonnlo Kayak Cart
- TMS Kayak Trolley
- FIERYRED Kayak Cart
- MorTime Heavy Duty Kayak Cart
- Suspenz Smart Airless Deluxe Cart
- Hobie Trax 2 Plug In KayakCart
- Seattle Sports Paddleboy All-Terrain Kayak Dolly
- Codinter Kayak Cart
- Bonnlo Kayak Beach Cart
Photo by Kevin Hodgson Photography via Shutterstock
The good news about these kayak carts for rough terrain is that there isn’t a ton of variation between the different models. Still, let’s briefly discuss a few selection criteria that you can use to choose the right design for your kayak and the locations you frequently paddle.
Many of these kayak carriers fold up so that they take up minimal space in your SUV or truck when you are not using it. Others do not, so you will need to make sure you have enough space for it between uses.
The larger kayak carts that can handle more weight will simply be a little more cumbersome when you need to store them. In addition, they will be harder to strap to the deck of your kayak if you want to take your cart with you for a multi-day trip.
Some people even store their carts inside the cockpit of their kayak between uses. Before you finalize your selection, simply make sure that you have enough space to store your cart easily when you are not using it.
There are three main types of kayak trolleys on our list. The most common is the folding kayak cart, the most unique is the plug-in cart from Hobie, and the others kind of resemble miniature boat trailers.
Folding kayak carts can pretty much work universally with all types of kayaks. They tend to be the most compact when you need to store them and they include straps that wrap up and around your kayak to secure it in place.
Plug-in kayak carts like the one from Hobie below will only work with sit-on-top kayaks. Your kayak must have scupper holes so that you can slide it down and over the upright arms that keep it in place while you are moving it around.
The kayak wheels that resembled mini boat trailers feature flat, padded arms that are designed to cradle the hull of your kayak. They make it less likely for your kayak to fall off the cart with or without the use of straps, but they are much larger than folding carts when you need to store them.
There are three basic tire designs among kayak carts. There are carts with hard plastic tires, carts with rubber inflatable tires, and carts with rubber tires that are completely airless.
Carts with hard plastic tires do not tend to fare well on rough terrain. They are more likely to become stuck on small rocks and are also more likely to flip if you hit a particularly large tree root, so we haven’t included any of this variety on our list.
Among carts with rubber inflatable tires, there is also variation. Some look like miniature car (or bike) tires and others look more like exceptionally large and durable grey balloons.
The former tend to be better for harder dirt paths while the larger tires tend to provide more buoyancy on soft paths and sandy beaches.
Kayak carts with airless tires look very similar to carts with smaller rubber inflatable tires. They are exceptionally durable, they perform well on rough terrain, and they also eliminate the need for air refills or the unfortunate possibility of a tire puncture.
You will also need to consider the weight of your kayak (or kayaks) when you are choosing a kayak cart. It should be able to accommodate the loaded weight of your kayak without collapsing or breaking.
The whole point of having a kayak cart is that you can load your kayak on the cart, put all of your kayaking accessories inside, and wheel it down to the water in a single trip. It eliminates having to make multiple trips back and forth just to get your paddle trip started.
So the cart you ultimately choose will need to support the dry weight of your kayak plus the combined weight of all of your gear. If you have multiple kayaks, it will also need to support both their weights and all the gear that you bring along.
- Dimensions: 22” x 9.2” x 13”
- Weight Capacity: 200 pounds
The knobby tires on this cart allow it to handle rougher terrain and the steel frame gives it the strength to handle heavier loads. At a weight of just eight pounds, it is also extremely light if you need to strap it to your kayak for multi-day paddles.
The top steel arms on the frame are equipped with oversized foam bumper pads to protect the hull of your kayak during loading and unloading. It also features a spring-loaded kickstand so that it doesn’t fall over and fold up when you are trying to load your kayak.
This kayak trolley comes with a single 12-foot kayak strap to help you secure your kayak in place once it is loaded on. The cart also folds flat and the wheels can be removed for more compact storage between uses.
- Dimensions: 27.5” x 16.25” x 12”
- Weight Capacity: 165 pounds
The Bonnlo kayak cart features a fully aluminum frame and a U-shaped kickstand for easier loading. That kickstand design provides additional cart stability and also spreads the weight of your kayak out instead of it being placed entirely on a single kickstand arm.
The top aluminum bars on the frame are outfitted with four foam bumper pads to protect the bottom of your kayak. This cart also boasts completely airless rubber tires that will never go flat over the lifetime of the cart.
These 10-inch tires are made of solid polyurethane material and they make this cart great for handling rocky terrain. The 12-inch U-shaped stand on this cart is also spring-loaded so that it easily folds back up and out of the way when you begin to roll your kayak.
The Bonnlo trolley comes with two 7.75-foot cam straps to secure your kayak in place once it is loaded up. It also folds completely flat and the tires can be removed when you need to store it.
- Dimensions: 28.8” x 13.2” x 6.8”
- Weight Capacity: 150 pounds
The TMS kayak trolley works universally for all types of kayaks, as well as paddleboards and canoes. It has 9.5-inch pneumatic tires that are 3.25 inches wide and offer plenty of grip for rough terrain.
The solid metal frame is durable enough to hold multiple kayaks (depending on the model) and the upper arms include foam bumper pads to protect the hull from damage. This cart also includes an ‘M-shaped’ kickstand with two downward arms.
These downward arms are spring-loaded so that they retract once you start moving your kayak. When extended, the kickstand is essential to keep the carrier in place while you are loading your kayak on top.
The TMS kayak wheels also come with a single 12-foot cam strap to secure your kayak in place once it is loaded up. The cart can fold flat when you are not using it and, with a total weight of just 8 pounds, it is light enough to carry right on the deck of your kayak for longer trips.
- Dimensions: 26.77” x 12.6” x 10.62”
- Weight Capacity: 200 pounds
The FIERYRED kayak cart is made with anodized aluminum alloy that is entirely resistant to corrosion. That makes this kayak cart a great choice for paddlers that frequent saltwater environments.
This cart has a high weight capacity and features an ‘M-shaped’ double kickstand that keeps it in place when you are loading. It also boasts cushioned pads to protect the hull of your kayak from rubbing directly against the aluminum frame.
The wheels feature rubber pneumatic 10-inch tires with plenty of grip for slippery or rough surfaces. They also boast polypropylene caps on the exterior that helps to protect the wheel hubs from rubbing and wearing down over time.
This kayak trolley comes with a 9.19-foot cam strap for securing your kayak. It also folds down flat for storage and the wheels can be removed with pins if you need to store them separately from the frame.
- Dimensions: 27” x 15” x 12”
- Weight Capacity: 165 pounds
The MorTime heavy-duty kayak cart is made with high-strength anodized steel that provides excellent durability for larger kayaks. It has plenty of weight capacity for one or two kayaks and can also work for two-person paddleboards and canoes.
It features 10-inch airless tires made with solid polyurethane material. These tires will never go flat, are resistant to tears and punctures, and do not require you to refill them with air multiple times over their lifetime.
The upper arms of the cart include foam padding to protect your kayak’s hull and the cart also includes a U-shaped kickstand. This spring-loaded stand flips down when you are loading your kayak and automatically flips up and out of the way when you start rolling it.
The MorTime cart also comes with a 12-foot tie-down strap and easily folds down when you need to store it. You can also remove the pins to take the tires off the frame if you need to store them elsewhere.
- Dimensions: 27” x 13” x 13.5”
- Weight Capacity: 125 pounds
The Suspenz Smart Airless Deluxe cart is a great choice for smaller kayaks, but it still offers a reasonably high weight capacity. It features 10-inch solid rubber tires that will not require you to constantly refill them.
The frame itself is constructed with durable aluminum that has a powder-coated finish and will resist corrosion if used in a saltwater environment. The hardware is also made with corrosion-resistant stainless steel.
Instead of foam, this cart features rubber pads at the critical points on the frame where the hull of your kayak will rest. This still provides plenty of protection for your kayak, but rubber is less likely to break down or disintegrate over time.
The Suspenz kayak trolley also includes a mesh carry bag that makes it much more compact and easy to store and carry. The frame folds down to a thickness of just three inches and the tires can be removed and fit inside the carry bag as well.
- Dimensions: 30.4” x 20.1” x 6.6”
- Weight Capacity: 176 pounds
The Hobie Trax 2 Plug-In Kayak Cart is a unique design that is made specifically for sit-on-top kayaks. That is because your kayak will need scupper holes if you want to be able to make use of this kayak cart.
To use it, you can simply set your kayak down onto it so that the upright arms slip up through any set of parallel scupper holes. From there, you will be off and rolling your kayak anywhere, although this cart is best for soft sand and beach terrain.
The cart itself features welded stainless steel construction that makes it durable and able to hold heavier weights. If you can keep a second kayak balanced on top of the first, you may even be able to roll two kayaks with this cart.
The 9.5-inch pneumatic tires on this cart are made of a blow-molded polyurethane material that is extremely durable and capable of inflating to a higher capacity than the smaller rubber tires on most other carts.
The tires also feature large sidewalls that help to prevent pinching that could result in damage when you have this cart loaded down. Plus, the wheels can still be deflated and removed when you need to store the cart.
The Hobie Trax 2 kayak cart also comes with cart clamps and a cart keeper feature. If your favorite launching point is filled with incredibly deep sand, this is definitely the best cart for you!
- Dimensions: 30.5” x 16” x 17.5”
- Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
The Seattle Sports Paddleboy All-Terrain kayak dolly has one of the highest weight capacities out there. This makes it a great choice for transporting multiple kayaks or handling some of the heaviest fishing kayaks on the market.
The tires on this cart are more like bicycle tires than the standard tires you have seen on most of the other carts on our list. Because of their larger diameter, they include tire spokes to protect them from damage under heavy loads.
The tires are also solid and airless so that you don’t have to worry about refilling them or them ever going flat. The frame itself is made with powder-coated steel that is strong, durable, and corrosion-resistant.
The padded bars at the top of the frame will protect the hull of your kayak from damage when you load it up. Those bars are also adjustable so that they can fit kayaks of many different widths, as well as canoes, paddleboards, Jon boats, and other paddle craft.
While it looks (and is) slightly larger than most of the other carts we have included, the entire frame breaks down for low-profile storage. The wheels can also be removed so that they are easier to slide into your truck or SUV.
In spite of its larger size, this cart still only weighs 16 pounds and, because it breaks down, it can still be strapped to the deck of your kayak for longer paddles. It also has a two-legged kickstand and it comes with cam straps to help you keep your kayak secure once you load it.
- Dimensions: 27.5” x 16.25” x 13”
- Weight Capacity: 165 pounds
The Codinter kayak cart is very similar to many of the other folding carts on our list. The main advantage of this design is its green color, which will blend more seamlessly into natural environments if you have to stash your cart in the woods while you are paddling.
This cart is made for kayaks, canoes, and other watercraft with a maximum width of 31 inches. It is made with powder-coated aluminum tubing and stainless steel hardware that is appropriate for freshwater or saltwater environments.
The top arms of the aluminum frame boast rubber pads that are most long-lasting and durable than foam pads. These protect the hull of your kayak and are also less likely to slide around than foam pads.
The Codinter cart also features an ‘M-shaped’ kickstand and 10-inch solid tires that are great for rough terrain. The tires never go flat and do not need to be refilled in order to handle softer sand or beaches.
- Dimensions: 37.5” x 17.3” x 19.7”
- Weight Capacity: 165 pounds
The Bonnlo beach kayak cart is ideal for owners of kayaks with deep, V-shaped hulls and it is made for launching on sandy beaches. The U-shaped horizontal bars cradle your kayak and provide plenty of padding to protect the hull.
The tires are made of heavy-duty PVC and TPU material and inflate up to 3 PSI. They won’t sink in soft sand and can also easily be removed and deflated when you need to store the cart.
It features an aluminum frame with upgraded plastic connectors and a heavy-duty stainless steel spring-loaded kickstand. Soft steel cables between the frame pieces also provide more durability and stability on rough terrain.
Our Pick – Suspenz Smart Airless Deluxe Cart
It is built with corrosion-resistant materials, which allows it to handle both freshwater and saltwater environments. Plus, it comes with two cam straps that are connected directly to the frame and make it easier to secure your kayak once it is loaded onto the frame.
This cart also includes an ‘M-shaped’ kickstand with rubber feet on both downward arms. This design is the most durable type of kickstand for kayak carts and also helps you load your kayak without the cart moving around.
Lastly, the Suspenz DLX kayak trolley is one of the few out there that comes with its own unique mesh carry bag. So it is much easier to keep secure and out of the way until you absolutely need it!