Roll ’em! That’s the motto behind a new wave of paddling carts designed to help transport your craft from your car to the water and back, making paddling logistics easier than ever. Most carts employ two wheels that attach beneath your kayak or canoe’s stern, with a strap extending over the top of the hull for security. All you have to do is grab the craft’s bow and pull it along behind you to the water. Some carts break down so you can bring them with you on the boat (perfect for canoe trips with portages), while others need to be left in the car. Regardless, they all save your back.
Consider your boat size and what you’ll be using it for. Smaller carts, which fit at the end of the stern, weigh less and are better for bringing along for portages; larger carts, usually placed closer to midship, are better for bigger boats (like fishing kayaks) and just getting your craft to the water. Key point: Make sure you get a cart whose capacity exceeds that of your boat and gear weight. Most have capacities between 150 and 450 pounds.
Several different types of paddling carts sport features that are best for certain uses and boats. Most carts feature some sort of saddle or cross bar carrying configuration, with straps for securing the boat. They also come with wide wheel bases for stability, and look for a low center of gravity to prevent tip-overs. Key features: Some carts are also self-standing, which makes them easy to load and unload. And look for spring-loaded kickstands or scupper posts to provide additional stability while loading.
Most carts are made from powder-coated aluminum, padded by either rubber or foam, with stainless steel hardware. These materials are built to last, so avoid anything with excessive plastic.
Paddling carts employ a variety of saddle configurations, from simple crossbars to bent-up cradles. Depending on your budget, look for one with an adjustable width to fit different boats and better prevent the craft from twisting and slipping sideways. Also look for foam pads to protect your boat’s hull. Some are designed with bar-style frames, which can also be adjusted up and down to accommodate odd-shaped hulls that could rub cart wheels.