FAQ: Choosing a Kayak or Canoe Trolley


Kayaks and canoes are not the easiest of things to move around off the water. A trolley makes life a lot easier when it comes to getting your craft to and from the water. There are a range of trolleys available on the market and not all of them are suitable for every craft. This guide takes a closer look at the most popular trolleys out there, and their suitability for use with various types of kayaks and canoes.


Choosing the best Kayak or Canoe Trolley


Types of Kayak and Canoe Trolleys

There are a number of trolleys designs out there, and some are better than others for a particular craft. Some cheaper (budget) trolleys have flimsy designs made from weak metals that really aren’t up to the job, and you won’t find these in our stores. These cheap trolleys also tend to have pneumatic wheels which are prone to puncturing. You don’t have to pay much more and you can get yourself a much stronger metal frame trolley, with various designs for various craft, and one with puncture-proof solid PU foam wheels which won’t leave you feeling deflated. Pay more again and you can get very strong and robust plastic designs which are suitable for a whole range of kayaks and canoes.


The different types of canoe and kayak trolley


Sit-On-Top Trolley

As the name suggests, this trolley is good for sit-on-top kayaks.... but not all sit-on-tops. The design of this trolley utilises the scupper holes present on a sit-on-top kayak. The two upright metal prongs of the trolley pass up into the scupper holes on the kayak, holding the trolley in place. Well that’s seems straightforward and easy!

It is at this point we must talk about the limitations of this trolley. With the metal prongs resting against the plastic scupper holes, there is potential for the metal to damage the plastic if too much force is applied. This style of trolley is therefore only suitable for use with lightweight single-seat sit-on-top kayaks. Even so, we highly recommend using a roof rack cam buckle strap to secure the trolley firmly to the kayak. This reduces the amount of movement between the metal prong and the scupper hole, thus reducing the risk of damage.

Sit-on-top trolleys will fit a range of models as the prongs are adjustable via the clamps on the frame of the trolley. Simply undo the clamps, alter the width between the prongs to match the scupper holes on your kayak, and then tighten the clamps back up. Whilst on the water, the trolley can simply be turned upside down and put back into the scupper holes on the deck side of the kayak for storage whilst paddling.

Our stores stock the Sit-On Top Trolley. These Trolleys are made from high grade alloys, feature strong welded seams, use heavy duty side clips and have oversized all-terrain and puncture-proof solid PU tyres. Tough and robust yet lightweight, just what you need from a trolley.


Sit on Top Trolley Strapped to Feelfree Single Sit On   Sit On Top Trolley In Use For Singler Seater


We do not recommend the sit-on-top trolleys for larger sit-on-kayaks due to the increased risk of damaging the scupper holes on these kayaks. A cradle-style trolley is much more suitable to take these larger, heavier loads. For medium sized single sit on top kayaks, take a look at the kayak trolley below. For larger and heavier Sit-On-Top kayaks, such as tandem kayaks and fishing kayaks, take a look at the Canoe Trolley and C-Tug Trolley below.


Kayak Trolley

This trolley is great for just about all single-seater Sit-In kayaks, such as small recreational touring kayaks up to longer day touring kayaks and sea kayaks. The kayak trolley can also be used with small to medium sized sit-on-top kayaks too. The trolley is a ‘drop-on-top’ cradle style design, where-by the kayak hull is placed on top of the trolley and secured in place using a strap. The trolley can be placed anywhere along the hull, but is best placed approx. 2/3rds of the way back along the hull.


Kayak Trolley Fitted Correctly to a Riot Quest Rec Tourer  Kayak Trolley Fitted Correctly to a Riot Quest Rec Tourer - Second View


Our stores stock the Kayak Trolley and this features a robust design and uses rubber grips on top of the trolley to help hold the hull of a kayak. Puncture-proof solid PU wheels are suitable for all-terrains and the trolley has a small leg to hold the trolley upright whilst you load on your kayak. Included is a cam buckle strap that secures the kayak down onto the trolley. Some hulls shapes have more contact with the rubber grips than others, and on some hulls the trolley may want to slip down the hull during use. This is easily stopped by running the strap through your deck-lines so that the strap rests against a deck-fitting (one holding the deck line in place on the hull), or perhaps around the bow-side lip of a stern hatch. This prevents backwards movement of the trolley if slipping is a problem.

Some examples of kayak models that the Kayak Trolley are best suited towards are included below:


Transporting a Riot Quest using the  Kayak Trolley

Small to Medium Recreational Touring Kayaks...


Transporting a Perception Expression 14 using the  Kayak Trolley

Longer and Larger Day Touring Kayaks...


Transporting a Perception Essence 17 using the  Kayak Trolley

Expedition Style Sea Kayaks...


The Kayak Trolley can be used with medium sized Sit-On-Top kayaks. Note that a longer roof rack strap has been used to secure the sit-on-top to the trolley.

 Kayak Trolley in use on a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120


For storage on the water, the kayak trolley will fit inside the stern or bow hatch of most kayaks. Simply take off the wheels by undoing the quick-release clips and then fold up the trolley frame. Examples of this are shown below using a popular Day Touring Kayak and Expedition Sea Kayak.


Kayak Trolley Stored inside rear area of Expression 14   Kayak Trolley Stored inside rear area of Essence 16


For transporting larger and heavier tandem sit-in kayaks and sit-on top kayaks, take a look at the Canoe Trolley below:

 

Canoe Trolley

This trolley is essentially a larger version of the kayak trolley. It features a larger, wider frame which is more suited to taking wider and heavier hulls. As the name suggests, this trolley is suitable for Canadian canoes, but it is also great for tandem open cockpit and twin cockpit kayaks as well as larger sit-on-tops such as tandems and fishing kayaks. The image below shows that the Canoe Trolley can easily take the weight and transport a 16 foot Nova Craft Canoe.


 Canoe Trolley in use on a Nova Craft Prospector 15 SP3


We stock the Canoe Trolley which again features a strong metal frame design with rubber hull grips, solid puncture-proof PU wheels and a fold-out leg to hold the trolley upright whilst you load on your craft. We recommend the use of a roof-rack strap to secure your craft down onto the trolley. Again, some hull designs hold onto the rubber grips better than others. If the trolley wants to slip backwards during use then pass the roof rack strap through some deck fittings, or through a side handle to trap the strap and prevent backwards slipping. 


Some examples of kayak and canoes that the Canoe Trolley are best suited towards are included below:
Transporting a Nova Craft Prospector 15 SP3 using the  Canoe Trolley

Canadian Canoes / Open Canoes...

Transporting a Percception Prodigy II 14.5 using the  Canoe Trolley

Tandem Open Cockpit Touring Kayaks....

Transporting a Prijon Poseidon using the  Canoe Trolley

Tandem Twin Cockpit Touring/Sea Kayaks...

Transporting a Feelfree Gemini Sport Tandem using the  Canoe Trolley

Tandem Sit-On-Top Kayaks...


 Canoe Trolley in use on a Feelfree Moken 12.5

Even Fishing Sit On Top Kayaks!


Owing to the larger size of this trolley, storage whilst on the water can take a little bit of thinking. In a canoe or open cockpit kayak then the trolley can easily be stored in the hull. On other kayaks the trolley frame is often too large to fit inside a hatch. The trolley can be placed on the deck, or in the rear tank-well of most kayaks, held down with some bungee cords for security. If you are not parked too far away, it is often easier to just take it back to your vehicle.


 Canoe Trolley Stored on Rear Tankwell of Tandem SOT


If you want a trolley that can do it all then take a look at the C-Tug Trolley below:


Railblaza C-Tug Trolley

The C-Tug from Railblaza is a trolley that can do-it-all. It is constructed from a tough composite plastic and will stand up to years of saltwater use and abuse. The C-Tug is based around a cradle design with large supportive pads. The pads tilt and adjust automatically to the hull shape of the craft on the trolley. This makes the C-Tug suitable for just about every single kayak and canoe out there and has a massive load rating of 120kg! The pads will even go completely flat making it suitable for use with SUPs, surfboards and wind surf boards too!


C-Tug Trolley Suitable for a range of Kayaks and Canoes


The pads feature a rubberised surface which provides an excellent grip against the hull of the craft on the trolley. The trolley comes complete with a strap and cam buckle for adjustment. Once the hull is secured down onto the rubberised pads firmly with the strap, the C-Tug holds very well to the craft and slipping of the trolley is rarely, if ever, an issue. 

The trolley features solid puncture-proof wheels with a grippy rubber tread, which are suitable for all terrains. There is also the option of the C-Tug Sandtrakz trolley which features larger wheels. These wheels have a flexible rubber outer section which compresses under load. This provides a larger surface area at the base of the wheel and makes the C-Tug Sandtrakz trolley particularly good at transporting over soft sand without the wheels digging in so much.


Comparison of C-Tug Sandhopper and Sandtrakz Wheels


The C-Tug also has an adjustable kick-stand which keeps the trolley upright whilst you load your craft onto it. The C-Tug is a great trolley for all sorts of kayak and canoes. As before, a range of examples are included below, showing the Railblaza C-Tug Trolley in use:


Transporting a Feelfree Gemini Sport using the Railblaza C-Tug Trolley

Tandem Sit-On-Top Kayaks...


Transporting a Viking ProFish Reload using the Railblaza C-Tug Trolley

Fishing Kayaks, even when laden with lots of gear...


Transporting a Perception Prodigy II 14.5 using the Railblaza C-Tug Trolley

Tandem Open Cockpit Touring Kayaks...


Transporting a Prijon Poseidon using the Railblaza C-Tug Trolley

Tandem Twin Cockpit Touring/Sea Kayaks...


Transporting a Dagger Stratos 14.5L using the Railblaza C-Tug Trolley

Sit-In Day Touring Kayaks...


Transporting a Seabird Scott using the Railblaza C-Tug Trolley

Expedition Sea Kayaks...


C-Tug Trolley in use on a Nova Craft Prospector 16 SP3

Canadian Canoes, even when loaded with gear for multi-day trips...


And more!

When it comes to storing the C-Tug whilst on the water, the C-Tug dissembles to a surprisingly small size. The pads detach by folding them upright, the wheels can be taken off by unclipping an integrated locking pin, the frame can then also be broken down into 2 halves. The C-Tug will then fit into the bow or stern hatch of most kayaks.


Railblaza C-Tug will fit in the storage hatches of most kayaks


If the kayak/canoe doesn’t have a hatch or a large enough hatch, then the C-Tug can usually be stored on deck or in a tank-well, secured down with some bungees.


C-Tug Trolley stored in the tankwell of Sit on Top Kayak


A firm favourite amongst many, the C-Tug has proved its worth over time to many happy customers.

 

A Summary

The table below simply summarises which trolley is the most suitable for various styles of kayaks and canoes.


 

Type of Trolley

Type of Kayak

Sit On Top

Kayak

Canoe

C-Tug

Single Sit On Top Kayak (Small)

 

Single Sit On Top Kayak (Medium)

 

Single Sit On Top Kayak (Large)

 

 

Tandem Sit On Top Kayak

 

 

Fishing Sit On Top Kayak

 

 

Single Touring Kayak

 

 

Tandem Touring Kayak

 

 

Sea Kayak

 

 

Canadian Canoe

 

 

 

Be sure to choose the correct trolley for your kayak or canoe and you will make life much easier when it comes to getting your favourite craft to the water. The easier you make it, the more enjoyable your day on the water will be... and that's what paddling is all about!


All of the Canoe and Kayak Trolley's mentioned in this guide can be purchased from any of the Canoe Shops Group Stores:


Another informative how-to guide from The Canoe Shops Group.