Water activities can be the perfect overlap between adventure and relaxation: You can set sail on a calm lake at sunset on your canoe or wind through the rapids of a river in your kayak and feel weightless as you glide across the water’s surface.
The canoes themselves, however, are anything but weightless, and the task of dragging your boat to and from the car can be frustrating. A canoe dolly or cart can save your back and your temper, as it smoothly carries your boat over the toughest terrains so you can save your strength for paddling.
Finding the right canoe dolly for your needs can be difficult, so we’ve compiled a list of things to consider. For a high-quality and durable trolley, consider this model from FUNPENY.
Canoe dollies aren’t exactly household items, so finding the right one for you can be a challenge. Here are some things to consider when making your decision on which canoe cart carrier to choose.
More than likely, any canoe dolly you purchase will require some assembly, but the amount of assembly can vary between products. Some carts can be assembled without any tools, but most require at least a wrench or a screwdriver. Be aware of how much instruction you may need, as some have detailed instructions while others are less clear.
Kayaks, canoes and paddle boards come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, so it's important to find a dolly that can handle the weight of your boat and all the relevant gear. Typical weight capacities range from 120-300 pounds, but most dollies can handle around 150 pounds. The safest way to know how much capacity you need is to load your boat with all the gear you’d usually take and then weigh it. After that, opt for a cart that can handle that amount of weight. Also, be aware that life jackets and other gear may be heavier when wet.
When you’re not actively using your carrier, you want it to be easy to store on your canoe and at home, so it’s important to consider how easily your dolly breaks down. Most models fold, making it simple to condense them down. Some dollies also have removable tires to give you a more compact option.
Most canoe dollies have frames constructed of aluminum, but there are some made from composite, plastic, stainless steel and other materials. Aluminum is the most popular choice because it's lightweight, but also durable and corrosion resistant.
Since the main function of a canoe dolly is to wheel around heavy things, it's important to pick a model with high-quality tires. The taller the tires, the more easily the cart will be able to roll over sand, rocks, roots and other difficult terrain.
Most dollies come with solid (airless) tires or inflatable tires. Solid tires are a common choice because there's no risk of a puncture and no need to reinflate them. The downside to solid tires is that the tire itself breaks more easily than inflatable tires.
Nearly all canoe dollies have some sort of bumper made from rubber or foam, which protects the surface of your kayak or canoe as it slides on and off of the cart. The larger the padding, the more protection. Rubber bumpers can be preferable to foam simply because they will likely last longer.
A kickstand is a really important feature for your canoe dolly, as it allows the cart to stand upright (similar to a kickstand on a bike). This is especially helpful when loading and unloading. Most canoe dollies have one kickstand, though some have two. The heavier your boat, the more you will benefit from extra security when loading and unloading.
Canoe dollies can range from $50-$100. The more expensive models usually mean they hold more weight, up to 200 pounds and above.
A. Probably. Most can handle dirt, gravel, grass and other types of terrain. Sand can clog up some tires, so if you'll be traversing over a lot of sand, keep an eye out for tires that are taller and wider. Tires with a lot of tread also tend to be better than smooth tires.
A. Yes. It is possible that your canoe or kayak will stay in place without a strap, but if you hit any bumps, such as rocks or roots, it could fall off or slide into a strange position. It's always best to invest in a quality strap to protect your boat and keep you from having to mess with it while traversing on rough terrain.
A. No. It may be tempting to treat a dolly like a trailer, but it's really not designed for that purpose. Even if you only hook it up for a short ride, you're likely to cause damage to your carrier, the vehicle, the boat or yourself.
What you need to know: High quality and durable, this trolley maneuvers through rugged terrain well and has extra stability, making it perfect for the most adventurous river junkies.
What you’ll love: This well-crafted trolley features anti-corrosion aluminum and is equipped with 10-inch airless tires. It also has a double kickstand for stability and a buckle belt that maintains stability as the cart moves. It works well on uneven terrain and folds up for easy storage when not in use.
What you should consider: Some customers had trouble with the straps, saying they don’t stay secure as well as they should.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: This solidly built dolly comes with a variety of extras at a good price.
What you’ll love: Lightweight and simple to use, this quality trolley features airless 10-inch tires, a 12-foot tie-down strap and two 5-foot bungee cords. You get your choice of two different kickstand configurations to ensure the most secure setup for any canoe or kayak.
What you should consider: The wheels don’t come off, which makes it harder to break down and store than other models.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: The cart features a rugged build and has a large weight capacity, which makes it stand out compared to other products in its price range.
What you’ll love: Constructed from solid anodized stainless steel, this sturdy trolley has 9.5-inch wheels, a spring-loaded kickstand, foam bumpers and a stunning 220-pound weight capacity. It comes with a durable strap to keep your boat in place.
What you should consider: Some customers had issues with their canoes and kayaks staying in place on this carrier.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Collette Bliss writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.