Transporting an Inflatable Kayak to Remote Waters

The portability to an inflatable kayak and a remote, undeveloped body of water can be a perfect partnership. How many people know of this body of water, have even seen it, let alone been on it to paddle or fish? This is just part of the allure to transporting an inflatable kayak to remote waters.

Why Transport Your Inflatable Kayak to Remote Waters?

What brings a person to pursuing this type of experience, is going to differ individually. They might be looking for more solitude paddling in a natural, undeveloped setting. Then, with that can come fresh fishing locations for devoted fishermen. And maybe it’s the personal journey to the complete process of it all, like a backcountry backpacker or hunter, for example, can appreciate.

Less People, More Nature

It’s just a reality that you are going to come across much less people, if any at all, when visiting remote bodies of water. For those that favor seclusion and being in nature, it doesn’t get much better than this setting. After a short period of time you adjust to your new reality of being on the water, surrounded by trees, plants, and wildlife, instead of roads, cars, buildings and people. Time can seem to slow down here. This reality can generate different feelings for people. You may feel energized, relaxed, and connected with everything out there or the complete opposite. It depends on the person. Either way though, the environment isn’t going to change for you, so embrace it as it is.

view of a remote lake while fishing from an inflatable boat

Adventure and Exploration

While you likely aren’t going to get the adrenal filled type of adventure that you would whitewater rafting or sky diving, there is still undeniable adventure to hiking into a remote destination to kayak. You’re not walking in with an itinerary of the day’s ups and downs to come or even have a clearly marked trail to hike on and point to access the water. You’re a modern day explorer in these situations, relying on your research, possible GPS, the sun’s location for time, and your wits. It’s an appealing thought for some and not for others. Either way, you have to take the good with the bad, and specifically the adventures that feel best to be done with, such as persistent insects, poky vegetation, changes of weather, and more.

New and Untested Fishing

If you love to fish, here is your avenue for quieter waters, less competition, and new spots to cast into. For some, this may be a familiar reality, like hiking farther into public land for hunting. These are the clear perks, as long as you are willing to put in the research and the physical effort to hike into a remote body of water, with an inflatable kayak. And with newly explored bodies of water, it may be hit or miss as it comes to fishing there. You could strike out without even bites, all the way up to stumbling across a hotbed of the fish of your dreams, or anywhere in between. Time will tell, but only if you get out there to test the waters.

collapsible fishing pole and a tackle box on the shore of a lake

Adequate Inflatable Kayaks for Transporting

What makes specific inflatable kayaks and not others adequate for transporting isn’t much different from what sets all inflatable kayaks apart from hard shell kayaks or canoes. Weight, size, and shape are key elements. But, they don’t thrive on their own. You could have the lightest watercraft, yet, if it is large and akwardly shaped, it’s going to be difficult to transport.

Considerations

Just as with the functioning of an inflatable kayak, how it transports depends on its weight, size, shape, and design. But in this case, it’s all about these elements when the inflatable kayak is deflated and folded up. Try lifting a deflated and spread out inflatable kayak or folding up an inflated one. It’s just not going to happen. The compacted design to a folded up inflatable kayak is better for transporting, but in a transport bag that you can carry instead of with your bare hands.

paddling an inflatable kayak on a lake in fall

Lighter weights, smaller sizes, and compacted shapes are ingredients for a easier time transporting. But it takes the best of each of these three elements, not even two out of three counts. Just look at some folded inflatable kayak scenarios: a heavier weight, but small size and compacted shape is still going to be a hassle to carry; a lighter weight and compacted shape, that is larger in size can be difficult to find a happy medium between physically carrying it or with a transport bag; a lighter weight, smaller size, but dense shape can leave you in a similar position as the larger size did.

Best Inflatable Kayaks Available

  • Advanced Elements Firefly: Solo. Weight- 16 lbs. Load Capacity- 250 lbs.
  • Innova Twist: Solo. Weight- 16 lbs. Load Capacity- 220 lbs.
  • NRS Rascal: Solo. Weight- 17 lbs. Load Capacity- Unknown.
  • Sevylor Tahiti: Tandem. Weight- 25 lbs. Load Capacity- 400 lbs.
  • Innova Sunny: Tandem. Weight- 33 lbs. Load Capacity- 396 lbs.

And if you are looking beyond inflatable kayaks, for a lighter option that is better designed for transport, consider packrafts. Like with inflatable kayaks, there are designs for different waters, while the biggest differences on the water between the two is the wider shape to the packrack and lighter, thinner plastic surface materials used. For examples, visit the greenbelly.co website.

Inflatable Kayak Transport Bags

How different could transport bags for inflatable kayaks be? These bags have core considerations comparable to any bag, from a school backpack to a heavy duty pack. But there are design differences that set inflatable kayak transport bags apart from other uses. Still, none of these specializations matter if the bag itself doesn’t match well with the weight, size, and shape of the compacted inflatable kayak or person.

Considerations

You can adjust to extra space, but you can’t create it, so make sure that your transport bag is big enough to hold your deflated and folded up inflatable kayak and other essential materials. Besides just fitting, you want the inflatable kayak and other materials to sit well to form a shape that can efficiently be transported. A backpack for a transport is your best bet for longer distances, while where it positions on your bag is a crucial element. For positioning, you don’t want a backpack that extends much farther than your waistline. This will help keep the weight and contact of the bag on your upper and lower back, and not your butt and legs, which you need to get around. But a bag that extends too much out away from you in either direction is just as alarming for portability. And then there are the shoulder straps, with comfort, positioning, and adjustability important considerations.

inflatable kayak bag all packed up at a boat landing

Best Transport Bags Available

  • Advanced Elements Inflatable KayakPack Backpack: Depth- 12″, Width- 18″, Height- 38.5″.
  • AquaGlide Crossroads DLX SUP/Kayak Backpack: Depth- 12″, Width- 17″, Height- 41″.
  • Sea Eagle All Purpose Backpack: Depth- 13″, Width- 19″, Height- 42″.
  • Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak (backpack system turns into seat): Depth- 8.5″, Width- 20″, Height- 33.5″.

How to Properly Pack Your Inflatable Kayak

You’ll know the difference between a poor and well packed inflatable kayak on your back, just off of the feel of it. How the pack’s weight is distributed, it’s shape and spacing in the bag, and how and where it contacts your body are factors that shouldn’t be overlooked. Sorting these areas out will ensure better comfort while transporting over distances.

top view of an inflatable kayak packed away in its carry bag

Weight Distribution

Think of the weight of your transport bag as an extension of your back. If you naturally put on any weight (muscle or fat) to your back, it’s going to be spread out and well distributed. Why should the weight to a backpack be any different? So don’t put the majority of its weight at the bottom of the bag unless you want the lower back tightness and soreness that comes along with it. Try to spread out the weight vertically. And since most of the weight comes from the folded up deflated kayak, this is your key focus for weight distribution.

Shape and Spacing

Shape and spacing goes hand in hand with weight distribution. You are best off with a packed shape that resembles your back, with even spacing used. As mentioned with the transport bags, the farther away from (not along with) your body the pack spreads, the more work you are doing. Just think of this as the difference in effort needed to sit, when leaning forward or backward (without support) instead of straight up. Your center of balance and fluidity in movements are influenced by this shape and spacing.

Contact and Comfort

Weight distribution, shape, and spacing to a packed inflatable kayak address the essentials to what’s going on inside the transport bag. Now we need to focus on how this ideally distributed, shaped, and spaced pack fit to your body, and specifically your back, for a backpack. We avoided the extra spacing inside, and it’s important to do the same between the bag and your back. Much of this just comes down to making adjustments to the different straps provided. And who could forget comfort? Make sure that whatever comes into contact with your back (even through the bag) is flat and not going to dig into you. The same goes for shoulder straps, adding extra cushioning between strap and your clothing if needed.

Finding Remote Waters and Hiking Routes

Finding remote waters is typically going to come in one of two ways. One way is randomly, by accident while exploring an area, possibly national forest land. And the other is the proactive researched approach of seeking out possible remote waters various means of online maps, natural resource sites, etc. It is important to know coordinates, the hiking terrain, and the actual water condition to get a feel for how accessible your journey in and out would be. But, don’t just assume everything is legal and public land to travel on. For more detailed information of considerations and the overall process, check out the post, “How I Fish Remote Lakes in my Local Area.”

Transporting Your Packed Inflatable Kayak

inflatable kayak packed in a carry bag and held over the shoulder of a user

Finally, we’ve got an adequate inflatable kayak with a fitting transport bag, and we’re all packed with a remote body of water mapped out. All that is left is the physical effort needing to be put in, hiking in with the pack. And of course, there are still important considerations that can make or break this final step. It comes down to the bag, the hiker, and the environment.

Bag Placement on Body

If you’ve got a backpack for a transport bag, definitely use it. It’s going to offer you the best possible transporting position by far. Test out how it feels, situated on your back, adjusting straps or even the packed arrangements if need be. Remember, you want to feel like the pack is merely an extension of your back, with that possible through proper weight distribution, spacing, shape, and contact.

Efficiency in Movements

Don’t expect to just take off running without any affect to your body’s moving capabilities and efficiency. Try to keep all your weight (you and your pack) centered while moving. Avoid overextending in your strides and especially in your posture. Take it slow at first until you get a solid feel for the difference with the pack on. Also, walking sticks or poles can be used for added support if desired. 

Terrain Considerations

Whether you are hiking with or without a pack, environmental terrain and path conditions are a relevant concern. Changes in elevation, from hills to mountains, are physically taxing on the ways up and dangerous for balance on the ways down. And if elevation is less of a concern, thick vegetation and trees to an environment may take its place, especially when traveling on foot to remote waters. This can make finding a suiting path more difficult. But there is also the ground surface, with, for example, loose rocks leading to a loss of footing.

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