Kayak trolleys

A compilation from Club members experience

If you paddle on your own, unless it is just from a local spot with easy access, you will need a trolley. On a multi-day or multi-week trip it is impossible to paddle without one. Even if you can carry the empty kayak a good distance, you will not be able to carry a laden boat. Four or five journeys up and down the beach may be viable especially aided by a couple of supermarket shopping bags or blue Ikea bags to quickly empty a heavy boat. But a relay over a mile is not. Even with two people, carrying a packed sea kayak over 100m is hard work.

A team of 4 with portage straps is very effective and may be the only solution on rough ground, but by the time you’ve made the fourth journey that cup of tea is really calling. A trolley can be useful to portage a tricky headland or for a bad weather escape. Two members escaped a persistent F9 storm on Mull by a 5 mile portage across the narrow centre.

The ideal trolley would be light as a feather, pack into a Valley round hatch (18cm diameter) in seconds, be unbreakable under any load, with wheels that can handle any surface, stable enough for the side of a mountain, with a self lubricating axle and bearings that have zero friction and will never wear out. Needless to say this trolley is as elusive as the 10kt paddle.

Portage straps , the only solution for certain shores. Make your own cheaply or buy a set from Kari-Tek

...only 5 miles to go and weighing 45kg plus

Another solution portage straps

C-Tug – Arthur

‘I use the New Zealand made C-tug (www.c-tug.com) if I am taking the boat any distance. It all comes to bits and stows behind the seat in the cockpit. A bit expensive at about £120 but it is excellent!

The other photo is an 'effort' I made just to trolley it from the car to the water. It works well and I do know where there is an ASDA trolley with two wheels – if you are interested!

I have been ‘working’ on the trolley problem for a while; although I now usually do not paddle alone so it is less of a worry. Company is good and fuel costs are shared, although there is an intensity of being alone at sea which I am glad to have experienced.’

DIY – Mike

‘On a three day solo trip around Anglesey the consistency of the beaches was always a concern (Bull Bay is flat pebbles and Roscolyn is firm sand, Beaumaris has a concrete slip so I got lucky). The Ekla trolley has 8" (or 10" Ed) wheels which are too small for soft sand and pebbles (the wheels have pneumatic tyres which can puncture, one does not need the shock absorption) .

The 10" (260mm) wheel version works fine but do not fit through a Kayak Sport round hatch (NDK/Rockpool etc) and take up a huge amount of space. The Ekla trolley is a very awkward shape which has to be loaded into the hatch while there is still space to jiggle it about; this means that one has to partially unpack before one can use the trolley.

I now have a trolley frame made of tig welded aluminium (to my design; the prototype was made using soldered 18mm copper pipe) which will come apart into three small pieces. I am working on wheels which are ten inch but which can be dis-assembled (hub/flanges/rims) to fit.

The whole business has been expensive, but it’s a ‘project’.

DIY – Martin

‘We have two DIY trolleys that fit through a round Valley hatch.Scrap ply, ethafoam, busted straps and karrimat offcuts and the leg of a table my brother made at school. Sorry almost forgot to list part of our old shower door.’

DIY mkII Golf trolley wheels

Martin also made a great trolley from a pair of golf trolley wheels, some marine ply & epoxy resin. Very lightweight (1.7kg) and with the wheels off, it all fits neatly inside a Kayak Sport hatch. Brilliant says the owner!

Club Members DIY

Club members have been inventive with smaller wheeled trolleys, mainly suitable for fairly even surfaces, but I’ve seen them used to great effect to ease launching and recovery. I’ve had several DIY goes myself, none completely satisfactory. Here are some home made ones for inspiration.

David's DIY with wheels from a skateboard

Chic MATC and Ekla

– Richard

‘I have two. MATC a French made stainless steel frame breaks down into three – the two cunningly asymmetric arms and the axle plus the two wheels which detach. I bought this in Scotland at a sea kayak symposium many years ago and not sure if they are still available. I cannot find them on the internet any more.

Advantages Grips the boat well with integral straps and angled bars, which suit the tapered hull of the kayak. Goes over anything with the large pneumatic wheels including wet sand and soft gravel and small boulders. Will fit into a large oval hatch without completely dismantling. The frame folds almost flat without taking off the wheels. Will go into large round hatchs (10" Kayak Sport) – not the standard Valley 8" round hatches.

Disadvantages Heavier than aluminium. Tyres almost always flat when you want to use it so need to pump up regularly Won’t go into a Valley round hatch as the wheels are too large diameter. Takes a few minutes to assemble if carrying disassembled in a hatch. (ok if folded flat in an oval hatch).

Takes up a lot of space in the hatch so I carry them in a dry bag on the back deck when the hatches are loaded.


The second is an Ekla aluminium frame which folds down into a U shape. Sold in 3 sizes and under many brand names. The wheels detach. Ekla now cost £75 from Northshore Watersports, I can’t believe I paid that much for it years ago.

Advantages Light weight. Stands up whilst you put the kayak on. (Didn’t realise what I was missing out on with the other trolley). Slightly angled bars for the kayak to sit in. Straps separate but easily fixed. Goes almost anywhere with the pneumatic tyres but slightly less rough ground than the other set. Will fit into a regular round Valley hatch with the wheels detached. Will fit into an oval hatch with the wheels on if you have an empty hatch.’


Fragile; sea water just loves the aluminium tubing, which can become scored and break after extensive use in sandy conditions, and will it support a full laden kayak weighing 50kg? Ekla and similar cloned products have a poor reputation for robustness and have often failed people just when they needed them most. Ekla also make one which is more robust and designed for canoes. The problem is how to pack it.

Kayak Carriers trolley



A bombproof trolley, reputed to be designed for up 0to 150kg load! Here are some pictures which might give inspiration for a DIY project. It will fit into the rear oval hatch if necessary. I’ve experimented with different axles as the alloy ones wear alarmingly and cover everything in black paste, a solid delrin (nylon) rod appeared to be good, clean and self-lubricating but eventually wore into grooves, so I’ve gone back to alloy.

I also found constantly flat tyres a nuisance, but found that when pumped up very hard they remain hard, but too bouncy for some surfaces.

The wheels have the common problem of not fitting the round NDK or Rockpool hatches so mine was carried in a dry bag on the back deck. Don't forget the straps either to keep it attached to the kayak when trolleying. (yes been there... )

Symposiums are the place to share trolley stories, here is a simple home made one from France

This French kayak had a built in fixing point for trolley!

So simple, with the legs held in place by guy lines.

More commercial trolleys

Lomo do a similar Ekla trolley design at a fraction of the price but once again packing it in a sea kayak is not easy.



does a well made robust trolley, but it is over complicated and doesn’t pack away easily. We have both tried and abandoned it.