I thought this invention would be an interesting way of expanding one's kayaking range so I offered to test it out on my own fleet of kayaks. I tested the Kayoke out on a variety of watercraft including: whitewater kayaks, recreational kayaks, sea kayaks, solo canoes, and sit-on tops throughout the summer of 2019. As a canoe guide for over 25 years, I was also curious to see how it felt to portage a kayak.
Price: $119 CDN
Size Range: 14-21" cockpits
Load tested: 150lbs
The Kayoke comes with an adjustable molded plastic yoke along with ratchet strap and 2 hex keys.
The website has a series of helpful 'how-to' videos to help you put the yoke together and how to attach it to your boat.
Here is how it works:
Kayak: Perception Sundance
Cockpit width: 19"
After watching the YouTube videos on how to set up and use the kayoke, my first test was on a typical recreational kayak. The Kayoke was easy to slip on over the bow and tighten around the hull of the boat. Portaging this boat using the recommended method in the videos (see photos below) was easy to do. I felt that the Kayoke made portaging this empty boat fairly easy I felt I could definitely portage this boat for awhile. That said, portaging a kayak is more difficult than a canoe as there is no balance point an you have maintain consistent pressure on the bow to pull it down. After using the Kayoke on this boat I would definitely recommend it for recreational kayaks.
Kayak: Pyranha Ammo
Cockpit width: 19"
One of my favourite whitewater kayak runs begins with a 5km portage on a old railbed in Algonquin Park. In past years I have loathed carrying my loaded boat on my shoulder for that length of time and have even resorted to renting boats just so could drag them along this portage. The Kayoke could be the solution to this problem. I set the Kayoke up on my Pyranha Ammo, the boat I would take on this run. The Kayoke fit the wider cockpit without issue and I could pick up the boat and carry it no problem. The only issue I could foresee is maintaining pressure on the bow for that length of time so my solution was to attach a tie-down strap to the bow handle on the kayak and pull it down using one hand while portaging. Unfortunately I wasn't able to try it out before this review was put up but I will update it as soon I do it. I am excited to use the Kayoke with this kayak. I also works on my husband's Pyranha Burn kayak.
Kayak Tested: Wilderness Systems Tempest 165
Cockpit width: 18"
I was eager to try the Kayoke out on my sea kayak to see if it would enable me to carry this boat further afield and possible even help me get this boat on the roof racks of my car by myself (something I can't do alone). After adjusting the jaws, I tried to use the recommended sliding method to get the kayoke on the boat. I had trouble getting the Kayoke on this way when the bow was very long and heavy and I needed a second person to help me out. If this was the case again, I figured out I could simply detach the ratchet strap and feed it around my cockpit so I could complete this process alone. Once on, the kayoke was securely in place. With difficultly, I lifted the kayak up and got it on my shoulders and held it just long enough to take the photo below. The kayak was extremely bow heavy and I struggled to keep it up. There would be no way I could portage this boat in this way even when empty as I could barely take one step. I also can't use the Kayoke to help me get it up on my car roof. There was nothing wrong with how the Kayoke attached to this craft it was just impractical and cumbersome to portage this boat on one's shoulders.
I tried to fit the Kayoke on my solo whitewater canoe (an Esquif Zephyr) but it was too wide by 4". Suggestion - if the Kayoke had wider capabilities and the jaws were able to accommodate canoe gunnels I think this idea could work for those who paddle solo flatwater and whitewater canoes where you sit in the middle of the boat and don't have a traditional canoe yoke but still want to portage. There are a few removable canoe yokes on the market but nothing as easy to use like the Kayoke.
Sit-on-top and fishing kayaks:
One idea I had was that sit-on-top kayaks are annoying to carry as the don't have a traditional cockpit or handles of any kind. I was thinking the Kayoke could come in handy especially with anglers looking to portage their fishing kayak to their backcountry trout lakes. The Kayoke would have to be modified to accommodate wider kayaks, the rails of the boats and the jaws would have to be taller to accommodate head room.
- Can carry a kayak
- Easy to use once jaws adjusted to your cockpit
- Online videos are good tutorials for set-up and use
- Compact to stow - jaws fold down
- Comes with hex keys (allen keys)
- Adjustable to for many cockpit sizes
- More practical to use on portages than carts or carrying over your shoulder
- Design could be adapted for other watercraft
- Doesn't feel as comfortable as a canoe yoke as it doesn't form around shoulders and it is not padded
- Jaws can slip a bit on cockpit wet plastic - add foam to prevent slippage
- Adjustments normally took two tries when trying to fit boat
- Videos and photos of product show older versions or prototypes
Best Uses: Recreational kayaks