…There are so many different styles of carts available on the market today what kind of cart is right for your particular needs? I own a 12’ sit-on-top (SOT) kayak, a 15’ canoe, and a small 10’ sit-in-kayak. The company that makes my 12’ kayak has a specific scupper-hole cart for my kayak; however, it will not work with my other small boats. So instead of buying two separate carts, or trying to build one from PVC (I’m not a great do-it-yourselfer), I went on the search for the one DO-IT-ALL cart.
After a lot of research I found the PaddleCart ($125) made in America by Clover Enterprises, Inc., located in Summerville South Carolina, (www.paddlecart.com). According to their website, “Clover Enterprises is one of the leading manufacturer of Aluminum Marine Hardware. The PaddleCart kayak and canoe cart was born from the frustration of trying to lug a heavy kayak to some of the more beautiful rivers in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Not satisfied with the other kayak carts on the market, we set about on the adventure of building the “Ultimate” kayak cart and canoe cart.” Is it the “Ultimate” kayak and canoe cart?
Here is what the folks at Clover Enterprises have to say regarding the PaddleCart (green… Clover…get it?):
With a radically different design philosophy, the PaddleCart is unlike any other cart on the market…here is why:
- Easy to Stow (put the parts where you want) – The PaddleCart’s innovative design allows you to disassemble it into five relatively small parts. This makes it much easier to stow in your kayak or canoe if you want to take it with you on your voyage. Simply stow the parts of the cart in different areas of your craft to ensure your comfort. Most other carts on the market fold up but are still too bulky to easily stow in the small confines of your typical kayak or canoe.
When the PaddleCart arrived on my doorstep I was surprised that the shipping box was so small. Upon opening the box I realized that a lot of thought and engineering was put into the design, yet it was not overly engineered. The PaddleCart comes in 5 pieces and two 1.5” cam straps. Its cross-members fit easily and are held together with spring lynch pins. There is a little “play” in the cross-members once put together, but this does not affect the performance.
The wheels are held in place with two circle lynch pins. No over-engineering with the wheels either. The wheels are plastic spoked (similar to the old-school BMX wheels/tires), and there are no bearings in the hubs to fail. The wheels roll freely on the axles with very little, if any, friction. The circle lynch pins do their job well as there is not any lateral (side-to-side) movement.
- Built Strong – The PaddleCart kayak cart is built from brushed marine grade anodized aluminum pipe (not thin tubing or plastic) then precision welded into a durable frame. No bolts to come loose on the trail. The PaddleCart’s parts assemble quickly using two hoop spring lynch pins for the crossmembers and two circle spring lynch pins for the wheels.
I’ve been using the PaddleCart for about a year now, and I have not had anything break or come apart. The only thing that has “broken” are the ends of the cushion/grips have torn on the cross-members where it sits on the ground while loading. Clover sells replacement cushion/grips on their website for about $7 (set of 4). In addition, they sell replacement parts for all their products. The tear in the cushion/grips is only a minor detail, really cannot be avoided, and does not affect the cart performance. Since it’s made from aluminum there isn’t anything to rust or corrode.
- More Stability – The PaddleCart kayak cart has more contact area with the hull of your kayak or canoe for better support, stability and security. The cross-members cradle your kayak or canoe over a 20″ length on both sides. More support along with a wide 24″ wheel axle means more stability. We also use a thick cushion pad that “grips” your kayak and canoe along with a 1.5″ strap with a camlock buckle to secure everything in place. The cart is designed to sit just aft of the center point (almost balanced) for easy portage. You can either push it or pull it… your choice.
This will be easy since I have no experience with other carts to compare stability. Once properly loaded and strapped onto the cart (I’ll address loading in another section), any kayak or canoe can be easily pulled or pushed to its desired destination. The cross-bar cushion grips hold well but can become slippery when wet (obviously). I had one experience, where I did not load my kayak onto to cart properly, and I tried to pull it up a steep ditch and my kayak slipped off the cart. I chalk this up to user error because I was in a hurry, and did not take the time to center the cart correctly. After that experience I learned my lesson and now take my time loading the PaddleCart.
- Even with its rugged durability the PaddleCart kayak cart weighs in at a light 9.4 pounds. It easily and quickly comes apart so that you can take it with you on your paddling adventure…no need to drag is back to you car or worry with hiding it. It comes apart or goes back together in under 27 seconds…using simple lynch pins that self lock.
9.4 pounds? I thought it was lighter than that. Yes it does come apart quickly and easily and stores in compact places. Just don’t misplace the hinge pins…but Clover thought about that as well. They included a handy little dry storage box with lanyard to keep the lynch pins together and secure so you don’t loose anything. The Paddlecart fits nicely in the front hatch of my 12’ SOT and behind the seat of the 10’ sit-in kayak. I rarely store the cart in my kayak unless I’m in an overnight trip or know I’ll need to portage. The paddle cart is as portable as they come, as long as you have a 10 to 12-inch opening in your kayak..
- Loading - And we took the time to make sure that the design is easy to load as well. Because of the PaddleCart kayak carts sturdy design, it is very easy to load a kayak or canoe on top (it won’t collapse like some of the other carts on the market).
As mentioned earlier, loading the PaddleCart is a process that you’ll need to take your time. Not that it takes forever to load, but in order to get the best performance you cannot be in a rush. The PaddleCart did not come with clear directions on how to load the cart. Clover does have a link to see how easy it is to load, but it just shows a picture of a loaded kayak. Some carts use a “kickstand” to hold the crossbars off the ground for easier loading. The PaddleCart’s crossbars rest on the ground at a steep angle, so when you load a boat on top of the crossbars you have to reach under and flip the crossbars up into position. Depending on how well you initially placed the boat on top of the crossbars, the PaddleCart may or may not be centered under the boat. Tightening the 1.5-inch cam straps over the top of the boat to secure the cart in place may self-center the crossbars. If not, you’ll need to reach under and pull the crossbars so they are centered properly. Loading is easier on relatively level ground and gets harder on uneven ground or steep surfaces, but that goes for any cart.
- Capacity - The PaddleCart kayak cart has been static load tested to over 300 pounds but we recommend keeping the load under 150 pounds on those rugged trails.
I have yet to put the capacity claim to the test. I have carried loads in my canoe easily pushing 100 pounds (including the canoe), and have not had any issues. There is no doubt in my mind that the capacity PaddleCart can handle 150+ pounds (just make sure the tires are properly inflated).
The greatest asset is its value with just simply loading my kayak in the bed of my truck. You would not think that loading a 60 pound kayak in the bed of a truck to be very stressful…wow, I was wrong! A 12’ 60 pound kayak is an awkward uneven weight and a low back killer. The PaddleCart saves my lower back every time.
Is the PaddleCart the “Ultimate” kayak and canoe cart? If you define “Ultimate” as durable, versatile, and portable…then YES, it is THE “Ultimate” cart. From the smallest 9’ kayaks, to mid-sized sit-on-tops, to large 15’ plus canoes, there isn’t a small boat it can’t accommodate! Best of all it’s made in America, and for $125 you won’t break the bank or get high on PVC clue. If you don’t want to limit yourself to a “boat specific” cart, give the PaddleCart a try.