Picture of Portage cart for canoes and kayaks
I have a large canoe (approx 17 feet long and 4 feet wide at the middle) and more often than not I am the only one physically able to move it (at least until the wee ones get bigger MUH HAHAhahahaha).

It probably weighs close to 100 lbs empty.  I can pick it up and carry it but it is really awkward due to its size.  add in the paddles, trolling motor and battery, fishing gear, etc etc. and it gets tough to portage without risking damage to the bottom.

This instructable is geared towards making a cart to handle my canoe.  For a Kayak or smaller canoe you could scale it back to 3/4 inch PVC to make it lighter and smaller.
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Step 1: Tools needed

Picture of Tools needed
drill bits.JPG
-fine toothed saw, or PVC pipe cutter
I originally started with the Hacksaw but it was taking forever.  I switched to the miter saw and it made the cuts drastically faster and the cleanup of the cut ends was not to bad.
I Do not recommend using any type of powered saw to cut the pipe

-utility knife or file to remove any burrs from the PVC after cutting it

-Drill and assorted bits ranging up to a 1/2 inch bit

-PVC Primer

-PVC cement

-rubber Mallet (not pictured)

-Hot glue gun and glue sticks

-Fine grit Sand Paper or 00 Steel wool to rough up the PVC surface before painting

-Spray paint designed for plastic

Step 2: Gathering parts

Picture of gathering parts
hardware 2.JPG
- (2) 10 inch solid tires

- (1) 10 foot section of 1.5 inch PVC pipe

- (4) 1.5 inch Tee connector

- (2) 1.5 inch clean-out plug

- (2) 1.5 inch female adapter

- (4) 1.5 inch end cap

- (2) 1/2-13 x 4 Hex cap screw

- (4) 1/2-13 hex nut

- (6) 1/2 hardened flat washer

missplumeau3 years ago
We have been going to a really cool lake in Vermont for the past couple of summer. The owner of the house has this big ol' canoe that's getting damaged because even if we lift it, it sags in the middle and dragging it is not much better. Your contraption is just what we need! Thanks for posting your very clear 'Ible!!
Lorddrake (author)  missplumeau3 years ago
glad to be of help. I hope that the canoe your friend has does not sag too badly, that sounds dangerous.
eranox3 years ago
This is great! A cheap, simple way to cart around my kayak. I'll build one of these this weekend, and maybe bolt some nylon straps to the endcaps of the supports that can adjust and then buckle together. Well done!
nathanlsmock6 months ago
Works like a champ! I added a kind of kick stand that is a huge help. I also would spend a bit more if you can and get good tires. Don't have a finished picture.
Lorddrake (author)   nathanlsmock6 months ago

looking forward to seeing your finished results

kognack7 months ago

I made mine. Look at that...super! Tks for your help. I used wheels from handcart, 1 1/2 tubing and insulator for pipes.

Lorddrake (author)  kognack7 months ago

Awesome job. Thanks for sharing.

spowell1 year ago

I have the exact same canoe. Would you mind sharing your dimensions? Thank you very much for the project.

jules151 year ago
this is an awesome project. but a simpler way and most likely cheaper is...

get a child stroller, the cheap, simple kind that fold up and rip out the fabric if you want. and put it on the canoe/boat and strap it with a ratchet strap tie down. thats how i move my canoe longer distances. but of course its not as stable because the wheels are smaller and its not as wide as yours
lynnceline2 years ago
So glad I found this. I didn't use my kayak at all this summer because I didn't want to drag it across the street to the lake & I'm too puny to carry it by myself. This will be a great project for me to tackle.

I actually saw a guy who built one of these from copying one from a retail store but his wheels were wonky. If I see him again I'll let him know about your Instructable.

Congratulations on winning the contest, and thanks so much for posting!
Lorddrake (author)  lynnceline2 years ago
I'm so glad this helped you out.

One of the really nice things about this project is that it can be assembled in a single afternoon (even less time if you don't have to run all over town for parts and take pics to post up online hehe)
samjaynes3 years ago
Made this over the weekend with some inflatable wheels from Harbor Frieght, and worked out great.

If anyone knows where to get the pool noodles from, I would really appreciate it. I have googled for 'Super Wacky Noodle' and can not find retailers.

Thanks - enjoyed your instructable!
Got my pool noodles at my local Ace hardware. They had both 3/4 and 1"
Hope this was helpful :-)
As soon as the Harbor Freight inflatable wheels go on sale again, I'm switching to those too.
Lorddrake (author)  samjaynes3 years ago
I would love to see a picture of your finished product.

I found the noodle at dollar general, but I have seen them at other discount retail stores as well.

Very nicely done. Is there anything that can't be made better with a pool noodle?
Great design - I used 1" PVC pipe to make two yak carts for my newly purchased 10' long LL Bean kayaks. I made a couple of design changes - added a kickstand so cart would be easier to load, and drilled holes in endcaps for the 24" threaded rod. Tires are 7" diameter from Harbor Freight, PVC parts from Home Depot, pool noodle from Target. I even was inspired to paint them after seeing your nice green cart. THANKS for sharing your design!
Lorddrake (author)  CaptainToast3142 years ago
Thanks for including pics to show the changes you made.

I love the kickstand idea.

Awesome job!!
I was just counting the supplies I have on hand to alter this for a bike trailer, but then I read the part about using a smaller diameter pipe for a kayak. Now I'm not sure what to do.

The kayak I was designing around is about 13 feet long and 35 pounds, based on this tutorial [] But I also have a bamboo one that I might want to try and stack on the same cart. It's about the same length, but a few pounds lighter.

So, I should go with 3/4" pipe for the single cart, and larger for the harebrained stacking idea?
Lorddrake (author)  armored bore2 years ago
The 3'4" should handle the single kayak no problem.

I don't know how well it will do for the two stacked ... you might need to step up to 1 inch pipe for that.

The 1.5" that I used is able to handle the canoe that I have (approx 100 lbs) and all the gear (including a trolling motor and a deep cycle battery to run the motor) that I take on a trip no problem.
shootr3 years ago
This has been a lifesaver! We have a tandem kayak and two kids sized kayaks, so getting from the truck to the water was always a challenge.

I'm guessing with all 3 boats and gear, we're about 125lbs load. The only change I made was the axle.

I ran a piece of all-thread all the way through the axle pipe and caps, then used nyloc nuts to secure it. Washers, wheels, more washers, and more nyloc nuts secure the wheels with just enough tension to not wobble but still roll freely.

I haven't noticed any deflection in the axle from the load.

Also, as an alternative to the foam noodles, I used bicycle handlebar grip tape. It seems to "grab" the bottom of the boat nicely and still give a bit of protection.
Lorddrake (author)  shootr3 years ago
Glad it is working out well for you. I went with the noodles for padding and buoyancy (although they are not really that necessary since it is a closed pipe system that floats quite well on its own). I didn't even think of grip tape, that is a great alternative.
Cool tut! I used stop nuts w/ nylon inserts in place of doubling up, but ovverall great project. I'm using it for my Stand Up PaddleBoard.
Lorddrake (author)  barbcitybrewer3 years ago

look forward to seeing pics when you finish your cart.
bbrookins3 years ago
This was helpful for an idea on how to put one of these together. I utilized large rear wheels from a lawn mower (~15" diameter for more rolling terrain & they were free from the dump). One thing I noticed as that with a nearly fully loaded canoe, the center cross member sagged considerably causing the wheels to bend inward. By nearly fully loaded, I mean 4 hp motor, 2.5gal fuel, pfd's & fishing gear on a 17' freighter canoe. I put the cart rearward of normal center, which was a nice balancing point for pulling it up the hill.

I will be adding a larger piece of pipe to stiffen up the bottom cross member. Have to find one that fits reasonably well over the 1-1/2" sch 40 connectors.

Other tricks for cutting would be flexible hacksaw blades or a 14" chopsaw; which cuts up to 6" pipe with ease.

Good instructable overall!
Lorddrake (author)  bbrookins3 years ago
I found my cart works best at one end of the canoe or the other rather than in the middle.
I just set the cart under one end, secure it with a tie down, and pick up the other end and roll along on my way.

For now I an still using my 40lb thrust trolling motor with my canoe. I am still on the lookout for a small (somewhere between 3-7hp) reasonably priced outboard.
I still can't figure out how the justify charging more for a 5hp motor than they do for a 25hp motor.

thanks, i am very proud of this ible (it was my first one)
I had it behind the middle to get the proper balance point with my canoe. In the middle and it was not responding properly at all. I think having it properly balanced is key to having it work the best to your benefit; but it does add some extra loading to the cart.

Will add an image or details later on what I find for the proper pipe size to stiffen things up.

For your motor needs, watch craigslist for your local area; or to search multiple locations. I've seen canoe motors go for about the same price as electric motors in my area. Good luck!

Lorddrake (author)  bbrookins3 years ago
i look forward to seeing your pics.

I tried checking craiglook and it appears that criagslist took it down :(

no worries .. I will eventually find what I need. good things come to those who wait :)

Craiglook has been replaced with when I bring it up. Still lets me check several different locations at once; but based mainly on distance instead of being able to click on the individual locations like it used to be able to do.

Attached are two pictures of the finished cart. I found that the 1-1/2" fittings don't fit well inside of 2" pipe without major sanding of the fittings, so I had to utilize 2-1/2" service entrance pipe. I did not want to reduce the strength of the fitting. There is a gap that still needs to be filled, I think I will go with expansion foam to add to the buoyancy. I also have not put on any foam insulation or floater sticks, yet.

Another thing that I did, although I didn't get any pictures of the process or end result was to take a piece of 1-1/4" pipe and my belt sander to get another singular piece of pipe that fits inside of the 1-1/2" pipe snugly along the entire length (hub to hub). It took about 15 minutes with some 50 grit paper to get the outer diameter of the 1-1/4" pipe to fit within the 1-1/2" pipe properly.

I have put the canoe back on the cart with the same load that I mentioned above and there is little to no deflection noticeable compared to how it was before. Increasing the cross sectional area has really helped.
Lorddrake (author)  bbrookins3 years ago
nice work
Lorddrake (author) 3 years ago
Thanks to everyone who voted for me. I am honored that my first instrucable project not only got featured, but also managed to win a contest. Guess that means I have to get started on documenting my next project to post it up :)
agis683 years ago
Real nice. I've made mine for my plastic boat...(little more havier construction for 70 kg) but the idea is the same.....thanks and good luck
Lorddrake (author)  agis683 years ago
Thank you. would love to see pictures of your design if you have any available.
etanol3 years ago
Really nice!
Have you thought of using golf bag trolley wheels? They are very lightweight and have a wide "footprint" which helps in loose sand and soft soils.

Lorddrake (author)  etanol3 years ago
Any idea where I can go to get golf bag trolley wheels? I made my wheel decision based mostly off of what was available on the shelves at harbor freight when I went on an impulse shopping trip to build my cart. :)
Lorddrake (author) 3 years ago
I finally got around to adding labels to the pictures.

let me know what you think .. just right? ... too much?
dchall83 years ago
Good stuff! This idea could be adapted to make a surf board trailer.

I have used a Skil saw to cut larger PVC  Works great up to about 4 inch diameter. 
Lorddrake (author)  dchall83 years ago
I would like to see your surfboard trailer when you are done making it.

Click here for images of surfboard trailers.