Ultra light boat plans and kits
No one sets out to build a bulky heavy boat. All boat builders hope their boat building efforts will result in light strong crafts. How light and how strong depend on many factors including the choice of materials, boatbuilding method and how much structure the boat has. Here is a selection of ultra light plans. Many categories of boats can be built to be ultra light. Although skin on frame often comes to mind when ultralight boatbuilding is mentioned, very light boats have been made using strip building or glued lapstrake.
For the purpose of this page I will call a boat 50 lb or less ultra light. Most weight considerably less.
Some boat building methods are inherantly light. Skin on frame usually is, so most kayaks and canoes built this way will be light. It is possible to adapt many boat plans to make them lighter. This can be done either by substituting light materials for heavier ones. For example Okume is lighter than Maranti plywood, or by reducing the scantlings to miniumum dimentions. This should be done carefully since the strength of the craft can be seriously reduced. Most designers will be happy to consult with you about modifying their boats. Use your head though, if you weaken your boat too much it will fail when stressed. Be safe and be careful.
I've added a page of plan and kits links for Stand Up Paddleboards and surfboards including paddles. There are several which are stitch and glue models. None are ultralight but some are designed to be in the 15-20 pounds which is quite amazing.
Ultra Light Boat Plans in no Particular Order.
Email me if a link is broken. I try to update everything often but the internet is a fast paced place. (and I'm not so quick).
- Thomas J. Hill Boat Designs. offers boat plans for several models of glued lapstrake boats, some are very light; The Atwood traveller canoe is 15 feet long and weights 39 pounds.
- Geodesic Airolite Boat Designs. They have a range of ultra light designs ranging from 13 pounds. Their novel skin on frame produces ultra modern looking boats.
- Dream Catcher Boats have plans, lessons and materials for ultralight skin on frame boats.
- Ultralight boat built with aluminium flashing on a wooden frame. 17 pounds! Not quite plans but fun read. The Sawdust Factory
- Chesapeake Light Craft have several ultra light boat plans and kits. The Sassafras 12 weights only 26 pounds.
- Stimson Marine Has a skin on frame ultralight kayak that comes in at 38 pounds for a 17 footer boat.
- Ultralight designs for the home builder Several skin on frame boats from Gentry Custom Boats. They offer plans and kits.
- Aluminium and skin folding kayaks from Yostwerks.
- David Bynoe has a free canoe plan Again this is skin on frame. Lovely details on how the pieces are lashed together.
- Portuguese style dinghy, free plans. Cute row boat.
- Balsa Canoe built by Michael Storer weight: 12 pounds. Built using the strip method. I guess most canoe plans could be adapted to be built this way. Not really plans but worth the read.
- Noah marine has many plans and kits for cedar strip canoe and kayaks. Cedar strip produces beautiful light boats.
Ken Simpson and others have Coroplast boats. They end up being very light.
I try to be accurate and check my information, but mistakes happen. ALSO keep in mind that not all free boats are good designs. Some are but others are worth exactly what you paid for them. Also keep in mind while I'm in a preachy mood, that a good set of plans will save you lots of time and if you've paid for them you can actually often contact the designer and get help.email me if you find mistakes, I'll fix them and we'll all benefit: Christine