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Accuracy of Weight ratings on kayaks

OK, so first, I'm currently 335 lbs. (6ft tall) But, I am losing weight. I'm down from 450 and shooting for 225 or less.

That being said, I'm shopping for a decent kayak. I'm on a budget (Sub $500) and need a sit on top as back/hip injuries (compounded by my weight) make it really hard to get in and out of the cockpit of a SinK.

I'm looking at boats with a weigh rating of 350 lbs. But, I'm also finding a lot of nice boats with a 300 or 325 lb weight rating. I don't plan on carrying much more than the PDF I'm wearing, my camera, cell phone, and a couple of bottles of water for now.

I know most manufactures of products tend to err on the side of safety and under-rate their products (IE: It tests to 400 lbs, label it at 350). Mainly because people usually push those limits.

Since I'm still losing wight, anyone think that the 300-325 rated boats would be safe/stable?
Should I just stick to the 350 lb rating and just know I'll soon have a margin for overnight gear?

I've come to learn this site has a pretty opinionated lot... So, fire away! :)


  • Consider a canoe
    Available in your price range, you can resell it when you get where you want to be and your butt won't wrinkle from setting in a puddle all the time. Easier on your back and knees, IMO, than a SOT.
    As to your question I suspect you are right about weight limits being on the safe side but do not know for sure.
  • Maybe I like my butt wrinkled?
    The sitting in a puddle doesn't bother me. In fact, it helps keep me cool on these 100*+ summer days.

    I looked into canoes, but no one in my area (North East Georgia) sells one that:
    A- Is easily managed by one person
    B- Is remotely close to my price range (and online one's have outrageous shipping costs)
    C- Is not geared out with so much fishing crap on it that it looks like a mini-Japanese fishing trawler! LoL (I don't fish and I don't even like to eat fish.)

    I'm not opposed to the idea. Got any suggestions or links to ones online that would come in (with shipping/tax) in the $500 price range? I mean, this retired guy paddles around the lake at Fort Yargo state park in a REALLY nice 8ft Old Town he's had since the 80's. But, I'll be danged if i can find one like it.
  • Dick's Sporting Goods
    Carries an Old Town 119 Guide that is rated for up to 500 pounds for $430. I have read several reviews on it and overall they were very good.

    The reason I am so familiar with this boat is that I debated between it and a kayak and finally decided on the kayak but would still like to have one of these canoes.
  • All I can say is Craigslist
    Down here it's the SOTS that look like trawlers and have at least 25 lbs of rod holders on them. We have low end canoes under 500 pretty frequently and if you are looking for a workout I would think that would be better than a more expensive boat. But I travel around for work and always look at local Craigslist and have found the market varies widely from place to place. That and used boats are more available from about October to end of March. My first boat was a 14'ft poly canoe from Dick's new for $400. I hesitate to recommend it, it's heavy, wide, slow, a dog to paddle, a beast to load and became hog backed the first year but it's still in the stable and I paddle it from time to time.
    Don't limit yourself to an 8 footer, I can easily handle 14 and 15 foot solo.
    If I sit in a puddle the boat makes bubbles when I try to go fast.
  • I'll have to look again
    The only things I saw at Dick's at the Mall of Georgia were the longer, 2 man canoes. Maybe I was so focused on the yak's (That is my preference) that I just didn't notice those.
  • Been watching Craigslist
    Yeah, I watch the Atlanta and Athens CL's a lot. Mainly little squirt boats, white water yaks, or rec yaks with weight ratings 250 and under.

    About the only boats in my weight class turn out to be camo boats guys have rigged up with PVC pipe to hold a dozen fishing rods and used great stuff to fill the forward well and seal in a car battery to power the lights, fish finder (and I kid you NOT!) CD player/amp they installed... yup, the dude even cut out ovals and installed marine grade 6x9 speakers!!! (Should have had "S.S. Redneck Trawler" painted on the bow!)

    Honestly, if I go with a canoe, it will be a smaller one. I've paddled the bigger boats and I can't handle them alone. The only way I feel stable in a canoe is on my knee's and that starts to hurt after a while. Having test floated some boats, I found a nice little 12 ft sit on top at Academy for $399 (Pelican Icon 120, one of the first since they got new management and overhauled their designs... It get's great reviews.) That one is at the top of my list, for now.
  • Bucket seats
    I think what they carry now all have molded seats so you can't turn them around and paddle it backwards.
  • I'd have to take the seats out and kneel
    I'd have to take the seats out and kneel if I go with a canoe. I have a little bit of a balance disorder (inner ear damaged in the same wreck where my back/hip got hurt).

    Anyway, sitting on the seat in a canoe, I can't keep my balance. Between my extra weight, and the balance disorder, my center of gravity is way too high in the seat. I have to get lower and paddle on my knees.

    That's why I'm really not wanting to go the canoe route. I won't rule it out, but they are at the bottom of the list.

    I'm really more concerned about the accuracy of the weight ratings. I've found a couple of used yaks locally that are in great shape and under $300. But, they are both weight rated to 300 lbs.

    If people here think that with me being 335 and losing weight, they would be OK, I would jump on one or both of them.
  • Consider an inflatable kayak
    made for two. It should allow boarding as easy as SOTs. Try to get one that's not cheesy, something like an Aire Lynx 2.

    The seat can be shifted on most tandems so that your weight is centered. An inflatable built for two should have the capacity to carry you. Keep losing.
  • maybe a little unrealistic?
    I think your budget is a little unrealistic for the specs you seek. I see there is a local (to you) dealer selling the WS Ride sit on top (capacity 500 lbs) for $869 which includes a paddle and PFD worth around $100. It could be what you need now, and WS boats have good resale value so once you get to your weight target you could recover a decent amount of your cost bye selling it to re-invest in a sleeker boat.


    70 lbs is not all that bad for a "big guy" solo sit on top, it doesn't have a lot of junk on it and it isn't as barge-ly wide as many of such models.
  • I have one
    I'm currently using a 2 man inflatable and HATE IT!!!!!!

    I spend more time correcting my tracking than moving forward.
  • Acutally, I can get a better deal
    -- Last Updated: Jun-20-13 7:48 AM EST --

    Dick's has a Field and Stream Sit on Top for $550 that has a 400 lb load capacity.

    I have a PFD and good paddle. BUT, I need to get a roof rack for my car. No, I can't just strap one on as I have side curtain airbags that can't be disabled. This means no straps THROUGH the car without posing a danger of the airbags exploding if they deploy. I was not aware of that until I was reading the warnings on some of the strap on roof carriers that say "No Suitable for cars with side curtain air bags" and began digging. Seems the straps can cause the air bags to explode if they deploy... Taking someones head with them!!

    My budget is fixed. I have $560 total for the boat (Tax and shipping if I order it) to spend. Anything more than that is OUT OF THE QUESTION for at least another 6 months.

    I've found a couple of sit on tops for $400 to $500 with a 350 to 400 lb weight rating.

    Oh, and that dealer on Craigslist is not close to me. They are about a 3 hour drive from me. I've ruled them out because of A) Price and B) Distance.

    I'm kicking myself because I missed out out a like new Tarpon 140 for $350 on CL.... I won't have the money for another week or so. I offered to pay the guy $500, and go ahead and give him $100 to hold it. But, he's moving and couldn't wait.

  • It's not unrealistic
    Here's a few boats within my budget with a 350 Lb (or higher) rating. I'll link to them in the order I'm considering them.

    Top runner:
    Pelican Icon 120 $399

    Perception Sport Pescador 12' $499

    Ascend D10T $399

    Ok, now that I have proven that I can find a boat I want, that's not a barge (Canoe), and within my budget, can we get back on the point of the thread?
    No one, I MEAN NO ONE has addressed my question...

    What do you think of the weight ratings and should I stick at 350 (or higher), or would I be ok in a boat rated for 300?

    If you think I should paddle a bathtub, that's fine. It doesn't help me with my question though. ;)
  • No one is going to know ...
    ... the accuracy of the weight capacities of the hundreds of canoes and kayaks on the market in America.

    In general, I've found the maximum capacity ratings for canoes to be ballpark realistic, but a canoe that is so laden will have very little freeboard and will probably be sluggish and slow.

    The best way for you to get empirical evidence is to purchase a boat in your weight range from a box store having a full return policy, try it out, and see how it works for you.
  • Thanks Glenn
    Thanks for addressing the actual question. While I'm not expecting anyone to know the actual capacity of all the boats out there. I was really wondering if, based on experience, people have noticed that boats tend to be under rated, or if they seem to be pretty accurate.

    I used to work in a plant making plastic tubing for fountain drink systems. We did our own extrusion of the tubing and it had to meet a certain PSI rating. Now, mind you this was 20 years ago, and I don't remember the exact PCI #'s, but I do remember that when we tested, we had to pass a pressure test about 30% HIGHER than what we rated it for. So, say it was rated for 100 psi, it had to hold 130 PSI without bursting.

    I wondered if the personal watercraft industry did something similar.... IE, if we are going to say a boat has a max load of 300 lbs, it has to actually be able to load out to 325 lbs, or 350 lbs.... something like that.

    Regardless, it's a non-issue now. The guy that had the 2 boats rated for 300 lbs has sold them. So, I'm going to choose one of the 3 I listed in an earlier post.
  • Hey Robby
    I've paddled a few boats that I'm right at the rated capacity of. I find they do just fine. Yes they ride slower in the water but I find they are quite stable. Keep in mind I am referring to sinks here. I found recently when I did switch back to my big boat that has a lot of load carrying capacity I didn't like the feel. It feels like it sits on top of the water rather than in it.

    I think I now understand why guys like the LV skin on frame boats.
  • Thanks
    Good to know. Speed isn't an issue. And, I've had a couple of people message me instead of posting saying that a Sit-on-top should be safe with up to 50 lbs over the rated limit, provided I plug the scuppers and carry a sponge. Just be prepared for her to ride low and have a lot of splash over until I lose more wight.

    I really wish I could use a SinK. But, my hip/back injuries make it almost impossible to get in and out of the cockpit. MAYBE... MAYBE... Once I've gotten down to my target weight I MIGHT be able to paddle one with an oversized cockpit opening. Since I don't plan on doing any white water, that should fine.
  • questions on back/hips
    What are your limitations?

    In my experience, mainly from watching older students/clients, positioning when seated is very similar both for SOTs and SINKs. And, getting situated in a SINK may be very similar to getting on top of SOT.
    Perhaps slight modifications in technique would allow you to find a way of getting into a SINK without killing yourself?
    So, how do you typically try to get into a SINK?
  • My injuries
    The long story short, I was a pedestrian ran down in a parking lot by a 14 year old girl and launched through the air, head first, into a brick wall.

    I died. I was revived. I had a torn labrum in my right shoulder that was repaired with surgery. I have a huge chunk of my scalp on the left side of my head that was peeled back (20+ staples and 30+ stitches to close). The head impact caused the balance disorder in my left inner ear. And caused brain damage to the wernicke area (Speech)and motor control area for my right hand.

    Lastly, the part that applies here is my back and hip. The sciatic nerve was knocked out of pace where it passes through the pelvic bone on my right hip. This limits the range of motion of my right leg as well as causes lower back pain, and pain/numbing/tingling down my right leg. Two surgeons have reviewed MRI's and CT scans and say there is no way to fix it without a high risk of paralysis.

    Couple this limited range of motion with my weight, and it's very hard to manipulate my leg into tight places. To get into a SinK, I have to have it fairly stable on a boat ramp, someone holding it, while I work my way down into it. Getting back out involves 2 people, one holding the yak and one helping me pull up. Getting back into a SinK in open water is IMPOSSIBLE for me. And, the couple of times I rolled, I almost was not able to get out.

    Sit on tops are pretty much a matter of putting them on a boat ramp, straddling it just above the seat, letting myself down, and then bringing my legs on board one at a time. It's not that easy to remount a Sit On Top in open water, but I can... I have to mount from the port side. I reach across, grab the handle on the starboard side with my left arm, hug it, bring my left leg (the one I can kick up) up onto the bow. Then, I can pull myself and my other leg up so that I'm laying on the boat on my belly. I then roll over on my back and slide back into the seat.
  • Ouch
    Sorry to hear about your pain and suffering, really glad that you can enjoy kayaking.
    Lots of generalizations here - getting into a sink can be performed pretty much the same way as getting in a sot - straddle, sit on the back deck close to opening, lift one leg in, other, slide in. Getting out - reverse of the above, alternatively lift one leg out, then the other. At this point you would be in the seat, legs straddling the kayak. Then transfer both legs to one side, rotate in the seat to face that side, lean forward, boat leans to the side, you stand up on your feet (if you reverse this, you will get into a boat). Trying it in shallow and warm water is a hoot!
    Self rescue - just too wordy :)

    There are programs for paddlers with limitations - http://www.adaptivepaddling.org/, http://www.americancanoe.org/?page=Courses_Adaptive. Those folks are really good at coming up with different ways for folks to paddle. I am quite sure they would love to hear your story!

  • Thanks Suiram
    I'll look into those programs.

    I used to kayak a lot when I was younger. And, I've been trying this for a few months with the help of friends that paddle regularly. I'm just ready to get a good boat of my own and ditch this inflatable (And stop borrowing my friends boats!). Right now, I'm most comfortable on the sit on top. Now, the SinK's do help with the balance disorder because you sit so much lower and that lowers the center of gravity.

    But, I tend to go paddling alone, a LOT... Why do you think my friends boats are usually available to borrow? Anyway, I'm just not that comfortable (mentally) with the SinK's to venture out on my own in them. I feel safer on the Sit On Tops. But, like I said, MAYBE, once I've lost more weight I'll look into a SinK with a larger cockpit opening for my next boat.
  • My Thoughts
    When I was 300 lbs I paddled kayaks rated at 300 lbs but when I moved up to a slightly longer kayak at a 350 lbs rating the experience was a lot more enjoyable, even just for mellow lake trips. You probably won't sink it at the limit -- it may make the ride wet and a bit slower. If you just want to paddle mellow lakes then you should be fine. You do want to test if you can get back in the kayak when you are in deeper water. I have friends who are consider themselves active and fit but are probably really just average, that really struggled getting back on SUPs and SOTs in deep water.

    You might want to check out the Perception Tribe 13.5 Tandem. It has a 500 lbs weight limit and is $650. I frequently see it for $550 on sale. It has 2 seats and spots for 3. Just move the seat to the middle for a solo paddle. Seems like REI and EMS carry this kayak.

    The Perception Sport Rambler 13.5 looks like a cheaper version of the Tribe, might even be an older version of the Tribe but i didn't think the Tribe was that old. It sells for $450 and supposed to be at Dick's but ours up here never have them.

    I have never tried either kayak but seems to be in your specs.

    The Perception Sport Pescador seems to be an older version of the Tarpon. The Tarpon always seems to be a popular and well regarded SOT.
  • Perception Sport Pescador 12
    That's actually one of the ones I'm looking at.

    I'm kicking myself for letting that $1,100 Tarpon 140 for $350 slip through my hands!!! UGH!!!
  • Wow!
    You've lost 115 pounds and still losing. Congratulations---that can't have been easy with pain and limited range of motion.

    I don't know the answer to your question, but it would seem logical that if you get a boat that's rated for 300 or 325, it should do okay now and even better as you reach your goal of 225 or less.

    Happy paddling!

  • Options
    i do feel that the weight rating is a
    low ballpark estimate probably for liability issues. My buddy has recently purchased a cheap entry level kayak that is rated at 225lbs. He on the other hand is pushing 270lbs. I never thought about it until we put in to the river. he had serious tracking issues but that was more to do with the design of the yak (chin) and lack of experience. Congrats on shedding the weight man! Keep it up and keep paddling.
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