A Kayak for a Big & Tall Man

My man was ready to pick up a kayak at Costco - but I stopped him - even though I was thrilled that he would join me in this sport. I felt like a bit of research would be needed to make sure his experience was always enjoyable - and bad fitting kayak could be a big turnoff.

So, yes, we will be visiting all of our local paddlin shops and trying some on - but all suggestions and experience from the Big & Tall kayakers would be appreciated! Thank you!

come on
Why can’t you just post his height, weight, and inseam

I’m that guy…
Mostly because of not knowing… I have no experience with or around kayaks… Just childhood and teen years canoeing recreationaly. I had never looked at one until Costco at that time I figured they were pretty much the same other than size and type.

Secondly, she doesn’t know my sizes, The question about measurements makes sense, but asking if there is any general knowledge about boats for large people isn’t unreasonable either.

I am 6’3", about a 32" inseam. 270 pounds. Don’t make me sit on anyone! :slight_smile:

The only thing recreationally to pick up
at Costco is a bad cold.

Go to a good dealer with experience in rec kayaks, real kayaks, and canoes, and they’ll set you up.

You aren’t that tall, and 270# is not quite outside the normal range.

Some background reading

– Last Updated: May-17-13 10:17 PM EST –

California Kayaker Magazine has an article in its most recent version on the different types of kayaks out there, and what they are designed for. Might be worth a read to start. Can be read online for free at http://www.calkayakermag.com/magazine.html. Issue #10, starts on page 6. Talks about the differences in sit on top vs sit inside vs white water, etc. Use this as a guide to help direct you towards a type of kayak.

If you go in the direction of a recreational class kayak, maybe also read the article in Issue 6.

And the article on getting Butt time in issue 8 may also be of interest. We have ideas of what we like and all, but you really need to spend time in kayaks yourself (butt time) to find out what you like.

A Short List

– Last Updated: May-20-13 11:00 PM EST –

The big issues are in order for Sit in Kayaks are:
Can you fit in the cockpit?
- Can you slide in feet first?
- Can you sit down first and then get your legs in?
Are your legs/feet comfortable under the deck?
- You need to know how you are supposed to sit in kayak first as a good fit is usually snugger then most people think is right.
How does it handle your weight?
-Lots of kayaks cap out about 275-300 and only a few go higher. You may have to push this number and trying them out is the only way to determine this.

There are rec kayaks with big massive open kayaks that you shouldn't have any problems with, good examples are the Wildneress System Pungo line, Old Town Dirigo. Downside is you will never have good contact with the kayak but fine for mellow paddling on a pond or slow moving not too wide rivers.

Next group are the hybrid kayaks and few rec/touring kayaks. Cockpits are sized about 38"x21" and usually have reasonable deck height and weight ranges from 275-350 with 300 being about average. Good examples in the hybrids are the LiquidLogic Remix XP10, Dagger Aproach 10, or the Dagger Axis 10.5 or 12. I have an Axis 12 and is nice kayak for big guy who likes moving water but does need some upgrades. The rec/touring kayaks are the Perception Carolina 14 and Hurricane Expedition 140 Sport.

After the above the cockpits start getting a smaller but the kayaks lean more towards touring kayaks. There a few kayaks with 36"x19" but I start finding the fit a bit too tight. Some you can try are the Dagger Alchemy 14L (in the running for my next kayak), Wildnerness Systems Tsunami 14.5/16.5, or Jackson Journey.

Depending how wide your hips are could open up to more possibilities but lots of touring kayaks seem made for little girls to me.

Then you have Sit On Tops which have a number of high capacity kayaks.

A few considerations
To the guy here -

If you plan on paddling with the person who put this post up, you and she need to be reasonably well matched in both the capabilities of your boats and yourselves. For example, a a big cockpit rec kayak does not belong in a place with waves and chop. But if just one of you has a boat like that, that boat will be the limiting factor on your mutual paddling environments.

We know someone your size. Yes, it is true that there are more boats out there that will fit you than you likely realize now. But you are also big enough to be near the top of some boats’ design capacity, and the effect of that is that a boat that would feel totally non-twitchy for a smaller person could feel mush more lively for you. If you want to be comfortable, I would suggest getting yourself to an outfitter to spend time with good advice and access to a lot of boats to help you thru this phase.

It is hard to replace learning on water rescues to get a crash course in what features in a kayak are helpful in a bigger water situation. The water and the air are warming up, and you don’t even have to be able to paddle in a straight line to learn this stuff. It also takes advantage of having two paddlers.

Look at Sit on Tops, specifically the
Tarpon 160.I am taller than you , but weigh 230.That is heavy enough to bog down(increase the wetted surface area) of many kayaks. There are 14’ boats that can handle your weight, but to accomplish that , they will be wide.

SOT are easy to get into and out of but they are heavy.

Go rent a few
Well I’m 6’2 and 270 so pretty close to your husbands size. When I started out I bought a “Big guy Boat” that I now find too high volume. Great for camping but too big for every day. Searching here will reveal many “big guy” threads. I found I prefer smaller boats. Yes I’m at the top of the suggested weight for them but they seem to paddle fine. I can’t take too much with me gear wise though. I’ve mentioned before I like the Tempest 170 but can’t get my shins in if I sit down but first. The Zephyr 160 was quite roomy. I recently bought a P&H Scorpio when I was unable to find an Etain 17-7 RM to demo. I find it carries me just fine and is easy to do a butt first entry into. Unfortunately I committed the sin of buying without trying first and since there a few things I don’t like about it the search continues. So learn from my mistake and try to go get some demo’s for him. Hopefully you’ll find that magic boat for your intended use.

I will second the SOT segestion
I’m 265lbs and paddle a tarpon 160i and 100. they have a capacity of 375 and 325 respectively however I feel the 100 rides a bit higher with my weight on it. The 160 will have a bit of water in the foot well with me on so I keep the scubber holes plugged. The 160 is fast enough to keep up with everything except touring kayaks. The 100 on the other hand is very slow. I use mine on lakes and gentle rivers.

Best of luck

Sound advice for SOTs, but this large
person has never been able to demo a “real” kayak, sea/touring or whitewater, without considerable re-outfitting. Often I cannot get in at all without taking a saw to the boat, and if I can get in, it’s so uncomfortable that I can’t concentrate on the boat’s behavior on the water.

In addition, I question what most people, especially newbies or novices, can learn about a boat from a demo. Fit and comfort? Killer faults? But not subtleties of boat behavior.

Thank You
for all those offering helpful advice… very much appreciated!

(I thank the moderator or whomever deleted that first response. Sorry that “big and tall” was too vague for many, I didn’t realize I needed to have posted his height, weight and inseam - I’m sure I need thicker skin, but I still won’t be asking any further questions here.)

Thanks for asking!
@needzpaddlin - Don’t let one person drive you away.

Thank you for asking this question, as it’s the same thing I’m dealing with. I’m a bigger guy than your husband (6ft, 330 lbs, 32" inseam, 46" waist) and I’m trying to find a good yak.

Myself, I have NO CURRENT desire for whitewater… I’m looking for flatwater (My fiance does SUP). Now, that may change as I continue to lose weight (I used to be almost 450 lbs with a 58" waist!).

I also have a budget to stay in. All that considered, my research is pointing me to a Sit-On to get started. They seem to have a higher capacity without going outrageously long to haul on top of a mid-size sedan without installing a roof rack.

I have a friend with an Ascend D10T they got at Bass Pro shops for $400… http://www.basspro.com/Ascend-D10T-SitOnTop-Kayak-Red/Black/product/12102505321113/#

They like it and say it’s great for the money. He weighs a bit more than I do, but he’s loaded it down with a cooler, tent, sleeping bag, and supplies for a few days of camping and said it still rode well in the water. – Unless someone can talk me out of it, this will probably be my first hardshell yak.

For now, my fat butt is puttering around the lakes in a cheap (Intex) inflatable made for 2 people…



a demo will tell you more than no demo
…but I agree. Fit and glaring discomfort issues, and maybe on a very broad scale, “stable or too tippy”.

I’m aware
I know this thread is 3 years old… that being said… I am 6’6" weighing in at 300 lbs. I recently purchased a sun dolphin Aruba 12 ss kayak on sale for around $330. The sticker clearly states it holds 395lbs. I disregard all tags and test things myself. I can safely (though carefully) paddle with 530lbs in this boat. Also… at 6’6" I instinctively move all foot bracing to the farthest setting. This actually puts the foot brace an inch beyond my comfort level. Yet at the minimum setting its at my knees. This is a great beginner kayak, a cheap kayak, and in my opinion the best thing to happen to “bigger” outdoors men since the invention on the Hawaiian shirt.

Sea kayak options
A few comments from a 6’4" kayaker with a 35-36" inseam whose weight has bounced between 260 and 300 or so over the past 10 years

The Wilderness Systems Tsunami 175 poly 17’ 6" kayak is rated for a 400 lb capacity. From a practical standpoint, the maximum paddler weight should be about 310 or so if self rescue is a requirement.

The discontinued Necky Zoar Sport with optional rudder is a high volume 14’ kayak that also fits. 6’4" (and possibly taller) can fit into this kayak. I’d be leery about being over 280# paddling this boat. The same assessment applies to the discontinued Perception Essence. I’ve paddled the three watercraft discussed above. The cockpits are large enough for my long legs and size 13 feet

The higher priced Solstice GT Titan is purportedly a high volume sea kayak for XXL paddlers . It is rated for a 475 lb load. It might handle a 350#+ paddler … I’d check with Current Designs to be sure

A couple more comments
The Eddyline Denali kayak (400# total capacity) is marketed to larger paddlers.

Regarding cockpit size, the Wilderness Systems and Perception kayak cockpit dimensions are the external measurements of the cockpit coaming. The cockpit opening dimensions are a bit smaller. The Zoar Sport published cockpit dimensions are for the size of the cockpit opening.

Can you twist?
I know this thread is a little old now but I wanted to add an experience I had whilst doing my Paddle Canada basics course the weekend just gone.

I am a big guy, 6 foot and around 260-270 lbs. As part of the course we were doing solo re-entry drills and found that whilst I was comfortable padding in one kayak as soon as it came to spin round, after getting on the rear desk my thighs got stuck against the thigh braces, and my stuck I mean stuck fast. Rather embarrassing and had to be pushed to shore and 3 people pull me out. Luckily we were in shallow water.

I switched kayaks to a Nimbus Telkwa HV, which does not have thigh braces and had no issues. I now make sure I try twisting from a backwards position before taking any kayak out.

kayaks for big fellas
Hi Izz - just curious, after having your Aruba for a whole summer, if you’re still happy with it? My friend is 6’4", 280, and is worried about the width of the opening as well. Still comfy for you? He’s canoe’d plenty, but never kayaked, so besides my somewhat limited experience, he will be brand new at it. I have a 10’ and we thought the 12 would be good for him so I was excited to see your post. Thanks!