Ballast for a kayak

I just bought a new kayak WS Tempest 170, 17’ long and 22" wide, it feels a little tippy and I saw a video on using ballast of about 10 lbs secured in the bottom. Does anyone have experience or suggestions with using ballast to increase stability?

How much do you weigh?

IF you actually need ballast…
…(and you may not – long narrow kayaks do typically feel “tippy” when you are first getting used to paddling them). One way to add ballast is with plastic half gallon jugs which you fill with water before you launch and stash in the hatches. That would be a free and easy way to see if the added weight changes the performance for you. Put the same amount in both the bow and stern hatches or you will change the tracking.

But unless you are a bit too small for the boat, it is probably more a matter of you getting used to the boat and learning to trust the secondary stability. When I first got an 18’ x 21" kayak (one that had been custom built for somebody slightly taller and heavier than me) it felt really wobbly to me. But within a few trips with it I felt completely comfortable in it.

Also would like to know…
I too would like to know your stats. I paddle a 170. I’m 5’8", 170 pounds. Yes, it sits “high” in the water, but I agree with the poster saying you may just need more seat time to get used to it. I tend to paddle with the skeg down to reduce weathercocking. Try that if you think that might be an issue.

Adding ballast might help you get used to the kayak in the beginning.

A Tempest 170 isn’t a particularly tippy kayak though I think. It will feel more tippy when you are sitting stationary, it should feel more stable when you are moving though.

If you do try to go the ballast route, make sure that whatever you end up using for ballast can’t move inside your hatches. Stuff things around it to hold it in the centerline. Also keep the ballast as close to the cockpit as you can, don’t stuff it in the ends of the kayak.

Then try slowly reducing the amount of ballast you use over time, until you don’t need it anymore.

Paddling Partner
In one of his training videos, Wayne Horodowich speaks highly of the"Paddling Partner" which is essentially a commercial version of what you seek. Yes, such devices are used especially if one’s boat is on the small size for the height/weight of the paddler. It can also be an aid in learning to roll, I expect … but must be secured somehow to the bottom of the hull’s innards.

However, your kayak’s instability may vanish with experience anyway.

my weight is 175 lbs and height is 6’1" it feels tippy to me but I’ve only been out twice so far. My wife is also paddling a tempest 170 and she is 5’1" 110 lbs, I am concerned about her riding too high in the water but she hasn’t really complained about it.

see stats above



My experience
From what I’ve seen the T170 gets a good waterline around 200lbs. The 180lb paddler I was looking at it with rode high and much preferred the in water feel of the 165. I’m sure you’ll get used to it though as mentioned above with a bit of seat time. I found it to still have a decent waterline at 275lbs. Lots of volume there.

Your wife would have a much better fit in the 165 but even that will be big on her hull wise. Being small though is a big advantage kayaking wise so she probably won’t find anything tippy. She might have issues with wind though being up so high.

If you wind up looking for a boat in between the T170 and T 165 have a look at the Scorpio MV. It will have a good waterline at your weight.

Just need seat time

– Last Updated: May-07-16 12:36 AM EST –

For you. Fastest way to get over it would be to find a class and work on bracing and edging. If you do it really well you'll capsize and find out it is no big deal.

You are on the cusp, you are on the bottom edge of what the 170 can handle in terms of size and could step down some. But you would initially find that smaller boat to be tippier (your wife would not at her size) and the 170 works for you too. No reason to not stay with the 170 while you get used to things.

But the 170 is WAY too big for your wife. The first windy day she will find that she has trouble controlling it. If you want her to be a long term companion so you paddle together, do yourself a favor and get her into a better sized boat.

try a sand in a bag taped or pinned down front and rear near bulkheads. I have a Current Designs Nomad 19’ x 21" the first time I rented it I was exhausted totally in 45 minutes from twitching. After a more seat time, may be 3-4 hours I learned to relax. Now I can go 15-20 miles with no be deal. Even in shallow water just try sitting in it totally limp and low. I really never go on expeditions so I want to put 50 lb in my Nomad to see how much it’s slows it and feel the difference in handling.

time on the water
Put me down in the “you just need more time in the boat on the water” list. Someday you’ll look back and chuckle at your perception that your boat was tippy.

I’ve paddled more boats than I can remember and I also can’t remember any lately that felt unstable after the first couple of minutes. Be patient,relax, stay loose and don’t over react to little bobbles. When the water warms up, purposely allow the boat to take all kinds of waves on the beam. I think you’ll be amazed at how well the boat deals with it.

Paddling Partner
The Paddling Partner ballast system is an excellent add-on if for some reason you must increase the kayak’s stability. It ensures that the ballast will not move and roll around during a capsize, which could turn a kayak into a death trap for a novice paddler–the history of boating is full of tales of catastrophe when loose ballast shifts below deck; it must never be allowed to move. But much better to learn to adapt to the kayak as it is. Here is the link to Paddling Partner:

Tippy or seaworthy?
Tippy is not always a bad thing. Indeed, I’d rather have a boat that was a little “tippy” than one that wasn’t as the latter suggests it will be hard to edge and will struggle with steep waves. So, my advice would be to stick with it for now and learn to become one with your kayak.

That said, there are some situations where the kayaker’s physique and the kayak are so unsuited that ballast is advisable. if that is the case I’d personally opt for water-filled containers rather than sand or solid weights. Water has two main advantages for me. First, you don’t need to carry it to the put-in. Second, it is neutrally buoyant so if you have a hatch flood it won’t sink the end of your kayak like kgs of sand or metal might.

Tempest 165

– Last Updated: May-11-16 8:19 AM EST –

Unless you are loading the boat down with a lot of camping gear I'd say the Tempest 165 is a better choice for you. You can have the seat moved back by your local shop or you can do it yourself to get a good fit in the cockpit.

I think it was Flatpick who used the word 'bobber'. Paddling a boat with too much volume makes you feel like you're sitting on a bobber. That's the tippy sensation you feel.

How do I know about this? I initially bought a 170; rented a 165 and realized I had bought the wrong boat for my size.


– Last Updated: May-11-16 1:11 PM EST –

maybe shoot another review ? keep it away from the Canadians ?

with a Solstice Titan used for nature observation...sometimes on the swell in Juan de Fuca..

MSR 10L dromedary bags were velcroed to the Titan hull's 2 hatch floors and the cockpit floor. 8 bags for touring. Bags are strapped over then loaded in with equipment or dry bagged clothing for rolling, actually hip snap practice.

Bags are loaded for trim. Works gud with the long Solstice in varied waters. Example is wind: loading the sophisticated hull design down bow n stern stabilizes the hull for forward motion in a stiff crosswind.

In rolling practice, I am an intermediate without rolling skills (no pool) a 2 float bag, one bag each end paddle, with a lean into the water on my ear, and hip snapping....1-2-3-4-5 .....then a roll try was
........perfect roll.

With 2 bags rear 2 bags front hatch floors.

The hip snap practice is the big deal. Use Ford's kayak roll video's animation with stop action to analyze your motions.

I left out the hip snap n did weight training with a steel pipe n inflatable ball. (no pool) Result was I left the yak when rolling up..I rolled out.

With a brief 2 floatnbag practice with D 10L's ....zaaap up 1st try.

In EDIT: there is a significant difference between my system and the commercial system(s). The D bag system in ON the hull floor AND is distributable bow to stern. A balance or proportional balance is achieved not as only a dead weight.

and one has a vast supply of fresh Iceland Glacial