ballast / load limits

I paddle a QCC400X (second yr with this boat) and I think it would paddle better weighted down a little. I’m not a tiny paddler, 5’4" 175lbs but I still feel like I am “riding too high” or the boat is riding high…Not sure how to describe it. Would I benefit with added ballast? I have not been able to find the weight limits for paddler/gear. Plus, how to secure? Where to secure? Best material (sand, diving weights)…any advice?

Something to consider…
When you say you’re “feeling like you’re riding too high” do you have any problems with weather cocking or tracking straight? Is your paddling style high or low, is your paddle to short relative to your style?

H2O vs. weights
Many here advocate the use of water jugs for a few of reasons. You can drink it; that’s a plus in a pinch. If you want to trim, just dump some out. It’s eco-safe unlike lead, chromed steel, etc. It’s neutrally bouyant in the event of a capsize. You can get all shapes and sizes of containers so it doesn’t conflict with packing your boat.

Exercise weights are much more compact, but are negatively bouyant in the event of a capsize. They are also “dry” if the casing breaks.

Either way, try to keep the weight low and under the axis of the boat. Be sure to inflate float bags or pack foam, dry bags, etc on top of it. That way, if you do capsize, the weight does not flop and hold you upside down. Some have also talked about taping the ballast in place, but I believe you would still benefit from the padding on top.


Here’s what I use:
One in the front and one in the back, 1 gal H20= 10lb.

answers & more questions
To answer the questions: Not too much weather cocking and it tracks pretty straight. If too breezy, I drop the rudder, but try to use my skills to correct instead of using rudder. I have two paddles, a rec paddle (werner, composite 230cm) and a bending branches wooden journey paddle 215cm. Paddling style is leisurely low but paddle high & with more power when I want to get going quick (I’m a fairly strong female)…I guess I feel I have too much bow. Is it just because I am not use to this length boat?? Maybe I just “think” it should feel different…?

Like the water jug idea but doesn’t it “slosh” and create any problems? If water weighs 8.3 lbs & the container holds 5 gallons…how much in front and back to start with??? Is the water up under the deck and behind seat or in bulkheads?


In hatches I would think.
I would think 1-1.5 Gallons in the front and the same in the back should be sufficient. If the jug is full, there should be no sloshing. Also, that’s why I recommended padding the ballast, to prevent sloshing/flopping around.

Heavy water
In WV water weighs a bit over 8 lbs.


Balast yes!
I paddle a Q700, and have definitely noted the need for balast when paddling in windy conditions. At the risk of abuse from those who have never paddled this model, most of my balast goes up front - very close to the nose. If you were to read the reviews, you’d note more than one reviewer will concur with this.

I have never paddled the Q400, but would guess that it shares some of the big brothers eccentricities, such as leecocking when empty and still, riding high on the water and weather cocking ever so slighty when moving forward (either empty or with a load), or when sittng still and properly loaded. In fact, the best behaved my 700 has ever been, was during a camping trip when packed to capacity. I packed approx 60/40 between the front and rear compartments respectively.

Now I will sit back and await the inevitable abuse from those who will insist that properly packing any kayak means keeping as much weight as close to the center as possible, and that the heavy stuff belongs in the back. For most kayaks I would absolutely agree with them. However, one must keep in mind, that the QCC boats were designed by someone from a very different background than a Derek Hutchinson, Nigel Foster, or Nigel Dennis.

John Winters (the mad genius behind the QCC plumb bow hull) has previously been involved in the design and production of racing sailboats. This perspective led to the creation of a kayak that just doesn’t “look and feel” right from a “historical” perspective. From talking to Phil and Steve on the phone, and reading some general info on the web concerning John Winters and QCC designs, these boats were designed to be highly efficient high capacity gear haulers. As such, their performance without at least some balast is compromised.

If you fill a drybag with sand and put it in the forward compartment - just for of the hatch, I’m betting that you will notice an improvement in the handling of the boat. Rolling a 400 would be iffy anyway, so I doubt that you would need to strap it down.

Ours are bigger
We (used to) use Imperial gallons in Canada. All metricated now.

Ballast comment…
My take on this is, unless you have a specific problem (which from your post sounds like you don’t), I wouldn’t use any ballast. I have a QCC 500, and like you, I used to feel like I was riding “high”. The “V” from the bow wake looked to me (in the cockpit) like it started a couple of feet back from the point of the bow, but other paddlers assured me that it didn’t. I weigh 185-190 lbs which is on the low end of the weight range for the 500, and I enjoy the handling and speed from less hull in the water. While its lightly loaded, edging and leaning the kayak through all angles of heel while turning is a joy. I can easily lean my 500 over and flood the cockpit, without bracing. With even 25 or 30 lbs more weight on the centerline, its harder to edge (more stable). Your 400 is a very similar design to my 500, only an inch wider and 1 1/2 ft shorter (I think). I’ve never had any problem paddling straight, and if the wind gets out of hand, well, thats what the rudder is for.

While I don’t disagree with anything anyone said in the posts above, I personally wouldn’t be happy purchasing a kayak that I knew I had to lug around 10, 20, 30 or more lbs of ballast each time I went paddling. IMHO, it does away with the purpose of buying a QCC type kayak (lighter weight, very strong layup).

Still, you’ve got nothing to loose by trying it. Get a couple of two liter plastic drink bottles, fill them with water and put one in the front, one in the back. Let us know how it works!!


I think it’s deck height/illusion
That little thing is very deep/hign decks. You are on the short side. Of course to boat looks to be riding high from your perspective.

It would seem that way to me too, and I’m 6 inches taller, 25 lbs heavier, adn paddle a Q700.

My suggestion: Get a Q600 with lower decks!

Well, I would comment on tha 700 stuff…
… but really don’t have enough info.

FWIW - I note none of the “eccentricities” you describe.

Perhaps if you gave us your weight and which version of the Q700 you have (1st, 2nd, or 3rd) we might be able to comment.

general info
I’m 6’2" - 212#

Not sure which “version” of the 700 I have, other than it is one in which the cockpit is 8" aft of the original design. Purchased in March of 03. I also have a skeg.

Also paddling in fresh water (lake MI). Have approx 3yrs experience. Everything from dead calm water to 4-5’ dumping surf. Up to 35mph winds. Loads ranging from totally empty to waaaaaaay overpacked.

makes sense
What everyone said makes sense. I will experiment a little with all the suggestions. If I get back to MI to see family bobdobbs you will have to teach me to paddle Lake Michigan…

Thanks for the advice all ~

Same version
and I’m close to same weight. Skeg also.

Don’t note the things you say, but haven’t been in much over 20-25 kts. I also never have the boats hatches loaded.

Have not felt a need or desire to balast it. I figure my over 205+ minimal gear is ballast enough! Prefer to keep it more nimble. Dirty water marks on hull verify good trim at my normal load.

Man that seems odd !
I have not been in as extreme conditions that you mentioned with my 700, but we had some pretty rough quartering seas and twenty to twenty five MPH winds in the Bacall Race, which was my first time in the yak, and I thought it handled like a dream completely empty.

I am only 5’-9’ and 165 pounds.