big guy needs a kayak

I have a friend that is 5 foot 11 in tall and weighs about 330 pounds. This past summer we took a 2 day trip and he was in an old town vapor rated for 275-300pounds. That worked OK but he wasn’t able to take any of his gear with him. We had to transport it all for him. Does anyone have any suggestions for a kayak that would be comfortable for him and would support him and his gear? He mainly does slow river kayaking. And might take it out on a lake also.

How much gear and what purpose ?

– Last Updated: Jan-26-13 12:49 AM EST –

We talking week long excursions or just day trips ?
Help us define the gear, what it weighs, what volume ?
Tent,blanket,Zfold pad,stove,food = 1 dry bag

Enclosed Hull or Sit-on-Top or Canoe possible ?

Perception Eclipse
I have one that is rated for 425lbs. I bought it new in 2009 it was a leftover 2007.

Sit-in Kayaks

– Last Updated: Jan-26-13 3:38 AM EST –

Sit-in kayaks aren't very friendly towards people that tend to be thicker width wise -- ignoring the weight range you still need to be able to fit comfortable in the cockpit as well as get out safely if you capsize. You really won't find many choices and you really have to test the kayaks out to make sure he fits as well as how does it handle his weight. I honestly don't know how accurate the max weight is on some of these kayaks. I have been in some where I am way under the max and the kayak is sinking deep and others I have overloaded it by 30-50 lbs and it rides low but still makes for a decent ride.

One option is the smaller 10' wide rec kayaks like the Vapor. They all have very large cockpits that can handle large guys. Not sure I would really reco these for more then just a few hour paddle on a mellow lake.

Given your friends height and desire for storage, he wants to go longer than 10'-12'. At 14' to 15' he will have more leg room.

Some of the current models with large cockpits out there are:

Wilderness Systems Pungo 140 -- big open cockpit, everyone should fit
Perception Carolina 14'
Venture Easky 15
Eddyline Equinox 14'
Eddyline Journey 15.5
Dagger Alchemy 14L
Wilderness Systems Tsunami 14.5

There are long boats with greater capacity which people I am sure will recommend but lots will have very narrow cockpits which your friend may not fit.

You then have the issue of deck height which can be a problem for someone with big legs. Hours with your boys crushed between your thighs is not fun.

He may want to look into canoes. Finding a comfortable fit and having a good gear storage is not going to be a problem in a canoe.


– Last Updated: Jan-26-13 12:02 PM EST –

Shape matters as much as weight for fit as mentioned above. I'm a big guy myself and did a lot of reading on here as to what were the good big guy models. A heavy guy can still fit in a lot of smaller boats not listed as "Big Guy boats" providing he isn't well, round. Lot's of models out there are still plenty big depending on how you carry your weight. I found the Zephyr 160 to have a very generous cockpit and carried my 300lbs without issue but I still prefer a tighter cockpit with a lower deck. I took a larger friend out to try paddling and she had issue with the cockpit being too tight on my Delta 18.5. She wanted to get into kayaking for the exercise but was embarrassed trying to squeeze in and also worried about getting free in an emergency. I suggested a place where she could rent a Tsunami 145, 165 and 175 but also told her to have a look at the Tarpon series at the same place if she would consider a sit on top. After getting a little experience (still a beginner) and renting a few different models I'm now looking at downsizing to something with a little lower volume. Hopefully your friend can get to a rental place to try a few models for fit so he doen't wind up with something too big.

A few ideas here.
I’d say at 300 pounds his choices are very limited, but there are some for each style of paddling here at my blog:

Swift Saranac 15
Pretty big cockpit, lots of volume for a 15 footer, available near 35 lbs. Composite.

Big-Big boy Kayak
I am 6’6" and about 310. I found a Hurricane Sport Exp, with extra large cockpit, and 2 water tight hatches. Kayak has 400 lbs capacity. I haved used it on several self supported paddling trips. The boat is 14’ long and has a 57" cockpit length, and weights in a 51 lbs. I am very happy with my first kayak. Check out this boat on Hurricane web site. The boat has been redesigned with new front hatch openings.

Nimbus Telkwa HV
I’m a really big guy (6’4",300lbs,44wst)and used to have a Telkwa HV. It was a very very nice boat and in some ways felt big in the CP even for me.

The CD Isle is also a huge kayak.

thanks to all for responding
thanks for your responses. the last trip we took with my freind that is big and round was in crystal falls upper mi. paint river

30 mile two day trip. mainly slow river but had some exciting spots. we got out and walked around the upper and lower hemlock rapids, we are not ready for those. we had food, tents, camping gear, fishing gear, bevrages. he was in the old town vapor 10 ft. it sat some what low with just him in it so the rest of us split up his gear. it handled good and cock pit seems good but he was very uncomfortable in the seat.

we are looking forward to going on some more trips this coming summer and we just want to work out our big boy situation.

we are new to this site

thanks again

Tsunami 145
I have a friend who is even a little larger than your frien and he has a Tsunami 145 and it works well.

Unless you want a seakayak
I’d say the Tsunami 145 is a good choice. It’ll haul a lot of gear and accommodate a bigger guy, and it’s pretty stable. The 175 is bigger and can haul more gear, but does he need a boat that size.

The Pungo 140 isn’t a bad choice, but they have a little too much flex for me.

I take it a big SOT is out, but they are comfortable for bigger guys and can be heavy haulers. Some, like the Tarpon 160, are also very efficient hulls, maintaining a decent cruising speed.

If he wanted a true seakayak, then the Eddyline Nighthawk or CD Isle is the choice. Neither are inexpensive.

Delta, Atlantis, Seaward
You could look at the Delta 15. I think REI sells them.

If you want to look at a larger sea kayak, look at the Atlantis Titan or the Seaward Tyee

Some of the boats suggested
are awfully small in cockpit size for a person of your friend’s speculated morphology.

I notice in particular the recently posted Atlantis Titan and Seaward Tyee among others.

That’s why I think height/weight are less important a factor in describing a person and considering big guy kayaks than pants or suit size.

I am 6’3" and around 275 and could not begin to get into those boats with a 31"x17" cockpit with low deck height. Deck height is a significant factor for comfort with a small cockpit, since someone shorter and heavier often has larger thighs than normal, not to mention derriere.

Someone once tried to convince me a QCC500X was a big guy kayak and all but forced me to try it. I broke the cockpit rim. It was only a 30x16 cockpit, couldn’t even get one leg in comfortably.

I do not understand why do manufacturers insist on making high load boats and then put shrimp sized cockpits in them.

Get him in a canoe. He can carry your
gear and your beer. No reason to stick to kayak on slow rivers.