Boat for larger paddler?

Looking for advice on what touring kayak will best fit a larger paddler. I’m 5’9" and 220lbs.

Typically will paddle in harbors and along the California coastline with possible overnighters.

New to the sport so looking for something that can take me from my beginner stage to intermediate.

Any advice would be appreciated!

Lots of boats
Price range?

price range
Would love for it to be under $1,000 but much will depend on what I get for the money. Definitely want to keep it under $2,500

I vote for Tempest 180

The URL above is a boat review I did on the new Tempest 180. It’s a great boat for larger paddlers and you won’t grow out of it…

Also being new to the sport I’d highly recommend you spend some time on Wes Boyd’s Kayak Place site (

Good luck


My officemate who’s your size just got a Tempest 180 and loves it.

Try as many…
… as you can.

$ 2500 will give you many good boats you will not outgrow.

Tempest 180 a good choice, also consider VCP Argonaut, NDK Explorer, P&H Quest, and many other.

Sooner or later somebody will recommend a QCC, I’m not one of them but give it a try, you might like it.

Buy Used…

– Last Updated: Jul-09-04 5:06 PM EST –

for $1500 - $1800, you get a decent composite boat. Then you still have $ left over for stuff like a decent paddle ($200-300), PFD ($125), pump ($25), paddle float($25), etc. If you paddle in a colder region, than you'll also need immersion gear ($200 wetsuit/jacket, $800 for drysuit).


Where in California?
If you are anywhere near the Bay Area, check the classified adds at Bay Area Sea Kayakers (BASK)

Lots of good deals on used boats around here.

Necky Eskia
I just bought one and I’m 5’ 11" pushing 235#. It fits me well. The '04 model has a ratchet-adjustable backband and easy to reach peg adjusters. Mine was $995 on seasonal closeout at a local outfitter. Email me for more details.

Definitely try as many boats as you can before buying. I went to about a dozen demos over the last 6 months, some required an overnite stay. It was well worth it.

Others considered were Necky Elaho HV, Dagger Charleston & Specter, WS Tempest & Cape Lookout, Perception Carolina & Eclipse. The Eskia fit me best and is stable enough for now but gives me room to grow my skills…I hope!

Good luck and let us know how it goes for you.


P&H Orca 16
This is a new model boat from the UK manufacturer P&H. I’ve had one for about three months, and like everything about it, except that, at 5’9" and 160 pounds, the cockpit is a bit large for me.

Seeing your size and skill level, you might want to check out the Orca. Its got good primary stability, bow and stern bulkheads, and fairly light at 52 pounds. I got it for just under a thousand.

Perception Carolina

Perception’s Carolina is another good choice for big guys. I’m recently down to about 180, but when I was 210 the boat was still very comfortable. It’s heavy, but is a great beginners boat (IMHO), and can be had for under $800 if you shop around.

Not so large
I don’t think you’ll have a problem finding a boat to fit. Im in the large or say heavy category myself 5’07" 240, my concern when buying was, how much more weight can the boat hold beyond me for camping gear and water etc.

Any boat in the 17 foot range should be enough boat to support you and gear, check manufacturer specs. Feet clearance also a concern. Might look into Current Design Storm or Solstice line.


Demo Tempest 170/180
I just purchased the RM Tempest 170 and LOVE IT! I am 5’9", have 28" inseams and weigh 215lbs…with good size thighs. I fit perfectly into the Tempest 170 with room…so…demo both sizes.

The Tempest has great initial stability and I am told (by my GP yodas) that it is the perfect boat to ‘grow into’ in terms of paddling technique and learning how to use secondary stability. It is incredibly comfy…and move rather quickly as well.



I doubt you will be able to fine a Tempsit 180 less then 2500… nice boat though…

I’m the same size and paddle
a Current Designs Gulfstream. Check for used ones. Also the Sirocco is the same boat in plastic.

I also like the Nigel Foster Shadow if you can find one of those used.

I am way bigger and love my QCC-700