Can I go Kayaking?

I was wondering if Kayaking could be for me. I enjoy rafting and canoeing. All which I do very on very flat rivers and lakes. But I have one problem I am about 6’5" tall I weigh 290lbs. I am a very active person who runs and lifts weights to stay in shape. I am not a fat person but I am large.

I am looking for other forms of receration that I can do to stay in shape, I love the water and being on top of it, I grew up in Minnesota canoeing on lakes, I love to paddle and I am wondering if Kayaking could be for me?

Or is it just not possible because of my size? If it is possible what kind of equipment do I need to get started?


– Last Updated: Jul-09-05 1:25 PM EST –

There are lots of big people who paddle. When I went to demo my boat I was amazed that some of the instructors at the event could fit through the keyholes as easily as they did, (not fat, just some real big guys.) Those were some people who were very comfortable in their boats, so I wouldn't say that the narrow tight fitting touring boats with small keyholes would be the way to start out, but there are all kinds of boats out there. I know there are lots of touring boats that are designed for bigger paddlers. A lot of rec boats have very large comfortable cockpits with large keyholes that should be easy to get in and out of for a big guy. Then there is a whole fleet of sit on top types that don't require you to squeeze into a cockpit at all. I'm sure if you find a good rental shop you can try some different boats, and a good retail shop with a knowledgeable staff should be able to direct you to some boats that will fit you well. I'm sure some folks here will have some suggestions as well.

Aside from a boat, you'll need a good PFD, a paddle, some way to transport the boat, and depending on what kind of paddling you're doing you might want a spray skirt. After you paddle awhile there are some other things you might want: a paddle float, a pump, a spare paddle, a tow line, a gps . . . then it can just start to get silly if you're not careful. You can get a feel for the gear after you do some paddling. Lots of good stuff here on gear.

Go for it! Its a great sport, sounds like you might really enjoy it. Rent yourself a boat, mabe do a class. I was fortunate enough to have some friends who paddled who took me out the first few times I paddled, if you know some paddlers try to tag along for an outing sometime.

Sure …

If you think you would like sitting in a small space, not able to move much for extended periods with your body parts going numb GO FOR IT!

A good place to get your large questions answered: “Welcome to Wes Boyd’s Kayay Place! Boats for Big Guys (and Gals), Esseys, Trip Reports, Places to go, Boats, Gear and other stuff.”

Happy Paddl’n!



There are plenty of boats that can handle your size, from flat-water recreational to ocean touring. If you already canoe you already have a lot of the skills and knowledge you’ll need.

Is there something you don’t like about canoeing, or do you just want to try something diferent? I enjoy both depending on my mood and mission.

For recreational kayaks, the Wilderness Systems Pungo 140 and the larger Old Towns seem to be favorites. For more of a touring boat, the Perception Carolina 16 or QCC 500 might work. Going longer, the Eddyline Nighthawk 17.5 is a big person’s boat. There are many more. And if you like to build things, there are some kit boats that you might enjoy, such as the larger Pygmys.

Leg Length
At that height, you could have an inseam that’ll be longer than the forward bulkhead in some boats for “medium to large” paddlers. My husband is several inches shorter than you and his feet would like to reach beyond the bulkhead in boats in which I am swimming, and I am average height for a female.

The good news may be that you may be encouraged to lose the footpegs and brace against a bulkhead - which is how we paddle and is very comfortable. But seriously, you may find that you are the most comfortable in boats from manufacturers that will move the front bulkhead forward for you. That’ll rule out some of the manufacturers like Perception, but it has you looking at some darned nice boats like the Tempest series by Wilderness Systems, maybe Seaward and the Brit boats.

…for about $200 USD in materials, you can build yourself a custom sized SOF (Skin-On-Frame) boat! Since this type of boat is meant to be built around an individual paddler’s body measurements, you can have a high performance, very light boat that will fit you perfectly! :slight_smile:

My personal favorite type of SOF is the low volume West Greenland type, but there are many different types of SOF boats you can build for yourself; from the various Greenland types, to the Alaskan Baidarka.

Here’s a site where several building instruction books for various types of SOF boats are listed:

In any event, whether you purchase a commercially built boat or build your own, I’m sure you can find a boat (or boats!) that will fit you very well.


you can easily find a boat that fits your needs.

I am 6’4" and weigh about 310. I paddle both a Pungo 140 and a Pamlico 135Tandem. These are no racing boats, just flat water fun kayaks. No problem fitting in either, they are very comfy and even in my first few tries I had no problem paddling 2-4 hours - easy. The tandem is a bit of a tank solo (or with a kid) but again, tons of room.

I Imagine if you look for true sea kayaks or serious touring boats you may have more of a challenge on your hands…but for fun and to get out on the water for a day, there is a lot to choose from. The site posted above by Wes Boyd is a great place to start.

Demo some of the rec kayaks. You will be surprised at how easy they fit.

Have fun!

6’5" 300#'er here…
Yes, there are a bunch of boats for you. I have a Carolina 160 that I use for touring, an America 13.5 for slow rivers and as a loaner plus a Torrent sit-on-top for whitewarter. Us big guys dont have as many boats to choose from as the smaller people but we have many to pick from.

Wilderness Systems boats to look at:

Pungo 120,140

Pamlico 120,140

Tsunami 140,145

Perception yaks:

Carolina 14.5,160

America 13.5

Sundance 12.0

Acadia 12.5

Old Town yaks:

Adventure XL 139,160

Loon 138

Dirigo 120,140

There’s probly more but these are the ones that I looked at and paddled a few of them. I really like my Caolina 160 and my America 13.5. Both of them have tons of leg room. hth

Don’t miss Wes Boyd’s Kayak Place
Keep an eye out for my boat reviews and training trip reports on Wes Boyd’s Kayak Place website.

Welcome to the sport!!


Hey ! Why not a canoe? Lots of
choices there also.

Big Guy, you are NOT alone!

Now before we have too much of a problem, friend, Swedge is our resident “Big Guy”. I think he’ll give you your handle -he’s a pretty nice fellow -but he’s been here a while and is our expert on living large -up to now…

Now HE paddles both a Tarpon 160 SOT and a QCC 700 SINK -so there’s hoe, especially for an athletically inclined big guy, Big Guy.

When swedge signs on, you’ll get the real deal on what it’s like for a big guy to


-Frank in Miami

avoid a tandem
when i started paddling a kayak i was about 350 lbs and only 5’2" so I could only fit into a tandem. Solo paddling a tandem is not a lot of fun. For me it was more like driving a tank than paddling a boat. I’ve shrunk a lot but am in a Pungo 140 and I’m sure you’d fit in that if you want a rec kayak that can handle your size and would allow you some overnighting cargo space. Besides capacity, it’s the size of the cockpit that you’ll want to be careful about. Whatever you decide, demo the boat first. And good luck!

You’re in the company of heros
Look up Oscar Chalupsky, a champion kayak racer from Australia, lives here is the US and races all around the world. He’s HUGE - tall, big, etc. just like you. He is truly amazing. His size allows him to drink more than his smaller mates the night before a big race with half the hangover. :slight_smile:

That’s what I love about this site!
Everybody pulls together to help each other when we need advice-and good advice we get! You guys even tolerate the OT questions like my motorcycle thing of late…

Yes Sir
I am your size only a bit shorter. I paddle a Necky Zoar Sport and I am thinking of moving up to an Eskia or Elaho HV. Lots of room in the boat. Now quit looking a your computer and ‘get chor ass in the the water’.


if I can you can
Hi Big Guy, You won’t have any problems with a Wilderness Pungo 120. Unfortunately I weigh what you say you weigh however most of it is around my middle or on my chest, I don’t have fat thighs or arms. (I was on prednisone for years and although I’m thankful to have lived to get off the stuff the weight remains on me but I’ve got to be thankful for what I can do - things I couldn’t do ten years ago like walk to pool or paddle)

If you are strong you shouldn’t have too much trouble lifting or carting it either, the heavy Pungo one weighs 49 lbs. It is great in the water, not tippy, moves with ease, and has plenty of leg room. I’ve had it in both lakes and rivers and find it very easy to manage even in the wakes of the many Jet Skis and power boats up in Michigan on Gun Lake.

I have health issues including asthma, a bad kneee, and I’ve never been physically strong. Sometimes carting it is too much for me and I have to take breaks but eventually it gets back on my van.

A Perception Sonoma 10 will hold you as well and once out in the water if you are comfortable in it the stability should be adequate. Because of my health problems I thought this boat would be the answer for me, but my legs are too long or something and I was unable to get comfortable inside it. So I hope to sell it and then next year get another Pungo.

Pungo has a Duralite which only weighs 39lbs. I didn’t seem to have any luck getting one on a discount. So you would probably have to pay about a grand for one.

Linda 614-578-5178