Capacity rating of Kayak

-- Last Updated: Jul-07-06 10:01 PM EST --

I'm in the process of selecting my first kayak. I have paddled a good many boats at this point and am down to a Liquid Logic Pisgah or a longer boat including a 17' WS Cape Horn. The Cape Horn is a large volume boat with a capacity of 425 lbs. I paddled one quite a while and liked it. It was pretty quick , had a good glide and I could get it turned OK. It also tracked well. I'm 5'8' and 180 lbs. so the volume is far in excess of what I need. I don't plan on doing multi day trips so I won't be putting much more in it than me.Is there something about paddling a boat with so much more capacity than I need that I'm missing due to my inexperience or should I just be going with what seems to be comfortable fit to me. If I should concentrate on a lower volume boat given my size, I'd like to know now before I make my choice.

There's a lot of good advice and insight offered on this site so I'm trying to tap into it.


HV boats
IMO, unless you are planning to do a lot of extended trips, camping for several days or going on an expedition, high volume boats offer no advantage and are often a disadvantage. They can be harder to control in wind because there is more surface area exposed to catch the wind. Also, many are designed for optimal performance when loaded with kayaker and gear, like 250lbs. versus your 180lbs. If you are only planning day trips, weekend camping and/or can pack like a backpacker for week long trips I would look for a lower volume boat, with optimal performance in the 200lb. range.


I owned a Cape Horn 170,plastic for about half a season. pretty decent entry level sea kayak with a few minor quality quirks. I am 6’1’’ and 180 and thought its a bit too high volume for me but more than anything, the huge floppy cockpit with crappy ass molded in non adjustable thigh braces that you’ll need to pad the hell out of to do any edging. by the way, the boat has very strong primary stability but can’t lean it as hard as more advanced kayaks out there. I think 350 is more than its really made for, 300 is tops i’d ever put into it and it’ll probably get very plungy in chop with over 260-280 lbs. But all n all you can do much worse. I am much happier with my Elaho than with the CH , the volume feels better and so does secondary stability and manouverability, with same speed.

try before you buy based on numbers
Man, I’ll tell ya what; right now I’ve got the 15.5’ WS Cape Horn, and at 6’ 220#, I just flop around in the thing. If I could trade this boat for or towards a lower volume Hurricane Aquasports 165 Tracer or a P&H Capella 169, I would do so immediately. I had read all the specs on the 'net and thought that I knew what I was doing, but the Cape Horn is relatively huge, and it’s going to take substantial outfitting to get it to be even marginally acceptable, whereas some of the lower volume craft, like the Tracer, fit me pretty well as they come. On paper, these don’t look that dissimilar, but in real life, the difference in fit is astounding.

Consider the…
WS Tempest 170. Versatile and well mannered. Plenty of room for skill development yet fully usable by a newbie.

I prefer the T165 (skinny dude), but you might find it more snug than necessary.

Hard to beat the family of Ts.

Good luck and pleasant waters to you.


big boats for big men
All I know is that I HAD to have an HV CD140. I’m 6’2" and 250 pounds and this thing fits me like a glove. I love it because I can still take 50 to 100 pounds of gear on an overnighter or even 2 or 3 days and the yak glides at the almost perfect waterline level.