How close should you get to the max weig

-- Last Updated: Jul-17-12 3:43 PM EST --

I'm pretty new to kayaking and I'm looking at buying my first used boat. The one I have in mind right now is a Riot Booster 50. I won't be doing a lot of river running at first but I know after a year or so I'll be going all the time. My biggest concern is if this boat is to small. I'll want to be able to river run it and use it as a play boat as well. I'm 5'10 and about 165-170. The max recommended weight on the boat is 181, anyone have any thoughts on if that is too close?

In a whitewater kayak, the different sizes(volumes)of the same design usually mean trading stability and buoyancy for maneuverability and control. Playboaters like smaller boats that they can throw around and bury the ends. Creekers like bigger boats that’ll stay on top of the rough stuff. With a river-running design, if you fit in more than one size, the smaller size will be more playful and the larger will be more forgiving.

So if you’re at the top of the weight range, the kayak will usually be less stable, have less reserve buoyancy, be easier to edge, and generally be more responsive.

Just as an example, here’s how one manufacturer lists weight ranges by ability for a particular model:

Recommended Weight Ranges:

Beginner- 140-210

Intermediate- 170-230

Advanced- 190-250

Good info from angstrom, now go demo
the next larger Booster.

Depends on how good you get.
Depends on how good a paddler you are and the rivers you want to run. There are guys who play in class 4 and others who take creek boats down the same water and are happy to survive. Next year you’ll know how good you are and whether you need a river runner to run “those” rivers or you are comfortable in your play boat.

Similar advice from a manufacturer
When I was looking for a WW kayak, I was at the top of the size range in a Jackson Fun 1.5 and swimming loosely in the next size up, the Two Fun. Jackson rep told me that the smaller one would be right for playboating and the bigger one would be OK for river-running even though it was still more of a playboat.

I ended up buying a different model entirely because the Fun 1.5 had two pressure points that hurt me and I really HATED the cavernous feel of the Two Fun. So I got the Side Kick that felt comfortable but not too big. I am near the top of its recommended weight range.

Funny thing is that despite that fact, I cannot sink the ends by weight shift while inside the kayak. I have to get out of the boat and sit ON the decks to do that. So based on this, I’d have to say that with some designs, your play-ability might be limited even if you are at the top of the weight range. I have sat in too-big-for-me playboats where I could sink an end by leaning backward or foreward, so the end volumes must make a big difference.

My Dirago has a listed load of 300-350#
So i did the math.

300 - 175 (me) = 125# gear

350 - 175 = 175# gear max!

So my boat can carry 125-175 pounds of extra gear.

That means my clothes, paddle, PFD, water, food, etc all must be under 175, preferably under 125#.

BUT, when I did a multi-day trip down the Colorado River, my gear maxed out at 172# then I added a 5# kayak cart.

Somehow I still had plenty of freeboard and the boat handled well.

Basically when given a load limit you consider a few things.

  1. Insurance! Manufacturers under-list their load limit so you don’t overload the boat and sink it and sue them.
  2. load limits show ideal performance.If you overload the boat, it doesn’t perform as well.

    So the load limit listed is you PLUS gear PLUS everythign else but is an ideal. If you overload the boat, it will still float but notperfom as well and you cannot sue the company when it sinks.