ideas on how best to ballest a sea kayak

hi guys i am looking for the best ways to ballest my sea kayak p&h quest, what i can use for this and where to put it thanks.

Unless you weigh in at 95 pounds
soaking wet, there is absolutely no reason to “add ballast” to your kayak.

I am curious why do you want to add it?



I like to use camping gear
and I put some in the rear compartment and some in the front compartment.

You’re going to have to give a good reason for your question or these kinds of answers will keep coming…

gallon jugs of water
put a couple in the front hatch right against the bulkhead and a couple in the day hatch (if you aren’t using).

A friend of mine had a storm and said the added water jugs did make a difference.

If you are worried about the jugs sliding around buy some beach balls and fill them halfway with water.

hi quest
The Quest is a marvelous camping/expedition kayak that needs no ballast when loaded or, put differently, it is designed for loaded paddling. I assume that you’re experiencing the instability associated with “riding high” when unloaded. As suggested, you can counteract this by mimicking a camping load. Another option, is to put a nalgene full of lead shot behind the seat. However, the best option is to get a second kayak for rough water play, rolling, day tripping. Sorry, but I went through this with the Quest as my only kayak many years ago. I still have it–it’s a great expedition kayak, but not a good day boat.

thanks to all for your advise.

Valid Question
You don’t say specifically what problem you’re having, but it’s a perfectly valid question for someone wishing to get better daytrip handling from a boat designed for tripping. I know, because I’m trying to do exactly that with my new Impex Force 4.

Like the Quest, my Force 4 is about 18’ long, with pretty low rocker. When paddled empty in high winds, I find the boat difficult to turn upwind, as it tends to naturally turn broadside to the wind and waves, rather than weathercocking like my shorter, more heavily-rockered boat. Even strong sweeps are barely enough to get the bow to come up into the wind unless I lean far forward, thereby shifting the overall center of gravity further forward. I intend to experiment with a sandbag or a couple jugs of water in the bow hatch.

Atlantic Kayak Tours says this about the P&H Quest:

“It handles well when loaded. … The bow volume could be a problem in surf and large following seas (may tend to pivot around bow).”

So experiment with adding weight either in the bow or stern to get the handling you want. I suggest you fix the weight in place though, to prevent it from shifting around while paddling.

Good luck!


Don’t need ballast
I have a Quest and I would say that you don’t need ballast. I paddle it empty (save my safety gear) and I’ve paddled it loaded. It tends to be a bit twitchy unloaded, but this can be overcome with practice…and perhaps some time underwater :wink: Loaded, it has completely different stability characteristics, not better, but different. This is my only boat. I paddle it all the time in everything from flat water to heavy seas and currents, empty and loaded.

But take my opinion for what it is, an opinion. If you want to ballast it try some waterbags or something flexible, but lock them in place with airbags or something ore rolling will be a bit of a struggle with the water laying on the deck rather than the hull.

Swimming pool cover water weights.


– Last Updated: Jul-07-08 12:56 PM EST –

that you think you need ballast because your boat has a tendancy to leecock in high winds (20 knots+) and rough water(3'+ chop)--many boats have a tendancy to do that including my Tempest 170--best way to ballast it is load it tightly with camping equipment--that way the ballast won't shift. Putting loose ballast like water in the boat might be a problem if it shifts from one side to the other.

Your best solution is to use techniques to combat leecocking--like putting your skeg up when going into the wind rather than down wind or on a beam(a deployed skeg combats weather cocking but will make a boat more susceptible to lee cocking.)

Another technique to prevent leecocking is to do a bow rudder or draw or a duffleck stroke when you feel the kayak start to fall off the wind--you can follow this with a forward sweep or C stroke on the down wind side of the boat. Or vice versa---whatever you do don't use a stern ruddering stroke going into a heavy wind---this causes the boat to slow down and the bow to rise, making it more likley to catch the wind and be pushed to leeward. Try these techniques and you probably won't need the ballast.