Interested in it possible?

I am interested in canoeing on some local lakes near my house. My question is this.

I am a very large guy (345lbs) and I do not know if canoeing is even possible for someone my size. i.e what are my canoe options, is it physically possible etc. Can any one offer advice or suggestions on where i might begin?

Any help is appreciated.

it’s possible…
just find a canoe that can handle your needed weight capacity. You’ll have to go with a model wider or longer. Might make paddling a little harder if you’re not too tall.

I’m 5’9"
I’m 5’9"

Not a problem
You should be able to find many solo canoes that easily handle your weight. I think you would find the Wenonah solo plus a good match for what you are wanting.

You could also easily go with a Old Town Discovery in the 14 to 16 foot range and move one of the seats or add seat just behind the center of the boat.

Seat comfort and strength is the key …
… for your enjoyment in a canoe. A 16’ or 17’ canoe of moderate volume will be plenty for you and a friend to be out on the water. Look at a Wenonah Kingfisher … a 16’ recreational canoe with some performance. My suggestion would be to take out the rear web seat and replace it with a small to medium sized bean bag. That would allow you to mold it for great comfort and back support … and you could take it out for similar comfort if you picnic/camp. The Royalex version will serve better if you support it’s weak bilge with some sort of post-down support from it’s carrying yoke … so it won’t bulge up too much (oil can). A more efficient choice would be to go with their Tuffweave version … just a bit more expensive, but will last longer with fewer hassles. It will not need as much (if any) “belly support”.

i’ve seen …
one guy who races in Michigan in a racing type C-1 and he must be over 300 pounds.

thanks for the replies
Thanks for all of the replies. looks like I will start looking around

Lots of choices out there…
even for someone your size. If you have some good paddling shops in your area, check them out & test paddle as many as you can. Might wanna take some lessons if you haven’t paddled before. As already mentioned, I think the Wenonah Solo Plus would be a good match for you. Try one out if there’s one in your area. Good luck in your search.

I’m a big fella too…
I have a Old Town Penobscot 17 that I added a center seat to and paddle it solo. I’ve since moved to kayaks. If you want a good deal and are within driving distance to Northeat PA I’ll make ya a deal. The canoe is a year and a half old.

agree with eagleii …
i would look at the Wenonah Solo Plus.

Very Possible!
Get out and have a good time. I’m 6’2" and 255 but have moved up the weight scale a bit here and there. Then, I carry camping gear etc and easily put some weight in the canoe that way exceeds your weight. I paddle an Explorer (Mad River) which works well for me solo and tandem. The recommended Solo Plus (a good boat) was a boat I looked at but determined the Explorer was better suited to my needs and I’ve been very happy with the decision. I bought mine new but they are a very popular canoe and you can find good deals on used ones (see classifieds on this board).

Caveats. There are big guys that are fit and big guys that aren’t. If you aren’t fit I’d recommend that you do a little work to get ready for paddling and carrying a canoe. More importantly, that you make certain you have the ability to do some things right if you should ‘go for a swim’. Things happen. PFD’s can be a problem if you’re big chested (my chest is between 48 and 50 inches…bench presses were an addiction in my youth well, I guess they kinda still are) but you can generally find the BIG stuff in the bass fishing shops, paddling shops seem to aim to a smaller customer.

You should find someone that can instruct you in a few basics or at least do some reading. Paddling is like so many things, easy to do, worthwhile to do, but much more worthwhile and difficult to do well.

Use ample sunblock, wear a hat (A Tilley perhaps?) and have a great time. There is nothing else like being on the water in a canoe.

Happy paddling,


Seat is the weak link
Though a canoe in the 15- to 17-foot range will easily float a big fella like you and some gear, some boats I’ve seen have weak seat mounts/frames. When you find a boat that meets your needs, take a look at the framing for the seat mounts and consider adding larger bolts/hardware or hardwood blocks to strengthen it. A sudden breakage could send you over the side.

Something else no one else seems to have mentioned is that higher paddler weight means a higher center of gravity, making the boat proportionately more tippy. When 200-pound paddlers get into dicey water, we often get off the seat and kneel amidships to lower our balance point, and to gain the extra control offered by having our knees parted. A 300+ paddler will probably need to do so a little sooner to keep the boat stable in questionable conditions, or when messing around with fouled fishing line or a thrashing fish.

Happy Paddling!

this may be a strange question but hey I’m new.

Is it possible to kneal the whole time?

I had already thought about the seat issue, not necessarily about breaking but about comfort

some people do …
I think it would kill my knees and legs to sit like that. I prefer the padded tractor style seats in my racing canoes. They are pretty comfortable for long hours in the boat.

Yup, Canadian
No, not the bacon; the paddling style.

Do a search here on and elsewhere for “Canadian Style” to learn more about this method of superior boat control. I once saw a world-champion freestyle paddler paddling a short kevlar canoe in an indoor tank at a trade show. She used this paddling style to glide her boat around, spinning pirouettes, lifting the bow and swinging it over the edge of the tank to drip water on the heads of the amazed spectators. Her routine was set to classical music and it was truly balletic.

I don’t kneel all the time, but when I do, I use a doubled-over sleeping pad to cushion my knees. My brother has permanently mounted knee pads and even thigh straps to his canoe for whitewater paddling, and he sits on the seat only to enjoy a quiet-water beer …

Kneeling Takes lots of practice
Try kneeling at home while watching tv at first. For me it is taking a long time to stretch the ankles so that I can kneel more comfortably and longer each time.

seat idea

– Last Updated: Jun-15-05 2:41 PM EST –

personally, I find kneeling uncomfortable, but will do it when approaching rapids or squirrely water. I have knee pads in my canoe for that purpose.

An alternative for your seat might be what I did in one of my boats. I purchased for $17 or so, a molded plastic, non-padded boat seat from Academy--the kind that has the fold-down seat back, so I even have back support. I removed the metal base that would attach it in a regular fishing boat, and using the same bolts and holes, attached it to a rubbermaid step stool from which I had cut off the legs. It is (at this time) completely removable, and I attach it (via bungee balls) to my thwart just behind me to keep it from moving around. It is stable, very comfortable and is fairly wide-based (all Goddesses have ample behinds). If the thwart isn't in the right place, it could be mounted permanently, but with my set-up, I can take it out at lunch and have a "chair." A permanent mount would probably just involve a simple change to my base and gluing it in with contact cement or something similar.

I played with the height on the base until I was happy with where I was in the boat. It is higher than sitting in a kayak, but a little lower than most canoe seats.

That settup sounds interesting, I dont suppose you have any pictures of it? I am having a hard time visuallizing the rubermaid stool with the legs cut off (I must be thinking of the wrong kind of stool)

I think so…
I think I have photos. I’ll check later and either post a link or email them to you. It isn’t a step stool though…just a step with feet a few inches tall, which I cut off. I used what was handy, but I’m sure there are other choices that would work well for a base. It really turned out well although I admit it does look homemade!

River Goddess