Kayak advice, please, for a tall newbie

Hi everyone. I have a fair amount of experience with small sailboats and canoes, but I have never had the fun of trying a kayak. I would like to remedy this, but before I start looking I would like to ask for your kind advice. The thing is I am 6’5" tall and I have hesitated trying kayaking because the seating appears to my eyes to be kind of small for a very tall person. Is this the case? Are there kayaks with extra room for very tall people? I have browsed some of the kayak manufactures websites and they seem to have information on weight but not height.

Thanks for any recommendations or thoughts.


a start
This guy had a simular question a few days ago. He is 6’4. The feedback he got should be in your ballpark.I sure other big guys will chime in as well.


give a call around to shops
wear neoprene booties or water socks,not shoes or Tevas for footroom.

They’ll fit you fine. The idea for kayaks is that once you’re in you’re in.

Enter with feet, then knees, then seat, trying to get in by sitting down with knees up won’t work unless it’s a very long cockpit w. your leg length.

What appears to be a small cockpit is for a reason, it’s so that your legs can control the kayak on it’s long axis in rough water and roll the kayak. If you aren’t paddling in rough water or need to roll then you don’t need a regular keyhole cockpit.

Some kayaks have longer cockpits than others so ease of getting in/out will vary.

The average kayak has about 14" of foot brace adjustability which is longer than the size of people who can fit in the kayak.

You can’t always tell from cockpit measurments how that will matter for entry because the position of the seat can add or subtract a couple inches.

Where are you located?

Kayak advice for a newbie
I’m 6’1" and own a wilderness systems Tsunami 14.5, nice yak- but I find the tightness of the cockpit uncomfortable especially when it comes to moving my legs around to reduce cramping. I’ve checked out the perception Carolina, the cockpit opening is slightly roomier. Hopefully looking to pick one up this spring. We mostly kayak on flat open water in the warmer summer months, in upstate NY so the need for a spray skirt is minimal. Check the various shops and try them out to be sure you get the right fit. Good Luck!

What are your goals?

– Last Updated: Mar-13-11 1:01 PM EST –

If you want to do ocean, Great Lakes and really get out into the slop, you need to be fit into the boat a bit tighter than you likely understand right now. I'm not talking like wearing new jeans, but especially with long legs you will initially feel pretty enclosed. That is with or without wiggle room in there.

If you are talking about puddling around on flat water, bigger cockpits and a generally looser fit are less of an issue.

You are likely to find that you have a different issue than you are thinking about now - that is your height above the boat. Someone short like myself doesn't have much trouble keeping a boat balanced because my center of gravity is quite low. But a tall guy will have a very different feeling about stability initially, and it's not just in your head. It's in how much body is up there able to destabilize the boat if you don't keep your weight centered.

The above-mentioned thread would be a good read for you. But you may also need to spend time trying out boats, maybe a couple of basic lessons (which is really more time to try out boats) to acclimate yourself to the balance and fit of a kayak before spending the bucks.

In the 70s and 80s, no stock ww kayaks
had room for my 6’ 5" frame. Now there are many. Smart dealers know which ones. There are also sea or touring kayaks with adequate room. But you have to go to the showrooms and try them on.

It also depends on what you mean by “room.” Real kayaks are not canoes. As others above have pointed out, sometimes your body, legs, and feet have to be held properly so the boat will function. Some can’t tolerate the restriction and just have to be able to sprawl and move around. I find that if my kayak outfitting is set up properly, I can move my feet off the pegs or bulkhead under easy conditions, and get comfortable.

What did I do before kayaks with room were marketed? I paddled a decked c-1. Now, that’s one tight fitting craft!

How heavy, foot size, goals?

– Last Updated: Mar-13-11 8:57 PM EST –

I am 6'4" and I started in the above-mentioned Tsunami 14.5 At one point I thought it was way too big and wide for me. I am 180-190lb though.

In the first year or so I dismissed some kayaks as too snug. A couple of years later, these same seem too big (I have not changed dimesionally at all)... Go figure -;)

Also, depends what you want to do - there are tons of kayaks that will fit you. Especially if your foot size is "normal". Moving/white water kayaks will be a very different set than sea kayaks, then if you get a recreational - yet another set to look at... Tell us what you are after.

If you are like me with large feet (size 15 US), than your choices go down a bit and if you insist on footwear other than socks, then you limit yourself even further. That's only if you are after a sleek low volume kayak. There are plenty of "big boy" kayaks that will handle a more voluminous paddlers than my relatively low volume kayaks...

I’m 6’6"

– Last Updated: Mar-14-11 11:22 AM EST –

I paddle a Perception Captiva, designed for large paddlers, because of my size 15 shoes. Seldom wear footwear because of the limited space forward.

Most kayaks designed for the vertically challenged do not have enough footroom. Footpeg rails can be removed and re-installed forward but that doen't help with most for footroom.

The only way to enter is to sit on the rear deck, put your legs in and slide forward. Short people have the advantage of sitting on the seat and THEN putting their feet and legs in. We do not.

Some specific suggestions
I am 6’5", size 15 feet. I agree pretty much with all that has been said so far. If you are buying new, you will have a lot of choices. Used, the choices really dwindle down. Here are my biased opinions. For touring, I use a CD Isle (which I love) and a Prijon Marlin ( a bit tighter, faster, and more playful). I used to have an Airelite Dagger Specter which I was a great enthusiast of, but other people were less fond. Other ideas: Prijon Kodiak (but some tall guys have stability issues w/ this boat in choppy water) WS Zephyr (tighter in the feet, very playful), CD Titan (some stability issues, and will feel really large), NDK Romany XL (good fit, but NDK is a taste), P & H Capella 173 (nice boat, but it felt a bit vanilla to me), North Shore Buccaneer (again, felt vanilla). Crossover boats (WW/rec): all will fit. I have a Prijon Combi and a Pyranha Fusion. The Fusion has lots of zip, and gives me bomber confidence. The Combi is not as good at surfing but has more capacity and better plastic. I also have a Prijon Yukon (again, greatly loved) which has oodles of room, no glide, amazing stability and is great for river camping. Whitewater : the large Jacksons should fit you. I use a Mon-Star, SuperFun, and SuperHero. All three are terrific. If just starting WW, the SuperHero will give you the most confidence but the SuperFun is great at hitting lines, playing, and rolling. Other WW boats: the LL Remix 79 and Jefe Grande, the Prijon Pure XL, other large creekers depending on foot size. But everyone likes different things. Definitely do test paddles. Boats are very different on the water than they seem on dry land. Go for good fit. If the fit sucks, you’ll be miserable.

Wow, thanks for all of the great advice everyone! That other thread was also loaded with great information to get me started in looking around at big guy kayaks.

I am not planning on white water use, just flat water rivers and a bay during calm weather. When the winds pick up and the chop is begining to froth I go for my Hobie 16, hike her up and have a hoot flying her across the wave tops.

I am 6’5", 230 pounds, and have relatively smaller that average feet for my height - size 12.

Thanks also for the thought about center of gravity and tall people needing to think about stability in a a kayak. It would seem that I should be looking at slightly wider ones to handle that issue.

I enjoy the ability to move along and so I would prefer something other than a barge in handling, but I guess the stability factor is going to limit me from the faster models as I am sure they are likely to be the narrower than normal ones.

Thanks again everyone, and if anyone has any more thoughts I would very much appreciate hearing them.

Width matters, but so does rocker. Anyway, a good argument could be made that until you have good paddling mechanics, the speeds won’t be all that different. Lastly, if you don’t feel stable, you don’t go fast. That having been said, you’ll probably want a width of 23 to 24 inches. A good paddle will increase your speed more than you can imagine. Of the boats that I listed, the fastest one (to me) is the Prijon Marlin. A close second is the CD Isle. If you like a bit of danger, the Prijon Barracuda is really fast but has (ahem) a reputation. A decent river option for speed might be a Pyranha Speeder but again, it has a bit of a reputation. People love the Romanys, but they certainly aren’t the fastest boats. Oh, I forgot to mention the Impex Assateague - a nice, fast boat that just didn’t quite click with me.

I’m 6’ and was 296 pounds found plenty
of room in my Prijon Cruiser. The footpegs are a different style from all the other kayaks I’ve seen or tried. The Cruiser is a “crossover” and works well in all kinds of water.

Short People Have no idea
I am also tall with size 15 feet, and also not very flexible. Advice like “adjust the pedals” doesn’t work. With size 15 feet, your feet cannot be straight and must be at such a severe angle that they interfere with each other and cannot be at the same pedal length or must be badly contorted. (yes I dont wear shoes but wet suit socks). I have tried 3 different touring kayaks on different occasions, and my legs were so constricted that after 2 hours both legs were so numb that I had to crawl onto the shore. I will try again this season but I am getting ready to give up on a touring kayak and go to a recreational kayak with more room. I will try to investigate the kayaks mentioned but how do you manage to “try before you buy”?